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Elinana Ja'bi Ngalamu Dudu
1918 to 1992
Episcopal
Sudan

Ja'bi Ngalamu, as he was called before becoming a Christian, was born August 8, 1918 at Wandi village, close to present-day Mundri. He came from a family of chieftains. His father's name was Ndalamu Dudu and his mother's Elizabeth Deyi Warilivi. His grandfather, Lorungwa, was one of the chiefs of the Kadiro, one of the nine clans of the Moru people of Western Equatoria Province in South Sudan.

Ja'bi Ngalamu started his schooling in 1930 at Wandi village school and went to Lui elementary school in 1934. That same year in Lui he was baptized and given the name Elinana. He excelled in his studies and the missionaries immediately appointed him as a teacher. He started his teaching career at Diko elementary school in 1936, then taught at Gilo Elementary School (also in 1936), and in Bar Olo, Buagyi, Wira, and Wandi village schools. For eleven years he taught in various parts of Moru country where mission schools were established. He was appointed village school inspector and headmaster of the Lui adult school. In 1950, he was sent to Nuggent School in Loka to take an English language course for one year. This was the first step in his preparation for the ordained ministry. Thereafter, he was sent for theological studies at Bishop Gwynne Theological College in Mundri, his hometown.

In 1936 Ngalamu married Doruka Budringwa Kyamira. They had two sons, William and Jack, and four daughters, Damari, Monica, Phoebe, and Faith. By 2008, there were twenty-seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Ngalamu considered that from 1934, the year of his baptism, up to 1961, he was only a nominal Christian, not yet fully converted. But, from 1961 to 1962 the revival movement grew roots and was vibrant in Moruland, resulting in mass conversions, especially among teachers. Among these was Ngalamu. One day he had a vision in which he saw a figure of a person in a white shining robe, like Jesus Christ in a church setting. This caused him to repent and he immediately accepted Jesus in his life as his personal Savior.

Another vivid story was about his call to the ordained ministry. The story of Jesus and Peter was revealed to Ngalamu in a vision, when Jesus predicted that after his death, the apostles would be dispersed because they would not be able to follow him. But Peter said, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death" (Matt. 26: 31-33; Mk. 14: 27-29; Lk. 22: 33). At that specific time in 1956, Ngalamu was called by his community to be a chief, when he was already a priest in the church. This was a real dilemma for him but the vision made him decide to follow Jesus to the end and he chose to remain a priest--to the disappointment of his community. Another strong force behind his decision was his dear wife Dorcas Lorungwa who vigorously opposed the call of the community and strongly advised Ngalamu to heed the call of the Holy Spirit.

After his conversion, Ngalamu preached vigorously and was critical of the sinfulness of the unconverted teachers and missionaries. At this time the revival movement was vibrant in Western Equatoria. Ngalamu and other evangelists preached against the sin being committed against God's people by public and civil servants and the authorities. The persecution was at its peak because the dictatorial government of General Ibrahim Aboud was instituting a program of forced islamization in the Christian South Sudan. Khalwas or Qur'anic schools were being built in almost every village in South Sudan and the Christians in Sudan were victims of the worst persecution. The Missionary Societies Act came into force.[1] The South Sudanese resented the oppression and some, like Ngalamu, dared to preach against the repressive government policies. As a result, the government responded by suppressing this kind of preaching. Ngalamu and a number of revivalists were arrested and were sentenced to six months of imprisonment by the district commissioner of Maridi for disturbing the peace.

Ngalamu was ordained a deacon in 1953 after graduating from Bishop Gwynne Theological College. He was ordained a priest in May 1955, after attending the pastors' course at Bishop Gwynne College, and posted as pastor at Mundri parish, just before the outbreak of the first civil war in 1956. His ordination followed that of Rev. Ezra Lawiri and of Rev. Andrea Apaya, the first native pastor of the Moru tribe.

In 1960, Ngalamu was appointed archdeacon for the Moru-Dinka archdeaconry. In 1962, after his release from prison, he and his colleague Yeremaya Datiro attended an administrative course at St. George's Administrative College in Jerusalem to prepare him for consecration into the episcopate as an assistant bishop. In 1962 he was consecrated assistant bishop and was stationed in Rumbek in 1963, even though he remained archdeacon for the Moru-Dinka archdeaconry.

When the first civil war intensified (1955-1972) in South Sudan, Ngalamu was caught up in Mundri on his way to Juba for his duties in 1965 and narrowly escaped death from the Arab Sudanese soldiers. With the staff and students of Bishop Gwynne College, he escaped into exile, traveling through Aru in Zaïre (Democratic Republic of Congo) to Arua and on to Kampala in Uganda. He was joined by his colleague Bishop Yeremaya Datiro in exile, where they earned the nickname of "twin bishops." From there, Ngalamu continued to serve the church in the territories under the control of the Anya-Nya forces [2].

While in Uganda, Ngalamu was appointed assistant bishop by the Church of Uganda and was posted to Gulu where he worked hard to establish the Ma'di/West Nile Diocese. While there he groomed Rev. Janani Luwum to become the first bishop of the Ma'di/West Nile diocese. Luwum later became archbishop of Uganda and was murdered by Idi Amin in 1973.

Ngalamu returned to the Sudan shortly after the signing of the Addis Ababa Agreement in 1972 [3]. He then became assistant to Oliver C. Allison, bishop of the Diocese of the Sudan. When Bishop Allison retired in 1974, Ngalamu succeeded him and thus became the first African bishop of the Diocese of the Sudan. He inherited sixty-five clergy besides other church workers and only seventy-five Sudanese pounds in the church treasury, the rest of the church money and property having been confiscated by the government of the day as missionary property of the expelled foreign missionaries (1962 Missionary Societies Act). Despite these constraints, Ngalamu worked hard, with his diocesan (later provincial) secretary, Rev. Canon Clement Janda, to build up the church first as four dioceses forming the Episcopal Church of Sudan province in the Anglican Commuunion: the dioceses of Juba, of Omdurman with Bishop Butrus Shukai, of Yambio with Bishop Yeremaya Datiro, and of Rumbek with Bishop Benjamin Wani Yugusuk.

Ngalamu was a brilliant leader who ruled with the rigors and strictness of set rules and tradition. He was a tough administrator and no one doubted the quality of his administrative skills. The Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) grew under his leadership. In 1984, through the Partners In Mission Consultation, with partners from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, West Africa, the U.S.A., England, Ireland, and Canada, Ngalamu upgraded the four dioceses to eleven. For these new area dioceses of Bor, Kadugli, Kajo-Keji, Maridi, Mundri, Yei, and Wau he also consecrated seven area bishops: Nathaniel Garang for Bor, Kurkeil Mubarak Khamis for Kadugli, Manasse Binyi Dawidi for Kajo-Keji, Joseph Marona for Maridi, Eluzai Munda for Mundri, Seme Luate Solomona for Yei, and John Malau Ater for Wau. He ordained many priests as new parishes sprang up all over the province.

When the Diocese of the Sudan became an independent province from the Church of England, Ngalamu was enthroned as the first archbishop of the new Province of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS), by Donald Coggan, the Most Reverend and the Right Honorable Lord Archbishop of Canterbury on October 11, 1976.

He consolidated Bishop Gwynne College by creating conditions that allowed people other than teachers such as nurses, secondary graduates, and even university graduates to study there. He established a refugee relief/assistance program (SSRAP0) for Ugandan and Zaïrean (D. R. Congolese) refugees. This was later developed into the Church Relief and Development Agency (ECS/SURA). He also founded the Juba Housing project(now ECS Guest House) and the Lainya Vocational Training Institute.

As archbishop, Ngalamu played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Sudan Council of Churches in 1976. He also contributed to the liturgical development of indigenous worship and wrote many hymns for the Moru Hymn Book. One of the popular ones has the following first stanza:
Hear (listen to) your Savior's call;
Jesus says come near to me;
In times of tribulations Jesus deserts not;
in times of sorrow, Jesus is ever near.
Ngalamu was not only a national figure but also an international networker. He succeeded in building bridges of love, trust, and unity among the various Christian churches in the Sudan. He fostered the understanding of church and state relations on a national level. Internationally, he built good relations with the ECS partners and the Anglican Communion worldwide. As a new leader, he was able to create strong links between the ECS and Canterbury. [4] He linked the ECS with the Diocese of Salisbury in England, with the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), as well as with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (PECUSA), and with the Anglican Church of Canada.

Toward the end of his period as archbishop, Ngalamu loved the church so much that he looked upon the ECS as his own possession which, therefore, no one besides him was qualified to lead. As such, he would have appointed a successor if given the chance. But his term of office constitutionally ended in 1986, and when he was reminded that his tenure had come to an end, he refused to retire and vigorously resisted any move to unseat him from the throne of the archbishopric. This was contrary to the constitution and to the resolution of both the Episcopal Council (House of Bishops) and the General Synod of the Province of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan. This dragged the ECS into a six year long schism which put an indelible blot on Ngalamu's ten years in office. He died in Khartoum in 1992. On November 8, 2008 his remains were reburied at All Saints' Cathedral in Juba, South Sudan.

James Lomole Simeon and Oliver Meru Duku



Notes :

1. In the article "Sudan - Civil War and Genocide, Disappearing Christians of the Middle East" (Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2001, Vol. 8: No. 1 at http://www.meforum.org/article/22, accessed 1/8/09), author Francis M. Deng explains:
In 1962, the government enacted the Missionary Societies Act, regulating missionary activities. No missionary society or any member of such society should do missionary work in the Sudan except in accordance with the terms of a license granted by the council of ministers. The license could impose whatever conditions the council of ministers might think fit. The council of ministers might refuse to grant or renew a license and could revoke one at its discretion. The act imposed spatial limitations and prohibited a missionary society from doing "any missionary act towards any person or persons professing any religion or sect or belief thereof other than that specified in its license." Missionaries were not allowed to "practice any social activities except within the limits and in the manner laid down from time to time by regulations." The act also stated that: "No missionary society shall bring up in any religion or admit to any religious order, any person under the age of eighteen years without the consent of his lawful guardian." Furthermore, "No missionary society shall adopt, protect, or maintain an abandoned child without the consent of the Province Authority." The formation of clubs, establishment of societies, organization of social activities, collection of money, famine and flood relief, the holding of land, and the publication and distribution of papers, pamphlets, or books were subject to ministerial regulations.
[Sources: "The Expulsion of Foreign Missionaries and Priests from the Southern Provinces," The Black Book of the Sudan on the Expulsion of the Missionaries from the South Sudan (Verona, Italy: Verona Fathers, 1964), pp.16-17; Francis Mading Deng, Tradition and Modernization: A Challenge for Law Among the Dinka of the Sudan (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1971), pp. 235-237.]
2. This was the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) which fought the Arab Muslim government in Khartoum from 1955 to 1972.
3. This was a peace agreement between the South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/SSLA-the Anya-Nya) and the Sudan government in Khartoum.
4. The See of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the President of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.

Sources (James Lomole Simeon):

1. Personal interviews with the Most Rev. Elinana J. Ngalamu (before his death) during the six years of the ECS Crisis (schism) 1986 - 1992.
2. Samuel E. Kayanga and Andrew C. Wheeler, But God Is Not Defeated, Celebrating the Centenary of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan 1899 - 1999 (Nairobi, Kenya: Pauline Publications Africa, 1999).

Sources of information (Oliver Meru Duku):

1. Mr. Elinana Were Iyegga, the late bishop's nephew, interview by author in Juba on November 7, 2008.
2. "The Biography of Archbishop Elinana Ngalamu, 1918-1992" (Khartoum, Sudan: The Province of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, 2008), read at the reburial of his remains in Juba on November 8, 2008. Biography printed by New Day Publishers (P.O. Box 6426, Khartoum, Sudan, 2008).
3. Eulogy of Archbishop Elinana Ja'bi Ngalamu, printed in the Juba Post newspaper, November 6-10, 2008, page 7.
4. Speech by Rev. Canon Clement Janda, First Provincial Secretary of the ECS at the reburial of the remains of the Archbishop in Juba on November 8, 2008.
5. Speech by the general secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches at the reburial of the remains of Archbishop Elinana J. Ngalamu in Juba on November 8, 2008.

This article, received in 2003, was researched and written by Mr. James Lomole Simeon, Esq., Chancellor of the Diocese of Khartoum, Sudan, 2002-03 Project Luke Fellow. The article was revised and expanded in 2008 thanks to information from Rev. Canon Dr. Oliver Meru Duku, Principal, Bishop Allison Theological College, P.O. Box 1076, Arua, Uganda.