Dear brother Butrus Ajak,
May 3, 2014 (SSNA) — Your recent post is a violent departure from your usual sober approach to the crisis raging in our country. It seems like you have been roughed up in a bad way by someone from the Bhar El Gazel (BEG) region, which is the only context in which this outburst could be understood. Don’t be unmindful that every community has its own mentally strayed loose cannons, and you just happened to have been blown up, inadvertently, by one of the BEG’s. This person’s opinion is nowhere near the general consensus in the said region. Let him bark until he runs out of steam and stupid zealotry.
But, since you’ve made some calls to the Bor Community to re-think her political alignments in the current conflict/political dispensations and the future ones, I think your post deserves some measured levels of response from somebody from the said community. Of late, the question as to why we’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a government that doesn’t seem to take our interest seriously has been dripping effortlessly from the tongues of some members of our community. I always take such a question as one of those random questions, which invariably stem from the war fatigues and general wariness, which is precipitated by the incompetent manner in which the war is being fought. I never really attach any importance to it until now.
I read your writings somewhere before, and you appear quite knowledgeable, as someone whose views shouldn’t be dismissed with an air of arrogance or ignorance. The fact that you appear angry, upset, and visibly outraged is completely understandable. Our community has been served with the shortest end of the stick in this conflict. We’ve suffered immeasurably.
Brother Ajak, in 1991, when Riek first challenged Dr. Garang militarily, the first thing he did was to send his White Army to Bor to wreck havocs. His mission succeeded when he managed to kill thousands of Dinka Bor civilians, loot their properties, and left the few surviving ones to fight against famine and diseases in the refugees’ camps, and internally displaced persons’ camps. Riek did this because he wanted to break Garang’s will, and he almost did.
In the movement, the SPLM/A, this was understood not as an attack on the Dinka Bor people alone, despite the fact that Dr. Garang came from Bor, but as an attack on the movement as whole. The SPLM/A responded as such, albeit belatedly, and Riek’s forces were forced out of Borland. I survived this onslaught as a young boy so when I talk, I talk from the ugly experiences of the past.
The people who came to defend Bor were not solely the Dinka Bor’s sons. It was the whole movement’s military machine which threw its weight behind Dinka Bor. For example, when Majak D’Agot was sent with Jesh El Amer (Red Army) to fight off the invading White Army, his force was almost homogeneously comprised of men from the BEG region, with a few from Equatoria, Dinka Bor, and Nuba mountain. This force was almost completely obliterated by the White Army in the muddy bushes of the then northern Bor. The force that came with Kuol Manyang, which finally liberated Bor on Dec. 12th, 1991, was equally comprised. It was the movement fighting the sellout in the person of Riek Machar. This shows that despite our habitual silly tea place cheap talks, when the worse comes to worse, the Dinka of BEG will always stand with the Dinka Bor. All the data suggest that it is safe to make such a generalized conclusion.
In this conflict, let’s also pause, reflect, and understand that it is not the BEG region’s fight alone. The idea that since the President comes from the BEG region, the fight should be viewed as a fight between those who hold the power and those who want to wrestle it, with the rest of the country standing with its arms akimbo, is silly. This President was elected by all of us, and any attempt to undo the majority’s will by force or otherwise should be resisted as an attack on our sovereignty.
It is immaterial whether Salva Kiir is the president or someone else is the president. To think that Warrap today should lead the resistant against Riek Machar is similar to that erroneous belief, which was prevalence in some quarters in 1991, that the Dinka Bor was the one with an axe to grind with Riek Machar. Dr. Garang was the legitimate leader of the movement and he had to be defended as such. Kiir is the legitimate leader of the country now, and on the similar basis he should be defended. Just as the Dinka Bor couldn’t defend Dr. Garang back then, the community of Awan Chan, in Warrap, where Kiir Mayaardit hails, isn’t in a better position to defend Kiir now. The sooner we realize this, the better.
About the political alignment, you seem to insinuate that since the BEG region doesn’t care about Dinka Bor, it is time for the Dinka Bor to re-think her political alliances. You also seem to suggest that the defunct Upper Nile Region, which is where Dinka Bor has been mostly persecuted and prosecuted, is where the Dinka Bor’s security and political future lie. First, it has to be qualified whether or not the BEG region cares about the Dinka Bor interest. I am open to be convinced by a well-thought out argument, backed by a reasonable data, but so far, I haven’t seen any.
The present disfranchisement from the members of Dinka Bor is firmly rooted in an understandable anger triggered by a few unpalatable emotional outbursts from a few people who don’t know better from the BEG region. This childish, grotesque, and bigoted reasoning from a few BEG demagogues shouldn’t be used as the basis to fault the whole region. And honestly speaking, which region is devoid of uninformed and bigoted idiots? We’ve got our own loud-mouths who speak before they give themselves a chance to think, but their shortsighted views of others are never taken as the basis on which the whole community of Bor is viewed and judged.
Brother Ajak, I am offended beyond fathoming that you would even hint at agreeing with Deng Lueth Mayom on his skewed views, which seem to erroneously insinuate that the Lou Nuer, Gawer, and other Upper Nile Nuer societies are our close brothers and that these are the ones we should form an alliance with. I read Deng’s call on the Dinka Bor to stand with Nuer, and I ignored that because we all know where Deng Lueth and cohorts stand since this conflict began, but are you too that gullible, to be swayed that easily? A day of reckoning will someday arrive for those who are now playing politics with the lives of our people. Our community is awash with Nyandeng’s apologists————those who are placing political expedient and jealousy before that which is right and just. These people will someday have their day in the court of public opinions and they will be condemned. There will be no Salva Kiir to stay their well deserved chastisement.
The Upper Nile, where Deng Lueth Mayom and his apologists find solace, is where we’ve repeatedly been persecuted. In 1991, it was the Greater Upper Nile Nuer societies who allied with Riek and attacked Bor in earnest, thus reducing it to ashes, both physically and emotionally. In the ongoing conflict, it was the same Upper Nile Nuer Societies who sounded the drums of war, and invaded the Borland, again, sending her children to the refugees’ camps, and internally displaced person’s camps. Now, is that what you want to form an alliance with? When did an antelope ever run into a lion’s den and made it out a life? Where is this elusive brotherhood I keep hearing about? If we can’t learn from history and experience, then what exactly are we going to learn from?
Brother Ajak, when the ongoing murderous transaction was initiated, I was in Bor and I know what exactly happened. Let’s not allow political cheap talks to sway our opinions when we haven’t gathered enough information. It is fatal to toy around with one’s own security in times of moral crisis such as the one that we’ve found ourselves in.
When the fight broke out in Juba, the first place where the Nuer began to avenge the alleged killings of their kith and kin in Juba was in Bor. After the night of Dec. 15th, 2013, some members of the Lou Nuer in Bor Town went to the home of their neighbors, two boys from Kongoor (Dinka Bor), and butchered them with machetes mercilessly. They then displayed their abused bodies outside the compound for their unsuspecting relatives to find in the morning. Then, Gadet switched sides in Panpandiar and butchered Ajak Ayen (Dinka Bor) and his body guards. He then sent his men to attack the town in earnest and sent us fleeing to the bushes. In the pursuing mayhem, hundreds of civilians, who took no part in the quarrels in Juba, were slain.
But that was not enough, the Nuer of the Greater Upper Nile mobilized in their thousands, and attacked Bor. Hundreds more civilians were killed in cold blood including the women in the church, and the patients in the hospital. They also went on a killing spree, butchering civilians in their huts in the surrounding villages. All these happened because these civilians were Dinka, and the Dinka was the one killing them in Juba. But that was not enough, after they were repulsed in Bor Town, they came back to Duk and maimed it. They abducted village chiefs in Duk; the fate of these traditional leaders is yet to be elucidated. Their blood thirst hasn’t been quenched yet, and if given a chance, they will do what they did again, to the Dinka Bor civilians. Unless the word alliance has changed its meaning, I doubt if this is something you need to form an alliance with without being seen as dinning with the devil.
You also argue that Bor was not adequately defended when the war broke out. Yes, it is true, but understand that there was a national army, stationed in Panapandiar, in Bor. This force was enough to defend the region from any aggression, internal or otherwise. However, like the rest of the national army, it was mostly comprised of Nuer tribesmen. A fatal mistake was made when all the Nuer militia were integrated into the national army without political desensitization and training. However, this is a topic of another day. We can debate the pros and cons of it, but we will be digressing.
As a result, the massive defection of Nuer soldiers to Riek’s side left the country without a standing fighting force. The President and the Defense Ministry had to make do with what they had to defend the country. It was the reason why M7 of Uganda was called upon to defend his ally. And remember, when the late Abraham Jongroor went and chased Gadet from Bor, he only had five hundreds (500) men under his command. Do you know where these soldiers mostly came from? They definitely didn’t come from Bor. They mostly came from the BEG region. If it wasn’t because of these men’s bravery, a few civilians from Bor who are now sheltering in Guolyar, Awerial County, won’t have made it out of Bor. I personally won’t have made it out of my hiding place in the bushes of Kolnyang. And yet Deng Lueth Mayom, and you of late, want me to believe that the people who ensured my survival are supposed to be my enemies?
Having given you the reason why on a communal basis we can’t form any alliance with the Nuer societies backing Riek Machar, let me tell you the BIGGER reason why it is even a horrible idea to throw in our lots with Riek Machar. THE COUNTRY’S FUTURE. When the war of liberation began in Bor in 1983, thousands of our peasants joined the fight. The first nucleus of the SPLA’s fighting force was composed of men of Koriom battalion, which was mostly recruited from Bor. These men fought the hardest battles of the liberation war. They won some and lost some. Lots of them died and lots were disabled.
They were followed by the rest of the communities across South Sudan. Every time there was a depicit in the SPLA’s fighting force, Dr. Garang would always come back to Dinka Bor, and we never hesitated to produce men to fight the war. There were ‘Buluk ke Diak’ and other recruitment drives which yielded men who went on to liberate the country. I am sure you have some recollections of those recruitment drives across Borland. In terms of materials, we wasted grains and livestock to feed the army. In blood and materials, we’ve enormously invested in this country. Personally, I have lost three brothers, an uncle, and a nephew, all of them fell by the enemy’s bullets. Lots of other families from the Dinka Bor and across South Sudan can cite their loses. Expensively, we have invested in this country.
When Riek rebelled in 1991, Southerners were on the verge of capturing Juba, a victory which could have allowed us to conclude the war in our favor. However, Riek stabbed us in the back, and formed an alliance with Bashir, our traditional enemy. Despite the setbacks, we pressed on until we brought forth the CPA. The last SPLA commander to fall before the guns went silent was Dhieu De Warabek. He was a Dinka Bor from Abek Community, Twi East County. Figuratively, the CPA was inked with his blood. It was a covenant not to be broken between the fallen and those who survived to enjoy the fruits of our struggle. Riek Machar was one of the first beneficiaries to enjoy the sweetness of these fruits, but Dhiew De Warabek wasn’t. Riek’s past deeds were forgiven, but hardly forgotten.
But Riek Machar’s appetite for betrayal is unquenchable so he is at it again. Instead of waiting for the voting booths to be set up and opened, he took the shortest cut to leadership, and along the way, he has crushed lots of civilians, and put the nation’s future in peril. Riek Machar is bad for the country’s future because of his unstable political records, and any alliance with him will be an alliance against the country’s future.
In good conscience, given our enormous investment towards the effort to midwife this country, this is a costly undertaking we can’t afford to embark on, not now, not ever. We’ve come this far, and as a community, we can’t afford to queue on the wrong side of history. We ought always to remember and honor the memories of those fallen heroes such as Ajak Ayen, Jongroor Deng, and hundreds of Bor sons who have died making sure that this country has a future. So brother, they’ll call you coward because they have not the privilege of knowing their history, let them deny your contribution, but history, which is the best judge of our deeds, will always rebuke them.
Dr. Bior Kwer Bior, PhD, is a South Sudanese national who resides in Juba. He is currently working as a consultant in the National Public Health Laboratory and Center for Disease Control (NPHL-CDC) in the Republic of South Sudan. Dr. Bior can be reached at: [email protected].
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this essay are solely those of the author’s and not that of his employer.