By: Deng Riek Khoryoam, South Sudan
August 26, 2011 (SSNA) — It has been over a month now since the birth of the world newest nation, the republic of South Sudan. In the run up to the independence celebrations on the 9th July, a lot of speculations were going round including those allegedly accused of planning to overthrow Salva Kiir and his government. No independent verification done to ascertain facts on whether all that was being said was correct or not. It was also rumored that senior government officials in the current government were on that record as coup masterminds. If confirmed, then it remains to be seen how senior government officials holding parastal jobs could plan to overthrow a government to which they are post holders.
Some of us’d hoped that once we became an independent nation, those old grudges and tribal prejudices would be put aside and we embark on nation building. While those who have the interest of this nation at heart have this kind of thinking in their minds, others think the opposite way – to advance their tribal or communal interests over that of the republic of South Sudan. This has been the case lately and all along! Dr. Riek Machar, the vice president of the republic of South Sudan was quoted out of context when he was invited to the house of Madam Nyadeng De Mabior, the window of the late John Garang. Reliable sources had it that Dr. Riek was invited to the house for a small ceremony following the martyr’s day, which was marked countrywide.
It was reported that Madam Nyadeng and others from Bor blamed Dr. Riek for not frequently visiting the children of late Dr. Garang in recent times as he used to do some time back. To further make their case, they even queried and wondered if it’s because Dr. Riek’s forces massacred (allegedly) in 1991 at the time of split! They also laid blames on Dr. Riek for failing the people of Greater Upper Nile for what they called “Bahr el Ghazal’s mistreatment of others”. What transpired sooner after this was a movement of tears and serious weeping whether in pretence or not. I don’t know what they really meant by this since Dinka Bor’s sons and daughters have been holding some of the most prestigious jobs in the country till it was partitioned into two. I know for sure human’s quests and desires are never fulfilled till he or she gets to the top job – the presidential palace as president! Perhaps, that is what our brothers and sisters from Bor have always desired given the fact that the late was supposed to have been the one raising the flag as the president.
When Dr. Riek got up to give his speech, he had to tell the audience that whatever happened in the past was long forgotten and should be put behind, since remembering it will not take us anywhere. He did say sorry for whatever happened in the past but was not specifically on the 1991 alleged massacre that left many people dead. His apology was general, not specifically to one particular community; therefore, Dinka Bor ought to have understood just that! A leader saying sorry for whatever happened in the past should not be taken to mean that he apologized to Dinka Bor for the 1991 incident. But when he said he was sorry for the past events, the useless bigot and tribalist in the ilk of Malaak Ayuen—– the head of disinformation desk at Bilpam went on air and reported that Dr. Riek apologized to Dinka Bor for the killings of innocent civilians in 1991 when he split away from the SPLM/A mainstream. It seemed as though Malaak Ayuen has reduced himself to being a news reporter for Dinka Bor than a professional SPLA soldier on a national duty.
It was also alleged that Dr. Riek Machar even went as far as weeping when he saw Bor people crying. He was allegedly followed by his wife, Angelina Teny, the former gubernatorial candidate for Unity state in the last year general elections. The most fascinating part of this all is that: if you ask the Dinka Bor to show videos or photos captured of Dr. Riek and his wife when they were weeping at the event, they are not able to produce anything as evidence? The question that poses itself here is: Why should Dr. Riek apologize to Dinka Bor for the incidence of 1991 when his vision has been achieved? It’s like those who were against the right of self determination or the independence of South Sudan had come back to the half-broken or crooked canoe whose paddles were thought to be useless or broken altogether. Dr. Riek did not just split from the SPLM/A for the sake of it, he split away from it because the late leader was against anyone talking about independent South Sudan.
By then, no one could say ‘No’ to the late king, Garang, on anything even if it was morally wrong. But Dr. Riek was audacious enough to correct the king and told him that what the South Sudanese people had been fighting for since 50’s or 60’s was not for the disillusioned unity of the Sudan founded on a shallow basis. They were fighting for the independence of South Sudan by all means and at all costs! When he tried to correct the late Garang, many thought it was a power struggle; that he was trying to overthrow him. How wrong they were. Atlas! As a result, he had to split away in August 1991 to form what was by then known as “Nasir faction” along with those of Dr. Lam Akol, Dr. Peter Adwok and many others, to champion for the right of self determination.
When Dr. Riek broke away from the SPLM/A, many senior Nuer officers who remained in the mainstream were killed in cold blood because a Nuer son challenged a Dinka king. They were systematically and intentionally killed by people in the high command, many of whom hold senior positions today. It goes without mentioning that Dr. Riek never ordered the killings of innocent civilians in November 1991 in Bor. The then so called “white Army” who were equally well armed, decided to go Bor for retaliation since many Nuers were now being killed everyday starting from August 1991 when Nasir declaration was announced. A certain serving governor somewhere is now nicknamed as “human butcherer” for his role in the aftermath of 1991 major split that saw the movement down to its knees. Brother Nhial Bol, the chief editor of the citizen newspaper has asked all the fundamental questions that could have been asked by a sane and rational person.
If Dr. Riek could apologize for the 1991 Bor incident, who will apologize for the murder and killing of hundreds of Nuer officers? Who will apologize for the killings of the Nuer civilians in the aftermath of the split? I advise the Dinka Bor to think twice over this as it could stir up the settled dust and wind, which is undesirable at this critical juncture. Let’s forget the past and its horrors and focus on nation building as Southerners. I also advise them that remembering or reminding people of the past events is tantamount to inciting ethnic tension; therefore, it’s a recite for tribal conflict, which I think is undesirable at this movement when we’ve have attained our independence. Dr. Riek never killed anybody, neither has ever ordered any soldier (s) to kill innocent civilians – the white army were acting on their own.
To sum up, Dr. Riek did not issue any apology to the Dinka Bor. He even denied it himself when he was in Bentiu. I also gathered facts from his close aides who were with him on the same of the occasion, and they said he never made any apology to Dinka Bor for the 1991 incident. Therefore, what happened was mere media propaganda aimed at scoring a certain political or legal point against Dr. Riek. It was both politically and tribally motivated, to say the least!
For Malaak Ayuen, I have this piece of advice for you: please try to alter the way you present yourself and the SPLA events. The SPLA is soon to become a national army for South Sudan, not a tribal army! Since you were made the head of disinformation, it became clear that you were only representing the interest of one tribe over others – that needs to change for trust and credibility purposes of the national army. Of importance, the media is not a tool for advancing communal or tribal interests, it’s for the benefit of the nation; get that very clear. You need to tread very carefully on how you put your messages across.
The author lives in South Sudan and could be reached for comments at [email protected]