February 23, 2015 (SSNA) — Undoubtedly, he was a rising star in the East African sub-region’s recently established fastest growing armed movement, the SPLM/A- In -Opposition.
With full energy and relatively younger age on his side, supplemented with proportional height and good looks to match except the ever unpredictable good luck slipping through his fingers, Lul was apparently on his way to political pre-eminence.
Better known in Nuer community from which he hails as one that has never in a life time steered clear from wadding into depth of controversies with potential to crash any feeble personality into oblivion.
Miraculously, he survived all those difficult rites of passage he encountered with a little scathe including his sojourn as one of ‘Jiech Amer’ in a semi-desert to North – East Kenya from Ethiopia following Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam’s fall from power in 1991.
Now he is back summersault to yet another challenge many have held breaths about whether he shall this time around surmount as he did to previous ones.
Being a parrot for SPLM/A – IO and a thriving one, none imagined a few months ago he would fall from the crest into the hallow of this political valley that has so far signified his monumental fall from stiff political Mount Everest. This is courtesy of his uncharacteristically burning political ambitions, the euphemism for insatiable quest for power.
Beaming in the company of his two better halves that were conspicuously ill-fitting for the occasion as he returned while two more others allegedly held sway in the opposition SPLM/A – IO, he projected himself in public light as nothing short of a ladies’ man he is usually known for than seriously aspiring politician who is now ready to shed off military fatigue with three piece suit.
While his dalliance with David Yau Yau, the Administrator of Greater Pibor administrative area that received him at Juba International Airport connotes yet another misstep in his faulty political calculus.
That only gives Yau Yau an encouragement that his political model of Greater Pibor, Lul has mimicked for Greater Akobo, is at least admired by some quarters across the country than the failure with which quite a good number of people associate.
Unfortunately for Lul, the reception by Yau Yau typified the height of an ominous foolhardiness coming from someone known by his colleagues as clever. For it beats logic as to why someone of his caliber could copycat an already failed experiment of Greater Pibor.
He too miserably failed to strategize on how best a lonely defector returns to the folds he once left. Although it is understandable he couldn’t walk into the lion dent that mirrors from a distance the rebel held Greater Akobo and recruit a few disgruntled rebel soldiers with whom to come along without being foreseen by ever detective microscope of Prophet Dak Kueth and heavy handed Chief of General Staff of SPLM/A – IO, Simon Gatwech Dual.
He could instead have done himself something better by gathering a few hungry lost boys currently wandering in the streets of Nairobi in order to bolster the lonely figure in which he arrived to a cold reception by government in steady decline from the promising shadowy government that passes for the SPLM/A – I O and in which no doubt he lost both.
By arriving alone he lost the pompous image for which the government courted him in the first place to be offered anything substantial when the welcome grows cold and wanes while his loss of presence in SPLM/A – IO and trust of the Nuer people the former mainly represents is apparently evident.
This made one curious Lou Nuer elder sum up his political obituary with a single liner: It is the curse’ ghost Prophet Ngundeng Bong spelled against Lul’s biological clan that haunted and extinguished his once increasingly shining star.
Lul’s resounding long term fall from grace to grass began when he exchanged tirades with the son of revered freedom icon, Mabior Garang De Mabior over a little known website that was established for the SPLM/A-IO during its hard time by volunteers abroad. Lul was in for the adoption of the website to become an official mouth piece of the movement which Mabior vehemently opposed.
Although the angry exchanges between the two equally ambitious young spokesmen, Mabior for the political wing and Lul for the armed wing, were treated by a few as petty power struggle, most in-depth political analysts viewed the disagreement that horsed off some tribal lines with potential repercussion of disorganizing Dr. Riek Machar’s master plan of trying to put Bor community on movement’s band wagon, if Machar’s eventual throwing of his heavy weight behind Mabior is anything to go by.
It is likely from this in house misunderstanding Lul’s proverbial Chinese journey of a thousand miles out of SPLM/A-IO began in earnest by swapping what would have been wonderfully lasting legacy with perishable cash and villa in East Africa regional hub, Nairobi.
This pact with government, so to speak, typified a zero sum game. It is a total wind for him and a raw deal for the government. For had the combined value of such fortunes utilized by the government to build a full pledged primary school or a dispensary in one of the backward parts of South Sudan, it could be enough to perch considerable votes to extend President Salva Kiir’s term of office in the next election the lonely returned Lul can’t now and will never deliver.
Much as his excuse that Riek Machar’s abandonment of the original pursuit of avenging the death of massacred Nuer in December, 2013 and eventual violent overthrow of Kiir’s regime for a political strategy of renegotiating himself back to vice presidential position is quite mild and lame. Since political differences can’t be solved with crude vengeance and neither is the lack of one having an influential slot with which to correct and prevent the bad past from recurrence in transitional government meant for ushering in the everlasting structural reforms.
Lul’s trouble is in forgetting too quickly his constant placement on endless and equally frustrating study tours outside South Sudan despite senior military rank he held at Bilpam, coupled with ramshackle Mercedes Benz into which he generously invited me along Airport – Malakia road in late 2012 which obviously told of marginalization in the military he was painfully undergoing. His sorrowful situation at the time made the 15th December, 2013 incident the falling heavenly manna he tenaciously grabbed with both hands.
However, he lost grip of the incident he only heard about while in Addis Ababa and hence, the need to put his personal interest before its veracity like the rest of his colleagues who flocked back a head of him.
A wheeler – dealer self – styled orator, Lul and I crossed the swords of Damocles for the leadership back in our youthful days in Nairobi in 1990s.
First, it was our mortal struggle in outwitting each other for the leadership of probably well-known Nuer dominated South Sudan National Youth Consolidated Program, SSNYCP in Nairobi, Kenya. In its first and last elections in 1998, I, he and two more other candidates squared it off over the Chairmanship. We were the most hopeful candidates at first, but two little known and late comer candidates pulled up a surprise against two of us.
The culprits were purely Nuer’s failed guerilla politicians chased scrambling for safety from South Sudan by Garang to Nairobi where they found solace in meddling with youth politics so as to make themselves relevant by throwing their dead weights behind the hotly contested elections but which regrettably ended in chaos.
These politicians were fearful of me as more politically mature among my competitors. They thought could I wind and take charge, of this youth outfit, I could most likely transform it into more formidable one to challenge their political, but factious might.
Like their factions, they made candidates appeal to clan loyalties except me who stood on the Nuer nationalist platform with well-organized manifesto which exuded more promising development programs and solid unity for forward looking youth.
This left Lul to pull Lou Nuer youth on his side, one Tut with Jikany and Lony Rut, current coordinator of SSUNDE, with Fangak and Bentiu youth. It was the latter that won followed by Lul and Tut came third. I emerged a distant fourth.
Among them I scored the morale victory as a nationalist more keen on uniting youth with likely forging of subsequent unity of their fractious godfathers while they became more of clan warlords interested in benefiting from the spoils of disunity of the Nuer people. And with my talent had the ability to craft a winning coalition with Lul who commanded a formidable Lou Nuer youthful force.
This alliance made minced meat of green horned Lony and Tut’s previously strong factions. In this bare-knuckle struggle for an empty power, SSNYCP became a pale shadow of its former self as the winner, Lony who claimed Chairmanship became more feebler in charge of disorganized faction with less coordinated program of action.
Fortunately, Lony surpassed us with zeal and moved on patiently to make something out of nearly nothing as Tut left for resettlement in Canada with his disillusioned Jikany supporters joining me. In the later date I and Lul dropped out of youth politics in which both us lost interest as we grew more politically mature and met again somewhere in late Dr. Michael Wal Duany ‘s led South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army, SSLM/A in 2002.
In SSLM/A, Lul joined the armed wing as the student in Nairobi while I as new graduate threw my lot behind political wing. I as the spokesman for the movement and Lul becoming ranked military officer, the movement decided to share out military ranks amongst all its ranks and files.
Whether a politician or military officer, everybody should be given the military rank for anticipated integration into Southern Sudan national army following the soon to be signed CPA.
Lul grabbed the opportunity with tenacity among others by getting the rank of a Colonel. That is his previously few stars combined with those of his late alternate commander and photo journalist, Isaac Ruach Kong as the way of propping him in order to make up for the lost brother.
But being morally loaded Philosopher unlike the rest I detested the bias of a civilian getting such a rank many foot soldiers of over twenty years in the frontline without break were not dreaming of getting.
A year later, when I shared with my war veteran dad the idea of sharing out of military ranks which I rejected, he protested against my ignorance about the importance of military in a third world country like South Sudan. His natural wisdom lived to demolish my philosophical hypothesis following the formation of GOSS and post-war SPLA in which Lul Ruach, irrespective of his young age, short cut and fast lane maneuvers, was only added one more rank to become Brigadier general with which he is today comfortably engaged in some sorts of horse trading.
Deng Vanang is the Author of a book: South Sudan the Making of a Nation, a Journey from Ethnic Polities to Self-rule, State and Democracy. He can be reached at [email protected]