How Ateny’s “Drum of Truth” was Silenced Forever

Posted: October 15, 2018 by aljokd in Junub Sudan

By Malith Alier, Perth, Australia

ateny wek ateny

Ateny Wek, Presidential press secretary

Monday, 15 October, 2018 (PW): As Africans in general and South Sudanese in particular we all know how musical instruments specially the drum beat can spare one in to dancing. Without a drum or an accompaniment a performance is impossible or boring at least. When the drum is silenced or stopped by the drummer, the performers stopped in unison.

In the defunct newspaper, The Citizen of Nhial Bol Aken, the now Spokesman for President, Ateny Wek Ateny used to run an influential column, “Beating the Drum of truth.” One day as this author was seeping tea on the road side in Malakiyya, Juba, he overheard one man saying that there was nothing interesting any more to be had in that newspaper except Ateny’s column. That he reads or subscribes to the paper only because of the truth column. Those were the days when Ateny was a mere citizen and had not tasted the power that might be.

The Drum of Truth, in a fashion never seen before expose contemporary issues that mattered to ordinary people in the country. This author, also an avid reader of the Citizen at the time had a great admiration for the column which prided itself on exposing malpractice in the government. Things which were erstwhile under the carpet were brought to the scrutiny of the readers and the general population. Who had knowledge that the now defunct telecommunication company, Vivacell was granted a tax-free status for ten years (2007 – 2017). The New Sudan insurance was also paying no tax and was accorded preferential treatment because both companies were investment arms for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

The Drum of Truth also faulted the Council of States for serving no purpose in the current government of South Sudan. That it was used to accommodate some interests from former parliament of Sudan in the new state. That the Speaker of the Council, Bol Chan was involved in graft and nepotism. The highlights could go on and on until curtailed by the appointment to the position of Spokesman for the President.

The Drum sound bites could be heard beyond Juba. The former Citizen columnist on several occasions attacked the former governor of Northern Bar El Ghazel (NBG) for corruption and dictatorial tendencies in that state. To his credit, NBG under Paul Malong was not in great shape politically at the time. The able citizens of the state had left in large numbers simply because of the poor treatment meted out on them by state authority for no justifiable cause.

Two theories can be postulated to gauge the aim for the Drum of Truth. The columnist while being outside the corridors of power was either acting selflessly or seeking attention for the price of being appointed to some powerful position in the government to right certain things that are at fault. When the government that was under attack moved quickly to appoint Ateny, everyone thought this was a Red letter day for South Sudan and that he will be a voice of reason inside the system to right things for the better.

While Ateny has not been so far involved in corruption, his climb down  hundred degrees from the peak of graft fight is astonishing. On one occasion with Aljazeera he claimed that the president does not have a bank account! Was anybody convinced by the claimed – not me. Where do the proceeds from ABMC go is the question to ask. And the proceeds of gold from Kapoeta state is anyone’s guess. Needless to mention the six figure presidential remunerations as head of state and the army.

The Ateny’s  claim is closer to when Jesus assured the would be follower that birds of the air have nests and foxes have their lairs but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head. Of course Jesus was not heading a known state that pays salaries to its workers each month of the year..

It’s only in South Sudan where journalists and opinionistas are threatened with crucifixion. The irony is that, it was discovered years later that the first to be crucified was telling eternal truth.

The threats of crucifixion in the said country necessitate that nobody beats the drum of truth even once without being silenced. The three prong approach to silencing different opinion include appointment to government position if one is appointable as is the case with Ateny. Intimidation, Torture and banishment are other mechanisms. The best examples are too many to narrate. Lastly the opinionistas risk life through death and examples abound.

My former classmate, Majak Aderek who is also an American was brutalised last month when he visited South Sudan. I pay tribute for his courage to go there and expose the brutality of the regime that people called their own. Peter Biar Ajak, a well known government backer languishes in Blue House (BH) in Juba because he had a slip of the tongue to pinch the government that is increasingly becoming autocratic by the hour.

The government of the day should be reminded that silencing people is not the best way to go about descent. In the end you’re increasingly doing damage to your image and the country you seem to represent.

If our learned friend, Ateny, who is also purportedly  a lawyer was still the drummer of the truth he should be at the forefront preventing such bad happenings. Unfortunately silencing works and we have fewer and fewer drummers left to beat lies back against the truth. All are only left in weltschmerz!

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 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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