Rare life of a matriarch: Mama Agnes Ladur Otto, by John Oryem, South Sudan

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Rare life of a matriarch: Mama Agnes Ladur Otto

By John Oryem, South Sudan


 Rare life of a matriarch: Mama Agnes Ladur Otto
 by John Oryem, South Sudan


Rare life of a matriarch: Mama Agnes Ladur Otto By
John Oryem, South Sudan
Website: Click here

Saturday July 29, 2023 is very special day to Mama Agnes Ladur Otto who turns 107. Since 1980s, she lost her myriad of names for Arabicized grandma, Haboba. It is not strange for her great, great grandchildren not to know her name. Typical of Nilotics and Luos who rarely call their elders by names. She is rarely called by her name. But she got the joy of motherhood in her life. She was fondly referred to by her children’s names and affection attached to maternity; min Ernest, min Okeny and min Dominic. “Min” means mother in Luo.

Life’s journey of Mama Agnes Ladur begun in Obbo village, part of today’s Magwi county, Eastern Equatoria state. Born in 1916 at the foot of Lotti Mountains. The world was undergoing tough transformation. A period that affected modernity mainly from European aggression towards other parts of the world. Mama Agnes was born in the sub-clan of Logolo. Her parents were Otto Okello Lopyela and Amuna Lalum Elimo from Lokide sub-clan. Her mother gave birth to 12 children of which she was one. She and her brother Eliazero Okulo survived childhood. When Ladur was in her adulthood, she was baptized Agnes or Anyeze by Verona Fathers in Palotaka Catholic mission. Meanwhile, Otto and his brother Olak were very close to each other. The trio, Ladur, Okullo and Celsio Ogal shared the joy of countryside life even until their late life.

In 1942 Agnes got married to Ben Loguca Oryem Wurewire. The marriage was not welcomed easily because her father’s mother comes from Opokomere sub-clan where Loguca came from. Endogamous marriage is not practiced among the Acholi. Mama Agnes gave birth to her children; Ernest Onguti, Camila Ayoo, Leonora Lamon, Lucia Achola and Julius Okeny. Her husband later married Mama Rita, mother to Anna Amulo.

In 1964 war intensified in Eastern Equatoria because all adult males were in the frontlines of Anyanya movement. Like most women with children, she went to exile she gave birth to Dominic Obwoya, her last child. Mama Agnes struggled to educate her children while in exile. Immediately after the Addis Ababa Accord in 1972, Mama Agnes returned home with the first batch of repatriated refugees from exile. She settled back home in her village of Obbo. It is in Obbo that her love for extended family relation grew extending to neighboring families across Acholiland and beyond. Two of her sons who retuned proceeded to their studies and got married like their sisters before them. Mama Agnes’ first grandchild was born in 1967 and the last one in 2023.

Tragedies refined Mama Agnes faith. She lost her husband Ben Loguca when she was still at childbearing age in 1973. Reality of trailed her in 1983 when her last born child joined the SPLM/A as a revolutionary. When Bor town and Kongor towns fell to the SPLM/A, Dominic vanished with the forces to Ethiopia. Mama Agnes was advised culturally to perform funeral for her lost child. She refused as a Christian. She held strong to her faith. She would only say, “I will not make a funeral for him. Wherever he is, his God will be with him!” In February 1984, Dominic Obwoya was spotted among the advancing SPLM/A troops that overrun Owinykibul. The person who carried the great news spotting Dominic among the troops under Commander Arok Thon Arok to Mama Agnes was Dominic’s niece. Her faith proved that her belief in her God was right.

Mama Agnes worked tirelessly as a farmer. She often cultivated by herself and cared for all her agricultural produces. Life was beautiful and attractive. In April 1986 after Easter celebrations, Obbo village, like most villages of Eastern Equatoria came under the control of the SPLM/A. Mama Agnes relocated to Pajok, a village she had close connection with through her mother Amuna. It was truly a brief stay. In February 1989, last garrisons of Torit, Pajok and Nimule fell to the SPLM/A. Mama Agnes became a refugee for the second time in her life. A life she was to live until 2005 when CPA was signed. With the dawn of peace, she wished not to be a refugee again in her life because the enemies of South Sudan since 1940s are gone forever since July 2011.

The pain of a mother is not strange to Mama Agnes, she bore the most tragedies but her faith remained strong. She always pray the Holy Rosary endlessly. In recent years, burying her three sons, Julius in 1997, Dominic in 2017 and Ernest in 2020 physically weakened her.

Mama Agnes is loved by everyone because of her tremendous advice to all who visit her. She would stress the importance of unity, hard work and uprightness in life. The extraordinary intelligence and superior memory of Mama Agnes is admired by everyone. A true blessing for many generations. We continue to wish her, a blessed birthday and good tidings.



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