Tribute to the late former chief Justice John Wol Makech, the first chief justice of the Republic of South Sudan

Posted: February 3, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël in Bol Madut Ayii, Columnists, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Bol Madut Ayii, Juba, South Sudan

February 2, 2017 (SSB) — If there was a direct communication between the creator and human being, one would have kindly requested only five minutes to appeal to God to review the way he suddenly takes the lives of our dear one at the time that they are much needed.

I was deeply distressed by the sudden passing of the first chief Justice of the Republic of South Sudan late Justice John Wol Makec on the 17th of this Month.  Late John Wol was one of the few Justices who don,t joke when it comes to professionalism. His contribution to the legal fraternity has left an indelible mark in defense of an independent legal profession, for which we owe him eternal gratitude.

As a Judge, he was the most ardent supporter of an independent Judiciary. His legal dexterity/prowess was matched only by his humility and judicial temperament. His stewardship as the first chief Justice of this country and his contribution to the law and development of our judiciary were unparalleled and have help placed South Sudan as a proud member of African Countries that have good laws though the issue of enforcement maybe questionable.

Late Justice John Wol was undoubtedly one of the greatest legal minds of our time and we hope to build on the legacy which he left behind. He was indeed a gift by creator to Sudanese in the then Republic of Sudan, to South Sudanese in particular and to Africa as a continent. His contribution towards African Customary law is remarkable.

We, as the products/students of late John Wol and the entire nation should extend our support and sympathies to his family during this difficult time, for the loss of a true son of soil. Justice John Wol was one of the few who served his nation and people as a loyal and professional citizen. He lived his life as an avid servant of law and his life’s work will forever be a testament to the values of a democratic South Sudan.

Late Justice John Wol served at all different court levels in the then Sudan and became the first chief Justice of South Sudan. He continued serving as chief justice and president of Supreme Court till his retirement. As an academician and legal scholar he did not act like other old politicians who always go home or abroad for comfy life after retirement, Justice John Wol joined the college of law at the University of Juba as requested by former dean of college of law Associate professor Deng Awur Wenyin, a request he positively and proudly answered.

The writer was lucky to be among the students of Justice John Wol. While at college of law, Justice John Wol was more than a lecturer, he was a father, a role model and above all a living Law Dictionary. His style of lecturing was so unique and my colleagues will proof me right at this point. I had never felt boring during his lectures though it takes three or four hours because his interaction is always professional and interesting.

Being a legal scholar he (Justice John Wol) was awarded a title of professor of law at the University of Juba, a position he loyally and professionally served till he passed away on the 17th of this month which I called the dark day in the history of our nation. The death of Professor John Wol has left a very big vacuum that is not easy to be fill. South Sudan has been robbed with a legal scholar that is rare to be replaced soon. The college of law in particular is the first orphan of Justice John Wol, it lost professor Akolda and now Professor John Wol. The first year students of college of law who have just enrolled have indeed missed a great legal mind.

If our almighty father was to ask permission from us I would have humbly requested him to leave John Wol for us So that he continue giving his huge knowledge to the post-graduates and undergraduates students of law at University of Juba. I remember his last statement to me while he was under treatment at Juba medical centre before his referral to Khartoum, he told me, Bol my son” don’t waste your time, go straight for your LL.M which is soon to commence at college of law and we shall have a great time to interact again as am going to be among your professors.”

I took his advice seriously and I never knew this was going to be the last advice from the wise minded person of our time. Late professor was a man of his words who just don’t speak for the sake of speaking but he speak when people are thirst to hear from him, he was a quiet man and when he speak everyone will open his/her ears to listen.

I was really encouraged by our mother (the widow of Justice John Wol) when we paid condolences to her at her residence. After the prayers and encouragement speeches by college of law students, on which I happened to speak on behalf of the graduates he (John Wol) taught, though I was not able to express myself very well due to shock and uncomforted in mind, I managed to regain strength when our courageous mother the widow of John Wol greeted me and said that Justice John Wol is alive since his students are there to carry on his legacy.

Late Justice was one of the few scholars who contributed positively particularly in the field of customary law in South Sudan as a nation and Africa as a continent and his departure is a great lost to Africa and South Sudan in particular. In some countries, the great scholars are honored by declaring some days for mourning and this is what the writer was expecting from our judiciary though it didn’t happened as expected. Late Prof. John Wol has done his part and it is now up to his learned colleagues and his students to carry on the mission which he left unaccomplished.

His name shall remain in the history of South Sudan as a son of the country who serve the nation professionally and loyally. Justice John Wol was a man of HIGH INTEGRITY, he has never been an emotional or bias judge since his day one in the court room, if you happen to come across his court rulings you will find that he always give justice where it dues according to fair procedures of laws, he respect and treated people equally regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or culture and therefore, he was indeed A MAN OF THE PEOPLE.

Our fellow South Sudanese always console the grieved family that a deceased who gave birth to children never die, meaning that his heirs shall carry on the name, so Justice John Wol have left sons who are educated and can fit into his shoes.  I happen to know one of his son by name Deng who seems to be exactly like his late father by nature, hence those who were close friends or students of John Wol should continue the same relationship with his family. Indeed he is not with us physically but he is there spiritually, we shall remember him through his academic work and among his books are inter alia,

  1. THE CUSTOMARY LAW OF DINKA PEOPLE OF SUDAN: IN COMPARISON WITH ASPECTS OF WESTERN AND ISLAMIC LAWS, PUBLISHED IN 1988.
  2. THE CUSTOMARY LAW OF DINKA PEOPLE OF SUDAN: A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF AN AFRICAN LEGAL SYSTEM, 6TH EDITION
  3. THE DEVELOPMENT OF AFRICAN COMMON LAW, 1ST EDITION PUBLISHED IN 1991
  4. JUSTICE AND THE LAW IN THE SUDAN, PUBLISHED IN 1997
  5. SUDAN: THE LAW OF COPYRIGHT
  6. STRICT LIABILITY IN THE LAW OF SUDAN
  7. RIGHTS OF WOMEN,

These are some of his books that I know and I might have not come across some, plus hundreds of scholarly articles that are published by the numerous journals and websites.

HOW NATION IS SUPPOSE TO REMEMBER JUSTICE JOHN WOL MAKEC?

If we are to honour Justice John Wol, we should encourage the RULE OF LAW which has been advocating and worked for during his life time with us.

Secondly, the government should establish “JOHN WOL MAKEC FOUNDATION” where his BOOKS and ARTICLES shall be kept for the benefit of the current and next generation. The foundation if established, shall also be an academic think tank mainly in the field of legal research, if we implement the above, I think late Justice John Wol will be happy wherever he is with angels.

Finally, I would like to recognize the support shown by our President Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit and his courageous and consoling speech he gave to the mourners at Juba International Airport when the body of the late was flown to his home Town Rumbek for burial.

We already missed you Justice John Wol, your legacy shall live in us and will guide us forever, and may your precious soul rest in peace.

Bol Madut Ayii holds LL.B from University of Juba and currently an LL.M candidate, reachable via bolayii93@gmail.com or +211915884485.

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, city and the country you are writing from.

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