KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - The name of Princess Mendy, daughter of Sultan Ajabna of the Nuba Mountains Region, has always been associated with courage, valiance and endurance beyond human imagination.
This could be the reason why the Sudanese Army has immortalized her with one of its best and strongest marching songs, which is still played to enthuse and raise troop morale.
Princess Mendy was one of the leading figures with respect to heroism and in the struggle against colonial rule in the first quarter of the 20th Century.
Her strong stand in the face of the British troops that attacked her area, denied her people water and killed the youth and rebels of the area, had put her name among the glorious heroes of this nation.
According to written documents, Princess Mendy’s heroism was well demonstrated in her struggle to defend her district that lies close to today’s town of Deleng in the Nuba Mountains region, in the mid South- West of Sudan.
Her father was Sultan Ajabna Ibn Aruja Ibn Saba’a, the thirteen's Sultan (ruler) of the Alama Area of the Nimang ethnic group.
Princess Mendy had died in the Khartoum’s suburban area of Kalakla here in late 1984.
Her father, Sultan Ajabna, had chosen the Alama (Niymang) district as a theatre of his war operations against the British troops.
He, together with his brave tribal knights, fought the enemy with Princess Mendy, her infant on her back, fighting side by side with them. They fought fierce battles against the enemy that continued to stage frequent raids on the area.
Mendy has set an example in courage and steadfastness in the year 1908 when the colonial army entered the foas area and engaged tribal leader Darjoal in a fierce battle that ended in an agreement in which Darjoal was made to pay a compensation to the Britons.
But the Niymang fighters did not accept this truce, a matter that prompted the invaders to launch fierce campaigns against Princess Mendy’s father, Sultan Ajabna.
The stubbornness of the Nimang fighters then obliged the Britons to launch quick successive raids to finish with Sultan Ajabna.
In 1917 the British administrative inspector of the Deleng District, Mr. Hatton, staged raids on the Tendiyya and Kurmetti areas to be defeated and killed at Kurmetti by one of the locals, putting an end to a campaign meant to erase the area’s citizens and rebels.
Fury Of The Britons
Enraged by that inspector’s tragic end, the authorities prepared for a second campaign against Sultan Ajabna in November 1917.
The expedition was equipped with tremendous logistics: 31 British officers, 150 Sudanese and Egyptian officers, about 2857 soldiers armed with a huge arsenal of firearms that included 8 heavy guns, 18 machine guns and several other guns. The force was put under the command of Colonel Smith.
Despite the apparent upper hand of the attacking force, yet the rebels, under the command of Sultan Ajabna, bravely stalled the attackers, who had nothing to do other than to besiege the area from three directions.
The siege was led by Captain Vandeleu, Captain Graham and Captain Worthington Wilmer, each on a different side.
This siege managed to isolate Sultan Ajabna, depriving him from water sources in the Kodello water holes of the Salara area.
But the rebels did not accept this defeat and refused to surrender.
The news about this bad situation on the battlefield reached the Niymang Tribe.
Taking note of this situation, Princess Mendy prepared reinforcements for her father and decided to go by herself to fight by his side.
Tying her baby on her back and taking her gun, she headed towards the battlefield, despite pleas from many not
to do so. To show her determination, she dropped her milk pot (called the bukhsa in the local language) on the ground as a sign of no going back. The dropping of the bukhsa on the ground as a sign of resolve was according to the tribal traditions of the area.
Mendy’s arrival at the battlefield enthused and fed the fighters with a new spirit for fighting.
She continued to fight even when her baby was shot dead while on her back.
Beside fighting, Mendy dressed the wounds of her fellow fighters and continued to encourage and cook for them.
It was a battle of honor and dignity, in sacrifice for the homeland and its people.
Many of the fighters were killed and Sultan Ajabna and his friend Kalkoon were taken captive and later on hanged to death in Deleng on the morning of 27 December, 1917.
The rebels had to surrender after their spiritual and military leader was hanged and Mendy and the remaining fighters returned to their home area after setting a rare example in courage and sacrifice which was immortalized in the songs of their tribe.
The 1917 battle was one of the most fierce battles the Nuba people had fought against colonial rule in order to protect the country.
They had left behind an epic in heroism cherished by all Sudanese, young and old.
That battle had represented the struggle of a generation that went down in history as a wonderful page and that taught the colonials a lesson unforgettable.
The song continued to be performed over the generations, developing into what came to be known as the Mendy tune (or piece) that became one of the march songs of the national army, played to raise troop morale in drilling or in fighting.
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