Wrestling match brought Terekeka to life

Wrestling match brought Terekeka to life
Fans turned up in large numbers to watch a local wrestling match. [Photo, Sheila Ponnie, City Review]

It is 2 am on Saturday, and more than 5,000 passionate villagers are awake, awaiting a match between Terekeka of Central Equatoria State and Bor of Jonglei State.

Songs from the two ethnic groups rented the air. Men and women, young and old, are dressed in very bright and attractive traditional attire. All is set to welcome the morning sun and the promising, long but fun-filled day ahead.

To most people from the villages of Juab, Bor Terekeka, or Bor and those from the adjacent Jonglei State, May 21 was not an ordinary day. It was a family day—better yet, a community day.

This is the day that everyone has been waiting for. A day when the strongest men from the two communities would come out in public to show off their strength, not only to their peers but also to other respected leaders like the area governors who were part of the fans.

They were made up of all sexes and classes. From men, and women to little children—some who might turn out to be the next generation of wrestlers; and political leadership—all reading a local wrestling match.

The atmosphere was ecstatic.

And as the night weaned off and darkness gave way to light, from the land yonder, they marched, singing and chanting war songs. Not even the sleep or insecurity would come in between their love for these community heroes, – some of them the most spectacular wrestlers in South Sudan.

They had sacrificed a lot.

And fashionable they were. Some were spotting bright and attractive traditional attire. Others had unique hairstyles while patriots carried the national flag – swinging them as they moved from one end of the playground to the other.

The flags bore the names of their best wrestlers. Both sets of fans cheekily but respectfully teased one another with either side heaping praise on their men.

Wrestling is a very popular sport among the Dinka from Jonglei, the Mundari of Centre Equatoria and the Lotuka tribes of Eastern Equatoria State.

At exactly 10 am, Agol Deng and Lakule Malou stepped onto the pitch, a clear signal that an event that was once called off on security grounds, was finally happening with the men of the day ready to rumble.

The two wrestlers had a distinctive attire, a colourful hide marched with a red ribbon that dangles over their shorts.

Known for his boastful nature, Deng, who hails from Bor, needed just 34 seconds to floor Malou as fans thronged the pitch in celebration. When the dust finally settled, it was time for two well-known wrestlers from both communities to step forward.

The moment Magot Khot stepped off his right foot for a walk toward the ring, his fans broke into cheers and ululation. They escorted the man of the moment to the centre of the pitch where Lukojo Achot was waiting for a duel with the giant.

Khot is huge and scary. He knows how to move a crowd. His fans returned the favour with religious clapping of hands while others danced as he walked majestically, occasionally stopping to have a short glimpse at the crown.

Known as the most powerful wrestler around here, Khot has never been thrown down by an opponent. Among some of his fans, he is the cat whose back has never touched the ground.

The giants moved in circles, barefooted. The leopard-print skirt strips flap against each other.

The two heavy men, built to entertain, locked shoulders for 58 seconds but none managed to take the other down. A 30-second break then followed, allowing fans a chance to take a sip of water to dehydrate their body that is now taking a toll from the scorching sun above. The match was declared a draw after three minutes of gruelling wrestling.

The wrestling event was organized to strengthen peaceful co-existence between neighbouring Jonglei and the Central Equatoria State.