Who was the Late Dr. Mark Majak Abiem?

Posted: January 21, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Atem Yaak Atem, History, Junub Sudan, People

By Atem Yaak Atem, Australia

Walter Rodney and Mark Majak Abiem

Picture of Mark Majak Abiem and Professor Water Rodney at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS), London, 1976. Both were later murdered in cold blood in their respective home countries in 1977 and 1980 respectively.

January 21, 2018 (SSB) — Late Mark Majak Abiem was an extraordinary and pleasant human being, an outstanding student and a very promising scholar. He was my roommate at the Barracks (University of Khartoum’s hostels on the Blue Nile) from 1971-2.

When he passed his neatly organized notebook of lectures on Archaeology he took while a prelim student to me, there was no surprise that I was able to score the top marks in that subject. Although only two of my colleagues knew about the “inheritance” I openly gave credit to Mark.

After the History Dept., Faculty of Arts took Mark Majak as a teaching assistant the dream that the history of the future South Sudan was then going to be written by its own sons and daughters as well as other scholars who love the people and their land was almost becoming a reality.

Sadly that was going to happen without Mark Majak Abiem. It was in June 1977 when I got the shocking news of the brutal and senseless killing of Mark. I was a student at the newly opened Khartoum Institute of Mass Communications (with Kosti Manibe, late Chol Kuany Deng, Ayub Sadiq, Babiker Iragi, among others) when we got the heartbreaking news.

I wept for Mark and for the rest of the victims. From Chol Kuany Deng who had friends among media people at Sudan News Agency, Omdurman Radio and TV and Arabic language dailies, was able to piece together the tragic event in the following summary:

Mark Majak Abiem who had just returned from U.K. was travelling to Abyei homeland to collect more data for his research work. He and a number of fellow Dinka from the area had taken a commercial lorry for the trip.

According to those reports, previously there had between a fight involving the Misseriya people and their Dinka neighbours (time span not unanimous).

When the lorry arrived at the scene of the previous fighting, armed Misseriya men stopped the lorry and ordered all the Dinka passengers out of it. Once on the ground, the wholesale slaughter of the Dinka, including Mark Majak Abiem, began in earnest.

The question some of us were asking at the time consisted of the following: first, was it a chance revenge attack or did the killers know there was an important person among the passengers and a future historian at that?

Secondly, were there individuals among Northern Sudanese or institutions in Khartoum which would have an interest in the death of a scholar of Mark Majak’s stature and why? Etcetera, events.

I hope the file of that crime has not been closed if ever it was opened.

Editor’s note: The Late Dr. Mark Majak Abiem was a PhD student at SOAS School of African and Oriental Studies, London University. He was supervised by Prof. Sir Richard Gray. Mark Majak was an elder brother to Raphael Abiem, a South Sudanese human rights lawyer, who graduated from Harvard University, USA. Till recently, he was working as a Transitional Justice Advisor for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). 

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, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël website (SSB) do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s