Persons of the Year: The Most Influential South Sudanese Leaders for the Year 2017

Posted: January 6, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Editorials, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, PaanLuel Wël, People

By PaanLuel Wël, Juba, South Sudan

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A young South Sudanese girl poses with the flag of South Sudan

January 6, 2018 (SSB) — This is a humorized account of the persons of the year – the most influential South Sudanese leaders for the year 2017. To the reader, catch feelings at your own risk. To our dear leaders honored herein, congratulations for making it to the list of the most influential South Sudanese leaders of the year 2017. To the security agents, chill and enjoy. To the unknown gunmen, yeng’o man? Let’s begin, shall we?

President Salva Kiir – Too big to fall and too weak to govern: The Joshua of South Sudan. Who led his people into the Promised Land. Without milk and honey. Brimming with war, death and destruction. The chairman of the ruling SPLM party. That ruined the country. The first president of the Republic of South Sudan. The impoverished, war-torn baby nation of the world. War and peace gyrate around him. His signatures make peace. His reservations doom them. His decrees the only reason people tune in to SSBC. His utterances laws unto themselves. His own prerogatives. A constitutional president of a sovereign state. He is the president. The country. A life-long revolutionary freedom fighter. He has seen it all. The 1962 Anyanya war that he joined aged 17. The 1983 SPLM/A war that he co-founded. The 2005 CPA that he co-midwifed. The 2015 ARCSS that he signed with reservations. And the 2018 High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) that he is overseeing. His political opponents have learnt to underestimate him at their own perils. Riek, Pagan and Nyandeng tried and got bloody noses. King Paul tried only to flee Juba at midnight. Unsoldierly. Thomas Cirilo exiled himself without bothering. He recruited Museveni to checkmate Khartoum. Hired Cairo to rein in Ethiopia. Charmed Uhuru Kenyatta to deport his critics. Coached JMEC Chair to sing his songs. And offered affirmative action to the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE). He has turned South Africa into his Robben Island. And commanded IGAD to ship his archenemy there to rot in jail. He has successfully reduced IGAD, AU, Troika and the UN to a whining quartet. Constantly issuing meaningless and empty press releases day in, day out. His New Year wish is that the war should end soon enough for him to retire and spend quality time with his family. Will the nation of South Sudan grant him his wish? Affirmative.

Diktoor Riek Machar – The Raila Odinga of South Sudan – Too powerless to succeed, too relevant to be dismissed and forgotten: The leader of the SPLM-IO. To his supporters, he is the Ngundeng foretold great leader of South Sudan. The democrat fighting for the establishment of the Federal Republic of South Sudan. A latter-day Mandela languishing in the Robben Island jail to deliver South Sudan from war, death and destruction. He is South Sudan and South Sudan is him. The chosen one. The freedom fighter. Human right defender. Reformer. Democrat. Federalist. To his critics, he is the devil incarnate. The single source of their miseries. Year in, year out. The only reason why there has been wars among Junubeen since 1991. Blamed for the 1991 Nasir coup. The 1991 Bor Massacre. Collaboration with Khartoum against his own people. The reason why the movement never captured Juba in 1992. Never achieve complete victory over Khartoum. A betrayer. A collaborator. A warmonger. The killer. A tribalist whose support base does not extend beyond his Nuerland. But Riek is all this and more. He has been there from the beginning – as a student activist in the UK. A founder of the unionist party – Sudan Congress Front – in October 1983 before joining the SPLM/A. One among few Junubeen who gave up everything – including a newly acquired PhD – to join his comrades in the bush. A former SPLM/A commander who almost captured Bashir in Mayom. Compelling John Garang to exclaim: “If I have five other commanders like Riek, this war would have been over 3 years ago.” The first vice president of South Sudan whose July 2013 dismissal triggered the December 2013 crisis. A danger to his enemies in the bushes of South Sudan. Still a bigger headache in exile. So central to the conflict is Riek that the formal process of bringing him back to Juba, to the government, is publicly known as the high-level revitalization forum of the ARCSS.  But he is weak and his troops scattered. Most taken hostage of. He is powerless to succeed. Not in October 1983. Not in September 1991. Not in December 2013. And not in 2018. But he is too relevant to be dismissed, ignored and forgotten. He is the Raila Odinga of South Sudan. You have to live with him. Learn to tolerate him. Ca ping?

Hon. Pagan Amum Okiech – The Prince of the SPLM, the Failed John Garang II: He is the prince of the SPLM. The failed John Garang II. Pagan Amum is articulate. Revolutionary. Fearless. Even historic. A former student leader. Long before Kerubino and Nyuon, went to the bush, he was there. With Oyai Deng Ajak. At Boma plateau. Fighting Khartoum. Roaming the wild in the name of revolutionary struggle. John Garang fell in love with him. Making him one of his favorite protégés. Only rival by Nhial Deng Nhial. On his first official visit to Cairo after the death of Garang, the Egyptian media anointed him John Garang II. When CDR Salva Kiir unveiled the SPLM politburo after Garang demise, Pagan was number two after him. Above and over Riek and Wani Igga. He was a thorn in the flesh of Khartoum. Making him an archenemy of Bashir. Who kicked him out of the cabinet. For insulting the Country. He was President Kiir’s right hand man. Accompanying him on foreign trips. Like visiting President Bush in Washington DC. He was entrusted with peace implementation. And negotiation with Khartoum over outstanding issues. He MC-ed the independence of South Sudan. Colluding with the leadership to deny Riek Machar a chance to say a word to the crowd. A powerful secretary general. So much power. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Too much power. Which got into his head. The head that began angling for the presidency. Frightening Kiir. Who sacked and placed him under house arrest. Teaching him an ancient lesson. Never bite the hand that feed you. In December 2013, he graduated from house arrest to a maximum prison. Accused of a failed coup attempt. Alongside his former bush comrades. Garang boys. In court, he put up a spectacular fight. Gaining his freedom. Alongside his comrades. Kiir shipped them to Nairobi. Where they were quarantined by Uhuru Kenyatta. In a 5-star hotel. Like British royals. Vacationing in the Bahamas. Instead of playing a second fiddle to a man he despises – Riek – he set up his own political wing of the movement. The SPLM Leaders. The only leaders of the historic movement. Not Kiir. Not Riek. But them alone. Garang Boys. The rightful heirs of John Garang. Sole custodians of his wisdom. Interpreters of his knowledge. Guardians of his legacy. But critics say that Pagan betrayed Kiir by opposing him. And stabbed Garang in the heart by advocating for South Sudan to be “Reborn” in the hands of the UN. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Gen. Taban Deng Gai – The Modern Day Machiavelli of South Sudan: The Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of the SPLA/M-IO Peace Forces. The First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan. To the IO, he is the devil incarnate – engaging in the Faustian pursuit of auctioning off his political soul to the highest bidder. To the government, he is a Ngundeng-given rod to finish off Riek Machar. To his ardent supporters, he is the apostle of peace. The voice in the wilderness. Calling for the end of the war and the reign of peace and prosperity. He has been there and knows it all. A former student activist. A former SPLM/A commander in charge of Itang. A cousin to Angelina Jany and a brother-in-law to Riek Machar. A direct link between the Nasir group and NIF in 1991. Tasked with securing arms and ammunition from Khartoum. He recruited Riek to fight a bitter war with Paulino Matip in 1998, leading to the death of Kerubino Kuanyin at the hand of Matip’s chief of staff, Peter Gatdet. He defeated both Riek and Angelina Jany in the 2010 gubernatorial election in Unity state. When Kiir made the mistake of firing him unceremoniously in 2013, he hit back hard by masterminding the December 2013 crisis. He financed the IO for over two years. When Riek hesitated to pay him back by appointing him to the plum ministry of petroleum, he sent him scampering for his dear life. First to the DR Congo and then packed him, like a car without wheels, in South Africa. He is now a stone throw-away from the presidency – the second most powerful man in South Sudan – all within a span of a mere two years. Will he survive the gathering storm of the revitalized ARCSS? Only Taban can tell.

Gen. Thomas Cirilo Swaka– Finding his Footing in the Game of Throne: Who cheated you that rebellion is a game for everyone? Just because Riek has made it his favorite profession does not mean that it is for every Deng, Gatluak and Lado. Proof? A decorated war general is struggling to find his footing in the bush. Thomas Cirilo is a revolutionary fighter. A war hero. An epitome of a freedom fighter. Liberationary struggle runs in the family blood. His elder brother, Gen. Peter Cirilo Swaka, was a leading commander of the Anyanya One movement. A close friend of and a mentor to John Garang. His home was the last refuge Garang slept in Juba on his way to Bor from Khartoum in 1983. Thomas Cirilo joined the movement during the dark days of the 1990s. When the movement was on its knees following the Nasir declaration. Khartoum had retaken almost all liberated towns. Most Junubeen leaders were trooping to Khartoum. Convinced that the movement is dead and gone. Not Thomas Cirilo. Together with Gen. Augustino Jadalla Wani – Governor of Jubek state – they mounted a spectacular takeover of Juba from within. And the SPLM/A from outside. Though it failed, it was historic. Heroic story from which national myths are minted. But like all his comrades in the government of the liberators, he lost his ways in the moneyed hallways of Juba. Critics assert that he is simply trying to reinvent himself as the champion of the Equatorian cause. Forsaking nationalism in preference to regionalism. But his movement – the National Salvation Front (NAS) – is struggling to attract and keep his targeted home base. To achieve his goal of being the Kiir of the Equatorians. The Riek of the Equatorians. He rebelled against Kiir and despises Riek. But he wants to be like them. Benydit syndrome. Welcome to South Sudan. Like him or not, he is now a force to reckon with. With a respectable niche at the revitalization forum in Addis Ababa. Forcing Kiir and Riek to see the conflict – sharing of power and army – as more than a bilateral affair of the Dinka and the Nuer. There are more than two tribes in South Sudan. Hello? Ca ping?

Hon. Michael Makwei Lueth – The Trump of South Sudan: Love him or hate him, he does his job well. Surely, you would appoint him if he were on your side of the political divides. He says it as it is. Black and white. Sexy and ugly. Speaking his mind openly and directly and publicly – like Trump. He is fearless. Fought all. Black rebels. White rebels. Media. Irritating critics. IGAD. UN. Troika. AU. And even Kiir himself. And her Majesty, Awut Deng Achuil. Like Kiir and Taban, he is a relic of the past. A law graduate of Khartoum University. A veteran of the revolutionary war of liberation. A former SPLM legal advisor to Garang. A senior member of the liberationary movement. The longest-serving minister since 2005. A former minister for justice, parliamentary affairs, information, name them. To his supporters, he has qualified to be a president. To his critics, he is a nut. A microphone for hire. A deranged mouthpiece. An empty drum. The Americans and the UN and the EU have sanctioned him. He doesn’t give a damn, he said. Proudly trumpeting the stigma of sanction as a badge of honor. A proof of his loyalty to the constitutional president. And the sovereign nation. Though a great fighter, critics claim that he never captured a town from Jallaba during the war. Though the longest-serving minister, supporters swear he is as poor as a church mouse. Dealmakers don’t trust him. Afraid their contract details will be exposed to the cameras. Family members and close friends joke that he spends so much time talking – defending the government – that he finds little time to engage in corruption. He is the poorest minister in Juba. Harambee.

Gen. Akol Khoor Kuch – The new golden boy in town: He is brilliant. He is smart. He is powerful. The prince of Juba. The new golden boy in town. The Salah Gosh of South Sudan. Like a true spymaster, he is camera shy. Rarely do you find his photos gracing the World Wide Web. Few know his face. But his name is ubiquitous. It is all in the name. The Sun of the Lion. His name sends terror into the hearts of his rivals. Many of them. Newly minted. And rising. Like the Sun. His name. And Strong. Like the Lion. His daddy. They called him Agut-Thon. The Bul Slayer. You see, not long ago, the law was King Paul and King Paul was the kingdom. Then came Akol Khor and a new world order was established. Unlike his elders – Kiir, Taban, Makwei, both in age and seniority – he is an up starter. Though a veteran of the revolutionary war of liberation, most veterans would struggle to recognize his face. Or name him. Like Dr. Majak Agoot, he is a protégé of CDR Salva Kiir. His supporters joke that he sent King Paul packing at midnight. And then ordered him halfway to immediately report himself back to Juba. King Paul became King Fall. His critics claim that he has gone overboard and too personal. In what is supposed to be a brotherly rivalry. The majestic King Paul simply sidelined his opponents. But left them alive to marvel at his glorious reign. King Fall supporters are dying in droves, at the hand of the unknown gunmen. Cowardice. Stop. Arise and shine. The sun graces the high sky – doesn’t stoop too low; the lion is a proud and majestic animal – doesn’t scavenge for a meal. Yeng’o?

Madam Rebecca Nyandeng – The controversial Mother of the Nation: The wife of the founding father. A former minister and advisor to the president. An advocate for political reforms. A fierce critic of the government. A leading member of the former political detainees. To her supporters, she is the old dear mother of the nation. The voice of the voiceless. The conscience of a warring nation. Who speaks out against the targeted killing of the Nuer in Juba in December 2013. The one who profusely shed tears of despair in Addis in 2016. Blackmailing Kiir and Riek to a ceasefire, end war and allow peace to reign. She carries and cares about the family name and legacy of John Garang. Of the revolutionary movement. Of the martyrs. Wounded heroes. Neglected war veterans. Widows and orphans. To her critics, she is an old mad woman. Stirring up troubles wherever she goes. Whenever she opens her mouth. Fueling conflict where calm is called for. She is accused of inciting the white army in December 2013 to attack the government and ransacked Bortown. Like her comrades in the government of the liberators, she is a former minister with nothing to show for her tenure. Her team of the former detainees are accused of advocating for UN takeover of the country. Just because they lost a power struggle against their opponents. But Madam Nyandeng is more than her political stance. She is also a great role model for women. Young girls and ladies aspiring to join the male-dominated political theatre in Juba. She has also succeeded to rise above the Dinka-Nuer spectrum of the civil war. Projecting herself as a nationalist than a guardian of tribal interest. Helping to sanitize Garang brand in the civil war. Apart from warring, the only other thingy warring parties agree on is Garang brand. Each of them is a proud guardian, and champion, of his legacy.

Diktoor Majak Agoot Atem – The man who would be king: A decorated war hero, a PhD holder with about 3 masters and counting. A protégé of the reigning president. Former deputy minister of defense. Former head of military intelligence. Who built the Blue House. To his critics, he is everything that you love to hate. And fear. Arrogant. Fond of using “big words”. And carrying himself as if he owns South Sudan. Feel entitled to the presidency. Ungrateful to the president. Who brought him up through mentorship. To his supporters, he is everything that South Sudan needs. Very educated. A war veteran. The youngest SPLM/A commander ever. First SPLM/A commander to get a PhD. One among few former ministers to have sponsored students to the university. Relatives and close friends. Bachelors and masters. The renovator of the famed and historical Malek secondary school. One of the few accessible Banydit on the internet. He rules the Twittersphere. Where he debates big fish. Small fish. Medium fish. Without discrimination. One among few South Sudanese PhD holders who has published academic articles in international peer-reviewed journals. Available at a cost of 5 months’ salary for the SPLA soldier. He has never publicly declared his interest in the presidency. Yet, supporters complain he is being thwarted. Character assassination. Critics think he is dying for it. Including the government. That has accused him of multiple coup attempts while serving in Juba. Rumors still run wild among his supporters. Of how President Kiir has made a secret pact with Majak to succeed him. A prodigal son succeeding a jilted father. The controversy over his political ambition is only matched by that of a debate involving Kiir and Riek. Yet, he is a junior member of the SPLM Politburo. How he came to rival Kiir and Riek in political controversy is a mystery. Only known to his critics. And supporters.

Madam Angelina Jany Teny – for better or for worse, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live: Though a mere civilian who spent most of her wartimes in London, she is currently the IO minister for defence. Also rumored to be the de facto chairperson of the IO. In lieu of her exiled husband. She has been a political animal for a while. The former state minister in the Khartoum-based Government of National Unity (GONU). Once ran against, and badly lost to, her cousin, Taban Deng Gai, in the 2010 gubernatorial election in Unity state. Sparking the current rancor between her husband and her cousin. Of all the “first ladies” of the movement – the wives of the High Command members – only Nyandeng Garang rival her. To her critics, both within and outside the IO, she is nothing more than Grace Mugabe. Who doomed Great Mugabe. She is the lady who fancies herself that power can be transferred and inherited within the family. Like a family wealth. Nonetheless, few wives have been put to test like Angelina Jany to live out their marriage vows. She has been by Riek side since the commencement of the civil war. She fled with him into the bush in December 2013. Trekking on foot all the way from Juba to Bor. Took care of him in Pagak. And escorted him to Juba in 2016. Barely three months later, under hails of fire, and with military choppers hovering overhead, she escorted Riek to the DR Congo. With the help of the UN. Literally on a stretcher. The poor man had given up. Riek would have died without her. With the disintegration of the IO – politically hollowed by Taban and militarily disarrayed by Kiir – it fell on her shoulders to keep the IO alive. And relevant. She toured US and the UN to drum up support. After his resuscitation, Riek took notice and rewarded her. As a comrade in need, not a wife. She leads the IO delegation to the revitalization forum in Addis Ababa. As the de facto leader – forget Riek’s Deputy Henry Odwar. Assured of a ministerial post in the revitalized TGONU in Juba. The lioness is only warming up. Taban. Watch out.

H.E. Festus Mogae – The Failed Messiah of the ARCSS: A highly respected former president. A proud lion reduced into a mere scavenger. A failed savior of the ARCSS. Caught between a dangerous wall and the roaring sea. The government accuses him of usurping the constitutional powers of the president. Running the country by proxy. On behalf of the UN. A Trojan horse within. An agent of UN takeover. Recolonization. IO accuses him of co-habiting with the government. Abetting mass killing. Turning a blind eye to the raping and mutilation of the ARCSS. He is a fixed man. He has been JMEC-ed. Damned if he does anything. Dammed if he does nothing. He has chosen the middle road. And fell through the turbulent sea. To his irrelevance. Like the moribund ARCSS. That he was supposed to monitor and evaluate. And recommend diagnosis to the UN Security Council. For the relevant prescriptions to be applied. Under his nose, warring parties make a profession out of violating the cessation of hostilities agreement. Dooming the ARCSS. Blatantly. But like the former liberators, he wavered and failed. Reduced to whingeing – with his inconsequential press briefings. At the Equatoria Towers in Juba. WE CONDEMN IN THE STRONGEST TERM POSSIBLE. His mantra. Words without action. Is death. Declares the Holy Scripture. Will Addis Ababa revitalize Festus Mogae too? Hopefully.

Ambassador Gordon Buay Malek – The Honorable Minister for Propaganda: He is brave. Fiery. A hired gun. Abrasive. Relentless. He shies away from nothing. Minister for Propaganda. Everyone is an enemy. Everyone is an ally. Everything is an asset. Everything is a suspect. Nothing is a taboo. Nothing untouchable. Nothing un-opposable. Nothing un-embraceable. It is all politics. Dirty politics. On the highway to power. The end justifies the means. Like a true lawyer, Gordon Buay can spin anything into anything. Without a blink of an eye. He has compounded all – critics and comrades and bystanders. His opponents are his former friends and comrades and close family members. His supporters are his former sworn enemies. He has crossed many boundaries. Broken many taboos. An embodiment of a typical South Sudan politician. Eat while it lasts. Grab where available. He has come a long way. By sheer determination. A Former red army, a former lost boy, a former rebel, a former sworn enemy of Kiir, Gordon Buay transformed himself from a social media nuisance into a first-grade ambassador. Within a span of two years. A great feat. Only Taban Deng has accomplished so much. Becoming the 1st Vice President within three months. Like Makwei Lueth, he speaks his mind. And a lot nastier. He is a great writer. Wonderful spinner of misinformation. Like a gun, he is a great ally. And a nightmare opponent. His critics – convinced that he has sold his soul to the devil – want nothing more than his blood-dripping head. Supporters adore him. Falling head over heels in love with every writing he put out. That is how he makes a living. A former rebel against Taban Deng. A former YouTube presidential candidate. Running against Kiir. Gordon Buay is now the greatest defender of the government. Kiir and Taban. Go against him at your own risk. Jaribu tu.

Hon. Mabior Garang – The lone voice in the wilderness: There is little Garang in him. In his voice. In his argument – writings. In his dogged defiance. But there is bullshit in him too. Have you seen his photo? A policeman would mistake him for a drug dealer. A dangerous gangster. Ripe for the handcuffs. Who could possibly blame the poor policeman? He is funny too. When critics took to calling him “Wene Nyandeng” – supposedly a gravest insult – he promptly changed his name on social media to Mabior’e Nyandeng. Stunning them. A man of his own making. He defied his dad by dropping out of George Mason University – USA. He defied his mom, and all private and public expectations, by swearing allegiance to a man who had tried hard to topple and kill his father. He was kicked out of a cabinet meeting in Juba for defying the approved dressing code for a minister. He forfeited his ministerial post by following Riek Machar into exile. To his supporters, he is principled. Not power hungry. Nor after money. To the critics, a big fool who is yet to discover, and appreciate, the ancient dictum that there are no permanent friends and enemies in politics. Like Gordon Buay, he is a product of the December 2013 crisis. He rode the wave successfully to become the youngest minister in the history of South Sudan. With Riek exiled to South Africa, James Gatdet under detention in the Blue House, and IO in total disarray, Mabior has become a lone voice in the wilderness. Through his lucidly written press releases, the IO has been kept alive and relevant – till the days of the revitalized ARCSS. He has become a trusted – tested – confidante of Riek Machar. And why not, after all, Riek first assignment in the movement was acting as an adjutant of John Garang.

Ms. Amer Mayen Dhieu – Putting words into action, a champion for the girl-child education: Her philosophy is bold. Her mission is daunting. Perilous. She is a feminist. Who believes in and champions a woman power. She is living out her dream. Putting mere words, shadowy belief, into concrete action. She is the co-founder and executive director of the Twic East Girls Scholarship Program (TEGSP). With her comrades-in-arms, she is empowering young women to make positive changes in their lives. Young, poor, girls in the refugee camps in Kenya. Like she once was. Twelve (12) secondary school students have been sponsored so far. All girls. Positive discrimination. She is a human right activist, an ambassador of women rights issues, gender and social justice. She passionately believes that “education is the only tool that has the power to liberate women from the yoke of patriarchal society.” To her critics in the male-dominated South Sudanese society, she is a destroyer of cultural norms and heritages. A serial provocateur. Inciting women against men. Girls against boys. To take over the world. Subjugating men. Putting them in the smoky kitchen. To cook Walwal and Kisira. Washing clothes. Looking after kids. Fetching water and firewood. Forcing men to wear skirts and women trousers. Who runs the world – girls. Who rules the world – girls. Total world domination. Nevertheless, her work with the TEGSP is a timely motivation to many young girls who aim to change the status quo and expand the horizon – shattering the ceiling for the liberty of the girl-child and young ladies. Many have been inspired by her work, and social media campaign. She received her Bachelor of Social Science degree, majoring in Psychology and Human Services from the Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Queensland, and her Masters of International Relations, majoring in International Security and Human Rights, from Griffith University in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Mr. Edmund Yakani – Warrior of the new age, a fearless Human Right Defender: A leading warrior of the new age, Edmund Yakani is the winner of the 2017 Civil Rights Defender of the Year Award. A very courageous civil rights leader. Vocal. Fearless. Articulate. Meticulous. Passionate. Determined. Resolute. Tenacious. In defending and promoting human rights, democratic transformation and justice in South Sudan. Few equals exist in South Sudan. He is the voice of the voiceless. The conscience of a nation gone mad. On a killing spree. Endless, destructive and pointless wars. He is the Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), a Juba-based South Sudanese civil society organization, engaging in the areas of peace and conflict mitigation, human rights, rule of law, livelihood, governance and democratic transformation. CEPO is among the few South Sudanese civil organizations with a seat at the High-Level Revitalization Forum table in Addis Ababa. He holds a dual degree in Law and Political Science from the University of Juba, and a diploma on Gender and Paralegal Aid from Khartoum Academic.

Madam Lucy Ayak Malek – The pen is mightier than the Sword: In a nation of multiple conflicts. In the land of the unknown gunmen. Who knew that a pen can be mightier than the sword? That there are other means of solving conflict without resorting to AK47? That a media is a powerful tool to advocate for the release of your loved ones? Who would have guessed that the fate of the mighty King Paul would fall on the shoulders of his poor wife? That a woman can confidently and articulately muster a voice in this patriarchal society? But that is exactly what happened. Thank to Madam Lucy Ayak Malek. The proud wife of King Paul. She demonstrated simple but vital facts. That you can actually achieved your goal without resorting to war. Without making it personal with the president by heaving abuses on him. Calling for his overthrow. That you can use the media to campaign for the release of your loved ones in jail. And that women have powerful voices. One that can compel even the president to act accordingly. Before she came onto the scene, no one knew that Malong was under house arrest. She changed the narrative. By launching a spirited campaign for the release of her beloved husband. Malong was released and allowed to join his family in Kenya. The nation was stunned. Never before have they witnessed something like that. A lioness who can take a stance among the lions. Directly addressing the king. And won. Proudly. Critics counter that she is a supporter of a butcher. A man many believed to have placed a heavy hand on his opponents. Both within and outside the government. That Malong deserved what he went through. Since he has been doing the same to others. That it was karma. A payback time for him. Yet, she is a wife. And Malong is just but a husband. A father of her kids. She was living out her marriage vows. For better or for worse, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live, till death do us apart.

Mr. Ajak Deng Chiengkou – The Minting of a New South Sudanese journalist: There are four patriarchs in the pantheon of the South Sudanese journalism. Atem Yaak Atem of the SPLM/A Update. Arop Madut Arop of The Heritage. Alfred Taban of Khartoum Monitor. And Jacob Jiel Akol of Gurtong. These magnificent four have set the bar so high. That their protégés are struggling to fit in their shoes. In the hall of fame. But then, along, came Ajak Deng Chiengkou. The former office manager of Hon. Makwei Lueth. Who sees and hears a Junubi in all the warring factions of the SPLM. Kiir is a Junubi. Riek is a Junubi. Bakasoro is a Junubi. Taban is a Junubi. Malong is a Junubi. Makwei is a Junubi. Cirilo is a Junubi. Lam Akol is a Junubi. All rebels – armed or unarmed – are fellow Junubeen. To be listened to and engaged. In the pursuit of mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence. The government and their supporters are Junubeen. To be listened to and engaged. In the pursuit of mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence. The UN and Troika and IGAD and AU are not the enemies of South Sudan. They are concerned fellow human beings trying the best they can to rescue the situation in South Sudan. This is the driving philosophy at the Dinka SBS Radio. To give a platform to all Junubeen and their friends. Talking to the rebels. Talking to the government. Talking to civil society groups. Women and youth. Traditional leaders. Lay people from the grassroots. Talking to Mengistu Haile Mariam to shed light on the past in order to make sense of and solve the present. For this impartiality. For this objectivity. For this professionalism. For the crime of being a Junubi first, and Ajak second. For giving his platform to all Junubeen. He has been accused of abetting rebellion. And killing in South Sudan. How could a survivor of the Bor massacre allow Riek Machar to explain away his atrocities in Bor in 2013? His critics wondered out loud. For all these and more, he has become a quintessential Junubi. Leading at the forefront of a new breed of South Sudanese journalists. Who put the destiny of the nation, the fate of the people, ahead of everything else. Including their tribal and clannish allegiances. Ajak Deng Chiengkou is walking in the footsteps of the best and the brightest journalists of South Sudan: Jacob Akol, Alfred Taban, Arop Madut and Atem Yaak. A lonely journey. Anyone to accompany him?

PaanLuel Wël, the managing editor of PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB), graduated with a double major in Economics and Philosophy from The George Washington University, Washington D.C, USA. He is the author of Who Killed Dr. John Garang, the editor of the essential speeches and writings of the late SPLM/A leader, Dr. John Garang, published as The Genius of Dr. John Garang, vol. 1-3, as well as a co-editor (with Simon Yel Yel) of President Salva Kiir’s speeches before and after independence: Salva Kiir Mayaardit: The Joshua of South Sudan. You can reach him through his email:; Facebook page: PaanLuel Wël; or Twitter account: PaanLuelWel2011

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  1. Malith Alier says:

    Conspicuous by his absence on the list is Gen. Paul Malong Awan Anei, the msn put under house arrest and managed to beat Kiir and masterminds to go to Kenya where he’s busy organising political activities aimed at getting back to power in Juba.
    In other words, they’re people (not all) who wrecked aspirations of South Sudanese.


  2. Andrew Ring Juk Chom. says:

    When talking from a mind dominates this analitic post, it is this post itself that speaks its mind. I love it. Now, South Sudanese are amongst themselves speaking out their minds so will South Sudan come to a right core. Speaking minds out constructively and peacefully signifies a civilized sense of culture that seems to we the South Sudan about to acknowledge and received to rebuild our beloved scattered country that we all gained its independence bitterly.

    Long live South Sudanese people.

    Andrew Ring Juk Chom


  3. Mayen Dengdit says:

    Paanluel, that was a bold, humorous but almost accurate, and excellent characterization of influential people in South Sudan; a joy to read too. I pray that our softskinned unknowns do not misunderstand and misinterpret it and pay you a courtesy call my brother.

    I agree with Maliith that King Paul, the elephant in the room, is too kingish to be left out. Please write an annex to this great piece for his sake (the King’s sake, that is) and ours’ too, just to see how you paint him.


  4. Magook Mayom says:

    On Sun, Jan 7, 30 Heisei at 4:59 AM PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers. wrote:

    > PaanLuel Wël posted: “By PaanLuel Wël, Juba, South Sudan January 6, 2018 > (SSB) — This is a humorized account of the persons of the year – the most > influential South Sudanese leaders for the year 2017. To the reader, catch > feelings at your own risk. To our dear leaders hon” >


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