Bush Chronicle with Gen. Anthony Bol Madut

Posted: July 27, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël in Commentary, Contributing Writers, History, Junub Sudan, People, Peter Okello

By Okello Peter, Juba, South Sudan

May 16th: Celebrating the Founding of the SPLM/SPLA

July 27, 2017 (SSB) — Agitated by the information that young boys were being molested in Malakal by Arab teachers, Anthony Bol Madut joined the liberation struggle when he was just a young student – in the early sixties. He is a member, soldier, information gatherer for the Anyanya-1, gun-buyer and as early as 1983, one of the founders of the SPLA/M. After 1972 agreement, he was one of the fighters back then who did not believe that the Khartoum Government would honour the agreement; so in 1975, he shot his Arab colleagues and went back to the bush. Karbino Kuanyin, a Captain by then failed intentionally to capture Sergeant Anthony Bol, as he was being chased, a fugitive as he was. The Dawn considers Anthony Bol a patriot, like many others of his time, and therefore, among the nation founders and freedom fighters in this country. A well-known sharp shooter, a fearless commander, Anthony Bol fought for the rights, liberty, and freedom of South Sudanese citizens back then.

The Dawn’s senior reporter, Peter Okello caught up with him, shortly after his return from South Africa, where he had gone for periodic medical checkup.

The Dawn: Thank you for accepting to do this interview with us, General Anthony, can you briefly tell us your date of birth, school background and a short story about your early days?

Gen. Anthony Bol Madut: I was born 75 years ago, in Tonj North in an area called Pan-Nhial in Apuk-Padoc. I started my school in the early sixties in Athieng-puol area before I went to Warrap town, where I later left school and moved to Wau, then joined the Anyanya.

The Dawn: Why did you leave school and join the war, young as you where?

Gen. Anthony Bol Madut: There are multiple reasons. In Warrap School, there were Arab teachers. Some of them very fat; and they were not teaching us much. When I later went to Wau, I found out that children in Wau were taught in better school facilities, had quality teachers compare to us, so I considered this part of the greater Arab persecution we were being told by some of our elders who went to the bush ahead of us, as early as 1950’s. But interestingly, my parents were not in agreement. It was, for example, my father’s opinion that took me to school. My mother was not in agreement with my father’s decision of me going to school. My mother believed that, those who were taken to school are the young boys who have nothing to eat at their homes. I rejected my mother claims of me not attending my school, telling her that I must accept my father’s advice, not hers – not out of disrespect, but something masculine in all young boys. We want to be identified as children of men, not women.

The Dawn: How exactly did you leave school to join the war efforts?

Gen. Anthony Bol Madut: It was some sort of agitation. There were rumours that some southern students in Malakal were defiled by Arabs. When we heard this, we felt so agitated and immediately left schools and when to the bush. That was in 1963. We walked for months to Congo. In Congo, our work was to generate money to buy ammunitions. So all the time we were in the Congolese fields, toiling. The money was get, we don’t spend it, and we give it to our commanders who will then buy us guns. You see, it was very difficult. So to get some guns, we have to use human labour and later on get paid and then use the money to buy guns. I was in battalion 110, in a coy. I was the commanding commander in Akop Payam with Deng Alop, Akol Akol, Abur Matuongdit and others. A Coy consists of 120 soldiers.

The Dawn: When Joseph Lagu signed 1972 peace agreement, were you still in the Congo or already withdrew?

Gen. Anthony Bol Madut: When that agreement I was in the Congo forests. When we heard that the peace agreement was signed in Addis Ababa, we became very happy and drunk some wines. But during the celebrations, a Congolese friend of ours, a soldier in fact, told us not to celebrate because, according to him, he said that the worst war was still ahead of us. Perhaps he meant the peace agreement was not a good one, and might cause another second rebellion. After the signing of peace agreement in 1972, I was assigned to Aweil. I was commissioner an NCO, a Sergeant at the time. My senior commander in Aweil was Makur Thou. In Aweil we were promised that 5 years in the training the integration will be done. But within 2 years, Nimeiri came in and mixed us up, and put all Arab officers senior to all our comrades. So it was not a good command, the sort of command were your former enemy is empowered, leaving you with little security to yourself. So I shot them and deserted. That was 1975.

The Dawn: How did you do it exactly?

Gen. Anthony Bol Madut: My two colleagues and I agreed to kill the officer in-charge, and then shoot everyone else during the mess (Dinner) time. But for some reason that man could not come for officers ‘dinner that same evening. I waited for my friends to turn up, but they could not turn up. So I went to the house of that senior Arab officer. He was in his house. I knocked at his door but he refused to open his door. So I left, then I realised that may be, my friends have feared to undertake the mission with me. So I stood there thinking what to do…and so I thought over this for some time. Do I have to stay, give up like my friends, or just go away alone? Then I heard dances. Some Arabs militias dancing at the railway line in Aweil. I went there and sprayed them with bullets, probably, as I was able to hear through rumours, since I did not wait to find out whom I have killed, 6 died with 12 wounded or have their bones broken in the stampede. About 12 of them. I was heavily armed, you could see my bag; it contained every sort of the armoury available at the time – bullets, grenades and bombs.

The Dawn: Were you caught, perhaps sentence to prison?

Gen. Anthony Bol Madut: No! I am not a stupid soldier. I left. I ran, and ran, that time, I was very healthy, very fast runner, sharp shooter, with blazing, dangerous eyes, fully loaded to defend myself to the end. I was not afraid of death. When you are not afraid to die, no one can stand you in the eye. So to avoid getting caught, I travelled all night. When I could not walk anymore, I went to someone’s house and told them give me everything, water, food, sleeping material, to be put 50 yards away, and has to be done quick or I will shoot. I was supplied immediately, given a room detached from the main house. But during the night, my instinct told me to leave the room, so I went out of room I was given and slept under the tree outside the compound. No wonder, the man in whose house I slept had travelled to Wau, all night to inform Government that Bol Madut was sleeping at his house. So soldiers came, commanded by my friend Comrade Karbino Kuanyin. From what I understood, Karbino has told his soldiers not to shoot me but rather, to order me to put down my gun and if i refuse then they should fire into the air.

The Dawn: So what happened?

Gen. Anthony Bol Madut: When they arrived, I had already gotten up and brushing my teeth. They came and surrounded the room in which I was presumed to be in. Then they shouted, Bol, get out, we are here! I stopped brushing my teeth, took my gun, cocked it and started walking. When I cocked the gun, they heard and realised that I was far from them, some distance away from the house, under a tree. So Karbino said, Bol! You are under arrest, we have been ordered to shoot you to death if you don’t put down your weapon. I told Karbino, I am an outlaw. I would rather die fighting than hand myself over for firing squad. So Karbino said, Bol! I will count to three and I will order these soldiers to shoot you if you don’t put down your weapon. I said, Sir! With due respect I refuse to cooperate. While we talk like this, I was walking away while Karbino and his team try to encircle me. Then Karbino said shoot! They all lay down and started shooting. I also threw myself down and started shooting. But first I assessed how the bullets were flying. Were they flying above me, shooting at me or what? I realised that they were shooting in the air except one person who was directly shooting me. So I was also shooting in the air, but I got angry and started shooting in the direction whose bullets were targeting me. We fought like that until Karbino said, cease-fire! And they left.

The Dawn: What did you do when they left?

Gen. Anthony Bol Madut: When they left, I also moved away, walked up to Apuk-Padoc were I remained in the cattle camp. While looking after my cows, I was also in touch with Abur Matuongdit in Anyanya-2, and after that the SPLA/M started. When Garang and Kiir started the SPLA/M I was already member of Anyanya-2 commanding forces in Tonj. So I mobilised my forces and handed myself over to Garang and Kiir. When we met, I gave Garang military salute. He was a colonel of the SPLA/M, and I was a major general of Anyanya-2. So Garang asked me, Bol, you senior to me, how can you salute me as if I am your senior? I said, Garang, I have handed myself to you, so now you are my commander-in-chief. That is how we started the second war which liberated South Sudan!

The Dawn: What was your first assignment under Garang and Kiir?

Gen. Anthony Bol Madut: I was assigned to Boma under Commander Ngachigak Nyachiluk. I will never in my life meet someone like my first my commander. He was a very strong, tough man. Under the orders of Garang, our first mission was to capture Boma. We have to plan well, because Boma is very rugged, very mountainous. When we were there, we were there as soldiers, so I asked my commander to allow me begin the practice with the soldiers. We have to begin with platoon attack, coy attack and other insurgent attacks. The soldiers started to complaint, when shall we begin to the fighting, we are of waiting. I told them let us train ourselves first. It is easy to attack, but dangerous when you attack, and are not prepared to deal with the consequences of any repulse from the enemy. According to the information given to us, we were told that Boma is the key strategic area and when captured, the whole South Sudan is liberated.

The Dawn: Did you and your commander capture Boma?

Gen. Anthony Bol Madut: Yes. But after a struggle, for me for Nyachigak and for Chol Muorwel! In fact I don’t know if Kiir, the current president of South Sudan recalls, that his simple tap at my back when I was drawing how we will cordon Boma and kill every single Arab. I wanted to capture Boma without any escapees. But Kiir helped us capture Boma with ease. In the field, I was demonstrating how we can surround the whole of Boma and capture it. I didn’t know then, Commander Salva Kiir was standing behind me while I was drawing cordon strategy. Commander Salva told me that Bol, what are you doing? I said I was planning to encircle Boma and kill everyone in there, there should be no escapes. So Commander Salva said, Bol, the plan is brilliant but I insist that you should not try to plan kill all the Arabs inside Boma. But allow them an escape route. If you allow them escape route, they will not call for reinforcement but run for their lives. Indeed, when we allowed them an escape route, we easily captured Boma with 26 casualties from our side. We captured Boma in 1985. I remained in Boma for seven years thereafter. My commander Nyachigak was killed in Kapoeta in a surprise attack. He was shot in the back, while crossing a river. When his body guards came back holding his gun, I knew that my best friend was killed, for Nyachigak will never let anybody carry his gun for him. I mourned him; I continue to mourn Nyachigak today.

The Dawn: What is your message to the people of South Sudan?

Gen. Anthony Bol Madut: My message to the public is about the National Dialogue as a process to making lasting peace in the country. I would like to voice my elderly concern to the public, the international community and citizens of the republic of South Sudan thus: I wish to say that the decision by our president is quite true and authentic. Our president is an understanding person. He forgives and forgets. The call for national dialogue conference is for us the citizens to dialogue as brothers and sisters and work together for the betterment of our nation.

We have a functioning government. A legally elected government. I don’t understand why there are people in the bush calling themselves rebels against the government. I simply don’t know why! For those who were in the bush with us, they understand what it takes to fight and have a country of your own. Those who are now in the bush causing mayhems and turmoil to the country must not be forgiven or even pardoned. The President must work very hard to capture those who are causing havoc to the country and bring them and show them to the public that, they are the ones responsible for the economic crush. The public then will judge what to be done to them. South Sudanese are one. We are one now, one tomorrow and we will be one nation forever and all the tribes in South Sudan will remain one people in one country. South Sudan is a land of the black people and the world knows it.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is 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 from.

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