Wau, South Sudan
Huts outside Wau, 2008
Arabic: واو نار English:(Wau Naar Wau Nuur Wau mayi Nom) Wau is Fire,wau is light,wau shall not sleep
|Region||Bahr el Ghazal|
|State||Western Bahr el Ghazal|
|Elevation||433 m (1,420 ft)|
Wau (Arabic: واو Wāw; also known as Wow, Waw, or Wau Town) is a city in northwestern South Sudan, on the western bank of the Jur River, that serves as capital for Western Bahr el Ghazal (and formerly Wau State). It lies approximately 650 kilometres (400 mi) northwest of the capital Juba. A culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse urban center and trading hub, Wau is also the former headquarters of Western Bahr el Ghazal.
Wau was initially established by the French as Fort Desaix and later was established as a zariba (fortified base) by slave-traders in the 19th century. During the time of condominium rule, the city became an administrative center.
Burr and Collins in 1994 described Wau: as follows:
No one has ever been "at home" in Wau. It is surrounded by a host of disorganized and diverse peoples. . . It was and remains a town belonging to no single ethnic group But a civil Dinka chief, deriving its importance only from its position as a commercial and administrative center . . . Located in the midst of the vast Nilotic plain hundreds of miles from nowhere, it was miserable under the best of circumstances . . . And the research reveal that the first people in the were a people tall with smooth dark skin today the Dinka that have inhabited the area back in the early 17s to 18s.
During the Second Sudanese Civil War, it was a garrison town of the Khartoum-based Sudanese Armed Forces, and was the scene of extensive fighting in the spring of 1998. Battles erupted again in the town in the spring of 1980s, killing several hundred people. And this forced the Dinka wau to seek refugee since the other tribes which they shared the land joined with khartoumn armed forces and only targeted the Dinka which forced them to seek safety in the eastern side of wau. The Dinka were said to have migrated to the state today known as Warrap state.
In 2010 the Ministry of Housing, Physical Planning and Environment (South Sudan) proposed to reshape the city as a giraffe.
South Sudanese Civil War
Following the outbreak of the South Sudanese Civil War, the town has experienced numerous clashes, massacres, and much destruction at the hands of anti-government as well as government forces. In April 2014, Nuer soldiers belonging to the local SPLA garrison mutinied after hearing of a massacre at Mapel. They clashes with SPLA loyalists, and then fled into the Bush, joining a long march of other deserters to Sudan. About 700 Nuer civilians subsequently sought protection at Wau's UNMISS base; most of them were family members of the deserted soldiers, while others were students.
In 2016, Wau experienced heavy clashes that displaced much of its Fertit population and led to widespread destruction. In April 2017, Dinka soldiers of the SPLA and Mathiang Anyoor militiamen carried out a massacre of non-Dinka civilians in the town, killing up to 50 people, and displacing thousands.
The population of Wau is ethnically diverse. Most of the inhabitants are Dinka and Fertit, as the town lies on the tribal boundary between these two peoples. Furthermore, minorities belonging to the Luo, Jur Modo/Jur Beli, Balanda Boor/Balanda Bviri, and Nuer peoples can be found in Wau. Due to its diversity, Wau has repeatedly suffered from ethnic violence.
In 2008, Wau was the third-largest city in South Sudan, by population, behind national capital Juba and Malakal, in Upper Nile State. At that time, the estimated population of the city of Wau was about 128,100. In 2011, the city's population was estimated at about 151,320.
Its Cathedral of St. Mary (built 1905, before the erection of the former Apostolic Prefecture of Bahr el-Ghazal) is the episcopal see of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wau, which serves the province's religious majority.
Wau is a vibrant economic center by the standards of the newly established Republic of South Sudan, and serves as hub for trade between Darfur, Bahr al Ghazal, and Equatoria. The major contributors to the local economy include:
- Buffalo Commercial Bank branch
- Equity Bank (South Sudan) branch
- Ivory Bank branch
- Kenya Commercial Bank (South Sudan) branch
- Catholic University of South Sudan, Wau campus
- University of Bahr El-Ghazal
- Wau Airport
- Wau County Government
- Wau state Government
- RCS - Radio & Satellite Communication
- Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (South Sudan Subsidiary Comp.) expected shortly
Transport and infrastructure
- Wau Railway Station - is the terminus of a narrow gauge branch line of the Sudan Railways. A plan exists, as of 2008, to open a standard gauge line north from Gulu in Uganda to Wau. Through trains from Khartoum to Mombasa would be possible only if one of the lines was regauged. Its functionality would depend on post-conflict reconstruction.
- Wau Airport - The airport, (IATA: WUU, ICAO: HSWW) has a single paved runway which measures 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) in length.
- The city hosts University of Bahr El-Ghazal and many secondary and primary schools.
- The Catholic University of South Sudan maintains a campus in the city.
- Wau Stadium - A soccer stadium in the middle of town
- The Cathedral of St. Mary in Wau was built between 1951 and 1956.
- There are five (5) main roads out of town:
- Southern National Park - Located about 100 kilometres (62 mi), by road, south of Wau along A44-South
Geography and climate
Wau has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen climate classification Aw). The city has two seasons: a dry season from November to March, and a rainy season the rest of the year, as depicted in the referenced box below:
|Climate data for Wau, South Sudan|
|Record high °C (°F)||41.1
|Average high °C (°F)||35.5
|Daily mean °C (°F)||26.8
|Average low °C (°F)||19.1
|Record low °C (°F)||9.3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||1.3
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||0.2||0.3||3.4||6.3||11.4||12.7||15.9||15.5||23.7||11.2||1.7||0.1||102.4|
|Average relative humidity (%)||29||26||35||48||62||71||76||77||74||69||48||35||54|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||288.3||246.4||229.4||228.0||220.1||204.0||182.9||192.2||204.0||223.2||264.0||294.5||2,777|
|Mean daily sunshine hours||9.3||8.8||7.4||7.6||7.1||6.8||5.9||6.2||6.8||7.2||8.8||9.5||7.6|
|Percent possible sunshine||79||74||62||61||60||54||47||50||56||60||75||82||63|
Some of the notable people from Wau include
- Luol Deng - NBA basketball player
- Longar Yak Jiel - National basketball player
- Khamis Leyano - South Sudanese footballer and captain
- Longar Longar - former University of Oklahoma basketball player and NBA D-League player
- Thon Maker – NBA basketball player
- Clement Mboro - veteran politician
- Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako - Retired archbishop of Khartoum archdiocese (Sudan, then including South Sudan)
- Prof Barri Arkanjelo Wanji - veteran Anya Anya /SPLM/A soldier and long serving politician
- Dan Samuel - National Basketball player and veteran construction manager
- Alek Wek - World model
- Joseph Ukel - veteran politician
- PSI et al. (2014), p. 4.
- Fighting in Wau; Red cross calls for civilians to be spared Archived 2016-08-18 at the Wayback Machine Radio Tamazuj
- calculate travel time. "Estimated Road Distance Between Juba And Wau". Travelmath.com. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- Vuylsteke, Sarah (December 2018). "IDENTITY AND SELF-DETERMINATION: The Fertit opposition in South Sudan" (PDF). pp. 5, 16.
- * Burr, J.M. and Collins, R.O. (1994) Requiem for the Sudan: War, Drought and Disaster Relief on the Nile. Westview Press, Boulder, CO, USA, p. 74
- A city shaped like a giraffe? Toronto Star, Wed Aug 18 2010, by Maggie Fick, Associated Pres
- "Thousands of South Sudanese IDPs Take Shelter at Wau Church". Voice of America. 13 December 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
- Small Arms Survey (2014).
- "UNMISS denies that refuge-seekers in Wau were turned away". Radio Tamazuj. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
- "President Kiir fires Wau state governor". Sudan Tribune. 24 June 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
- "South Sudan: Civilians killed in Wau fighting". Al Jazeera. 10 April 2017. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
- Malia Zimmerman (13 April 2017). "South Sudan's silent slaughter: Dinka massacre unchecked by regional, international groups". Fox News. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
- "IOM: 8,000 people displaced by Wau violence". Radio Tamazuj. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
- "South Sudan: Gunfights within Bahr el Ghazal capital". Radio Tamazuj. 27 April 2014. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- "South Sudan: Civilians killed in Wau fighting". Al Jazeera. 10 April 2017. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
- Michael Atit; John Tanza (10 April 2017). "Gunmen in Government Uniforms Go on Massacre in Wau Town". Voice of America. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
- "Governor strongly denies Mapel massacre claims". Radio Tamazuj. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
- "Estimated Population of Sudanese Cities & Towns In 2010". World-gazetteer.com. Archived from the original on 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- "Estimated Population of Waw In 2011". Wolframalpha.com. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- "Estimated Population of Wau (1973 - 2010)". World-gazetteer.com. Archived from the original on 2012-05-23. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- Riungu, Catherine (2011-01-17). "East Africa: Equity Bank Plans Further Expansion in Southern Sudan". The East African (Nairobi). Retrieved 2017-07-06.
- KCB Expands Branch Network In South Sudan[dead link]
- Sean, Michael (2010-11-11). "Catholic University Maintains A Campus In Wau". Ncronline.org. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- "Wau Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
- PSI South Sudan; Western Bahr el Ghazal State Ministry of Health; Wau County Health Department; Western Bahr el Ghazal Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (2014). Pre-Harvest Anthropometric and Mortality Survey. Wau County, Western Bahr El Ghazal, South Sudan (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Population Services International.
- The Conflict in Northern and Western Bahrel Ghazal States (PDF). Geneva: Small Arms Survey. 16 October 2014.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Wau.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wau.|