July 9th: My Meditation over the Tragedy Called Independent South Sudan

Posted: July 9, 2018 by mayendengdit in Junub Sudan

By David Mayen Dengdit, Denver-Colorado, USA

Monday, July 9, 2018 (PW): July 9 shall always be a special day in the hearts of South Sudanese. It marks The Day of our independence and a memorial to millions of South Sudan’s sons and daughters who wished to live to see a a free country. Those who willfully laid down their precious souls, “making the ultimate sacrifice,” as it has been referred to since Abraham Lincoln eloquently defined it at the national cemetery in Gettysburg.

 The two civil wars, which may collectively be referenced as South Sudan’s Wars of Independence, claimed so many lives of brave sons and daughters from all the tribes that are native to the country. Theirs was a sacrifice, bravery, dedication and life worth of celebrating on July 9 and every day. Their lives, which they freely gave in order for South Sudanese to stand tall among other nationalities, were not given in vain, no matter the depressing times we live in today.

It’s difficult to describe how depressing it has been for millions of South Sudanese who have been witnessing all the dreams they had about proudly living in their own independent country dissipating so fast.  Like a terrible nightmare, our people have needlessly been forced to endure so much suffering, whether inside the country, across the region, or in the Diaspora. They live with unbearable scars of a brutal civil war which was never expected to be this ruthless and vicious, even to those who saw it coming.

My Thoughts Today: I beg your indulgence to allow me to share with you, fellow citizens and readers, my own random, impromptu and unorganized thoughts as I meditate about our July 9 Independence Day.

 As a passionate energetic youth of 26 – over twenty years ago, while carrying my AK 47, cleaning artillery pieces, walking for hundreds of miles in single files, or laying in trenches hoping to survive another day of an antonov aircraft raid, I dreamt of a free South Sudan.

I dreamt of an independent and peaceful country where I would one day bring up my children and narrate to them my own relatively short (but long) experience as a freedom fighter in the liberation struggle/war of independence.

Ironically, as I prayed to God to spare my life, I at the same time imagined how hurt but proud my family would be to hear that I was martyred in the jungles of South Sudan. Just being with my countrymen/women fighting against oppression was more than enough for me. It would have been a life worth lived.

As I dodged death by taking necessary precautions, some part deep inside me strangely wished for it, especially after reading about Africa’s wars of independence such as the Mao Mao in Kenya as-well-as reading Lincoln’s eulogy speech and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar a couple of years earlier in Dadab Refugee Camp.

I thought my life would be celebrated like that of my dear uncle Cpt. Wour Joke and many brave soldiers; those whose legendary acts of bravery were narrated by my comrades while we were chatting in Rojo (Kajokeji) frontline at night around burning logs. I vividly remember some narrators who were under influence as they cried when they recounted the day their friends and comrades made the ultimate sacrifice.

Ironically, even though I saw some comrades taking their last breaths, whether as they were mutilated by an antonov shell or succumbed to sickness, my biggest trauma causing shock has been in independent South Sudan. While I never cried as a soldier for those who tragically lost their lives, my tears just involuntarily rolled out of my eyes when I saw how we turned our guns against our own innocent civilians in Juba.

I was in Juba during the regrettable first battles that sparked this brutal civil war on the infamous night of December 15, 2013, and I knew that South Sudan had opened a black page which might be unforgiving. As I was seeing women and children frantically hiding behind fences as they tried to maneuver their path to UNMISS compound for protection, my heart just sunk in with sadness. Many other events unfolded very fast as if hell broke loose, which I hope to live and one day share as a witness.

In one such experience, on 18 December 2013 I accompanied the VP on his visit to wounded soldiers at Juba Hospital. As we entered the hospital the smell of human corpses made us sick. When the convoy prepared to leave the hospital after the conclusion of the visit, I decided to stay behind and went to the side of the cemetery. Nothing can prepare any human being for seeing hundreds of corpses, many decomposed, just lying all over a wide space. They were being loaded onto trucks on their way to mass graves north of Juba. I stood from around midday up to sunset, witnessing more bodies being brought.

While the Juba Massacre was a reality no one should ever deny or try to excuse, similar atrocities and war crimes were committed in other parts of South Sudan. Deplorably, although most of such crimes were against innocent civilians, including rape and extrajudicial executions, those who have absolute command responsibility over these atrocities may not be accounted for their deeds anytime soon, may be never.

In independent South Sudan, instead of being busy in agricultural schemes, building infrastructure, and taking our young ones to school where they would be taught our modern history of “liberation struggle,” we shed tears more than any time in our lives. We lost so much, including our pride as South Sudanese, for we cannot be proud before the evil spirits roaming in our country are exorcised forever and permanent peace endures.

As I conclude, I must call on God to rest the souls of Isaiah Abraham, Dr. Diing Chol Dau, and many others whose precious lives were cut short while serving an independent South Sudan and its people. Theirs was no lesser an act of “ultimate sacrifice” than those lost in the armed struggle and war of independence. I hope their lives shall pave the way for real independence and freedom.

 May the souls of our martyrs rest in eternal peace.

Happy July 9th Independence Day anyway.


David Mayen Dengdit is a former Vice Presidential Press Secretary and founder of Free Citizens Red Flag League (FCRFL), a citizens-based non-violent peace advocacy platform. He can be reached at mayen.ayarbior@gmail.com.

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 Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website 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.

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