Kerubino, having escaped from Wau with his forces, toured Bahr El Ghazal, including the locations where tens of thousands of internally displaced were gathered hoping for relief. A charismatic man, he spoke at length to the crowds, and told a gathering in Achumchum, "Stay calm, we will take the south. I went back to the SPLA because the Arabs deceived me. I ask your forgiveness for working with the Arabs," according to a man who was there. Kerubino repeated this speech in many other locations, according to several others interviewed by Human Rights Watch.
To the surprise of outsiders, the reaction of the Dinka in rural Bahr El Ghazal generally was that it was an achievement that Kerubino returned to the SPLA and would thereafter protect his people from the government. The rural Bahr El Ghazal population was relieved at the prospect of being protected by Kerubino instead of looted by him.
This was the reaction even in Twic County (Wunrok and Turalei), an area of northeastern Bahr El Ghazal particularly devastated by his four-year-long raiding spree. Those attending his speech in Turalei on April 27 said that the Twic County residents were bitter about Kerubino before, but were pleased with his speech. It was most important to them that he apologized.57
Also included in his speeches was reference to an agreement with the Dinka elders and chiefs as to the women his soldiers took as brides, without paying the traditional bridewealth to the brides= families. Some of the soldiers actually captured young women they knew before they joined Kerubino. They would run with the women to Kerubino's camp, where the fathers and other male relatives could not pursue them.
Marriage is, among other things, an important economic event in the life of a Dinka family and one to which they look forward especially in times of scarcity; the bridewealth is paid to the bride=s family in cattle. This permits families with daughters to recoup some of the losses they sustained in raids. Although Kerubino's soldiers looted many cattleCsome no doubt from their in-lawsCthey did not have cattle to pay the bridewealth price when Kerubino and his forces fled Wau. They had long since eaten or sold the cows in the market because they, too, had no food. The rural Dinka of Bahr El Ghazal had been organized through their chiefs to contribute cows and grain to the SPLA, but not to Kerubino, whose alliance with the government they did not support.
Under the new agreement, the fathers were to ask the husbands for payment of the dowry. The price would be negotiated. If there was no payment, the fathers would take their daughters back. The local chiefs were to be responsible for enforcement of these arrangements.
57 Human Rights Watch interview, Lokichokkio, May 11, 1998.