By Deng Dekuek
October 22, 2011 (SSNA) — When an intellectual ceases to use intellect and lectures people with an air of narcissistic self-elation and self-righteousness then he/she has automatically lost legitimacy and certainly this is the case with my dear friend Mr. Elhag Paul. It is astonishing to see how a seemingly smart man could be so out of touch with reality. Dr. John Garang was not a simple man as portrayed by Mr. Paul and wants us to believe. He was not a simple thoughtless idiot who would clutch on to a position for its wanton sake. Having learnt the lessons and mistakes of his predecessors and contemporaries, Anyanya 1 and 2 and etc. etc., Dr. Garang then devised his contradictory position, which combined the historical aspirations of South Sudanese as advanced by the Southern Front (Self-determination) and SANU (Federalism) at the 1965 Round Table Conference. These seemingly contradictory objectives had the methodology and means to achieve the desired end when combined together, which Mr. Paul has failed to see.
It is this enigma, which has come to define Dr. Garang as a man and the father of the nation. It is absurd for any man with a brain that functions, to deny that Dr. Garang advocated for unity (a mistake I would never make in my entire life) and equally, if not extremely absurd, for anyone to say that he is not the father of South Sudan and that he did not advocate for South Sudanese independence. This is of course not discounting other contributions or other people who are also considered the fathers of the nation like General Lagu, Abel Alier or Great Chief William Deng Nhial. However, to insist that Dr. Garang is not a founding father and that the central issue, which is self-determination for Southern Sudan, descended with divine wings upon Nasir plotters after which they preached and forced it on Dr. Garang and the Peoples’ Movement is plainly bizarre to say the least.
It is only those who are politically myopic that would ignore the prevailing political conditions regionally and internationally in such a case as that of Anyanya 2. Anyanya 2 was founded in 1975 and failed to gauge the regional and international conditions either deliberately or unknowingly, in their advocacy for separation and ended up with no or very little support in any form and from any country even those that were hostile to Nimeiri’s regime. As a result Anyanya 2 was not effective militarily or political beyond the forests which they occupied and ended up not capturing even a single small garrison from Jallaba.
So, how does one solve this enigma, which is Dr. Garang? The fundamental questions that one needs to ask are as follows:
1. Since we all agree (I am assuming here that we all agree) that Dr. Garang was a unionist. The question therefore is, was he a conditional or unconditional unionist? That is to say did he base his advocacy for unity on certain conditions or not? And if he did what were they?
2. If Dr. Garang attached conditions to unification of Sudan, were these conditions acceptable to Jallaba or not? Did the Arabs accept secular democracy and getting rid of Sharia?
3. If the Arabs did not accept scrapping of sharia in day-to-day running of the government and confinement of religion to mosques and churches, what did this objective reality make Dr. Garang? That is to say, did this make Dr. Garang a secessionist in a clever disguise or a simple single-minded unionist, as Mr. Paul appears to suggest.
The audacious hypocrisy on behalf of Mr. Paul is shameful. It is profoundly illogical with regards to the fact that Mr. Paul is at ease to take writings of the esteemed Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba, Steven Wondu, Ann Mosley Lesch, Douglas Johnson, Dr. Lam Akol and especially the works of Dr. Garang as edited by Monsour Khalid, at face value as the gospel truth. Yet he feels self-righteous to question the authenticity of Dr. Garang’s letter to General Lagu because it fundamentally undermines absolutism in his argument. The letter is well known among South Sudanese who bother to read and do their research. This letter can be found in the book of Uncle Gabriel Acuoth Deng (Achoth as spelt on the cover of the book) from pages 99-106. The title of the book is “Wars and a New Vision for the Sudan (a political lesson).” It was published in 2005 in Nairobi.
Interestingly, in his rush of emotions and self-elation Mr. Paul fails to understand the letter and questions its authenticity citing the appearance of the word “Khartoum-Anyanya.” It should be noted that the top left corner of the letter reads “Khartoum-Anyanya Negotiation: Guidelines.” – there is no full stop between the words “Khartoum-Anyanya and Negotiation” as Mr. Paul has invented. In addition there is a hyphen between Khartoum and Anyanya thus making them a single term and not two different words, as someone on the social media has also inferred based on Mr. Paul’s assumption and invention and also there is a colon after the word negotiation. Hence, for those who are not looking for conspiracy theories, the letterhead is clear and self-explanatory in that it outlines the guidelines for negotiations between Khartoum and Anyanya. That is to say, the words “Khartoum-Anyanya Negotiation: Guidelines.” are the subject of the letter and therefore “Khartoum” appears in that context. Nowhere in my article had I suggested that the negotiations were not in Addis Ababa. I am wondering who was his English teacher!
Mr. Paul’s insistence at placing the death of Mr. Samuel Gai Tut squarely on the shoulders of Dr. Garang and not that of the men who actually did the deed is a sore pander for tribalism intended to generate debate and plant discontent among Dinka and Nuer. He quotes Dr. Adwok and then infers that Mr. Tut’s death and the subsequent abhorrent desecration of his remains was due to the fact that he was a separatist. That inference is a distortion on behalf of Mr. Paul, or in a simple English he would understand, it is a misinterpretation because Dr. Adwok does not infer the death as such in his book. Dr. Garang once famously appealed saying, “please let us fight together and once we reach where you think is the border between North and South, then for those who want separation you can remain behind in the South and I shall continue with those who want to liberate the whole of Sudan.” I do not think this is the attitude of single-minded person who wants to kill all separatists in the Movement to extend a hand and offer cooperation.
It is not my habit to launch into monologues on the Internet but Mr. Paul has absurdly anchored his triblism, bitterness and hatred on a flimsy premise of unionism, which is just one aspects of Dr. Garang’s impressive legacy and uses that as a pretext to attack the SPLM and the Dinka elements of the Movement and the government. Distortion is something that Mr. Paul does with fervent frequency when it comes to other people’s writings to suit his arguments. He ridiculously accuses me of calling Dr. Garang a liar. He furthers writes that he is “dead serious” in what he writes and goes on to ask me to “shut up.” It appears it is becoming increasingly hard for my dear friend to hold a civil discourse without getting overwhelmed by emotions to maintain an intellectual argument. Mr. Paul is frantically looking for a totem or anchoring for his anti-SPLM bigoted political views, fuelled by inflated ego, tribalism and anti-Dinka feelings in the formidable legacy of Dr. Garang and the Peoples’ Movement, the SPLM. This is a platform I would like to rebuke him from and expound to him that it is not safe intellectually and he should seek other premises to use, which he can tarnish. If he thought my initial rebuttal to his article was intimidating then he should perhaps reconsider his options because this is the beginning and there are many more articles to come. Some people have already been speedy as birds of wing and pointed accusing fingers at me, pointing at a speck in my eyes (calling it a dash of arrogance) yet the do not see the log in theirs. Enough said!
Political bigotry and a dim mind are a great determent to one’s ability as a writer and objective analyst because there is no way on this earth that in early 2000s, Machakos Peace Negotiations that culminated into the Machakos Protocol of 20th of July 2002 did not contain self-determination. It is a blasphemy! Mr. Paul’s persistence that self-determination was off the agenda at the onset of Machakos Peace Negotiations of 18th of June 2002 to 20th of July 2002 and that it was eventually forced on to the agenda owing to pressure from diaspora or some third parties is akin to that story of the deaf man and his son.
The story goes that a deaf man was in the habit of passionately ringing a new bell he bought for his bull at inconvenient hours of which he could not hear the rhythm, such that he might appreciate it and stop being a nuisance to others in the cattle camp. It follows that the people started complaining quietly that he was a fool but no one was willing to rebuke him for obvious reasons. Upon hearing disparaging remarks on his family’s honour the deaf man’s son went to a gathering of elders, spear in hand as was the tradition to argue for his family’s honour. It happens that there was a smouldering ashen dung to ward off mosquitoes upon which people had also placed their spears for safety for it was twilight. However, in his rush of emotions the young man turned his spear upside down and placed the tail into the smouldering dung, upon which the wooden tail started to smoulder too and with his arms akimbo he enquired, “why does everyone call my family rash,” as the entire cattle camp raptures into laughter.
Therefore, it is only a dim mind that would refuse to concede against overwhelming evidence that Machakos negotiations of 2002 which culminated into the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (C.P.A) and whose Protocol forms Chapter 1 of the C.P.A where:
1. Held on the basis of pre-existing and already agreed IGAD’s 1994 Declaration of Principles (D.O.P).
2. Discussions aimed to workout a framework to solve the issues of governance i.e.
b. Separation of state and religion.
The signatory of this first Protocol was none other than a then, Commander Salva Kiir Mayardit. The entire document is available for download from this link: http://www.iss.co.za/Af/RegOrg/unity_to_union/pdfs/igad/MachakosProt.pdf It clearly shows that self-determination was not the least important and the last thing on the agenda as Mr. Paul insinuates but rather the opposite is true. All that one has to do is to check the facts before feeding people rubbish.
In addition, comparing Master Sergeant Samuel Doe and later on a self promoted General, who was a tyrant, to General Kiir Mayardit is an insult and completely out of context. Perhaps, if Mr. Paul had read his African history quiet well he would know that Samuel Doe was the most senior with the rank of a Master Sergeant among the 18 non-commission officers and soldiers who overthrew the Liberian government on the 12 of April 1980. On the other hand, President Kiir was democratically elected and holds the rank of a Lieutenant General in the Peoples’ Army. A rank, which was conferred upon him and earned it with hard work through, sweats and blood. Therefore there is no comparison or excuse for the insult.
Mr. Paul’s accusations that Dr. Benjamin, mind you who is the MP for Uror South – a non-Dinka constituency, is using media to promote Dinka agenda at the expense of others, is like accusing the Army Chief-of-Staff and its leadership of promoting insecurity which is extremely silly, if not insanely stupid. I do not know if I have to remind Mr. Paul that the fiercest and the most prosecuted media and media identity is a Dinka national, Mr. Nhial Bol who is the Chief-Editor of Citizen Newspaper. You can question anything and anyone including Dr. Benjamin but insulting commentary diminishes respect for the Office of the President and the Cabinet and I strongly urge him and others to refrain from the habit. Calling for a civilised moderation in discourse is something all sane and sensible people should urge and it is something I do not find problematic and certain if that is considered a pander for censorship then I am sorry but I still stand by words of rebuke to Sudan Tribune and to the editor of South Sudan Nation.
The Author is a Geologist and lives in Australia. He can be reached at [email protected]