My compliment to Ateny Wek for retracting his controversial article on Dr. John Garang

Posted: October 19, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

My compliment to Ateny Wek Ateny for retracting his controversial article challenging Dr. John Garang and wife as not true father and mother of the Republic of South Sudan

By Peter Kuot, Juba, South Sudan

kiir and garang

Commander John Garang and Commander Salva Kiir in Rumbek, during the war of liberation struggle

October 19, 2016 (SSB) — Last week I saw Ateny Wek Ateny the Presidential Spokesman post a very controversial article on his Facebook page which was also published on the Dawn Newspaper in which he appeared to dispute the public faith in Dr. John Garang de Mabior and wife Rebecca Nyandeng as the father and mother of the Nation. His article which I think he only composed and published it to just serve a polemic purpose instead puts forward claims and justifications for President Salva Kiir and wife Mama Ayen Mayardit as the true father and mother of the nation respectively. I never jumped into the debate though I got a strong feeling to encounter this elusive article, a feeling that I managed to fight off because at the state of affairs of our country now, this is not what we have to debate.

I have read so many emotional and arrogant comments online in response to this article and how brother Ateny Wek Ateny tried all his best to respond to the comments. This article came in at a time when innocent civilians were killed on Yei-Juba road, Juba-Kajo-keji road, others on Juba-Nimule road and the killings continues, others we hear in the media while other go completely unreported. This is a trying time which we need to put our efforts and spirits together to find solutions to such desperate situation in the country.

But on Wednesday morning 19th October, when I opened my Facebook page I was happy to see that the first post that appeared is from brother Ateny Wek Ateny retracting his article. Thank you my brother Ateny Wek for such an intellectual move. It is very rare in South Sudan for a person of your calibre, a politician to take a decision that favours our peace in South Sudan. Peace is not only to silent guns and stops physical fights but also when we reconcile our opinions and thoughts so that we have a unified thinking and positions towards national issues. Peace is when we do not seek to invent issues to detract ourselves from constructive ideas that seek to embrace peace and reconciliation in this nation.

Yes I do acknowledge Ateny wrote the article out of frustrations on the political directions taken by Mama Rebecca Nyandeng and son Mabior Garang which we all see is contrary to the political endeavours of Dr. John Garang. And not you alone Ateny Wek Ateny, even in Bor, between 2013 and 2014 there was a very hot divisive debate against Rebecca Nyandeng and her son regarding their political sides they took following the December 2013 violence in Juba.

There were accusations and counter accusations between Bor County and Twic East, Bor was divided on opinions. You even heard Mama Rebecca Nyandeng was confronted in the Church in Juba by a woman from the same Bor where she hails from. But today you have seen they have massively united against your opinion when you touched the history. This is because you went far to bringing in the most respected Saint Dr. John Garang de Mabior into an uncalled for debate.

But again, if you have been able to follow Mama Nyandeng closely since last year, then there has been a change of heart in her. She has moderated her political participation. When I saw her in Juba late last year, she had really reduced in weight and appeared so weak. This to me is not because she lacks something to feed on or treat herself when sick but because of all those debates against her during the war and how she was losing her reputation. Everywhere even in Nairobi, she was rejected by South Sudanese till she had to look into herself and subside her political participation.

Our mother, Rebecca Nyandeng as a woman is seriously haunted and easily eaten up spiritually by our hate speech against her. I saw her she is not well, she is traumatised, we need to help her regain her full health, to get healed and also involve her in the national healing, peace and reconciliation process. Recently she has said that she will be coming back into the country to play her role in peace and reconciliation as a mother of the nation. Why again should we be discouraging her?

Yes you said that you wrote the article on your personal capacity and not as the Spokesman of the President, let me tell you my simple story.

In April 2013 when President Kiir removed the process of national reconciliation from former Vice President Riek Machar and formed another one, the Committee for National Healing Peace and Reconciliation (CNHPR) headed by Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, Bishop Paride Taban, Bishop Rudolf Deng Majak, Bishop Enock Tombe and Moderator Peter Gai Lual, I was later appointed as the Communications and Information Director of this body. Soon after my appointment with other colleagues who form part of the technical team, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul told us that that we are going to work with the Church leaders (Bishops), even us we should also behave like Bishops.

So that you work very closely with the President as his Spokesman and so do we expect you to behave like the President. Yes it is true you have your own personal opinions and thoughts, but if you carelessly express them to contradict the President, then you are queering your own job as the Spokesman.

President Kiir continues to preserve his respect for Garang’s family even when they don’t respect him. He has not given up on them and that’s why he always allows Mabior Garang to move out of the country like it happened in July after the J1 conflict. I believe President Salva Kiir cannot afford to hold personal grudges with a wife and son of his elder brother and that’s why his faith in Dr. John Garang de Mabior is unwavering till today.

The move to recognize Dr. John Garang de Mabior as the father of nation, his face to feature in the national currency, the day he died approved by parliament as the martyrs Day and the Independence square in which his statue stands named after him, was the SPLM faith that the whole nation supported. Even the SPLM-IO have criticised your article saying that Dr. John Garang is the father of the nation, though I used to see comments from SPLM-IO supporters that Dr. Riek Machar is the father of the nation. But this time when they saw that coming from you, then quickly manipulate it and approved Dr. John Garang as the father of the nation.

It is also worth noting that we do acknowledge the wife of our late hero Dr. John Garang de Mabior and son Mabior Garang have despised our faith in their family to the extent that it has caused too much anger in us that at times we insult them.  But we also need to take into account that the mistakes committed in two years cannot override the good things done in 21 years. And this is where our SPLM leaders go wrong, they allow the small present disagreements between them to overwhelm them that they forget the 21 years they lived together in the bush till they achieved the goal of their struggle in 2005.

The wrongs done by Dr. John Garang’s family today should not overshadow the good history he has built over the cause of 21 years. I am an SPLA child; I lived in the bush with the SPLA and know them one by one and every details of their commitments and achievements during the bush. But today, they are as if they just met in Juba. They have forgotten the long history they built together.

Just like the Biblical Moses Dr. John Garang led his people towards the Promised Land and was shown the Promised Land which he was not to step on. After many years leading the Israelites in the wilderness, God took Moses to the mountains of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah Mountain in the land of Moab (Deuteronomy 34) where he was shown the whole of the Promised Land of Israel and after that God told him he was not going to step on that land and there he died. Joshua led the people to the Promised Land. And so President Kiir who we call Joshua led us to the Promised Land, the Republic of South Sudan.

When Dr. John Garang announced Salva Kiir in Rumbek in 2005 as the Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan and also as the only person who can be President of the Government of South Sudan was evident that he had seen his death coming and wanted a stone hearted and humble person like Gen. Salva Kiir to lead the people to the Promised Land. So today we still have our faith in him President Salva Kiir for leading us to freedom despite the country being in mess.

The author is a former journalist and editor of different media houses in Juba and a former Communications and Information Manager of the Committee for National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation established 2013 to 2016 under the office of the President. He can be reached at

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 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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