Dual B. Gony

Nuer community scholar
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Dual GonyDual Gony is a member of the Nuer ethnic group and was born in Fangak, South Sudan. He worked for the United Nations High Commission on Refugees as a medical assistant and spent time in a refugee camp in Ifo, Kenya. In 1995, he moved to Perry, Iowa, where he attended school and worked at a local packing plant. Dual currently lives with his family in Ames where he is majoring in business management at Iowa State University. In September 2005, he was promoted to manager at the Ames Walmart, where he works full time.

Dual has been a featured traditional artist and speaker at the 2001 Festival of Iowa Folklife, the Iowa Culture and Language Conference, and the Ames Fall Festival. He has been a member of the Iowa Arts Council Board of Directors and has served as a community scholar and researcher for the Iowa Traditions in Tradition project. He was also a featured traditional artist at the 2001 Festival of Iowa Folklife.

The Nuer refer to themselves as Naath (people); many, especially the men, spoke Arabic and English, to a lesser degree, in Sudan. More men than women speak non-ethnic languages as a result of greater formal education. A cattle-herding and fishing people who also raise corn and vegetables, the Nuer are divided into eleven tribal groups.

Today, most live in the Southern Sudan in East Central Africa near the western upper Nile, just north of the equator, as well as in southwestern Ethiopia. While the majority of Nuer in the Sudan and Ethiopia continue to adhere to their own spiritual beliefs, many converted to Christianity as a result of British colonization and consequent British and later American missionary activity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In 1956, the Sudan became independent from Egypt and the United Kingdom. Since then, there has been almost continuous civil war, fueled by ethnic and political as well as local and global economic issues (oil and water rights), between the Sudanese government, dominated by the largely Muslim Arab north, and southern ethnic groups (Christian and adherents of local traditional religions). Multinational oil corporations, UN-sponsored peace-keeping delegations, the United States, European, and Middle Eastern countries have also been involved in the conflict.

Civil war, disease, drought, and famine forced thousands to flee to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia, and, starting in the early 1990s, thousands arrived in the United States. Numbers peaked between 1999-2001, and then sharply declined, though they are on the rise again, thanks to the current civil war around Darfur. Under the supervision of the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program, administered by the US Department of State, the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services, and Lutheran Social Services, many Nuer were resettled in Des Moines and Marshalltown, Iowa. Today there are also Nuer communities in Omaha, Nebraska, Council Bluffs, and Cedar Rapids, as well as elsewhere in the United States.

Contact: Dual Gony, Ames, IA, 515-708-0138 , dualgony@live.com.