Costello Garang Ring Lual is a South-Sudanese politician. He was born on the 15th of May 1953 in the town of Aweil in Bahr el-Ghazal, which is part of the contemporary Lol State.
Being son of a leading Dinka Traditional Leader, the late Executive Paramount Chief of Greater Ayat, Ring Lual Dau, he has been active in numerous positions of the Sudan Peoples´ Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) since its formation in1983, as well as being Chairman of the New Sudan Foundation and the White Nile Foundation. For the later, he was especially taking on roles relating to international co-operation and economic development.
Costello Garang Ring Lual’s home, Greater Ayat, is also currently known as Ayat Payam and previously, before the formation of the Sudanese State, as “Ayat Lual Achuol“. Greater Ayat is inhabited largely by the Malual-Dinka, a sub-group of the Dinka. More precisely, Garang is a member of the Clan of the Pa´hol (lit. people of the femoral bone), a clan that produced a number of significant Dinka priests, amongst them Garang’s ancestor Lual Achuol (lit. “Lual the Black”). The descendants of „Lual the Black“ constituted the ruling dynasty of the once sacred principality of the Pa´hol Clan in Ayat Lual Achuol for many centuries. Before the British colonial era their function was similar to that of German prince-bishops during the Mid-Ages. Their BANY were mmainly religious leaders but also dealt with earthly matters.
It was Lual Achuol himself, who founded this principality in the 16th century and which continued to carry his name since. His legitimacy as a leader with the title “Bany Dit Long“ („Grand Master of the Word), as well as that of his descendants, was based on their position in the Malual Dinka-society, as well as on religious roles as universal principal authority or „Grand Master of the Word or Spear (Bany Bith).” Europeans also call “Bith“ a “fishing spear”, but this is a false understanding. „Bith Lual Achuol“, which remains in the possession of the family today, was never used for “fishing,” but to call the spirits and request ancestral assistance (“Long” meaning Word), and which thus explains the term „Bany Dit Long“ (Grand Master of the Word). Lual Achuol was a Great Master of the Word with no authoriry above him. Both spears are different, though with a similar basic structure. According to Dinka religion, “Masters of the Speer” have special access to the metaphysical world, which regards the Masters as messengers of the will of God. During the Anglo-Egyptian colonial rule (1899 -1956), the British attempted to recruit some of the Bany Dit Long or Bany Bith, like Garang’s grand-grand-father, Dau, and grand-father, Lual, as their colonial indirect rule Paramount Chiefs of the area.
Garang is the only child of the late Greater Ayat traditional leader and Ring Lual Dau and his first wife Atong Deng, who was also came from another family of Bany Long or Bang Bith. Following the death of his father in 1990, Garang, as eldest son, became practically the head of his family, in accordance with tradition. The daily tasks of the paramount chief are however carried out by his half brother Ring Ring Lual,who is the second son of the third wife of the late leader. In a spiritual way and according to old traditions Garang remains however the successor of his father.
Garang spent his childhood in the village of Marial Baii, near the town of Aweil. He attended the former missionary school of the Catholic Verona Fathers (Italy) in Nyamlel. Being the first Christened member of his family, the young pupil was just given the additional name of “Costello” by Father Marco, an Italian priest. After primary school he attended intermediate school in Aweil and El-Daen and Higher Secondary School in Fasher in neighboring Darfur, as well as the Old Khartoum Senior Secondary School (science section) in the Sudanese capital. In 1974 Garang was sent by his father to study in Germany.
He attended various European universities, amongst others in Germany in North Rhine-Westphalia, Berlin and Hamburg. There he studied Fundamental Medical Sciences, veterinary medicine, political science and psychology.
As soon as the second Sudanese civil war (the civil war, which lasted between 1983-2005, between the Sudanese central government on one side and different opposition forces in North and South Sudan on the other) began, he was named in September 1983 by the SPLM/A-Leader John Garang as SPLM/A Representative in Germany, based in Bonn. Beside Benjamin Bol Akok, who was the SPLM/A representative in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, he was the second and one oft he first two world-wide SPLM/A-foreign representative. Garang represented the movement in this fashion up until the split into the largely Dinka dominated SPLM/A-Torit-faction led by John Garang and the predominantly Nuer SPLM/A-Nasir-faction led by Riek Machar in 1991
As Secretary of Man Power Development Costello Garang Ring Lual was part of the leadership of the “new” SPLM/A. Together with Lam Akol, Telar Deng, Taban Deng, John Luk, Deng Thiel and D. K. Mathews he became a member of the „Frankfurt Conference,“ where they negotiated with Sudanese representatives let by Ali El-Haj. The result of these negotiations was the first recognition of the right of self determination of the South Sudanese people in January 1992 by the Sudanese Regime under Hassan Turabi and Omar Bashir. The result became known as „Frankfurt Agreement“).
In his new position as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, after the Nasir-Faction was renamed “South Sudan Independence Movement/ Army, SSIM/A“ in 1994 (subsequently 1997-2000 “United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF); 2000-2003 “Sudan Peoples Democratic Front/Sudan Defense Forces” (SPDF/SDF)), Garang Ring Lual became the main responsible person to conduct the foreign affairs contacts for the organization. He though refused to join the „Khartum Peace Agreement“, which was negotiated by Machar and remained in exil after Machar went to Khartoum to become Assistant President and President of the semi-autonomous South Sudan.
Following the reunification of the SPDF/SDF with the SPLM/A in 2003, Garang Ring Lual became Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development until 2005. In this function he and Machar were crucial for the foundation of the current South Sudanese national oil company NilePet and of the telecommunication company Gemtel. For the later, he was able to negotiate an economic engagement of the Chinese technology Giant HUAWEI in South Sudan.
Like many other South Sudanese families, Garang’s family did not engage only diplomatically in the South Sudanese struggle. He lost numerous half brothers fighting fort he SPLA, amongst others Lual Ring Lual (I), who was killed as SPLM/A Political commissar, Thiik Ring Lual (known as AWOU), Thiik Ring Lual (known as ALAK) and Lual Ring Lual (II) who died as SPLA-commander (similar to the position of a general). At the end of the civil war Garang Ring Lual declined an offer from the SPLM/A Leadership for a position as representative in the National Parliament offered him, indicating personal reasons. He equally declined an offer for a ministerial position (Minister of Investment) for the federal government of Khartoum.
In 2005 Garang accepted the presidency of the SPLM-Foundation by the name of New Sudan Foundation.
Between 2008 and 2010 Garang was part of the close network of advisers of Salva Kiir, the former President of the autonomous region of Southern Sudan and current President of the Republic of South Sudan from 2011. In particular Garang carried out the function of Advisor for Special Functions and Programs. He differred with Salva Kiir during the elctions of 2010, which Garang described as „rigged“ and openly „manipulated“. When in 2013/2014 a battle for power between President Salva Kiir (Dinka) and Vice President Riek Machar (Nuer) escalated into an internal South Sudanese civil war, Costello Garang Ring Lual declined to take sides, even though his sympathies lay clearly with the SPLM-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) let by Machar. Ring Luals political stance during this critical situation for the future of the country was: „Kiir has bypassed his usefulness and must leave his office in order to facilitate a peaceful solution of the conflict.”
Garang is convinced that there exists no principle animosity between the Dinka and the Nuer or South Sudanese tribes in general. The tribes are „manipulated“ into conflict by self-proclaimed „intellectuals“ He accuses the SPLM/A-leaders instead to artificially build up ethnic and tribal oppositional sentiments, in order to gain as many backers as possible for the internal power struggles of the SPLM/A – frequently fought out by armed means – whose purpose are in most oft he cases solely personal interests.
In 2015 Garang Ring Lual set up the independent White Nile Foundation.
Garang Ring Lual, lives part in Africa and part in Northern Germany. Apart from Dinka, English and Arabic, he speaks fluently German, a language he calls his “intellectual language.“ He is married to a german Veterinary Surgeon Elke Ring Lual (born Weber), whom he met during his university studies and with whom he has two sons.