Mr. Kangi Achom: You need to be educated about our revolutionary armed struggle

Posted: September 26, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

Respond to Cartoonist Mr. Kangi Achom: You Seem Not to be Aware of the Revolutionary Struggle and the SPLA/M Red Army Veterans

By Abraham Majak Makur, Juba, South Sudan

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September 26, 2016 (SSB) — Yesterday, I came across a cartoon sarcastically drawn by Kangi Achom and published by The Dawn Newspaper on 16th September, 2016, Vol. 1, issue No. 170. On the satirical cartoon in question, Mr. Kangi Achom, depicted the Red Army as an old man insulting a young man saying: “stay away from me you lost boy.” Don’t speak to me, I’m from Red Army.” The young man on his part responded by saying “Mmm! How comes an old man like you be a Red Army?” Of the bet, Lost Boys and Girls are a constituency with the Red Army, meaning they are also Red Army – as majority of them participated in Red Army Service during the liberation struggle.

Mr. Kangi’s depiction of the Red Army on his cartoon is not only misplaced but an utter mockery of the true historical context and meaning of the SPLM/A Red Army. Neither the old man nor the young man depicted on the cartoon said anything close to what the Red Army is. On the outset, I would inform Mr. Kangi Achom and the general public that the Red Army were young veterans of the revolutionary struggle, currently organized under the Red Army Foundation and many of whom are serving in armed forces.

The purpose of this piece is to try and educate both Mr. Kangi Achom and reading public of the historical background of the SPLM/A Red Army. The Red Army is not an entity that mysteriously appeared after the signature of Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. In many occasions, I have heard people asking what the Red Army is and what it stands for.

First and foremost, the word Red Army was coined in 1985 when Muor Muor Division was undergoing training in Bongo, Ethiopia. The coining of the name came as a result of the fact that the SPLA/M leadership did not know how to call the boys who were among the”Jesh el Asout” or “adult members of the military.” Boys were made a battalion of their own during the training. The first name given was “Katiba Walad or Boys Battalion,” this name was later changed into “Katiba Silip el Amer or Red Cross Battalion.”

However, the debate on how to call boys who joined the Movement at young ages continued on until the leadership finally decided to name them “Jesh el Amer or Red Army.” This was in memory of the Chinese young veterans (Red Army) who brought independence and installed socialist market economy that made China one of leading economic hubs of the world today. The name became an official name of every underage man or woman who joined the Movement.

The rest of Divisions that later came after Muor Muor such as Kazuk, Zalzal 1, Zalzal 2, Intifadha, Intisar, Infijar in addition to other divisions had Red Army Battalions who were trained in Ethiopia and different parts of South Sudan. The Red Army Battalions which were later trained in South Sudan (Palataka, Mapoko, Ketibo, Nyore, Ngop, Pariak, etc) became Jamus, Ingas 1. Ingas 2 and Ingas 3 divisions. Young boys who were part of Koryom were integrated into Muor Muor Red Army Battalion. This is the brief background of the Red Army.

The Red Army Battalions used to be under the direct command of the SPLM/A Late leader, and C-in-C, Dr. John Garang de Mabior because they were to be accorded special care as seeds of the nation. Cdr Dr. John knew that war would be protracted in nature and it would cost lives especially of South Sudanese intelligentsia. Therefore, it was necessary that young people had to be prepared to continue the war when “Jesh el Asout” was either exhausted or finished by the enemy and build the envisioned New (South) Sudan when the objectives were achieved.

In preparing these young people – the SPLM/A Red Army, the leadership thought it wise to send some abroad for education and exposure. The first batches were sent to Cuba in 1985 and 1986; some were sent to Western world in search of education. Others who were in the refugee camps sought educational opportunities in America, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom and many other European countries. It is those boys and Girls who are today referred to as “Lost Boys or Lost Boys and Girls.” The lost boys were in fact members of the SPLA/M Red Army who left the country for educational opportunities abroad.

Now let me turn to the cited cartoon and I would like to start by posing a question: is Red Army an old man or a young man from present day context? From contemporary context, the Red Army is not defined in terms of age. Most of the members of the Red Army left for Ethiopia, the converging centre of the movement, at the ages of 7, 9, 12 and 15 respectively. You add this from 1985 to date: would one not look old? Given such heroic role and sacrifices, we must inspire young people to rekindle the revolutionary virtues. This is because we want to inspire young people so that there will be Red Army in many generations to come, armed with spirit of patriotism, nationalism to contribute effectively to nation building.

The Red Army is currently categorized into many segments in terms of membership and thus includes:

  1. Veteran Red Army – being those who participated during the liberation war. Many of them could be called old people today;
  2. Liberation Generation – being those born between 1983 and 2005, some of them joined and participated in the war of liberation in one way or the other. They are the members of the Red Army by that virtue of participation and suffering in the war of liberation;
  3. Seeds of the Nation – being young children to be nurtured and oriented to continue the SPLM/A ideals, vision, objectives in addition to legacy preservation of the Movement and the Red Army. The intention of the SPLA/M leadership was to prepare politically and militarily young people to continue the war and orient them to be leaders of tomorrow and this is exactly what the Red Army is doing today. Likewise, the Red Army foundation and its fraternity would like to rekindle, use the young people of today to be oriented and inducted into the Red Army service to the nation, as patriotic citizens. The young people of today and tomorrow must be nurtured and whom shall the national spirit, patriotism be inculcated to, in order to enhance nationalism and contribute effectively to the nation building.
  4. Associate members – being any person deemed fit and who supports the activities of the Red Army Foundation in good faith. This category includes those commanders, teachers and caretakers who made it possible for the Red Army to survive such hardships. Without the support of those comrades, many Red Army who joined the war of liberation would not have survived.

With the above few explanations, it is my hope that the perception of people like cartoonist, Kangi Achom, which is largely dubious and dismissive of the existence of the Red Army as part and parcel of the revolutionary struggle will cease to exist. The Red Army should not be perceived as people who emerged from nowhere; they must be seen as people who contributed immensely in the liberation struggle for this nation – South Sudan.

Mr. Kangi Achom, must know that the Red Army members who have founded the Red Army Foundation today, were veterans who were nurtured, educated, militarily trained to fight the enemy and politically oriented as future leaders by the SPLM/A and its leadership. We are historical people whose contribution is known by the leadership today. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the current commanding officer of the Red Army could attest to any doubting Thomases of our great contribution to the liberation of this country.

Also the former Under the former Zonal commanders who are now members of the Honorary Board of the Red Army Foundation such as Dr. Riek Machar who was in charge of Western Upper Nile, Gen. James Wani Igga, for Equatoria region, Gen. Daniel Awet Akot for Bhar El Ghazal, Gen. Kuol Manyang Juuk for Jonglei, and late Cde. Yusuf Kawa Mekki, for the Nuba Mountains, the Red Army played a pivotal historical contribution during the struggle.

These were the zonal commanders charged to mobilize and facilitate the young people in SPLM/A liberated areas to join the war of liberation. Other commanders connected with the Red Army administration, were Gen. Chagai Atem Biar, Gen. Taban Deng Gai, Gen. Pieng Deng Kuol, Gen. James Hoth Mai, Gen. Oyai Deng Ajak, Gen. Majak de Agoot Atem, Gen Kennedy Gayen, Gen. Peter Parnyang, among others. This is not to forget the role played by the teachers such as Ustaz William Ater Machiek and caretakers such as Mama Victoria Adhardit  Arop just to mention but a few.

Mr. Kangi Achom, your cartoon and erroneous depiction of the Red Army veterans and their heroic contribution, is not only damaging the image of the Red Army members and their institution’s credibility, but betraying the struggle for which Red Army were a part. Your cartoon represents dubious and senseless denial of our place in the history of this country.

You are not only ignorant of the revolutionary course, but representing jealous elements who have no gut to acknowledge the contribution of others. I urge you to apologise to the Red Army fraternity for depicting them wrongly.

Abraham Majak Makur is the Secretary of Information for the Red Army Foundation. He is also an independent political analyst and commentator. He can be reached at: gadmakur@gmail.com or gadmakuur@yahoo.com.

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.

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