Salva Kiir Mayardit versus John Garang de Mabior: Help, our history is on fire!

(Caution to my readers: Mine are not meagre media says, they are major essays, hence, are necessarily long, please. Thanks in advance for giving me your valuable time. Hope you will enjoy, and notify me by dropping your comment at the end of your good read).

The author and members of Little Doves laying a wreath on the tomb of Dr. Garang in Juba, Dec. 12, 2006 (Photo by Peter Garang Ngarjok)

Just imagine you are the one bundled in that wooden box, crowned with those flatteringly fresh flowers you neither see nor smell, stuffed deep in the bottom of the earth: ears and tongue tied with deathly dumbness, hands and feet tied with earthly numbness, and your posterity (political offspring) busy forcing themselves into prosperity by editing the history that you left with them in a way that would nag you into turning around in your grave and saying, “Hey guys, that is not what I meant”— but no way! This is the man, the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior.

Dr. John Garang de Mabior is in trouble. Modern analysts and mind-readers of the dead and the absent are out and about to write articles and books in the names and with the ‘words’ of our heroes. Some analysts are not only in the government or the beneficiaries of the project of the Government of South Sudan, but also partakers of the history being written or rewritten. The fact that Garang and his comrades have passed on before they orphaned to the political world even a single book will make us, the survivors or revivors, behave with our nascent history like wives and sons (say, widows and orphans), who settle down to design and sign the will after the last rite of the funeral of their rich father.

In this way, ours will also be like a history of a bride/groom, written about their grand wedding by their best men and maids, with their own findings and fundings. Imagine a founder being not only a funder but also the runner of the same project! This implies that our current history is a recurrent story, a living one. And this proves that real heroes, who did not lie about their cause, do not die during the course of their history, the legacy they have left behind. Already, there is a legacy, alright. Trouble with this legacy is when power struggle tempts and attempts to smuggle itself into the past, even beyond the grave. I mean, when sibling rivalry is stretched over generations, it becomes a historical hysteria; a cancer that could now be seen in the Abrahamic enmity that emerged between the co-wives namely: Sarah or Isaac’s mother and Haggar, Ishmael’s mother.

By alluding to this biblical history, I am referring to the prehistoric grudge between Israel and Palestine of the day. This is almost seen between the South and the North of the then Sudan, also being tried at home here. They cannot tell us why. With this bad legacy, can some advisor please remind our current leaders not to create it in our modern Israel (RSS)? The much worse part of this power struggle is when staged between the dead and the living— a rare war indeed! I am afraid, and even very afraid, having witnessed how our economically contemporary sycophants are pushing the politically temporary elephants into a bitter power struggle with personalities such as Gen. No-more-there, President NamesOnly, etc. It is like running an election neck-in-neck with a ghost. Worse still, the way some ‘historians’ argue now does not augur well with our future because they are fixing into our minds a tendency of tension so that we waste our time on who has done what, and not who is doing what, and will do what, when, where and how.

My remarks on whoever remakes our history in the media today is cautioning against leading us into demonizing our leaders, both alive and dead, who all contributed to what and who we are today. Equally condemned is demoralizing the living zealots. One of the victims of this epidemic is the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior, and perhaps Salva Kiir Mayardit. But the latter can defend himself, unlike the late legend, who is eternally packed underneath, just there. I gave him the title ‘The Late’ because that is what some people would be comfortable to have him addressed so, since words such as ‘the father of…’ would put off some of my readers on this page — but not me in this stage — of our history. In our cultural context, it is an abomination about our nation to embark on posthumous rumours such as Garang wanted us to unite with the Arabs, hence does not qualify for the title in question. The title in question is ‘The Father of the Nation’. It is also the title in caution. However, I am not here to argue and justify it to your dis/satisfaction. The title, which alludes to the context must dictate the contents. The context here is a call to defend our dead heroes from being harassed, hence seen as Pharaohs, and our living heroes from being embarrassed, thus seen like zeroes by the power-corrupted history editors and ‘story auditors’ of the postwar elite.

To bring the concern home, some quarters of the indigenously ‘cosmopolitan’ South Sudanese want our historicals, the heroes such as Kerubino Kuanyin, Dr. John Garang and their comrades, condemned to death after death, and dumped into oblivion so as to give way to the better substitutes. In terms of our virgin history, our heroes are not necessarily dead nor are they necessarily the dead. We have second fathers of this nation in the persons of Salva Kiir Mayardit and his living comrades, some of whom are mere cohorts. By history, it would be an act of reinventing the wheel by modern winds of ignorance to divide and define a happening history of a fledgling nation such as the Republic of South Sudan into the Yesterdays and the Todays. And the worst part of this new power hysteria is that the dichotomy, or this history surgery, is being performed by the Tomorrows of this nation. Worse still, the danger is in the failure of my generation to understand that the tomorrow of yesterday is today and the yesterday of tomorrow is still today. So as long as we live, whether dead or alive, what matters is today; by whom change is impacted today. That is why the Garangs and Kiirs of yesterday are still visible today. So why meddle with history? Why not let it flow as we follow?

Who and how meddle with our history? The contemporaries of South Sudan. They write on behalf of our leaders, especially Garang and Salva, the duo of our nation, whom some close loyalists write about without first consulting them, wherefore they end up insulting them. And to insult an absent person, or to make it worse, to back-bite a dead person, whose only back is you, yourself, is not only a crime but also a sin punishable here before death and there after death. To borrow from Jesus, those who insult God and the Holy Spirit will face harsher punishment than those who insult him, Jesus. In other words, while others see it a total reverse, it is safer for me to criticize Salva Kiir than John Garang today. Why? Positive and constructive criticism is participatory democracy and there is the fact that Kiir still has the chance to defend himself, but Garang is gone, too gone to respond and correct that historical character assassination of asserting that he was not leading us to the Promised Land i.e. to independence. The fact that Moses died when all the Israelites were prepared enough to enter their promised land does not make Joshua lose his position in history, nor does it make history bias on Moses for not have hoisted the flag by his own hand in their own Land of Canaan.

In our colonial experience, nobody should come to convince us to believe that lowering a colonial master’s flag and raising our own is a simple work of one day. It must take the whole nation decades to achieve it. Israelites did it in 40 years, and so did we. And these decades are not attributed to one single leader. It is a series, a series of serious patriots and their struggle. This is why it is unwise to say the last athlete to finish the relay run is the winner or the owner of the gold medal. No. Without nationalists such as Fr. Saturnino Lohure, Joseph Lagu (thank God, the legend is still walking and talking), John Garang, Salva Kiir and their lieutenants, we would not receive the medal we got on July 9, 2011. This means the concerted effort of making the last race to the finish after Salva received the baton from Garang in 2005 is not alot the Salva’s alone. Otherwise, other wise advisors such as the very Joseph Lagu and his colleagues of both wars like Nathaniel Garang, Paride Taban, and you, and me,  and America, and IGAD, name them, would be offended if only appended verbally by the end of our history books. To make it even clearer, we, the minions in our population of about 10 millions, are too many to own individually the medals of honour for collectively achieving our nation. Let us do it like this. Give it to only the duo, not the two persons, Dr. John Garang de Mabior and Salva Kiir de Mayardit. Yes, the duo: two-in-one person but not one-in-two persons. I will explain later why so.


So who are the authors of our complex history? Not me, yet. Not you, though, and not even the real qualified historians of the day, who are all working. Why? Nobody is allowed to write the history he is making. Otherwise, by writing a live history, they would end up with their life story. Or don’t you know that the difference between a biography and an autobiography is not only the grammatical affixes ‘a’ and ‘an’? The difference is beyond the prefix ‘auto-‘. The difference is that a biography is a history and an autobiography is a story. Therefore, just as I am already ready to write my life story or read your life story, I am not prepared to call it a history in any way. To be exact, I am not willing to accept a happening historian—be it a Bahr-el-Ghazalian, an Equatorian or an Upper Nilean, who has a title in the current SPLM/A-led government, in which I also live and believe and am facing the risk of being forced to cleave and leave — to write a credible history. This is how I sum it up according to one of my poems in “The Black Christs of Africa”: His + Story = History. So if I am allowed to write about my life, the formula does not head towards history, rather it is: My + Story = Mystery. Got the point? I mean the difference between ‘Biography’ and ‘Autobiography’. If not from this, then get it from the following illustrations.

“Hakuma Sudan Jedid, Hakuma hayatina, Hakuma ta Salva Kiir wa Riak Machar, wa Jej betana, jej ashaab, Hakuma hayatina…” goes one of our group (Little Doves) Lyrics. One of the boys asked me online last month, “Teacher, are our songs till valid?”

“I think Mading might have read my article out of its context, and this is human. However, what I had said is that ‘Kerubino Kuanyin was the father of South Sudan’s second war of liberation’. The father of the nation of South Sudan is none other than President Salva Kiir Mayardit who hoisted the flag of Sudan (I quoted it with no ‘South’ before Sudan from the writer). There is no way, I could be so blind to see these facts. While there could be father/mother of the Anya-nya’s war, father/mother of Anya-nya II’s war, the father/mother of the SPLM/A’s war of liberation, there is only one father/mother of the Nation of South Sudan in the persons of Salva Kiir Mayardit and Mary Ayen Mayardit – no more. For the sake of history, President Kiir’s leadership could be successful, or failure, but this title is unchangeable.” End of quote from Ateny Wek Ateny on his Beating-the-drum-of-TRUTH column in The Citizen Newspaper (Aug. 15, 2012). The story, which is a series of response to another writer name herein, is entitled: One history could be related in different ways – and so, it is my advice for Mr. Mading de Yak Choldit to take note.

I would react if I were a critic to this writer, but now that I am making a critique on our history, which the current historian has confessed to be related in different ways, I have this observation in my own different perspectives. The response of which is elsewhere in an insinuation in a continuation of the reaction by the same self-styled civil society activist. While I have no problem with his opinion, I have more problems with the use of titles and statuses to achieve one’s ends. If you have been following the WMD (Words of Most Distraction, according to me) tirade traded between Mading and Ateny, you would have noticed that the duel has shifted from Salva vs John to the  Dinka (so-called Dinka-Bahr el Ghazal by many) to a ‘tribe’ called Bor. This confusion made a Kenyan friend, who read such words of war, asked, “What language do this stubborn tribe called Bor speak?” He was not a native, so he was naïve, and I had to pity him after correcting his statement that Bor is not a tribe but a community in an ethnic group of Dinka, just like Malual, Agaar, Twic, Ngok, etc. This is evident, but I am too disgusted to quote and repeat the political and tribal virus here, in Ateny Wek Ateny’s insinuation in the continuation of his series of defending the late Kerubino Kuanyin Bol and Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit from Mading’s article on Garang, which was published elsewhere other than the paper he used for his indiscriminately provocative rejoinder, an dubious reminder, indeed.

The shift from individual to tribe or from a person to a people is a bad omen to the same people who shared fire and brimstone in the hard times of those days. Secondly, the writing of my civil society colleague, Ateny Wek, may compromise the role of the civil society activists. So my fear is that we should not write in such a way that a civil society, which campaigns for the people of South Sudan, could be seen as an ‘evil society’, which campaigns for a people of South Sudan. Therefore, if we, the only light of this nation, begin to take sides and defend some leaders from ‘our community’ and offend some leaders of ‘their community’, then we are running the risk of redefining democracy as ‘a government of a people, for a people, and by a people’.

It is a fact well known that Comrade Salva Kiir Mayardit is irreplaceably the only surviving nationalist of the first seven of the SPLA’s High Command, if I am not mistaken. Those guys, though were sometimes in constant disagreement, were connected by the spirit of nationalism unlike the current ones corrupted by the spread of nepotism. That spirit is evident in the Garang’s disguised handover speech two days in Rumbek before he flew to his death, bringing the Christians to believe that there was a Moses-Joshua kind of relationship between Salva and John. Historians, take note, unless you are Muslims. Even the Muslims have that version in the Quran, which they are yet to translate if we are meant to quote It, too. So who are you to come and judge that either Joshua or Moses does not deserve the title? What kind of a historian are you to say that Dr. Garang de Mabior is different from Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, both in history and achievements? To my own understand as one of the participants in the war of liberation, whatever Garang achieved was done through Kiir, and whatever Kiir achieved is done through Garang. In case you ask how, Kiir is an implementer not an imposter, a very successful project manager, who has put into action the most complex project of this transmillennium era. So deny Garang, deny history; deny Kiir, deny history. Trouble is when you lord it all unto either or load it all onto neither. This is a game when neither winner takes it all. Nevertheless, historic and heroic titles must be conferred upon by hierarchy of time and impact, not by affiliated apathy or related (person’s) sympathy.

Here, it is not my role to just emotionally declare this or that ‘The Father of the Nation’. By now, I hope we must have inquired enough from older nations what a father is made up of, and how that title is acquired. What I can comfortably comment on is we are the nation, and our mother is called Ms. South Sudan. The fact also remains in history that She was once widowed. And if our nation has by fate become a promiscuous mother as such, it is not the role of the children to point or appoint which legitimate father is hot, and which one is not. It is the role of the mother to say that. But what I know very well from my Dinka culture, if your first father dies, the next brother takes over and proceeds with the role of the fatherhood, with his current proceeds (offsprings and offerings) attributed to the first father. Or should we consult with a chief from our villages to decode this puzzle— “to whom is the family: the children, their mother and the home, given the name?” I mean, if my father, say Aluong, died as he did in 1991 politico-tribal crises, his younger brother, Anyang, took over as the head of the family and delivered (I didn’t say fathered) us to this success, who is my father now?  Only my mother and my documents can tell best.

About the title and the status, I have answered Ateny Wek Ateny, Al Hag Paul and the Council of Elders of Greater Bahr-el-Ghazal, who wrote the following in their small history (or profile book), meant for the program conducted on December 3, 2012, running by the title: “Concept Paper for the celebration of the Independence of South Sudan and honouring the liberation leaders, wounded heroes/heroines and remembering the liberation martyrs.” By going through the book, one would conclude that the project proposal to which this concept paper alludes is the History of South Sudan. The content of this book (concept paper) also dubbed “Celebrating the Independence of South Sudan” (in December, by regional community – not national – leaders and elders) includes a profile of our founders, notably the Late Dr. John Garang and H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit. The puzzle in the making of our history in this book is in the titles. Whereas Garang was addressed in the heading of his profile as ‘Dr. John Garang: Founded the SPLM/A, the vision of New Sudan and the Nation’, Kiir appears in the title of his profile as ‘Kiir as Joshua and Founding Father for the Republic of South Sudan’.

Without much ado on the difference between the two terms ‘founding’ and ‘inaugurating’ and their relevance to the title of the two leaders, John Garang and Salva Kiir, the serious ambiguity, which can confuse not only our school children later but even us now, is in: can’t a father not be a founder and a vice versa? This is the historical dilemma awaiting our generation, being blamed on those who have made it but have failed to avail it in a right word to the world. Well, my own understanding as a project writer is there are two important stages in every project: the initiating and the inaugurating phases. These in our project called South Sudan, there are the founding and launching, just as in our political job acquisition procedure: the appointing and the swearing in. Everything has the beginning and the ending. Both must be supervised and implemented by one ‘project director’, but in case of unavoidable circumstances, roles and definitions must determine the titles. Therefore, for the case of our history, it is clear. Garang founded the project, Kiir concluded it. But take note of this caution: it’s not yet ever over. As mentioned in the analogy of the head of the family above, there is the growth stage, which also determines or qualifies the kind of a father that is!

Another confusion detected in this first historical book presented four months after independence is that Garang’s profile occupies one and a half pages while Kiir’s occupies seven and a half pages. One would wonder if the Bahr el Ghazal Community Leaders had run out of history on Garang or they just had a lot to copy and paste from the living hero (Kiir). As the roles of many heroes that brought about the new nation continued, including Chan Reec Madut, Madam Mary Ayen Mayardit, without even half a page on Daniel Awet Akot and Kuol Manyang, the title of Rebecca Nyandeng raises eyebrows, addressed as: “Historically, this is the mother of the nation who was behind our leader and hero Dr. John Garang de Mabior throughout the period of the SPLM/A struggle. Mama Rebecca Nyandeng is popularly known in Sudan and Africa as the strong lady who served as the First Lady of the People of South Sudan during the 21 years of the struggle (1983 – 2005).”

Whereas Nyandeng’s late husband is not mentioned as the Father of the Nation (which title is given to Kiir), Ayen Mayardit, Kiir’s wife, carries the same title of the Mother of the Nation as Nyandeng de Mabior does, at least at the end of the page, thus: “By historical, social and revolutionary right, Madam Mary Ayen Mayardit has therefore acquired the title of being the 1st Lady of South Sudan and Mother of the Nation.” Where is the ambiguity here? Mama Nyandeng being the Mother of the Nation…the First Lady of the People of South Sudan and Madam Mary Ayen Mayardit being the 1st Lady of the Republic of South Sudan and the Mother of the Nation. Hm, the only distinction is ‘First Lady of the People of South Sudan’ and ‘1st Lady of the Republic of South Sudan’. That takes us back to my previous article conclusion, again: Are we the Republic of the Public or the Public of the Republic (of South Sudan)? If we are both, then we have two first ladies, and two first mothers of the nation, if necessary to use the mother as an opposite of the father in a situation such as this where we are considering personalities and achievements.

While I have no problem with the title ‘First Lady’, I will tell you why I have more problems with the title ‘Mother of the Nation’. For your information, ‘Mother of the Nation’ is not by any means wife of the ‘Father of the Nation’. No, it is the opposite of the ‘Father of the Nation’. Simply put, if Garang or Kiir were a female president, the title applies ‘Mother of the Nation’. I repeat, this title is not social, it is political, and must be bestowed by virtue of achievements and personalities. Then, I think, we would be forced back to accommodate this historical dilemma in my ‘family analogy’ to address more on the hierarchical and patriarchal arrangement. As hinted earlier, in a polygamous family, titles are given according to birthrights. A birthright is the ranking by dates of birth (for siblings) and dates of marriages (for couples). Can’t we do just that in the Republic of South Sudan? And if we can’t at this opportune season of our history making, for one reason or the other one, then let us always debate or research before hitting the pages.

However, I still maintain the fact that Father of the Nation is an honorary title that is bestowed upon a leader by virtue of his achievement and personalities. If so, then, no doubt, Garang and Salva have automatically qualified for that, not any other wo/man by virtue of marriage. However again, if this honorary title is given to Salva Kiir Mayardit at the moment, sycophants will make use of it or cynics will make noise with it in such a way that our President will be embarrassed. For SSTV viewers, the best example of this is in a sort of an early campaign sample of our South Sudanese music put on air every evening. The video is a disguise in the name of J2 Guys (musicians) featuring the President’s Press Secretary, the First Lady and her kids, some rare exotic home girls like Alek Wek. The message therein is upto the viewers to analyze.

Remember, Our president, Salva Kiir is a man of humble character, who asked the nation in 2010 to drop this big, flowery title of ‘His Excellency’ from his name and those of his ministers, governors, commissioners, Payam administrators, and the like who would wish the title included in their epitaph (the labeling of their stones). He preferred to be addressed Comrade as was the case during the war. Imagine this writer or another, with the intent of pleasing the president for one thing or the other, begins to write, “Your Excellency, Gen. Dr. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan, Commander-in-Chief of SPLA, Chairman of SPLM, Father of the Nation of the Republic of South Sudan, blah, blah, lah, ah, a, h…!” as was the case with the late Iddi Amin Dada of Uganda, will you or he be comfortable with it? And this is what the sycophants and cynics (fanatical loyalists and sarcastic critics) want. Just in The Citizen of the day I am writing this piece, August 27, 2012, one of my columnist addressed the head of our state as “President Salva Kiir, who is also The Father of the Nation, said….”

Therefore, it would sound wise if we maintain the current and active titles of our president at the moment, maybe until after 2015, just for the sake of saving our space and serving the fact that modern ethics demand that a father is not necessarily a man who has produced a child. It is more than just fathering a child; it is about raising a child to have a name in the community of mankind. So, knowing the fact that the birth of the baby nation (RSS) was a concerted effort of so many midwives, I am of the view that we be patient with the endowment of historical titles to the living heroes (heroines is the same) till we celebrate the 5th or 10th birthday of our infant republic. A true parent is satisfied when they see their children not only going to school but finishing it and going on their own to the wider world for competitive life, that is, self-reliance.

Therefore, I have, before jumping to the next level, to warn my fellow writers to keep off from sycophancy. To me, a sycophant is one who sees their leaders as an infallible elephant. That is why, I was told, some of the big man’s ‘lovers’ (not the security, please) even disobey him when he asked the whole nation to bow their heads down in silence for honouring our heroes. Just in that 60-second or less moment of silence, somebody would remain awake with his attention transfixed on the living, hence forgetting his colleague who died beside him in Torit or Bor. This is sick sycophancy! The type I read somewhere blamed for the recent death of African presidents (see Ghana). They refused doctors’ orders to let the leader go on a two-month hospital rest to recover from too much stress. The cohorts thought the opposition may take advantage of the president’s constitutional absence, and finally they lost him, altogether.

My Last Encounter with the two ‘Fathers of our Nation’

In ‘The Black Christs of Africa’, I complained in one of the poems like this:
Garang for granted!
Who over pays
Is whoever says
Garang was murdered
By his friends
Or his fiends.
Whoever defends foul play
Must fence that foul mouth.
Whether be bad weather,
Bad hell-i-copter,
Or bad Alicopter,
The incident was accident,
Being a hero is about the shortest-lived profession on earth.
Will Rogers (1879 – 1935)
U.S. writer, actor, and humorist.

All in all, talking about the issue of history, we have had great leaders in the duo of Garang and Kiir. By personality traits, I cannot pretend to analyze them as some media-article historians are trying to do from what they think and not what they know about our leaders. If my memory would not fail me, I can remember vividly an encounter with each of them in the following events. In 2004, my Sudan Mirror editor sent me to cover the signing of the Power Sharing Protocol or its prototypes of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement at the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi. In the hall were a hundreds of journalists jostling for a small space to record the opening speech of Dr. John Garang. Imagining how journalists used to ‘die’ for what Garang would say those days, I made my way by what my SPLA instructor used to call ‘gyem jam’ (a lateral kind of forward crawling) upto the table of the big man. The reason is that my recorder belonging to the UN’s IRIN News with which I was doing my internship, was a cordless gadget, hence could not compete at a distance with the advanced types of the Reuters, BBC, CNN, KTN and the like. My dilemma was if I did not record that function, the whole of my country (the direct beneficiaries) would be historically disappointed as The Sudan Mirror was the only war time newspaper printed in East Africa and brought to Sudan and distributed with relief food by NGOs.

Part of the dilemma was if I went close to the table I would distract, hence not only that pack of news hungry international journalists but also the platoon of angry security personnel would eat me alive. Despite the stranding, I closed my eyes and crawled to the high table, but not without uproarious go-to-hell barking from the hall, to which my leader shouted, “Please, give him a chance. Let him do his job.” I did my job by grabbing the cup Dr. John just emptied of tea and used it as a stand for my recorder, and the news came to South Sudan the following week. Similar scenario repeated itself at Hotel Equatoria, Kampala, on April 28, 2005, when Dr. John was lecturing the CPA to Pan Africa Congress. His last comment to me was “Boy, I like your stubbornness.” Let note be taken that what I mean here is that I did not deal with Dr. John Garang his way, I was lucky to deal with a leader who has a fatherly feeling about his people, just as Salva Kiir also did to me (us) in 2006 and 2008.

Again, the reason for illustrating these encounters from my own personal experience, and not what I read or heard about them, is that our leaders (these two freedom fighters in question) are true fathers of the people. However, the people around them make them what people think they are. Look at this testimony. On December 12, 2006, my first encounter as a group with President Salva Kiir Mayardit gave us hope that he was going to be a great leader indeed. Leading a group of 115 students and pupils from Kampala, Uganda, we toured Juba for two weeks and wound up the literacy campaign project at the gate of the State House.

In spite of being gatecrashers (sneaking in without appointment or invitation), our procession broke in at noon with music and artistic performances from The Little Doves Choir. No sooner had he heard our arm-twisting noise with the security than he came out with a couple of ministers. Standing in a head-cracking sun of the Christmas month, I presented our proposal and the children sang ‘Garang Adanna Horriyya…Kiir Mayardit fi Juba…’ and our Palotaka artists presented a gift to the government in form of an 11-metre long piece of art summarizing the features of South Sudan (which later disappeared inside the Parliament). By the end, he made a statement of hope that saw our projects being approved, including the present day student supplement funds to East Africa and a school for the talented ones that we named The Little Doves Academy to be built in Juba (don’t ask me where it is today). The second father of our nation served the children each a handshake, starting with the smallest boy, his namesake called Mayardit (not related to him), giving each a transport fee back to school. That was our Salva Kiir! But there were people around him, who would include those who later banned our music album (Garang Addanna Horriyya) from distribution just because we designed its cover with the President’s picture in which he was shown hugging the Little Doves child-musicians. As if that is not enough.

The last time President Kiir mixed with the children was on August 18, 2008, as he stepped forward to dance with us on the occasion of the Veterans Day in Juba. Mistake is I took a picture with him dancing with the little ones. Though I was on the stage as an artist, I had my media card bearing the title ‘Editor, The Southern Eye’, my camera was confiscated and I was threatened to utter disappointment. After a long but tedious walking to the State House for the whole week for ‘investigation’ of why I took pictures when I was not authorized, I recovered the camera but not without signing an oath that ‘I will never do it again’. Do what again? Alright, I have never done it again. I never took pictures of the president, composed songs in praise of the president and even organized children to grace the function of the state. The group later dispersed due to lack of funding and internal misunderstanding between me, the manager and my colleague, the chief artist of the team, David Pachong Mading. That is why I dread tribalism. The rest of the stories on the effect of corruption on me and the impact of corruption on our nation are also made mention of in personal detail in my post-school auto/biography: Condemned to Go to School: From 1989 to 2019.

All in all, Salva Kiir, here and hereafter, will remain a symbol of fatherhood and, maybe, our Nelson Mandela in the post-CPA South Sudan, only if saved from the temptation of our African brand of leadership.


Dear readers, congratulations. These are our leaders. Please, conclude by leaving your comment at the end of this long piece of argument. What is the father of the nation? Who is the father of the nation?

NB: More questions in the second part of this thought coming up next week entitled: BOR VERSUS TORIT: HELP, OUR HISTORY IS ON FIRE!