By David Deng Chapath, Kampala, Uganda
March 24, 2017 (SSB) — Let me begin this article with what William Shenstone once said about lie and a liar. He said, “a liar begins with making falsehood appear like truth, and ends with making truth itself appear like falsehood”. Hence, this article is in response to the recent news circulating on Facebook that General Paul Malang Awan, the Army Chief was dead in order to inform the public that such news was malicious, fabricated and baseless.
I have to tell the public that one of the people whose post misled the public in relation to Malong Awan is Sheriff Balang Nyakim who posted the post that falsely killed Malong. His post reads as follows as I have quoted below—
“General Paul Malong Awan Anei (http://www.malongfoundation.org) was a South Sudanese politician and military figure. He served as governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal since 27 March 2008 before promoted to Army Chief. In April 2014 he was appointed Chief of General Staff of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army by the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit.
He became army chief, replacing James Hoth Mai and served until his death yesterday in Nairobi Kenya before he was flown home. During the Anti-Nuer pogroms in 2013, much of the killings were carried out by a group known as “Dot Ke Beny” (Rescue the President) or “Mathiang Anyoor” (Brown caterpillar), a militia of Dinkas formed for the protection of president Kiir by Paul Malong Awan he is a subject of sanctions by the EU. He is believed to finally rest in his hometown Aweil on Friday.
Sheriff Balang Nyakim made the above false obituary or false announcement of General Malong’s death and his profile on Thursday March, 23, 2017 at 7: 51 PM Ugandan time. Within no time, this false news spread like a wild fire among rebels who are frustrated with General Malong to the point of resorting to killing him on facebook. It was shared as if it were true news.
This made me to make the general observation that rebels of South Sudan are useless groups of people who are immoral and because of that lies have become their companions as they can lie even when it is not needed.
In actual sense, rebels on facebook are typical and ‘Pathological liars, who are absolutely tough to deal with as a psychiatrist. This is because one can’t take anything they say at face value as one can’t know and fill in their personality. In addition, one can’t know what’s real and what’s not.
Like in 2016 the same rebels on facebook spread rumours of the death of South Sudanese president that prompted the presidency to come out openly to dispel such fear and doubt because the rebels almost threw the nation into disarray.
Despite the coming out of the presidency and presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny, who spoke on state radio that the president is alive and healthy after widely shared social media posts that claimed that the President had died; the president was forced to come out to prove to people that he was alive by touring the city.
Again, on March 23, 2017 the command of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in Juba has to come out to dismiss rumours on social media claiming that the chief of General staff, Paul Malong Awan had died. The source from the SPLA said and I quote as reported by Sudan tribune on the date mentioned above that “This is just fake propaganda by the anti-peace elements. It is not true. The chief of general staff is alive and carrying out his duties normally,”
Apart from the above two major incidences of false news affecting South Sudan, there are many other instances in which rebels have been lying especially in case of war. For instance, when the war broke out in July 2016 in Juba and after Riek was defeated with his group, the same rebels on Facebook headed by Mabior Garang set up the social media propaganda machine war in Nairobi.
As we all heard in July 2016, Mabior Garang and Gadet Dak were just sitting in Nairobi while making strong propaganda that it was a matter of hours and Riek Machar would be in Juba, yet Riek was in terrible shape on the way to Dr. Congo. Therefore, it was ironical that while Riek Machar was running away from South Sudan, South Sudanese rebels on Facebook headed by Mabior Garang were capturing power in Juba, which was false news.
Based on the above examples, I have come to the conclusion that rebels are defeated and they are using defeatists’ tactics like spreading fake news. When we talk of fake news we mean a type of hoax or deliberate spread of misinformation, be it through the traditional news media or through social media (like the one we have on facebook in the instance case), with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically.
As a general character, false often employs eye-catching headlines or entirely fabricated news-stories in order to increase readership and, in the case of internet-based stories, online sharing as seen in the case of false death of the president of South Sudan and his Army Chief spread by rebels.
Therefore, it has to be pointed out as a matter of national concern that the issue of fake news is something of major concern worldwide as it has affected developed countries more than less developed countries. South Sudan, therefore, is not an exception. Thus, there is a need for something to be done in order to save the image of internet and the countries from false.
In summary, I would like to respond to the rebels that General Malong is alive and he is actively engaged in discharging his duties. I would further like to advise my South Sudanese rebels and fake news reporters that if they are defeated then they should bow their heads down and surrender to the government instead of creating chaos on facebook or social media with baseless news. The news they report like the one I am responding to in this article is baseless because it is false news.
NB//: the author is South Sudanese student residing in Uganda and can be reached through: email@example.com
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