By J. Nguen
November 19, 2015 (SSNA) — The “Lost Boys of Sudan” were young boys and girls who were forced to leave their homes in the late 1980s in Sudan’s bloody Sudan civil war. Some of these boys were forced conscript in disguise of taking them to school in Ethiopia by the Sudan Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A). Political correctness made the last point obsolete.
Many of the Lost Boys never came out clearly articulating that they were forced conscript by SPLM/A against their will and that of their parents. They only presented forceful displacement by Khartoum regimes. History must be fair and authentic. The two reasons about the Lost Boys exodus eastward from Sudan mentioned not to compromise facts.
The Lost Boys trekked eastward for months barefoot and without food and water and with only few adults to guide them through at night using stars. In Ethiopia, they only found themselves in encampments, and at time forced to build SPLM/A’s commanders makeshift houses.
This was sarcastic at best, as the boys’ search for save haven it turned out harsh treatments from those who supposed to protect them. Some had guts to say this guerrilla and forcing these boys to hard labor was a permissible tactic preparing them for hard conditions ahead.
They were twenty six thousands (26, 000) Lost Boys in Punyido refugee camp alone. They had no parents of their own. From the beginning, they were treated and considered soldiers yet untrained. For example, at dawn, they would be forced awoke by one single blow of a whistle. They had to sweep and another subsequent whistle marked military-like parade. One must run. Any delay means refusal of obey orders and means few slashes.
Failure to attend parade was considered a severe violation of normal routines and would prompted punishments. Sicknesses were translated as defiance of orders by undisciplined child who ought to be discipline with 50 lashes or more (they used to say; “wad dieu camsin soot” in Arabic). Sometime fines range from going to bush in the morning to cut grass for duration of one week. It was a harsh start in the perspective of a village boys like me and many others.
Immediately, the Lost Boys were named “Jesh El-mere” (meant the red army resemblance the Russia’s red army). Afterward we learned they were also red Army in both Itang and Dima refugee camps respectively. We had no recollection of their figures. But we were told they were in their thousands too. Regardless, wherever they are, the Lost Boys owed each other everything, life included. There are pretty unique group.
Today, majority of the Lost Boys are in their late 30s and early 40s and no longer children. Ironically, some greys still called the children. At time Khartuomers called the Lost Boys as unruly Dr. John Garang’s children. The unruly part is false but the Lost Boys openly accepts strong association with John Garang in life and death.
Dr. John Garang was our leader and led SPLM/A for 22 years during struggle. He was a father figure until his passing in the helicopter crash in 2005. The flip side and political rhetoric, some projected that John Garang has indoctrinated the lost Boys to certain thinking perspectives and political outlook, which in part, I agreed.
As a matter of fact, Dr. John Garang was a very sensible man and was logically making sense politically. He has workable programs through his New Sudan vision. His New Sudan Vision meant to liberate Sudan from what he called “minority elites in Khartoum”.
Undeniably, Dr. John Garang was a hard core unionist. He died believing that Sudan is and will continue to be one nation, which needed only a regime change, not a separation. He wholeheartedly believed that Sudan belongs to black Africans; while Arabs Sudanese are our new guests to Sudan and ought not to be given a piece of land of their own because they never owned one.
I must say, Dr. John Garang meant a lot to the Lost Boys. He valued and promised them a futuristic nation of whom they will be its leaders. He stated this time and time again, without any hesitations. In Ethiopia, he visited us three times in Punyido Refugee Camp, where in our encampments. However, I am explicitly aware of only two of his visits. In those visits, I recall, we sung revolutionary songs demonizing Khartoum regimes and South Sudanese alike, particularly those who were siding with them.
We praised people’s movement leaders. Sadly, after John Garang died, those South Sudanese who dined with Khartoum hijacked our hard won independence, South Sudan. They are what I called Khartoum trained conmen. These are conmen with plans to destabilise South Sudan under comrade Salva Kiir Mayardit.
For example, these Khartoum trained conmen have been very successful destabilising South Sudan by manipulating comrade Salva Kiir Mayardit. Through appeasement, unknowingly Salva Kiir submitted to them. A move which created condition of us verse the rest them, and at time tribal constellations.
The first casualty of the Khartoum trained conmen takeover of South Sudan is “John Garang’s Boys. All of them are now quarantined and labeled enemies of the Sate after missing hang by the neck. In our view, if SPLM die today, they so-called “Garang Boys” share some blames because they allowed themselves outsmart by Khartoum conmen and some were busy looting national funds.
The second casualty of the Khartoum trained conmen is the Lost Boys. The Lost Boys are not valued and promised. Their Garang’s promise to them is denied, vanished in thin air or buried 6 feet down. The Government of South Sudan under Salva Kiir does not recognize the Lost Boys’ contributions, and at time labeled them as enemy of the State when they speak truth about the country state of affairs. This loss of respect, coupled with gradual loss of autonomy is equal to total disenchantment of the Lost Boys.
The third casualty of Khartoum trained conmen takeover of South Sudan is the destruction of social fabric between tribes in South Sudan. The Khartoum trained conmen preached revenge of 1991 when SPLM/A split and where innocent civilians died in the mixes.
This dogma led to “Juba Nuer Massacre” on December 15th, 2015. Then, there was retaliatory reactions following the killing. This created mistrust and widened the gap between comrades who fought in the bush side by side. This feed to tribal constellation, which is another well placed strategy by the Khartoum trained conmen. For instant, when we wear our tribal hats, it is only the Khartoum trained conmen who find comfort in our midst. Therefore, ideals of a nation are thrown overboard, and tribes take considerable precedent.
John Garang used to say, “Khartoum is too deformed to be reform,” so the question is, South Sudan under Khartoum trained conmen too deformed to be reform? Honestly speaking, I have no answer at this time. However, this is why Lost Boys need to rethink and strategize to save the nation from free fall.
Bush life was unpleasant and the Khartoum trained conmen did not experience it. The Lost Boys have struggled in the bush and eventually some excelled educationally with flying colours. I should say, they are the most educated and disenchanted cohort in the nation compare to no other generation in South Sudan. As a matter of fact, some of whom are still in foreign lands making history day by day.
At home (South Sudan), in many fronts, the Lost Boys are the victims of Khartoum trained conmen’s strategy of divide and rule. They have been denied access and continue to be obstructs to participate in the government because Khartoum trained conmen controlled every inch of Salva Kiir’s administration.
The Lost Boys are considered misguided outsiders, and yet, it’s painfully true that there are the liberators. Without their contribution, South Sudan could not have been a nation sooner.
The following are undeniable realities:
First, many of the Lost Boys of Sudan fought in the struggles. They were the food soldiers of the SPLM/A. Second, the Lost Boys mobilized the international community in support of South Sudan and its people and thus led to independence in 2011. To be precise, before the Lost Boys resettled to United States of America, Canada and Australia, the case of civil war in Sudan was silence at the international stage.
When the Lost Boys arrived in these countries, they made the Sudan’s civil war case a priority and their voices were heard. Suddenly, there was a global outcry in support of Sudan civil war victims.
Where do we go from here? Reorganization is the basis solution. It’s time for the Lost Boys Sudan to rethink and strategizes wherever they are. The Lost Boys have a rich past of historical significance. It would be foolish to remain sidetracking. We have learned the hard way in the bush and thus sharpened our nation’s ideals regardless of our tribal enclaves.
This is a friendly message. It’s a brotherly note reminding brothers where we sidetrack. We fought in the bush together as brothers and we also advocated for our people cause at the international forums together with one objective, therefore, it’s time to rethink and come together once again.
The Lost Boys must stop wishful thinking and witch-hunting. We have not delegated our rightful duties yet. We have uncompleted delegated tasks- we must finish them before we call it a day.
Finally is our tribal enclave which the Khartoum conmen preach, rest assured comrades, there will be no nation called Republic of Dinka or Nuer of South Sudan. This is utterly an outdated thinking if it remotely exists. Above all, there will never be an eradication of one ethnic group by the other through barrel of guns. For instant, the Dinka will never exterminate Nuer in South Sudan and vise visa.
Note that those who preach these courses of actions have the intention of destabilising South Sudan with which you and I fought for.
J. Nguen is a South Sudanese concerned citizen living in Canada. He can be reached at [email protected].