July 9, 2015 (SSNA) — On Friday 26th June 2015 a significantly sad event took place in Juba. Facebook carried the story and I thought that the following day this would be reported in the media. But it was not – reason, the story could be explosive and could enlighten the wider Jieng supporters of the SPLM/A machine to realise that they are simply dispensable. Right now the majority are carried away by the feeling that they are rulers even when they are being sacrificed like lambs in the front lines and the social environment as in this case.
This story must be told and deconstructed for the benefit of all the people of South Sudan. Mr Thon Mangok, a Jieng overwhelmed by the unbearable suffering in the country created by his own kith and kin decided to end his life by hanging himself. Someone by name of Faza Gabriel posted the images of the late with the message, “Dear Friends my friend father Then (Thon) Mongok hung up himself today at 01.30 pm in POC3 Juba”. In the image the late hang on a whitish thick rob firmly tied to the ceiling beam. Mangok wore a dark trouser and a vest. His suspended body hang still with his visibly snapped neck with the face looking down wards to the ground. That very sad look of the deceased sums the very malaise gripping the country.
But beyond that the whole story of Thon Mangok symbolises the destruction of the Jieng people by the Jieng Council of Elders and the destruction of the country by the SPLM/A which is controlled by the latter. On face value it appears that the Jieng are having it large, especially given their behaviour all over the country. But in reality the truth is that a lot of the Jieng, especially those in the villages are suffering like their brothers and sisters in other parts of the country. They too are victims. Dr Justin Ambago wrote about this in the past highlighting the suffering of those Jieng dying in Warrap from hunger while their son sat in J1 with his black hat doing nothing to save them.
The greatest irony is that they join his militia in thousands and die to protect him in droves, but the president does not care about their welfare except that of his closest friends in the Jieng Council of Elders. The militia and the army are not paid regularly. When they die in front line, their bodies are left for vultures to help themselves on. No health facilities. No proper homes or insurance. Their families are left destitute. But then look at the members of the Jieng Council of Elders with their closest relatives – they are driving Toyota V8s, Hammers and what have you. They reside year in year out in luxurious hotels paid by the government. They over indulge in eating so much so that obesity has become endemic in their circles.
It is this discrepancy of have-and-have-not in the whole country and within the Jieng community itself that produces painful stories such as that of Thon Mangok. Emile Durkheim, one of the founding philosophers of Sociology explains that anomic environment among others can cause suicide. In South Sudan, with values and norms disrupted by the alien culture introduced by the SPLM/A it is not difficult to see why poor Thon Mangok chose to end his life. Everything is uncertain and there is no future to look to without health service, employment, security of life, food security etc.
Chinua Achebe in his book, ‘Things fall apart’ from an African perspective similar to Durkheim’s argument shows us how environment can be destructive to life. His main character Obi Okonkwo ends up committing suicide because he could not cope. Similarly Mangok despairs about the rule of his kith and kin and as a last resort he takes away his life as an act of “preservation” from the SPLM/A system. A system that destroys the secure way of life South Sudanese have known since the British colonial period. What the SPLM introduced trashed and destroyed the very soul of South Sudan.
All the values of decent living and social relationship got ripped apart by the policies of Jieng Council of Elders. Like Okonkwo, Mangok gave up and took his life. Mangok must have thought there was no chance of escaping the new destructive order put in place by his own people but to escape through self destruction.
Unlike sociological theories, Psychological theories place the burden on the individual’s inability to cope with the environment. While the medical approach as its name suggests looks at suicide as illness and it strives to treat it with medication.
Regardless of whatever approach, suicide can be minimised if potential candidates are empowered with information and given appropriate support. This is something lacking in South Sudan due to lack of care from the system. Mangok’s self destruction therefore highlights the measure of lack of information he had as a person. Had he had sufficient information he might have chosen other less drastic options than the one he took and he would still be with us today. It is worse now for his small family left behind. Their life is going to be a nightmare with a government of kleptocrats that does not even care about those it sends to harm’s way in a war it manufactured to perpetuate Jieng hegemony.
Mangok chose what to him might have seemed as an easy way out. This is not to blame him or to disrespect him as others would. It was unfortunate that he was unlucky not to have had someone near him to talk him out of taking his life. The people of South Sudan need to know that they should not kill themselves. Their woes are not of their making. It is the making of SPLM/A and so they should fight back to regain their freedom and what belongs to them by destroying this monstrous thing called SPLM/A. It is better to die fighting this monster “SPLM/A” thing than to end your own life making it easy for the very system that wants you out of its way.
If Thon Mangok had ended his life in any other country with conscious population, perhaps the situation in South Sudan now would different. This may also be the reason why his melancholic story has been muffled to protect the murderous kleptocratic system in Juba. Compare the suicide of Thon Mangok with that of Mohamed Bouazizi. In the Town of Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia in January 2011, Bouazizi immolated himself in public and set the country into a revolutionary mode changing the environment that drove him to commit suicide. Bouazizi’s death though sad, it served a larger cause of empowering the Tunisian people to regain their dignity while Mangok’s death in South Sudan is an utter waste of human resource.
But, expecting a revolution in South Sudan may be a bit too optimistic now given the brutality of the system that has insulated itself with ruthless tribal army and tribal militia ready to mow people down without any second thought. The events of December 2013 remain a constant reminder to the people of South Sudan, the extent to which this Dinkocratic system is ready to go to maintain its tribal government. The only way to deal with it effectively perhaps is what the late Dr Wani Tombe articulated in his speeches in USA, Canada and Australia in 2014. Here are the youtube videos of these speeches: ‘Dr Wani Tombe calling the People of Greater Equatoria to rise and protect their rights and freedoms’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIcJ6IQw-SI ‘Prof.Wani Tombe (Speech in Queensland Australia)’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-CzBiOQTuo ‘Dr Wani Tombe Speech in Nebraska 2014’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5r8MGyMWws
It is worth listening to late Dr Tombe’s message carefully because it is so rich and empowering. Dr Tombe in life might have been controversial but the fact that he is sadly not with us now should make people re-examine his patriotic position and his commitment to realising a free South Sudan. Nobody can blame him now for any sinister motive other than to accept the fact that he has gone with a bang arming the people with intellectual ammunitions to demolish the regime of terror. With humility I take my hat off to him. May Dr Tombe’s soul Rest in Peace.
SPLM/A in its totality is a pathological organisation. Please see ‘The fight of the beast in the luak’. http://www.southsudannation.com/the-fight-of-the-beasts/ Because this outfit is a Jieng organisation, the two have become one with each supporting the other in this destructive course. South Sudan as a whole now risks being destroyed by this suicidal behaviour. Thus the duty now falls on the rest of the country to save the Jieng from themselves and also directly saving themselves from destruction. What this means is that the Jieng need to be made aware of the current SPLM/A government’s potential to push them into suicide due to the contradiction that exist within the system for them, for instance they are purported to be the rulers yet they are left just as destitute as the rest.
Mangok was not saved because possibly nobody cared enough to speak to him. But the Jieng and their organisation are now told by this piece and the rest of the country should follow suit. Those negotiating in IGAD and the mediators too need to tell it to the Jieng in raw form as it is to drive the message home.
It is only when the Jieng are made to understand their foolery will good then come from Mangok’s sad self destruction.
A distinction of the two suicidal acts the Jiengs have entered into needs to be made from the chaos they created. First, the Jieng Council of Elders’ policies have produced a pauperised Jieng section that is afflicted with despair and no hope. This tormented group is now suffering silently without any voice and receive no sympathy from the rest of the country. As a result sad stories like that of Mangok are surfacing.
The second group is made up of the fighters that stuff the killing machine, the SPLA. Because of the nature of their job and the lack of professional guidance and ethical orientation, they have found themselves misled and beastialised. Anyone who doubts this should read the recent reports about the war in Upper Nile and Unity states where women and girls are raped and thrown into fire and children castrated and killed by the government troops. Please see, ‘UN says South Sudan children raped, castrated and thrown into fire’ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3131329/UN-says-S-Sudan-children-raped-castrated-thrown-fires.html
The horrific acts of the Jieng militia and SPLA both in the battle field and in the security offices all over the country is a problem waiting to explode in the Jieng community and the country at large given the fact that there are no robust health and social structures to support them. These Jieng boys and girls are now dying slowly through emotional, mental and physical break down. If the experience of the armies of western countries in Iraq and Afghanistan is anything to go by, the Jieng Council of Elders should be prepared for the outcome of their foolery in brutalising their sons and daughters.
As you can see the Jieng on both social and military fronts have set themselves on a suicide course and this is fast getting out of their control. This malaise of madness afflicting the Jieng comes directly from the SPLM/A and the obsessive lust for power for the sake of it.
The jieng through the policies and actions of Jieng Council of Elders have plunged the country into chaos and in the process they have made themselves to be deeply hated by the other tribes in South Sudan. Their behaviour on careful examination is irrational and amounts to what could be seen as a collective suicidal ideation. That the jieng’s collective mind appears to be suicidal is something hard to refute or dispute given the widely available evidence. For example, the rampant killing the Jieng security officers and militia are committing all over the country and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Nuer in direct violation of the interim constitution of the country. If their acts are not suicidal then I do not know what suicide is.
The exposure of the Jieng by the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) to: 1) the bitter hatred of fellow country men, 2) pauperisation of the majority and 3) individual and collective mental illness; all these for the sake of unachievable objectives such as expansion through encroachment to other people’s lands, and the dream of being the elite of South Sudan is an act of irresponsible leadership.
JCE is only thinking about their personal interest of enrichment and clinging to power at the expense of the wider Jieng community. They are sacrificing the entire South Sudanese including the Jieng willy-nilly and they do not care. If they did, perhaps Thon Mangok would not have hanged himself. If they did, the foot soldiers of SPLA and the militia would not be constantly unpaid. If they did, the fallen militia and SPLA soldiers would not make feast for the vultures – because they would be buried in dignity.
What does that then mean? Simple! The Jieng who are being abused, especially the militia and those in SPLA need to join hands with their brothers and sisters from the other tribes in the struggle for common good. This is important because by taking such a step they affirm their humanity and at the same time they will save themselves and their tribe from the deadly course set by the JCE. What is the point in following the JCE when it is impoverishing you the Jieng, pathologising you the Jieng, and making you the Jieng a subject of extreme hate and ridicule by others?
All in all, the bravado of bravery sung by the Jieng hides the realities of emotional and mental pain emanating from their abuse of state power and involvement in grave crimes like the mass killings of others in particularly gruesome ways. The enemy of the Jieng now is the JCE and those Jieng who are nursing undetected emotional and mental health problems from their obnoxious behaviour. This type of human destruction is the one presently eating away the Jieng. They (Jieng Council of Elders) have been walking into it foolishly in the last three decades in pursuit of narrow ideas such as acquiring massive land and the glory of power. The Jieng are most likely going to pay a heavy price for their reckless behaviour. Thon Mangok’s self destruction sad as it is symbolises what awaits the Jieng unless they change course. May Thon Mangok RIP.[Truth hurts but it is also liberating]
The author can be reached at [email protected].