Voice from the Lions’ Den: Reflection on My Two Days in Captivity

Posted: February 27, 2015 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Featured Articles

By Michael Mading Akueth, Juba

Mading Akueth, with Isaiah Chol Aruai, and Aleer Longar, speaking to reporters on their arrival in Juba after two days in captivity

Mading Akueth (in the middle, grey shirt) with Isaiah Chol Aruai and Aleer Longar, speaking to reporters on their arrival in Juba after two days in captivity

February 27, 2015 (SSB) —  In the fateful day of Feb 3, 215, Hon. Isaiah Chol Aruai, Jacob Aleer and I boarded a United Nation Humanitarians Services (UNHAS) helicopter from Mabior (Panyagor) to Juba. However, for the reason best known to the Russian Pilot, the chopper took us to the SPLM-IO control areas called Jiech, Ayod County, where the rebels’ military governor had earlier issued the order that UN should not bring Dinka and Uganda nationals to their areas.

We happened to be from the Dinka ethnic group who are not needed in the area so we were immediately arrested and the chopper was released to continue with its journey back to Juba.

I came to learnt — in the midst of pain and fear and at the face of death — the real human being behavior which was hidden for many years truly emerge and priorities start to align themselves perfectly; we could think what is most important to us. We could think about our beautiful families, relatives, friends and visions. I could clearly see priorities of my life; what I will do? Where I will do it? And how I will do it if I could be allowed to live again by the rebels?

In the investigation process, we could console ourselves that though we are thrown into the lions’ den; we adapt the attitude of Biblical Daniel who bravely faced the lions the whole night alone until dawn. We asked ourselves: “do the lions have a moral conviction to eat us alive since we are innocent before God, man and the law?” The biggest choice was with the lions.

The choice was squarely in the hands of SPLM-IO starting from the officers who had arrested us to the top leadership of their movement. We all know how systems work. By then, despite the immense pressures from the UN networks, the government in Juba, the SPLM former detainees and the entire South Sudanese communities all over the world, the SPLM-IO still held a final say to either release us and we returned to Juba to witness the big welcoming of captives from citizens in Juba International Airports or to kill us and throw our bodies to the bush for the birds of the airs and carnivores animals to satisfy their desire for most delicious meat they can get, the human bodies.

We, the former captives appreciate the rebels’ decision for releasing us; whether we are not more important than the people they had killed in Bor, Malakal and Bentiu or not. The fact remain that we were considered dead but now we are still alive and we shall continue doing the good work we have been doing for this country.

Some influential leaders in the Greater Bor community have already argued that “if a rat runs away from the cat, it should not thanks the cat but its own effort to have managed to escape from the cat.” I think this theory of “rat and cat” victorious escape does not fit in our situation because we did not managed by our efforts to run away from the prison. We were released as a gesture of goodwill that we are still one nation, regardless of the dimension this conflict is taking.

Indeed, if we could have struggled and escaped from their prison and ran to government control areas by our strength, we would have not appreciated their decision because the initiative would have been ours. But that is not the case, we were released, we did not escaped and that is why we appreciate the rebels for saving our lives.

We also appreciate the government lead by President Salva Kiir for establishing contact with the rebels and the UN leadership immediately and demand for our release. In Feb 13, 2015 when we met the president, he told us that when he first got the information of our arrest in the evening of Feb 3, 2015, he immediately called the representative of the UN Secretary General in South Sudan and told her that she should talk to the rebels for us to be release immediately without conditions.

The UN systems work so hard through UNOCHA to ensure that we were released and we appreciated the roles they had played in this particular case though we still question the rationale of taking us from Panyagor to Jiech which is under the rebels.

Moreover, the SPLM formers detainees used their contacts within the rebel circles to ensure that we were safe and treated well. Let me give the credit to where it is due. Dr. Majak De’ Agot was calling hourly to console us and provide us with updates about our release.

I remembered on Feb 4, 2015, Hon. Deng Dau, MP for Twic East, called using military governor’s Thuraya and talked to Isaiah about our situations and process for our release. Asante Mheshimiwa (thanks honorable) Deng Dau Malek.

All these leaders I have mentioned above, I don’t personally know them well though I do hear about them because they are public figures and they don’t also know me too well. I know that they were mainly calling because of Hon. Isaiah Chol who is their colleague in the SPLM/A or government, but our fate was tied together with him. We wholeheartedly say thank you with your teams for supporting us in our difficult time of dire need.

I know so many leaders in our community might want to call but they did not have contacts of SPLM-IO leaders; we appreciated your attempts too.

We thank the Greater Bor community for their tireless prayers, coordination, thanksgiving ceremonies and word of blessings they had pronounced on our lives. We know that you all love us dearly with all your heart, spirit, bodies and might. We are proud to be part of this great community which care and protect her humble citizens. We say the lord our Gods who remove us from the jaws of lions will bless you according to his riches in glory.

Finally, I think it is wiser for all the parties who had participated in our release to continue with this political goodwill to ensure that there is good security for all citizens both in government and rebels control areas so that our citizens can build back their trust again. We have learnt that our citizens still love themselves and they can still live together in this country.

We must take up responsibility for bringing peace to this country. We should focus our mind to bring peace and reconciliation in this country because it is good for all of us.

We cannot leave the issues of peace to the government, rebels, former detainees, civil societies and church leaders alone; we should also play our roles in promoting peaceful co-existence in the villages, markets and school.

I hope every party who was involved in our release did not just do so because of us but for the great concern they have for all citizens in this country. We must put our efforts together to make our country a peaceful and proud nation once more.

You can reach the author at his email address: madinakueth@yahoo.com or Facebook page: Mading Akueth

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from.

  1. DAVID a BION says:

    thank God you are freed , why the Govt use UN facilities in the first place ?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s