By Deng Diar Manyok, 21/06/2020 — I read a cut-rate anecdote by someone who insinuated that President Salva did Dr. John Garang a favour by sticking by him during the liberation days and that Garang’s people should reciprocate to follow President Salva Kiir Mayardit. I have heard this cheap argument before from people who are educated who should be more politically informed.
These questions should bring your conscience to live before I put my option forward:
- Did the liberation struggle by South Sudanese start with Dr. John Garang’s era?
- Did Dr. John Garang fight a personal war?
- In any case, if Garang’s people have to pay for whatever went wrong in the liberation struggle, then why didn’t they inherit leadership?
As one reels with the above questions, I would like to state my hunch on this emotive subject as follow.
First of all, when Dr. John Garang led the liberation struggle, he did it as a national leader nominated by his peers to lead liberation of his people. There was nowhere or time where people of Twi or Bor were consulted if they approved of Garang’s leadership of the movement. Instead, he had an adversary from his community in the person of Akuot Atem de Mayen… who had different political lineup and approach in mind. Uncle Akuot Atem did not make it..and that was treated as a consequence of his political decision. He died in the hands of SPLM/A and Anya Anya II men. No community took responsibility or offense in his demise apart from personal grieve to loss of his dear life and his potential contribution to the movement. Akuot’s sons remained in the lines of liberation struggle. In fact, I remember his son singing with us, a song that derided Akuotdit. To him, I presume, the vision of Dr. John Garang was stronger than his tribulation presented by the fate that had befallen his father. That was true for most liberators who fell out of favor with the SPLM/A. Their kins and kith stayed true to the cause of liberation struggle. The cause was greater than individual’s predicaments. Moreover, no one had exception in the liberation except those who had chosen to stay by the fence in their comfort to be liberated. Dr. John Garang had his biological brothers, Deng Mabior and Malual Mabior, fighting in different fronts of the New Sudan. I do not think they or any other South Sudanese fought because their brother, relative or acquaintance was in leadership of the Movement. They had contextualized liberation in their own terms..and were thanking Dr. John Garang like most other Sudanese for having articulated the vision, led the war and provided logistics at no cost on our future. And indeed, Dr. John Garang did that without a favour on himself, for the benefits of presidency never acrued to him, his immediate family and or his community.
Yes, uncle Arok Thon Arok, Majier Gai Ayuel and many junior officers from Garang’s constituency found themselves at odd with the movement for reasons that were personal or institutional. They were not treated differently. In fact, Salva Kiir, carried out their arrests. Something that cannot be done today, given how being from President’s family or lineage makes one qualify for presidential treatment.
Garang and by extension, his community never saw the liberation struggle or its agenda as their own. Instead, Dr. Garang saw himself duty-bound to liberate his people not for his benefit but to engender a foundation of a society that avails opportunities to its people without institutionalized constrictions to them, by way of laws or perceptions of their origins, faith, look or creeds. This was system being perpetually advanced and imposed on our people by our archenemies.
So, instead Garang did South Sudanese a favour by liberating them not the other way. A forbearance being begged from him to get them to see the lights of freedom. As Lualdit one time insinuated that Garang was being gaurded so that he could not abandon that weighty responsibility before him. We all knew it, it was Garang and only him in those prevailing circumstances that could liberate us. Now, we have a head of State, National Ministers, Managing Directors of Oil Companies, Millionaires and so forth, thanks be to Dr. John Garang who made this happen.
Any bothersome cheap talk therefore, which insinuates that anybody did Dr. John Garang a favour by following him in the bushes during liberation struggle is foolhardy. Others have even gone further to imply that if President Salva Kiir did not stand with Garang, the movement would have run-out of fuel and crashed on its face. This is simply not untrue. Instead, if Salva Kiir did not stick with Garang, he would not be the President of the Republic of South Sudan. He would have come back to negotiate his reintegration as a militia leader of some kind of outfit with his head down in shame. Commander Salva was never more priced than Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, William Nyuon Bany, Arok Thon or Martin Majier Gai or even Dr. Riek and Dr. Lam. He just happened to be another member of Political Military High Command. He would have been replaced by another more competent officer, for example. Therefore, his responsibility as a head of State cannot be discounted because of his participation in the liberation struggle.
Without sense of contradiction, I would like to state that, no one followed Dr. John Garang as a son of Awulian, Patem, Pan de Ayen. Neither because he was a son of Gak Malual Kuol, Kongor, Padol, Pareng. Not at a glimpse would it be because he was from Twi, Bor or a Dinka. It was his vision and articulation of freedom agenda on behalf of the oppressed that precipitated loyalty and stamina to follow him. Any predisposition otherwise is opportunistic and naive of those that have hijacked people’s cause. Different groups of people had different liberation goals that took them to Ethiopia. Dr. Garang instead coalesced all these predicaments into a bigger cause to address those pigeonholes of injustices.
For example, Anya Anya II led by Bagat Aguek were protesting killings of their own people with impunity by the Misirya and untamed continuous encroachment on their ancestral land. People of Mading Aweil went to Ethiopia to acquire guns to protect themselves against maralhiin, people of Bor went to Bongo to get guns to protect themselves against marauding Murle militias. Panruu and Nuer of Bentiu went to Bilpham to get guns to guard themselves and their properties against Rizigat that were being used as proxies to displace them to create space for Oil exploration and name many more. The elites and students who were politically informed protested different mistreatments of South Sudanese in urban centres. That caused them to flee to Ethiopia in search for arms to turn around state of their perceived or real grievances. Non of them went to Ethiopia to certain Dinka man in the name of Dr. John Garang.
For the record, the movement was first dominated by Nuer followed by Bor and then Apadang upon arrival of 104 and 105 at Ethiopian borders to join elements of Anya Anya II mostly from Nuer, Shilluks and Apadang.
Upon training and graduation of Jamus and Tiger, Bor took numbers superiority which was consolidated by 11,000 recruits that became part of Koryom. The other 2,000 in Koryom mainly came from Bailiet, Panruu, Nasir, Bentiu, Akobo, and Malakal (Shilluks) of Upper Nile.
Anya Anya II fall out with SPLM/A later affected mobilization from Nuer communities in general. It was however reversed after integration of Gordon Koang Chol in 1988.
The 200 students that came with Lual Diing Wol to join Tiger and Jamus, and few Anya Anya II with Peter Bol Ayomnok were the first representatives from Aweil. A good number of students led by ustadh Daniel Ayual Makoi from Rumbek and Yirol responded to the call for liberation to join Tiger and Tumsah. Bol Madut and Malong Awan with their militia groups could not cross to Ethiopia until elements of Jamus under the command of Kawac Makuei, Bagat Aguek, Deng Aloor and Peter Bol went to escort them. Aweil and Gogrial swell their numbers significantly upon arrival of 11,000 recruits that became Muor Muor. At the start of the movement, mobilization of peasants had significant response from Aweil because of Maralhiin, Baliet because of Anya Anya II, Bor because of Murle and Panruu and Bentiu because of Rizigats and the rest had to be recruited over time.
That’s a bit of digression.
The reason for these skechy details, is to remind those with unfounded predilection that anybody did a favour to Dr. John Garang by sticking with him during the liberation struggle. Instead, Dr. John Garang was begged by his colleagues in the underground movement to take leadership of the liberation because of his unique exposure both in Anya Anya and in the United States of America. Garang answered to different frustrations that were being experience by South Sudanese at different corners of the country at the time. We owe him a big thank you, because he answered this call with distinction. The same people should stop bothering Garang’s relatives or community that they should follow President Salva because he stood. Instead, they should thank Dr. John Garang and his family, if necessary because, he has made him rule South Sudan, which his own admission, he did not expect.
Dr. John Garang amalgamated our various grievances into a political cause that was translatable and interpretable in geopolitical and global political terms. It won us unrelated and unconditional military support from allies. It finally gave us sovereignty. Garang’himself, did not earn a month’s salary for the first vice President and the President of the Government of South Sudan. He hunted down an animal called freedom from 22 years until it fell..skinned it, had it cooked and handed it over to junubiin.
People started partying in the spoils without recourse of thoughts. Now, like any other party, there’s a responsibility that comes with excesses and someone wants Dr. John Garang’s community on his behalf to bear responsibility..come on junubiin. Connect your consumption with responsibility, and if I may paraphrase Francis Mading et al, ” Take Power as a Responsibility, not just a privilege.”
When you hold power, be responsible to bear the consequences of it. People will call you names and hold you to account for their grievances, because that power is theirs!
That is the meaning of public Responsibility and Accountability.
(The views expressed in this article do not belong to Ramciel Broadcasting or share in. They are solely their owners)