Why I think Mr. Ateny Wek should not be a columnist

Posted: September 22, 2014 by PaanLuel Wël in Junub Sudan

By Mapuor Malual Manguen

The press Secretary of the President of South Sudan, Mr. Ateny Wek Ateny announced publicly last weekend that he his coming back with his writings; not for previous “beating the drum of trust” of The Citizen newspaper but, on the “Serious Observation” column in the newly established, The Juba Telegraph. So far, couples of his articles are published by The Juba Telegraph on his “Serious Observation” column.

Mr. Ateny is a great prolific writer as he has shown during his time with The Citizen newspaper before his current assignment. Although he was a fierce critic of government, his articles were largely researched, constructive and objective. No doubt he can perform much better in his new column with The Juba Telegraph.

However, the assignment he has in President’s Office will put him in awkward position. He is the Press Secretary in the highest political office of the country, a very sensitive position. It is sensitive because he is dealing with communication of which anything he says is taken seriously. Moreover, President’s Office is always under public scrutiny by the citizens and even beyond country’s borders. With President’s Press Secretary writing regularly on public issues, he is likely to be taken out of context.

We may say that it is his constitution right to express his personal thoughts, but Mr. Ateny will find it difficult to draw a line between his personal opinions and those of the Presidency or government. Obviously, his current job is likely to blur out all these borders. And whatever he might be writing in his “serious Observation” page would be seen as views of the government or Presidency per se.

Apparently, Mr. Ateny’s job is basically communication on behalf of the President. Writing articles for newspaper publication may fall within his job description. However, to do this kind of job regularly on private or personal level while holding such sensitive position is a difficult situation to undertake without causing controversy.

The author is journalist, blogger and political commentator based in Juba. He can be reached at mapuormanguen85@gmail.com


By Agok Takpiny, Melbourne, Australia

circular

The minister of labour Mr Ngor Kolong Ngor in the government of South Sudan issued a circular last week demanding that NGOs and other private businesses in the country must expel those expatriates who are doing jobs that can easily be done by the host country nationals (HCNs) by 15 October 2014 and filled those vacant positions with South Sudanese nationals.

This sparked an overly malicious outcry from our neighbours particularly Kenyans and Ugandans with some media outlets in those countries going as far as calling South Sudan a “kid who don’t know how to appreciate” and or a “person who bit a hand that feed him”. In addition, some individuals in social media from the aforementioned countries call South Sudanese primitives and monkeys.

However by looking at the current Kenyan president, his vice president and two former presidents and not to mention the influential opposition leader Mr Raila Odingga, I see myself (black South Sudanese) not so different from Kenyan in term of colour. Thus the monkey-like insult is simply misplaced and phony. Calling us people who don’t appreciate is also hypocritical, because if I sit down and try to reflect on what Kenyan people have done to South Sudanese during our 21 years civil war, I will not come up with a single good experience.

Kenyans have never been hospitable to South Sudanese despite the fact that the exponential growth of their economy in the last decade or so can be directly or indirectly attributed to South Sudanese. In 1990s UNHCR opened up a refugee camp in the middle of the most inhospitable part of Kenya (Kakuma) for South Sudanese refugees. Kakuma became the largest refugee camp in the world which created thousands of jobs for Kenyans.

The same UN turned Lokichoggio (a remote town in northern Kenya) into a coordination centre for South Sudan relief. Again thousands of Kenyans were employed, many small businesses including brothels were booming and Lokichoggio became a thriving major economics centre in Turkana district overtaking Lodwar. Furthermore other better-off South Sudanese flocked to “down country” including Nairobi, Eldoret, Kitale etc. and rented thousands of houses, they also took their kids to schools and pay schools fees.

Nevertheless, without appreciating the fortune which South Sudanese brought to Kenya, South Sudanese were openly subjected to some despicable harassments and police brutality. For South Sudanese, walking down on a street in Nairobi became a warrant for a kidnap-like arrest and to be release one must pay ransom/bribe to the police, it became a way of life for South Sudanese living in Kenya.

It was only after the signing of the CPA in 2005 when Kenyans began to treat us like brothers and sisters. The change of behaviour came about because Kenyan saw the opportunity to exploit South Sudanese, it works. The exodus to South Sudan has begun, vendors, “professionals” with fakes certificates, thieves, prostitutes, you name it, flocked to South Sudan in search for wealth.

You could hear them saying “look at these stupids South Sudanese, we are sucking them up kabitha and they don’t see it” “hahah” and they laugh. But can we blame them? We led ourselves down in the last nine years of combine autonomy and independent. Had we built at least three major cross country highways, had we built at least one major dam for both water and electricity, had we upgrade at least two major universities to the level of modern universities, had we at least laydown a foundation for modern farming, had we at least built one major food processing centre, and more importantly if we had been loving and treat ourselves with respect, Kenyan would have at least showed us some respect.

However, at the moment they don’t see themselves in equal term with us, our government may think there exist bilateral between Kenya and South Sudan base on mutual respect but in real sense there is nothing like that. Kenyans know whatever we import from them including goods, health, education, and holidays is a result of desperation and not that we prefer them over other countries. This perception will continue until the time they see us producing 50% of the things we normally import.

We must give credit where it is due, Ugandan were the only people who treated us with respect when we had nothing. No one was ever arrested on the street in Kampala because he/she was a South Sudanese, we were given the same right that Ugandan citizens have. Therefore they are the only people who have a very right to get angry with us if they feel they are being targeted or mistreated in South Sudan.

Back to the circular, the intention of the minister of labour was good, South Sudanese are loitering in Juba doing nothing while all the jobs are taken by the foreigners. No government in any country in any continent that would tolerate what is happening in South Sudan where the percentage of expatriates in the entire workforce is higher than that of the HCNs. However as usual, the minister of labour like many of his colleagues in ROSS just woke up in the morning and begun issuing the circular without thinking it through. The circular was poorly planned and badly written which subjected it to multiple interpretations, assumptions and misconceptions.

Firstly, jobs that the minister would want to be reserve or vacate for South Sudanese should have been precisely defined. The continuous attempt by the foreign minister to clarify the circular make it even more confusing. For example the foreign minister in his effort to clarify the circular explained that “by executive directors, we mean executive secretaries and secretaries, and by public relations positions, the circular meant receptionists and other front desk workers, as well as protocol officers” (www.sudantribune.com).

This is embarrassing, where on earth can EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR mean EXECUTIVE SECRETARY? Yes English language is not our language and nobody expect us to speak it like the English people do but in writing, the errors we are expected to make would be grammatical but not writing different words with entirely different meanings and expect people to know what you mean which is totally different. Executive director is the very top person who is responsible for steering the company, he/she is the one who make decisions.

Executive Secretary on the other hand is a person who keep the executive director’s briefcase (office manager). Mixing or confusing the two positions indicate the lack of deliberation on the circular and that should be enough to discontinue it.

Secondly, the circular should have never been retrospective, that is, it need not to apply to those foreigners who are already employed. The process of employing a new employee and train him/her take a minimum of six months before he/she can do the job independently with confidence. Thus giving businesses and NGOs one month to terminate their existing workers and hire new workers is dreadful. It will send a very bad message to businesses and that can simply scare away potential businesses from investing in South Sudan.

If the labour minister and the government led by president Kiir is genuinely caring about the rampant unemployment among South Sudanese and they want to tackle it retrospectively? Here is what need to happen: the government need to introduce graduate program. To eliminate the chronic nepotism, the government can hire internationally renowned companies like Deloitte which is already in Juba to run the graduate program; or if the money is an issue, they can also ask UN or its affiliate like USAID to help in running the graduate program.

The government will need to enter an agreement with all NGOs and private businesses in regard to how the graduate will be employ. In the agreement, businesses and NGOs will have to give the government the list of the positions which are currently occupied by expatriates’ employees, the government will then take the list to the graduate program coordinator. The graduate program coordinator who must not be South Sudanese will then advertise the positions and conduct all the employment process. The only graduate need to apply will be South Sudanese, both at home and in diaspora.

These graduates will then be taken by NGOs and private businesses and assigned the very person (expatriate) who is holding the position to train and make the transition as smooth as possible. This apprenticeship like training will need to continue for one year and after that the expatriate will need to be redundant and get his/her payout. While in training with the business or NGO, the government need to pay this graduate for one year until he/she take over from the expatriate.

Businesses or NGOs must not be compel to pay the wages of South Sudanese graduate while in training because the whole thing is not their initiative. To prevent private businesses and NGOs from exploiting such a system, any position that has become vacant must be advertise separately, it need not be included into graduate program although it must as well be given to South Sudanese nationals.

The aim of the graduate program would be to find competent South Sudanese who would replace expatriates in private businesses and NGOs, it would continue until there are no more expatriates holding common positions (positions other executive director) in those private businesses and NGOs which are operating in South Sudan.

As with other expatriates who are holding nonprofessional positions, the government can just sit back and wait for each one of those expatriates to have his/her work permit expire and then refused to renew it again.

Disclaimer: views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author. Agok Takpiny is a concerned South Sudanese in Melbourne Australia. He can be reached on agoktakpiny@ymail.com

Are we Justifying that South Sudan is a Young Nation?

Posted: September 21, 2014 by PaanLuel Wël in Mapuor Malual

By Mapuor Malual Manguen

From rags to riches: the amazing transition of the South Sudanese Minister

From rags to riches: the amazing transition of the foreign workers in South Sudan

Just a day after Labour Ministry issued Order directing NGOs and private companies to hire competent South Sudanese in certain positions currently occupied by aliens, South Sudan’s government made a disgraceful U-turn. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin said his government will not expel foreign workers.

In effect, the previous order issued by Labour Minister, Mr. Ngor Kolong Ngor is annulled and buried in the dustbin of history of similar circulars.

Dr. Marial argued that the labour ministry was still in the process of working on employment regulations that would give skilled locals a fair chance to get jobs in private companies and non-governmental organizations. This argument appeared to contradict or veto an earlier circular issued by the labour ministry giving an October 15 notice as deadline for declaring mentioned positions vacant.

If Dr. Marial’s argument that there was no government policy ordering foreign workers to give up certain positions by October 15 is anything to go by, why did Labour Ministry issued that Order in the first place? Was this Ministerial Order issued prematurely? Didn’t the Minister of Labour make consultations with other stakeholders to assess its legality and ramifications in the region?

If these questions were not asked or unanswered before issuing Order, was it meant to gauge public mood? Or are we justifying our usual phrase that “South Sudan is a young nation?”

The way it was responded depicts weakness of the government. It exposes the government to more foreign interferences in its internal policies because this U-turn makes the government as weak as an institution which can just give in to any foreign pressure.

The negative interpretations, mockery, vilifications, threats and intimidations of South Sudan by neighboring countries of Uganda and Kenya shouldn’t have been responded in such an embarrassing way. Some sorts of dignified withdrawal of Kolong’s Order should have been devised to face-save image of the country.

To relax the October 15 deadline, the whole Circular should not be wish away just like that. Four months or so extension deadline should save both sides’ interests. It may give enough time to the would-be affected companies to adjust to new policy without disrupting their programs.

On the other hand, the government of South Sudan would be able to complete its employment regulation policies after which it will lay out strong grounds to defend its future undertakings on employment.

Moreover, four months extension deadline may serve a strong warning to private companies and NGOs that it is no longer “business as usual;” that they should not continue to overlook qualifications of local expertise as pretext of bringing aliens to take up South Sudanese jobs.

The author is journalist, blogger and political commentator based in Juba. He can be reached at mapuormanguen85@gmail.com


By Biar John

This piece will begin by defining freedom of expression. There is no freedom of expression in South Sudan, so the elaboration will be on the importance and limits of freedom of expression, and the balance that should be created to make it exits, to allow free debate on issue affecting everyone in South Sudan. Freedom of expression as applied in this article includes ‘freedom of press.’ The article will conclude by lambasting journalists for trivializing their roles and responsibilities for Facebook popularity hunt which ends in nothing but squabbles between they and their fans.

According to the online business dictionary, freedom of expression refers to the right to express one’s ideas and opinions freely through speech, writing, and other forms of communication and without deliberately causing harm to others’ character and/or reputation by false or misleading statements, and without government’s interference while it is being practiced. Thus, free speech would be speech that creates a positive, and not negative, scenario in both long-terms and short-terms in a society.

Throughout the history of the democratic societies such the USA, it has been the ability to freely express ideas that has led to progress according to Yale University Journal of law and humanities. In the context of south Sudan, the ability to allow a voice for ones’ own ideas as well as access the ideas of others should be one which provides multiethnic societies with the ability to interact freely and move forward.

The corruptors’ fear that ‘offensive’ ideas will necessarily spread if given a voice is a conclusion which does not follow from its premise. Allowing for free expression also allows for free debates. As a result, when an idea emerges, that is deemed morally repugnant it should not be censored but, instead, allowed a voice. We then rationally debate these ideas and those that have no rational foundation are quickly treated unworthy; dismissed and we all then understand why that view should not be held.

With varying tribal groups in south Sudan there are varying opinions and beliefs; our societies need to have unlimited freedom of expression to be able to say any and everything regarding themselves as well as other groups in order to mitigate the previous and current situation of war.

The country requires less protection of public figures regarding their political reputation in order to encourage free public debate. There should be open forum for debates in all 10 states so that citizens take part in the conduct of public affairs through dialogue with their representatives or through their capacity to organize themselves.

It is very understandable that there are limits to freedom of expression. In every other country of the world, governments may be obliged to put restrictions on their citizens’ freedom of expression in time of instability. For instance, during times of rioting or civil unrest the government may place restrictions on freedom of expression in order to constrain violence. This may be for the safety of the people but it may also be justifiable to limit freedoms of some individuals, if they are politically disintegrating, in order to preserve the political system that is in place.

The best example of this justifiable limitation to freedom was seen in the recent killing of a black teenager by the name Michael Brown in the USA. On hearing the death, the public started a protest which became a riot, and eventually gave into property damage, looting, and killings. The government of the state responded heavy-handedly by sending in the army when the police could not handle the situation properly.

In countries like UK, Australia, US, and more, the limits of freedom of expression are intertwined together with public safety, societal, and governmental stability. Always the safety citizens come first. Individual’s freedoms and rights sometimes conflict so someone’s must be limited. By limiting certain rights in the society ensures that everyone has access to the same rights. For that matter, the right to freedom of expression can be limited if that freedom is being used to constrain another’s freedom as a result of attacks upon them.

But how far the limits of free expression should go is politically unclear. If the argument is that any ideas should always be given a voice then it becomes increasingly difficult to also argue for placing limits on free expression as we are simply trying to find a reasonable ground to discount that voice. The preservation of an existing political system is, in itself, not enough to warrant the imposition of limits to expression.

Should the argument then be that governments must work towards a society of complete freedom of expression? While this might be desirable in most democratic societies, it does not deal with issues of social order and safety which arise from the ability to freely express one’s own ideas. Often there are instances in which one person’s right to free expression leads to another person’s reputation or safety being jeopardized. Governments are therefore needed sometimes to decide in what few instances freedom of expression must be reduced in order to save lives and keep us safe from defamations.

The limits to freedom of speech in south Sudan is not by law but at the whim of public officials; this is where the problem arise between the government and citizens. The law and regulation that is formally recognized is not appropriately applied by those entrusted with law making.

Ordinary south Sudanese citizens lack legal ways to deal with pressing matters in their hands; they mostly left to their own whims and instincts when deciding what is and what is not morally and politically acceptable in the society. And it is here that it becomes a stuff of the journalists and their journalism. It is their job to keep the government in check through constant scrutiny and exposure.

One of the principles of journalism is that it must serve as an independent monitor of power. Journalism has an unusual capacity to serve as watchdog over those whose power and position most affects citizens. This therefore means journalists have the obligation to protect this watchdog freedom by not demeaning it in frivolous use or exploiting it for other purposes, but rather use it in exposing to the public all the cover ups of government’s officials.

South Sudan is a democratic country and freedom of speech is very important for the going forward. It should be done without any interference from individuals and governments as long as the debates are politically safe and democratically connected. But the claim of being democratic is just in words, and in a number of times debating issues openly has turned fatal.

The case in point is being the recent debate on federalism and the recent shooting to death of debaters in Yei. In such situations, journalists are forced to shy away from their duties, fearing they could face the same fate.

Since everything is debatable, the balance between issues that are debatable and those that are not has grown thin or has disappeared.

Striking the balance is a matter of great importance for both the citizens and the government. Where the line is drawn between the stuff that are debatable and those that are not, is crucial for the future of the South Sudanese societies. In reality, the point of free speech is supposed to be for the political stuff that the tyrannical government claims to be over the line.

For that reasons, it is journalists’ responsibility to try the hardest, with vigilant, to find and expose anything being hidden despite the risks, while making sure they give some acknowledgment whenever the government has done well. This will render the government to not see them as mere agents of destabilization, but rather as adjudicators between itself and the public. This could lead the impulsive and paranoid bureaucrats to create a ground for compromise and citizens would be able to debate certain issues without fear of repercussions.

Debating issues has always been dangerous in South Sudan. It is widely known what became of Isaiah Abraham. So momentarily, every journalist is scared for their lives. Fear has reduced everyone to just a cheap Facebook fans collector for celebrity hood. While some of the young prominent journalist have become pseudo – commentators for English premier leagues; others hunt their fame in different other ways including challenging the whimsical officials behind there.

Since most journalistic work intended for the public officials is behind social media, which most of them do not even know what it really is; the government is feeling no pressure on matters of public concern. To make them feel pressure there need to be use of the main stream media like newspapers in Juba, especially.

Being Facebook fame hunters, some journalists tend to interchange issues regarding government misdeeds with oral defamation, slander, and comments on individuals of no political significance. This is to the disregards principles of journalisms, so to say. In fact, a few journalists known to the author have been caught up in wrangles with average citizens on Facebook and other social networks because of a behavior some fans claim be patronizing attitudes. This is a total loss of direction.

It is our desire, as citizens, to debate politics and those who make it that drives us to verbally grind Salva Kiir and Riek on daily bases in social media. They are our punching bags; they represent the demise of the hope of a generation; we are entitled to talking about them, disparagingly, whenever we want. This is where should always begin and stop.

But unfortunately, the 100s ‘likes’ these lost journalists get when they post their work blind them into thinking they are now famous enough to advance their ill journalistic skills on ordinary figures, who may have varied with them in opinion.

The way it seems, all it needs to think you are a feared journalist now a days is a Facebook account with 100s of fans, who you entertain with parodies about Salva Kiir, and a couple of plays on addressing critical letters to minsters posted on your wall. You can then pretend you are the next Isaiah Abraham, and you dangle to Kampal or Nairobi, where you stay by choice, while trying to look to your fans like you are hiding from authorities for being a political risk because of being a vocal critic.

With that being the situation, the line between the so called ‘exposing the corrupt in the government and defaming’ someone ordinary for the advantage of being a journalist disappears. But ultimately, the main victim for pettiness or the loss of direction is the campaign for freedom of expression.

It is your desire to bring change that we chose journalism as career. We did so in oder to be the eyes of the south Sudanese communities being held hostage by the bunch. So, we need to apply journalism with intentness, not triviality.

First Airplane Made in South Sudan, by a South Sudanese

Posted: September 20, 2014 by PaanLuel Wël in Junub Sudan


BY Johnson Makuac Makur

Lakes State is a place in deep chaos. The problems of Lakes State are just too many. Revenge killings, road ambushes and cattle raiding have become synonymous with daily life and the news of death is all around. But the worst about it all is that leadership is just as bad as the rogue criminals that are terrorizing the State.

From the first day the Governor of Lakes State, Matur Chut Dhuol declared himself “the Governor, the police, the commissioner, the law maker, and the chief,” it was imminent that we would come this far: a near total collapse.

Under the current Governor the insecurity in Lakes State has just kept deteriorating and the Governor continues to add fuel with his usual insults, abuses, rude unconstitutional orders…and so much more.

The Jieng National Council of Elders has been conducting long meetings in Juba in an effort to find solutions to Lakes’ problems. But what these elders and any other person need to know is that the Governor of Lakes State is one of the problems in the State.

If you count the problems of Lakes State then never forget to include the Governor.

The Lakes State representatives both in the National Legislature and the State Assembly concur altogether that the first thing that should be done about the situation of Lakes State is addressing the question of the State Leadership.

The civil society, chiefs, youths and women equally echo the same plea. This appeal has been made many months ago and it was seriously given a thrust by the resolution of the national assembly for the removal of the Governor.

The buck now stops with the President of the republic of South Sudan. The President should seriously consider acting now upon that resolution by putting into use one more time article 101 of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan.

The President should note that he is not doing that for the National Assembly but for us the common people on ground in Lakes State. We have given many reasons all along why we want Matur sacked but still I can offer even more:–

First, the Caretaker has allowed himself to be in the mix of all crises of the State. His public statements and actions have appeared to incline to support some warring clans over others. That he is an Agaar whose relatives have disputes adds weight to suspicion that he is not all free of the state crisis.

Matur now stays dangling between clans and it is alleged that he is receiving bribes of cattle from clans so as not to be harsh with them. Is it why there have been no arrests of culprits? No one knows.

But generally, as stated by the National Minister of Defense in his address to the National Parliament, the Governor has lost the trust of the people. New wine, new glass!

To embark on the solutions to Lakes State problems, there first must be a new Governor who should start on a new slate. All the other things would then follow.

Secondly, under the current caretaker Governor the rule of law has fallen to its lowest point. Cases are never tried. Police is not free to do its work. Those jailed for murder cases are released under the orders of Commissioners and the governor himself.

Instead, it’s innocent people and relatives of the culprits paying so heavily. I attended a rule of law workshop in Rumbek and I was amazed this issue of Governor and commissioners’ interference was raised by Head of Prisons management, the Deputy Police Commissioner and a member of the High Court in the State.

In a case of Kok clashes, it is believed that one of the murderers who is at large up to today was first arrested but the Governor was convinced to let him out since he was an in-law to the Governor’s family. There are so many cases of this same nature. This led to people not handing over the crime suspects.

The third reason is that the Caretaker Governor has killed all the important institutions in the State. One of these is the State legislative Assembly. Matur makes his own laws out of the Assembly. Any initiative by the Assembly is frustrated and brought down by him.

In one of the instances, a committee for peace and reconciliation led by Hon. Malek Machut was frustrated to an extent that they were not allowed to meet chiefs. Instead, the Governor convened the spear masters to conduct rituals in Akonbuoi. The result was all out clashes across the whole Agaar and Gok within same week.

The fourth reason is all about the chiefs salaries. The payment of chiefs salaries was stopped from the moment the Caretaker Governor took office. This has slowed the commitment of chiefs and has equally wounded the cooperation between chiefs who are the custodians of the people and the government.

Chiefs’ salaries have always been contained in the budgets passed by the State Assembly under the Ministry of Local Government. Why they don’t get their money only Matur knows.

Fifth reason; the Caretaker Governor has sidelined the SPLM office in the state. Yet, this is the right office from which his policies are supposed to be scrutinized and improved to meet the public demands before they are implemented.

Leave alone a question of cooperation with SPLM; he instead leads one of his own. Those in the SPLM office who do not listen to him are told to stay in Rumbek at their own risk.

The sixth reason is that the character of Gen. Matur Chut as a Governor does not marry up with an identity of a solemn leader. He is applying very harsh laws that are not workable. He does not know that harsh laws make harsh people.

His Langcok prison was a failure. His Arms Control Law passed by the State Assembly was broken within one week by not any other person, but him.

He registered arms within one month, collected people’s money as registration fees for arms and within same month he collected the guns back and refused the people’s money.

Seventh, apart from the fact that the Governor is illiterate, he also possesses no single quality of leadership. He is not calm. He does not listen. He does not contemplate on issues. He does not analyze. He is simply too full of himself.

His nature of throwing insults cannot convince any Dinka community to accept his leadership. Dinka people are never led with an iron fist. To do that makes them even more aggressive and arrogant. What you need is simply the rule of law– fair and free for all. Period!

The eighth reason; the Caretaker Governor has not laid down any system of Governance at all since he took over the leadership of the State. He runs the State without any policy. In the modern day leadership, you cannot wake up each morning and be driven looking for what to do, rather you need to plan and design what you want to do and what direction you want the State to take.

The Caretaker Governor does not have any single security policy for Lakes State.

The ninth reason; the Caretaker Governor of Lakes State is a champion of corruption and nepotism. All the State institutions do not get their Capital and Operation Costs.

The two construction projects – the fence around Freedom Square and the Secretariat General – cannot be the reason millions are taken every month. Funds used for development must equate to what is being done. The money of the poor university students that were officially released for studies – 474 of them – is being taken every month.

The discontent has grown against the government as a result and cooperation became another victim within the institutions he leads.

The tenth reason is the 2015 General Elections. With elections said to be held in April next year, there will be a reason to fear that SPLM may be in serious shambles. President Salva Kiir has visited Rumbek two times this year.

If the President did not use the opportunity to smell the coffee and read the mood of the people of Lakes State, then he should order for the minutes of the two day meeting held in Nyakuron by Jieng National Council of Elders with Lakes communities.

Maybe that can be the last avenue from which the President might get the proper knowledge about what is happening in Lakes and all the justifications why Matur Chut should go.

It is true the President may pass elections without Lakes voters, but it will pain and kill pride in people like me that it is our State that leads the shame, simply something so small was not done: removing the Governor.

The President may not know the people of Lakes State very well, but he knows Matur Chut. He knows his stories in the army. He was one of the generals upon whom soldiers celebrated by shooting in the air when they heard that he was taken to the reserve list. Behold, this was going to be the burden of Lakes State people.

On several occasions the President acknowledged that “Matur Chut does not listen”. Yes, Matur Chut does not listen to anybody. Now the President should also listen and act fast by removing the Caretaker Governor.

If he heeds not to people’s call then we shall have the Caretaker Governor who does not listen, the President who does not listen and the people who will never listen. So, let’s listen!

Johnson Makuac Makur is a South Sudanese citizen. He works in Lakes State. He can be reached at jmakuacm@gmail.com


By Kur Wel Kur

jeshamer2
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“Those life coaches push us in to Maturity in days; contrary to our tradition where elders encourage the systematic and accumulative growth” (from our generation: The Generation)

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Our journey from Torit to Palotaka through Magwi, took us 8 hours; the road almost unnavigable as roads at Kathmandu in Nepal especially between Obbo and Palotaka. In our presence, Mr. Kuol Manyang warned the drivers about the roads; “I don’t mind when you reach the destination, 2 or 3 days after but drive them home safe” he added!

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Mr. Kuol had executed many dangerous orders and his strict and fierce supervision instilled fears in the hearts of many including us but seeing him so concerned about our safety in that particular time whispered otherwise to us, about the man whom critics described as a man without feelings! In doubts about drivers, Mr. Kuol took his orders into his own hands so he ordered his driver to lead the way in a desirable speed limit and the trucks with the boys behind.  To ensure our safety, for every ephemeral river that crossed the road, he ordered us to disembark so the trucks would cross them empty

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His watchful eyes observed every move about the kids because the future of the country or the very existence of the course -a search for equality and justice or a country_ lied in their hands. “The decision of congregating the kids in two places: Pinyudu and Palotaka, might succeed or fail. If it fails, then our course perishes and if God guides this decision, through them kids, we will have our future, a country!”  His mind explored

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God exists!  Sorry to my atheist readers, but I have to confess to confirm a prophecy scripted in 2714 years ago by Isaiah. Though the chapter revealed nothing specific about South Sudanese, which makes it everybody’s prophecy.  In April 19, 2005, Bob Westbrook, a Christian and Zionist, claimed that the prophecy is about Christians and Jews in US and so do the Ethiopians because some versions of the bible used the Ethiopia to mean Cush or Sudan! However, I selfishly or knowledgeably place it on the South Sudan:

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“…from a people tall and smooth, from a people feared near and far, a nation mighty and conquering, whose land the rivers divide….” (Isaiah 18:7 RSV).

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Disregard our current state (situation) don’t capitalise on it because our State (country) is still in God’s workshop.

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Feared translates understood or respected, with these translations in mind, the prophecy sits squarely on lost boys especially those who arrived in States(USA) because they sold the suffering within South Sudan to the world. The story hit headlines so a marine biologist studying penguins or drilling beneath the ice to study the impacts of climate change in Antarctica, reads the lost boys’ story!  With all those unthinkable lost boys’ experiences and their thriving success in high pressure jobs in one hand and universities’ assignments, which starve the brains in the other, stunned the Americans.

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The Americans cannot believe the resiliency of the humans’ souls. They respected and understood the lost boys (the representatives or ambassadors of South Sudan).  The reason behind this resiliency is what you’re about to learn in this article and others to come!

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Arriving in Palotaka at around 11pm, Mr. Kuol Manyang ordered the distribution of blankets; Palotaka is fortified by the Viewpoint Mountains in the east and the farthest mountains of Talanga that sends the snaking river to quench Palotaka land and vegetation. Palotaka was icy cold! Shivering uncontrollably, our teeth rattled helplessly.
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Palotaka greeted us with void; a place where many painted their future on papers, stood in ruins, classrooms’ and dormitories’ doors snapped off, the cemented floors in the buildings cracked so the wind airlifted the soil with weeds seeds into the cracks; the grass grew tall on windows and in some corners of classrooms and dormitories. A ghost town for sometimes, God knew how long!

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Ready to fumble our ways to sleep, the guardians made a daring announcement. “You’re in the heart of hearts of witchcraft so if you go dropping in the bush, your waste will follow you back; you and your colleagues will be forced to clean it with bare hands for a proper  disposal! ” so don’t do it please.” they stressed. They feared a repetition of the Mission’s incidence (littering the place with faeces)
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we made our ways to sleep. Early the following morning, we couldn’t believe our eyes; the giant grasses or called them, the elephant’s grasses, towered over us. The dew not dripped but pouring as rain does! In a terrible cold, but we had to clear the grasses around our houses, the least snakes and spiders wiggled or crawled their ways to the houses for bites.

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No tools but sticks and fire, we would beat the grasses and then set them on fire after a day, though still green after battered down, about 60% of their water evaporated so they burned in a slow motion. Green grasses with blades as equalled as samurai’s sword sliced us; all those bacteria, which the grasses harboured, entered our bodies so scabies and other skin diseases increased by 50%.
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As we settled in the routines of learning lives’ valuable lessons, the guardians, SPLM/A trained 0fficers started installing the determination and the art of hard work in us by forcing us to work for them and ourselves.  The UN brought the tools and tractors, so we started to toil the land so all the big trees in the field   were reduced to stumps, which we uprooted in a week and we sowed corns, peanuts, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and elephant’s eggplants. In the middle of 1991, (the second Palotaka boys) the boys from Duk county and those of Twi East county arrived and occupied group four and five respectively.

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Three months after, the third group (boys from the Nuba Mountains; out of 99 tribes, only three tribes sent the boys to Palotaka.  Imagine the distance of South Kordofan in South Sudan’s  border  with North  Sudan and Palotaka in the  border of South Sudan and Uganda, the ( 800 ) boys covered unimaginable distance. Their food supply not enough, they malnourished to a gravely state. They occupied group six, seven and eight. The final groups, 9 and 10 belonged to remnants of Pinyudu, those who decided to head to Torit and then to Palotaka instead of crossing the border to Lokkichioggio, Kenya.

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And those whom the boys from Moli Tokoro and Borongoli left behind because some of them suffered from parasites such as jiggers and guinea worms and those who couldn’t afford to trek to Natinga (Kabekenyang) because of general weaknesses. The eleventh group belonged to ’Ma-rek-rek ‘, so named because of the noise they made! Children from ages of six to nine years and some older (10 or 11) occupied this group.

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All the boys, having arrived, the SPLM/A officers (teachers), commenced the discipline training; the officers would teach us liberation politics or force to compose liberation songs before we go to beds. We would wake up at 5:30 a.m. for attendance; some of us would cry or refuse to leave their beds but the correctional boys would whip them to the attendance square!

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My people (readers), a mini military training! After the attendance, some of us would go to the “Akuma”(the government’s farm) or to teachers’ (officers’) farms around their houses. A practice, the officers called an ‘organised oppression’ or organised slavery if you wish to call it so!
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Lookout for letters of Palotaka’s life: the benefits and disadvantages of organised oppression to both teachers and children, education, sicknesses and parasites, corrected mistake, and the reason of establishing the camps (one within South Sudan and the other in Ethiopia).