Tributes to Deng-Panan: South Sudanese Legendary Artist of the Liberation Struggle

Posted: July 5, 2019 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

Tributes in living memory to Comrade Deng Kuot Thiech, popularly known as Deng-Panan aka Makur ku Magak, one of the most iconic and inspirational musicians of the of the liberation struggle

Tributes in living memory to Comrade Deng Kuot Thiech, popularly known as Deng-Panan aka Makur ku Magak, one of the most iconic and inspirational musicians of the of the liberation struggle
Tributes in living memory to Comrade Deng Kuot Thiech, popularly known as Deng-Panan aka Makur ku Magak, one of the most iconic and inspirational musicians of the of the liberation struggle
Tributes in living memory to Comrade Deng Kuot Thiech, popularly known as Deng-Panan aka Makur ku Magak, one of the most iconic and inspirational musicians of the of the liberation struggle
Tributes in living memory to Comrade Deng Kuot Thiech, popularly known as Deng-Panan aka Makur ku Magak, one of the most iconic and inspirational musicians of the of the liberation struggle
Tributes in living memory to Comrade Deng Kuot Thiech, popularly known as Deng-Panan aka Makur ku Magak, one of the most iconic and inspirational musicians of the of the liberation struggle
Tributes in living memory to Comrade Deng Kuot Thiech, popularly known as Deng-Panan aka Makur ku Magak, one of the most iconic and inspirational musicians of the of the liberation struggle
Tributes in living memory to Comrade Deng Kuot Thiech, popularly known as Deng-Panan aka Makur ku Magak, one of the most iconic and inspirational musicians of the of the liberation struggle
Tributes in living memory to Comrade Deng Kuot Thiech, popularly known as Deng-Panan aka Makur ku Magak, one of the most iconic and inspirational musicians of the of the liberation struggle
Tributes in living memory to Comrade Deng Kuot Thiech, popularly known as Deng-Panan aka Makur ku Magak, one of the most iconic and inspirational musicians of the of the liberation struggle

By Willy Mayom Maker, Canada

Friday, July 5, 2019 (PW) — I’ve just learned the untimely demise of one of the South Sudanese legends, Comrade Deng Kuot (well known as Deng Apanan or Deng Makur). What a great lost! Deng Kuot’s contributions were immense. Even though he was one of the unsung heroes, Deng Apanan had sung to the nation throughout his life. From traditional songs to Christian hymns to revolutionary songs, the legend had left legacies in every route he’d taken. 

In the early days of the SPLA, Deng Apanan often unleashed his powerful voice over the radio, singing revolutionary songs, each song flavored with culturally significant boasting phrases: “Makur ku Magak; aa thuet agut cit men!” – Loosely translating, “Makur and Magak [personnel oxen] are suckling up to now!” 

The following are some of his lyrics, translated from Dinka to English. Even though I’ve tried my best, those who know these songs may find the translation a little off, and this’s because: (1) I haven’t invested much effort in the translation, and (2) it’s not easy to translate songs, which are loaded with cultural references and metaphors, from their original language to a foreign one. Here we go… 

“Sudan has been our land ever since / Up to now the country seeks its father [rightful owner]. / These are the words already spoken by Chier Deng, Ariath Makuei , Ajiing Deng Thiapduok [traditional religious men]. / That’s why Ajiingdit says, ‘Up to now, the country knows its rightful owner.’ / Sudan is not a country to be ruled by an individual who loves himself. / If it’s not John Garang Mabior Atem Aruai / Who has tightened his heart! / He turns right and left. / Do you know where you’ll go? With your hearts full of hopelessness/ full of theft / And full of the corruption! / You think the black person doesn’t claim his right / But you’ll be surprised toady!”

In the last sentence, ‘You think the black person doesn’t claim his right, but you’ll be surprised today!”, he was referring to the oppressors who, in the beginning of the movement, thought the SPLA wouldn’t achieved anything. But they (oppressors) were surprised when we took our country from them, weren’t they? 

During the war, some of the SPLA commanders ran away from battlefields and hid in Itang Refugee Camp, so Deng Apanan composed the following song to rebuke them:

“What about the other big fellow who caresses his big belly / As if he’s taken his cattle to the fattening camp? / Is the UN your mother or father? / Bourgeois! / The big fellow has become a bourgeoisie. / It’s better to leave Itang to women. / It’s better to leave Itang to children. / It’s better to leave Itang to disabled persons. / Have you refused to go to front because of the UN maize [food]? / ‘When is the next food distribution?’, they ask. / ‘When is sardine coming?’ / Is that why you refuse to go to front?…”

Rebuking aside, if you pay attention to the following song, which he composed in 1988, you would think Deng was prophesying about the current condition of South Sudan. With the corruption in mind, read the following lyrics:

“[South] Sudanese people / Now where does the blame lie? / If it’s not the kind of talk that you’ve learned / The deceitful talk which you’ve mastered for the purpose of consuming and completing the country’s resources. / You treat this great [South] Sudan like food? / Then, you greedily devour it and you forget to ask yourself questions. / ‘What about this big share that I’m eating?’ / ‘Is this mine alone?’ / ‘Or whose is it?’ / ‘How did I get it?’ ‘Where did it come from?’ / They’ve no shame of [stealing] other people’s things. / Don’t even blame John Garang. / Every person is untrustworthy / Even the black man is not exempted. / Only our leader, John Garang, is standing alone, shining like a star and the moon. / But mark my words, South Sudanese / If you let the country slips away, everyone will survive on his/her mother’s milk…”

His songs can’t be more relevant than this, given the situation our country is in now! Apparently, Deng Apanan had already foretold this corruption, which has crippled South Sudan, long time ago!

Rest in peace, Comrade Deng Kuot! Your contributions were enormous, and your legacies will live on forever! My thoughts and prayers are with his families, relatives and friends!

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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