By Eng. Deng Diar Diing. Mombasa, Kenya
April 2, 2017 (SSB) —- Today, I want to write a short note to congratulate my uncle and a friend, Daniel Ajith-mapiou de Garang-reehdit de Bior Deng Aguer, aka Daniel Bior on his graduation yesterday, 30/3/2017 for a Master’s of Economic Policy and Planning from Kampala University. Though a little late, he has finally journeyed to the desired destination regardless of the rude interruption of his education by war years back.
I have to tell people a bit about uncle Ajith because he has been an inspiration to me throughout my life.
Courtesy of late kwarkwar Amos Ajangthi de Biorthi de Deng Aguer, uncle Ajith started his education at Pageer (Piom e Duonytung) Primary school in 1979 at the age of six (6). Up on his December 1978 Holiday visit from the United States, Ajangthi advised kwarkwar Garangdit to take Ajith to school immediately regardless of his age. Kwarkwar Garangdit was a bit hesitant given the fact that he lost his older sons, Ajang, Bior and Aguer and Ajith being the possible heir of the family, he needed to be kept within the house-hood.
Nevertheless, with encouragement from uncle Niknora Manyok Aguer Deng Aguer and other relatives, Ajith joined Class 1 in May 1979 and continued unabated until his education was insolently interrupted by war in May 1983 when he had just started his class 5.
Off course, when he started schooling, I was still 2 years old and did not have anything in mind as school. But as I grew up, I watched him going to school in the morning sometime from our house in Agerhou. Sometime, when they were dribbling football with Bior-bedur Garang Deu Biorthi, I would be doing the running to pick the ball for them whenever it had flown afar.
My love for school started when uncle would come back from school in the afternoon and then sat with his colleagues, and continued discussing class work as we went to collect cows from the grazing area in the evening. And again, their beautiful school uniform was an inspiration. It also inclined my mind towards what education was about.
With this Master’s Degree, uncle has achieved it all. He fought the war ferociously and now slowly progressing to an academic echelon.
How did he influence me?
- On going to school, uncle Ajith made me love education right in our village of Agerhou when he used to go to school and that led to the debate I had with my father in April 1983 when I told him that I wanted to go to Pawel and joined school. Off course he said that I was still too young and would join the next year which was 1984. That debate later came to influence my decision of leaving to Ethiopia in 1987.
- Survival in the jungle of liberation: Two days after we left Pawel for Ethiopia, I was with uncle Ajith when that momentous MiG’s booms were unleashed on us in Jalle. I had left tim de Padool to tim de Pan e Bior to check on him. As we were chatting, a guy called Deng-makuol spotted a fast-moving MiG to alert us that something was amiss. It did not take seconds before the bombs were released on us and amid that confusion, uncle Ajith took my hand and ran with me for cver. Although the second rain of bombs scared me, I disengaged my hand and ran in a different direction. We thank God we survived the bombing and journey continued. We were in search for freedom.
- Again, when we reached Aja-ageer, we had now left baai at the last habitat called Bochdhoro. We were psychologically preparing for the jungle. Uncle Ajith in the two days we were in Aja-ageer decided to train me on how to swim in afiir therein. He continued training me when which reached Fugnido. That skill became instrumental for my survival later both in Fugnido, Gillo and Pochalla.
- On resilience in the jungle, uncle Ajith became very supportive morally and materially. When we were in alamat yiic (court centre-grouping), uncle Ajith would come and check on me and would get me something to eat if I were hungry. Sometime, he would give us some oil to cook our private (side-dish) with Peter Diing Arok Anyang and other cousins. When the second sorting (lieep) of jesh-amer was carried out, Ajith specifically took it upon himself to try to take me to the same group with him. It was a clear instruction from Capt. Pieng Deng that relatives should not be allowed to stay together. So this teacher noticed that I was stalking uncle Ajith every step of the way, and decided to uncouple me with him and took me to Group 9 while Ajith was taken to Group 10. That affected me seriously as I felt scared of staying with strangers. I later got used to it though. I later found my way to Group 8 upon Lieep e thukul (School sorting). Uncle Ajith was put in charge of Logistics in Second Company (Sol tayin Sieria Tani) of Group 10. I would sometime go to visit him and ate some delicacies that were only available to the Group Leaders. That would keep me strong for some months as I braved all the challenges of dealing with uncertainties and unknowns. That went on until I started becoming resilient, independent and strong in 1989. I knew my way around. I was able to swim across the Gog River to get some gueteguete for PRIVATE delicacies.
- On the military training: uncle was in the first batch that was trained from January to March 1989 in Markaz tederib. I was in the second batch which was trained from April to late May 1989. Training was a bit harsh and one needed to have clothes that would protect guard against cold and body injuries during the military exercises. Uncle gave me a pair of jeans trousers and an oversize pullover which became instrumental later in surviving the cold of the nights during moral parades, jambas (jogs) and gemiat (drills). They also protected my knees and elbow during the drills.
So, when uncle Ajith and his colleagues were brought back to Kapoeta, South Sudan in 1990 for military offensive, he had already helped me into an independent SPLM/A chap.
Off course, it has to be remembered that their group almost got annihilated by seif el obur, Mujahideen and Nasir forces operations of 1991-1994. It was intense and costly in human. I remember in 1992, when we were in Narus, the operations between Juba and Torit when Jalaba was pushing them back every day on sustained military offensives. We would wait for news of causalities in a tense presage feelings with deep-thought of uncle Ajith in mind.
We were so fearful of lose and my grandmother and mother who were then in Narus would be calling for uncle Thon and I from Jesh-amer Group to join them in prayers for his safety and the rest of his colleagues. To me, 1992 remains the most stressful year to remember in my life during the war of liberation. We lost relatives left and right, both civilians and soldiers alike.
We thank God for uncle Ajith and other relatives who survived that onslaught. It was not until in late 1994 when he felt seriously ill around Aswa when he was given Departure Order to seek treatment in Nimule when he got the opportunity to be out of fire. Courtesy of Biar-jaujau who was his immediate commander, Kongor-mashiir Maketh Gak who followed up on his permission and off course Uncle Ajangthi who upon hearing of his sickness sent money and had him treated in Nairobi at Arok Thon’s house in 1995(see the photo shared earlier on in my profile, a young Ajith had just come from Frontline).
It then became my turn to inspire him to follow-up on his education and I am sure to a great extent; I interchangeably played my role of inspiring to come this far academically.
Uncle Ajith is now the section-head of Department of Finance in Dar Petroleum where he is serving our nation and our family diligently. CONGRATULATIONS UNCLE ON THIS MOMNETOUS ACHIEVEMENT. We am proud of you uncle. God continues to bless you and us all.
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