Conversations with Daniel Wuor Joak about “the rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA leadership” (Part 1)

Upper Nile State’s Former Minister of Education, Daniel Wuor Joak. Photo: File

By Margaret Akulia, Canada

March 18, 2015 (SSNA) — “Ah Nimeiry, we want division. Ah Nimeiry, we want division. Ah Nimeiry, we want division” chanted a group of Southern Sudanese in the early 1980s in Creole Arabic, also known as Juba Arabic. They wanted Kokora which translates from the Bari languages of Bari, Pojulu, Kakwa, Nyangbara, Mundari, Kuku, Nyepu, Ligo, etcetera into division. The rumbustious crowd wanted to make certain that Gaafar Nimeiry ( ) the incumbent president of Sudan at the time understood that Kokora was the only system acceptable to a people who continued to feel marginalized and exceedingly betrayed by Nimeiry’s flagrant violation of the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement of 1972 ( ) that ended the First Sudanese Civil War ( ).

The crowd did not mince its words to Nimeiry at the time as it bellowed “Kokora, Kokora, Kokora” in unanimity while the introduction of Sharia (Islamic Law) for the whole of Sudan including the predominantly Christian Southern Sudan loomed in the horizon! At the time the crowd was shouting “Kokora, Kokora, Kokora”, Nimeiry had embraced the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and allied himself with the transnational Islamist organization ( He had elected to impose Islamic law on all the people of Sudan including Christian and Animist Southerners, in premeditated violation of the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement of 1972!

As a young adult at the time, Daniel Wuor Joak remembers events related to the vocalization of Kokora very well. He also recalls many occurrences during the protracted war that followed the raucous rallying cry of the catchword Kokora because that war was waged immediately by the SPLM/SPLA he joined after a brief stint with the Anya Nya movement ( that continued to fight the government of Sudan from 1975 under the auspices of Anya Nya II, despite the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement of 1972.

Born in oil rich Upper Nile State, the location of some of the most alarming crimes against humanity that are detailed in the chilling report by a group of Eminent Africans led by His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria (, Wuor traces the history of all the wars waged to liberate Southern Sudanese and discloses events related to the Second Sudanese Civil War ( that purportedly ushered in the independence of South Sudan in a well-timed exposé titled “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership”. He provides unsettling accounts of schisms that will stun readers because they mimic the December 2013 breakup of the SPLM/SPLA into SPLM/SPLA in government and SPLM/SPLA in opposition which begs the question why did EVERYONE have their heads in the sand like the Proverbial Ostrich? Why did it have to take the mass murder of innocent Nuer children, women and men for heads to be joggled from under the proverbial sand when addressing the root causes of the massacre would have prevented such a reprehensible mayhem?

To say that the much-touted SPLM/SPLA is not what it is made out to be and the Nuer genocide of December 2013 was in the offing way before it occurred is an understatement. Hope, despondency, disapproval, betrayal, loss of face and etcetera are some of the diametrically opposed emotions the SPLM/SPLA now conjures up in a long list of individuals and interest groups ( that include ones that reawaken another Kokora popularly dubbed “The Scramble for Africa” (

Needless to say, that notorious Kokora which split tribes inanely and forced groups of people who loathe each other to live together, has come full circle as it now plays itself out in the most dreadful way in South Sudan. The only contemporary difference is the South Sudan Diaspora that grows in Western countries including the Troika! If it is properly utilized, this Diaspora can bring to the South Sudan Peace Table extraordinary skills, knowledge and standpoints that will moot any Dysfunctional solutions insinuated in declarations such as “African solutions for African problems.” It is a group that is highly skilled in navigating African and Western systems in tandem and facing off against individuals and groups that compromise the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ( in the name of “African Solutions!” Simply put, navigating the dangerous waters the SPLM/SPLA schism has created for South Sudan could benefit incalculably from the South Sudan Diaspora and it requires strategies that take nothing for granted!

By now, EVERYONE with the exception of the staunch supporters that are still exhibiting the emotive responses explicated by Elhag Paul in his article titled ‘Who will help South Sudan find peace’ ( recognizes that the SPLM/SPLA has betrayed the people of South Sudan the same way Nimeiry did when he knowingly reneged on the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement of 1972. Elhag Paul has written extensively about the malfunction of the much ballyhooed SPLM/SPLA ( and hewed away at its commissions and omissions as one would a gigantic African Baobab tree. He deserves a trophy for determination, persistence and a thick skin but it will take horrifying exposés like Daniel Wuor Joak’s “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership” to force ALL the heads out of the proverbial sand. It will take disturbing accounts like the ones provided by Wuor in “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership” to agitate a very extensive but compulsory self reflection! The exposé conveys some of the root causes of the South Sudan carnage transparently. That is why Wuor deserves praise for opening up issues that must be dealt with truthfully before the people of South Sudan can begin to heal, reconcile and create a country devoid of the lawlessness that has characterized “The First Republic of South Sudan!”

“Upon a request from Colonel Garang, the Ethiopian security organs attempted to arrest Akuot Atem, Samuel Gai Tut, William Chuol Deng, Moses Malek Chol, Gabriel Gany Juoch, Bol Kiir Diew, Gatjiek Wei and many others at Itang Refugee Camp” Wuor divulges information about an astronomic schism and troubled relationship between some of the original cast of South Sudan’s “liberators” before continuing.

“In order to avoid the arrest, in early August 1983, Akuot and Gai Tut with their supporters escaped and went back to Sudan. They did not want to confront either the Ethiopian security personnel or Colonel Garang’s supporters. When the Ethiopian security failed to arrest Akuot and Gai Tut, Colonel Garang asked them again to attack the Anya-Nya II Headquarters at Bilpam.”

“In the middle of October 1983, Ethiopian troops and Colonel Garang’s supporters led by Lieutenant Colonel William Nyuon Bany mounted a joint attack against Anya-Nya II. Several Anya-Nya II soldiers were killed in action at Bilpam – about 40 kilometers from Itang Refugee Camp. Commander Duac Taytay, a senior commander of Anya-Nya II, was gunned down and captured alive by Colonel Garang’s supporters. He was later executed by firing squad” read a little known chilling detail that sheds light on the SPLM/SPLA modus operandus that has plunged South Sudan into an unprecedented bloodbath!

“This is how the differences among the Southern Sudanese emerged. The Anya-Nya II lost Bilpam to Colonel Garang’s loyalists and decided to go back to Sudan where they joined Akuot and Gai Tut’s group. After the Anya-Nya II left Ethiopia, Colonel Garang and his group began accusing one of their supporters, 2nd Lieutenant Joseph Kiir Tang of collaborating with Anya-Nya II. His only crime was that when he left Bor for Ethiopia together with other mutinied soldiers, he was the one in charge of administration. On arriving in Ethiopia the mutinied soldiers from Bor, Pibor and Pochalla had handed over all their military hardware to Anya-Nya II Headquarters at Bilpam because they were not allowed to take them into the refugee camp at Itang. Soon afterwards, as mentioned earlier, Colonel Garang’s supporters mounted an attack on Bilpam, the Anya-Nya II headquarters but failed to obtain the military hardware stored there” read another shocking chronicle from the exposé “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership.”

The extracts shared in this article are only the tip of the iceberg from Wuor’s exposé. However, the following sections sent quivers down my spine because you can juxtapose them in the bloodbath that has brought South Sudan to the threshold of total collapse. They are especially more troubling because the SPLM/SPLA purportedly reconciled with Anya Nya II without acknowledging the executions of “previous enemies” and addressing the root causes of the bloody schisms!

“Finally, they executed Joseph Kiir Tang by firing squad, despite the fact that he was not acting in isolation. He was carrying out his duty in consultation with his superior officers including Kerubino Kuanyin, William Nyuon and Colonel John Garang himself”.

“From its inception, ideologically speaking, the SPLM adopted basically a Soviet-style model of dictatorial leadership similar in structure to that of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. Colonel Garang and his associates were running the movement in an authoritarian way, which victimized and suppressed anyone suspected as an opponent within the movement” reads a section that replicates what Machar’s SPLM/SPLA in opposition has been vocalizing since the split in December 2013 of the SPLM/SPLA into SPLM/SPLA in government and SPLM/SPLA in opposition.

“Meanwhile, the suspicion between the Nuer and Dinka was mounting in the refugee camps of Itang, Pinyodu and Dimma where the Nuer civilians were always prime targets of gross human rights abuses. Rape and sexual harassment, torturing and cold blood killing were common. In Bonga Training Centre, many new recruits were murdered in cold blood and the officers in charge of the camp did nothing about these murders other than ask the fresh recruits to bury them without identifying the victims”.

“SPLA soldiers in the refugee camps seized thousands of young boys aged ten to fifteen from the Nuer tribe without the approval of their parents. Others were captured in the Gajaak area and from other parts of Nuerland during the fighting and were handed over to the Ethiopian government on the pretext that they were Ethiopian citizens. Over five thousand of them were forcibly conscripted into the Ethiopia National Army and sent to Northern Ethiopia to fight against the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Forces (EPRDF). Most of these boys were either killed in action or died of war related diseases”.

“Following the fall of Mengistu’s regime, about 177 of them managed their way to Addis Ababa and were immediately handed over to the UNHCR office in Addis Ababa in order to transport them to Gambella enroute to their areas of origin in Southern Sudan. The UNHCR had to refuse them on the grounds that they were Ethiopian soldiers because most of them wore ragged military clothes. The majority of them were bare-footed and they could only speak the Nuer language- their mother tongue. One of the survivors was Kor Tut Lam whom I left in Nyangore village in 1984 when he was only 7 years old.”

“While the SPLA was scoring victories in the battlefield, its leader Colonel John Garang and his henchmen started hunting for suspected opponents within the movement. Several high-ranking officers or prominent politicians, who had joined the movement voluntarily in order to liberate their oppressed people, were unjustly detained for over 5 years without trial. All those detainees were kept in isolated incommunicado camps in the Boma Hills, Eastern and Western Equatoria regions. These detention centres were not accessible to SPLA soldiers or to common people. Some of the detainees died in prison due to starvation and torture. Their guards, on orders from their superior officers, used to murder them”.

“Over 40,000 SPLA strong combatants were just roaming Southern Sudan bushes for about 2 years doing nothing. The reason for their redundancy was that their leader Colonel John Garang did not want them to attack Juba or any other principal city in the South. His master plan was to liquidate all his opponents before capturing Juba, the future capital of Southern Sudan. About 16,000 minors, mostly young boys aged between 5 and 15, were collected by the SPLA leadership from their parents on the pretext that these children would be sent to different parts of the world for study. The majority of them were from the Dinka and Nuer nationalities. About 600 of them were sent to Cuba for education and military training. The rest remained in the bushes of Southern Sudan and were later used as child soldiers”.

“Those minors who were taken to Cuba had gone to various institutions and completed their studies. They were later taken to Canada for resettlement. The SPLA forces that were wandering in the bushes also played their nasty roles by terrorizing the local population in different parts of Southern Sudan. Between 1987 and 1991, these forces massacred the Mundari, Murle, and Taposa minority ethnic groups in the thousands and also looted their cattle and destroyed their homes. Such human rights abuses were only stopped following the 1991 SPLA split” Wuor concluded after alluding to the 1991 split respecting his commander in chief Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon ( It is a break up whose root causes must be addressed in order to separate fact from fiction and to prevent the monster that mimicked that split in December 2013 from rearing its ugly head again in the future! Wuor’s commander in chief appears to allude to that necessity as well ( ).

“Before the fall of Mengistu’s regime in Ethiopia, discontent within the SPLA leadership grew tremendously, following the detention of several SPLA senior commanders, some of whom had already languished in SPLA incommunicado centres for over five years. Many of the detained SPLA senior officers differed with Dr. Garang on how to prosecute the war for the independence of Southern Sudan. The entire Southern Sudanese people have always regarded themselves as victims of political and social injustices being committed on them by different Islamic and Arabised regimes in Sudan. On the other hand Colonel Garang was adamant to maintain SPLA objectives and principles of fighting for a “United Secular New Sudan”. This kind of disagreement within the leadership of the SPLM/SPLA eventually brought further splits within the movement” offered Wuor in a section of “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership.” It is a section that has a conspicuous similarity with the violent disagreement between Kiir and Machar that led to the callous extermination of innocent children, women and men from Wuor’s Nuer tribe in December 2013!

Through “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership” Daniel Wuor Joak contemporizes the events of the protracted war that followed the raucous shouts of “Kokora Kokora Kokora” in the early 1980s with the schism between Salvatore Kiir Mayardit and Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon that has made South Sudan go wrong. He will also contemporize those events with the scathing report commissioned by the African Union on the SPLM/SPLA’s cannibalization of itself in a preposterous but inevitable war ( to facilitate a proper understanding of issues that must be dealt with correctly for healing to begin. An exposé on the SPLM/SPLA is a fêted addition to narratives and solutions that must be factored into this healing before charting a sustainable way forward for South Sudan.

“The British are there because of the Americans and the Norwegians. If it was up to them, they would leave us alone to sort ourselves out” Wuor declared during one of our conversations about “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership”.

He was referring to the Troika countries (Norway, UK and USA) implicated in the scathing report by the group of Eminent Africans but may be better placed than IGAD to resolve the South Sudan carnage, in conjunction with the African Union as commissioners of the scalding report. Wuor was also alluding to the tumultuous colonial relationship between his Nuer tribe, the Dinka tribe and the British who may be the only members of the three Troika countries that are clued in on the necessity of a divergent approach to the South Sudan bloodbath. Allegedly responsible for nurturing a genocidal SPLM/SPLA fiend to life and therefore liable by intimation, the Troika countries dispatched envoys to the IGAD mediated Peace Talks between Kiir and Machar and their cohorts and the three countries are reported to have footed the colossal bill for the Dysfunctional IGAD facilitated Peace Process that collapsed on March 6, 2015 as predicted by the South Sudan Diaspora and other activists around the globe!

The cries of “Kokora, Kokora, Kokora” reverberate to this day because most of the issues that incited them in the early 1980s were swept under the carpet during a protracted war that many people now consider as a vociferous deception of the people of South Sudan and the world by the originators of the SPLM/SPLA! That is the reason why there will be no lasting solution to the South Sudan bloodbath without understanding and resolving those issues. Kokora, which translates into division in the Bari languages of Bari, Pojulu, Kakwa, Nyangbara, Mundari, Kuku, Nyepu, Ligo, etcetera is the same apportionment that ground the IGAD mediated Addis Ababa Peace Talks to an embarrassing stop on March 6, 2015, notwithstanding the fact that IGAD flubbed the peace process.

The solution for the carnage in South Sudan lies in the May 9, 2014 agreement facilitated by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, signed by Salvatore Kiir Mayardit and Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon and guaranteed by Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Chairman of the IGAD Assembly ( If that agreement was implemented as intended, the South Sudan bloodbath would have been resolved immediately ( .

If IGAD had asserted its position by demanding the participation of widely defined and properly constituted stakeholders instead of the slapdash approach that Kiir was allowed to dictate to select and send only “stakeholders” that are “friendly” to his lawless regime, the IGAD facilitated Peace Talks would have averted the carnage in South Sudan without delay. That is why it is time to listen to the actual stakeholders of South Sudan because they bring to the table lived experiences, impeccable wisdom and insider knowledge that will usher in sustainable peace.

Now that the Olusegun Obasanjo directed cat that was muted to enable amplification of IGAD’s pressure for Machar to sign a Peace Agreement that would prolong Kiir’s genocidal government before a ludicrous deadline is out of the bag via a draft report, let the actual solution for the South Sudan carnage begin. However, it must be a solution of the people of South Sudan, for the people of South Sudan and by the people of South Sudan (

Equatorians must be included in this solution in a substantial way because anything less can and will lead to the breakup of South Sudan legally using a little known legitimate detail and document arising from the aftermath of the Kokora of the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 ( ) which can be invoked at a moment’s notice by natives of the historical Ladu Enclave and Sir Samuel Baker’s Equatoria (! Suffice it to say that the original Kokora bellowed in the early 1980s has been misappropriated. It has to do with empowering and winning rights for all the people of South Sudan through division but not the division that characterized the Kokora IGAD encouraged!

Audiences are invited to follow the exposé “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership” by Daniel Wuor Joak which derives its title from the original leadership of the SPLM/SPLA who included nine founding members namely, Akuot Atem de Mayen, Samuel Gai Tut, Col. John Garang De-Mabior, Major Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, Major William Nyuon Bany, Captain Kiir Mayardit, Joseph Oduho, Martin Majier Gai and William Chuol Deng. It will be worthy of note to see how the script for Wuor’s “The rise and fall of SPLM/SPLA Leadership” ends as the beam of light now turns on Salvatore Kiir Mayardit, an SPLM/SPLA Leader who rubbed shoulders with the original cast of SPLM/SPLA Leadership characters, especially the Founder Colonel John Garang. Anyone who has skimmed through the draft of the scathing report commissioned by the African Union ( will discern that the fingers point squarely on Kiir and his ‘Mathiang Anyoor’ or whatever they are called. It will also be gripping to see how the extensive list of interest groups that have rallied behind the lawless and genocidal government of Salvatore Kiir Mayardit redeem themselves from their intentional or inadvertent but gigantic oversights.

Margaret Akulia is co-author of the sequel Idi Amin: Hero or Villain? His son Jaffar Amin and other people speak. She brings to the South Sudan dialogue a multidisciplinary professional background including but not limited to “grassroots activism”. Additional information and registration for webinars at

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