In loving memory of my fellow lost boys that we lost on our journey to Ethiopia – Part 2

Posted: December 27, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Deng Diar Diing, History, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

The traumatic shift from our society formations to military formations. This is a story about how we were mixed up – separated from our lineages- and village-mates and sorted out in groups of kids from different sections and villages – for the first time upon arrival in Ethiopia.

By Deng Diar Diing, Mombasa, Kenya

December 27, 2017 (SSB) — We were to be mixed with kids of various diversities in early 1988. This was the first move away from social formations where we were organized into lineages, clans and sections during our journey to Ethiopia from our various villages.

It was around April 1988 (not specifically sure of the time) when Capt. Pieng Deng-majok announced that we should be sorted out in military formations to allow for integration of kids from various backgrounds of South Sudan. This was meant to initiate us into National Agenda of Liberation that was transcendent of any social association.

It was also meant to rid us of social ignorance and stigmas that were stereotypically bound into us by various social bigotries. There were stories of this community eats people and others are this and that, causing unnecessary suspicions.

So the parade was called, and integration was announced by Capt. Pieng in his accent in which most of us complained that they could not understand (I remember him saying, Jesh Amer, yengo Chi rot looi?).

He spoke in Dinka anyway, since over 99% of the kids were from Bor, Yirol, Rumbek, Panrieng, Gogrial, Tonj and Aweil. Kids from Bentiu and Bailiet had not yet arrived at this point.

A general order was implemented by a first trial by selecting kids who were physically strong to form Groups 1, 2 and 3.

In our local news, stories were taking rounds that some people were gluttonous and surviving with them would be impossible. So the first team selected felt punished and disowned by their own leaders.

Anyhow, it eventually got down to all of us and we were assembled with kids from various backgrounds. I got myself a big snail shell (thial) which I kept for that day I would be eating with the supposedly gluttonous strangers.

That last night together as relatives, we were awake throughout rehearsing how to deal with strangers. We were also embracing and consoling ourselves for the impending danger, the possibility of not seeing each other again and probably not surviving the mistreatment by the strangers.

I was to join Group (Battalion) 9, Second Company, First Platoon, Second Lance. The night was indeed very long, with each of us replaying horrors in waiting. Our bags were fully packed, ready for the morning whistle from our Regiment Sergeant Major, Awuol Daau, to dismiss the Kongor Clan officially and declare divorce of relatives staying together.

The nerves-aching whistle blew at 7:00 a.m for the last parade as relatives and acquaintances.

Awuol gave a brief address emphasizing on the morality of what was being done by the movement and assuring us that the people we were about to go and stay with were brothers and therefore we shouldn’t be worried about our safety.

He further emphasized that we should behave and be acceptable to others views for mutual survival. We were dismissed at 8:00 am and given one hour to report to our various bases.

We bade ourselves rushy goodbyes with most of us nervous and holding back tears. Life had never been that uncertain since birth.

I arrived at Group 9 Base and found few had arrived for the parade. Capt. Pieng Deng came around with his bodyguards and gave us a short announcement, introducing an officer who was to organize us into formations and appoint our leadership. I can’t remember who this officer was.

Anyway, after about an hour when three-quarters of us had arrived, this officer called the parade to attention and selected Battalion Leadership, Regiment Sergeants (administration and logistics), popularly known as Qa’ad Katiba and Sool Tayiinat.

It was then followed by Company Leaderships, Platoons down to Lance. Duty team (nabeji) was selected, firewood was collected and food hurriedly cooked. Then declaration of the mess (dish sharing team) was the first challenge. Since the group was predominantly Greater Bor Dinka kids, Thongjieng was the medium of communication unless during the parade.

While the guys from Bor District (Bor South) would call mess “adol”, those from Kongor District (Bor North) would call it “biong”. It took us almost a whole meal time to get over that.

As we prepared to join our biong to start eating, I checked my bag for my big snail shell (thial) for the moment was here! To my shock, it was missing!!!  It was a bombshell; someone probably made away with it the previous night or in the confusion of organization.

There was no time to mourn thial, for the precious food was getting finished in the dish. I tried with my bare hands but it was too hot. On wanting to cry, it was not a solution either. To make the matters worse, no one was paying attention to my tribulations.

On looking around to check at the faces of these uncompromising guys, I saw another guy opposite me across the dish dealing with the same situation; he was not eating but he was calm. He was about my age, so I manned up and tried my luck quietly and confidently.

We managed some few mouthfuls with him and he was the first friend that I made not from Kongor. This guy turned out to be my colleague in academic and in life later. He is Nicholas Nhial Majak Nhial, the current Deputy Mayor of Juba city.

To be continued…courtesy of Garang Yong aka Kede Miakduur and Thuch Malual Deng

The author, Deng Diar Diing, is the founder and Former Managing Director of Horizon Real Estate Construction Company Ltd, and currently the Deputy Head of Program at Northern Corridor Transit and Transport Coordination Authority. He has a bachelor degree in Civil Engineering from Moi University in Kenya and Masters from the University of Manchester in the UK.

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, plus a concise biography of yourself.

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