“Tearz Ayuen, Penn de Ngong, Maal Maker are next on the Hit List…” say Prophets of Doom
“Are you aware that you are the next? You and Maal Maker!” And then another rumour bomb from my close relative popped up on my phone, “We told you the first time you were kidnapped and you didn’t understand. Now will you not leave your writing again?”
Now, if South Sudanese writers stop writing, Egyptian rioters will not stop rioting; and we shall swallow the dust – and wallow in the dusk – of shame and cowardice brought for the first time against the Nile current by Monsoon wind of change from the Arab Springs.
Remember, this is the month of Christmas and we must celebrate this year’s Christ’s Mass with freedom, freedom of expression. But then, if at all it is turned into freedom of explosion, then I have my ticket to Egypt, and remain writing and rioting in my sleep there till the Angel tells me, “Wake up John, take the ‘baby’ back to the Promised Land, for the people who wanted to kill the baby nation are now gone”.
In case you fail to understand the parable, at least you will believe the Bible that Jesus was the first officially documented refugee to Africa in our present day Anno Domino (AD) calendar. However, I am not ready to escape even if I am made a scapegoat. This is South Sudan unlimited, not a South Sudan Ltd. as some fellow citizens and their friends believe they have the patent right to it. I, too, have her share of right, the right one: potent right, the right to write, the right to riot, the right to rise, and the right to do everything documented and undocumented in our Bible of Governance (Constitution).
Therefore, I bless my brothers and sisters who are giving me cautions, but blast my sinister browsers, who are prophesying Hells and Hades in the following literary traffic from our country of Cyberia.
Tearz Ayuen, John Penn de Ngong and Maal Maker Thiong, guys be careful…the world you live in is still ”metar de tong” I dont want any of you to be silenced like your bro Diing….try and stay safe pliz…. (Facebook status: December 7, 2012).
“Are you aware that you are the next one? You and Maal Maker!” (A phone call on December 6, 2012 after the news of the assassination of my fellow writer, the late Isaiah Abraham in Juba: name withheld on request).
“Look, what you talked about last time has now come– ‘deBorization’ of the government, which has now shifted from reshuffling or unnecessary dismissal to killing. Just stop writing or watch out, it’s you guys of the future government!” My media comrade warned me upon hearing the news of the assassination of Isaiah Abraham.
Referring to the case of the Late John Akuach Jook who was killed in a mysterious car accident in Juba in December 2008, this malicious reporter wrote,
“I even lost my hope on this case because the youth of Bor Community, particularly those who were in Kampala, are beating drum saying Akuach had a long tongue and pride of education. Most of our youth have hated him and his former friend, the Journalist, Ngong Aluong Alith (John Penn) over pride. John Penn de Ngong has a history of being kidnapped two times. John Penn becomes a poet, no more politics and he loves social and cultural writing,” said Ajah-Ager (a pseudonym), quoted from the news article entitled: “Deliberately Murdered – The Death of Bridegroom Now has its Roots” Sunday, 22 February 2009, 23:20, Bor Globe, Jonglei State News.
To cut the whole hullaballoo short, I would rather my friends and other great philosophers answer them or explain the cowardly actions by the murders of my literary brother, Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan Awuol, as follows:
“John, we are the next on the ‘wish’ list,” declared Richard Ruati in our Facebook chatbox. Unlike the other doomsayers, my colleague, Richard, used the word that may point a finger of blame to our ill-wishers, not well wishers. Remember, he did not say ‘hit list’, he said ‘wish list’. At least, the list of those who are wished to be harmed, and not those who are armed against to be hit. Another interesting observation for my consolation in Ruati’s comment is ‘we’ as in: “We are the next on the ‘wish’ list”. For others, including journalists, writers and Facebookers, they point their one and only accusing forefinger at John Penn, Maal Maker, Tearz Ayuen and those rioters-in-writers, ignoring the fact that the other three fingers are coiling back to themselves.
My problem now is not the scare from the killers. It is the scare from the scare-mongers, those who pick up such sensitive news and inscribed some innocent individuals into it. Imagine, the news is about the death of our brother Isaiah Diing Abraham Chan (Isaiah Abraham), but it fails my understanding why somebody would divert the reaction from its due course and channels the whole reaction to me or my other penman. For instance, as I am penning this piece from my mind and those of my friends’, there is a graduation ceremony of the University of Juba going on behind me at Kush Resort, Juba. To that, some pessimist just made a comment, “I see now like they are graduating to death!” What a feeling!
These comments are what I call ‘scare mongering’. In fact, those who bombard me with such messages, including unilaterally banning me from writing, are killing our country. Hence, I consider them worse then the shooters, regardless of the good warning message they are passing in a wrong way. I mean, the rumourmongers are indirectly supporting the murderers in achieving their objectives. How? By banning writing and reversing our literacy rate from 27% to 7%. That’s it. For if we accept the pressure to stop writing, stop graduating and stop going to schools just because one might be ‘graduating to death’, then who are you to encourage that? Listen to Sir Churchill, former British Prime Minister talking to the current brutish, crime ministers.
“You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken – unspeakable! – fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse – a little tiny mouse! – of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.” Sir Winston Churchill.
There you are. I mean if you want to stop us, writers from writing just because some lesser stock of citizens wants to exterminate us in their attempt to terminate our knowledge, which they fear to be their threat, then you are their naïve agent. In other words, I would not stop. And if I stop writing, I will not be a writer. If I write what the leaders like and not what my readers like, I would not be their writer. And, worse still, if I write what I like, I will not be a writer. They would put an end to my penmanship like they have done to my fellow penman, Isaiah Abraham Chan. So what should we do?
Well, to those who want me to quit writing with commotions and sit writhing with emotions, I leave you with the following excerpt from the preface of my poetry book, ‘The Black Christs of Africa’:
From words of war to war of words: Having gone through bitter experience upon my mysterious disappearance and reappearance, my wife, Elizabeth Nyiel, and my brother, Job Anyang and cousin, Michael Alith Ngong, teamed up and directly modified my friends’ concerns and pastor’s cautions into questions and condemnations. “John, are you aware of the mentality of our criticism-allergic folks?” she asked, and he reinforced, “Do you know why most African writers publish their books abroad or while abroad?” To me, the answer is this question: come on, guys! During your times as liberation commandos in the bushes of Southern Sudan, had John Garang de Mabior or any of your frontline commanders ever commanded you while sitting in Boston or Bolton?” Of course, no. And if so, then, it needs a series of serious gallant Garangs of various capacities, home-based and hope-based sacrificial lambs, not scapegoats, to convince the whole world to understand what is wrong in and with this southern half of our Sudan. Of course, to my varied worried readers, if you sense villainy, call me a rebel, not a rare devil; but if heroism, call me a daredevil, not a hero, in this book. Lo, we go…!
However, their questions stung and stunned me like the bees that dispersed the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army’s Jej Ahmr (Red Army) battalion in their ambush between Torit and Juba in 1993, and like I was asked, back in Omere Minors’ Camp in 1994, how safe I would be on my way to and from the reconnaissance. Such reactions towards the advancement of my career pose a great deal of conflicts in me in one way, and repose a great ideal of confidence in me in the other. So should I buy into their family motion to quit writing with commotion, and sit writhing with emotions till I grow up and grow old? If so done, this will make me ‘grow down’ and grow odd. And not me alone but along with my budding daredevils of this unique generation. Like a firefly that flickers on and off in the dead of the dark, I don’t just want to glow and go, I want to glow and grow. Lo, we go…!
In order not to execute those cautions, excuse me to dispute those questions. I have discovered, therefore to conclude, and, wherefore to include, that though the (not yet South) Sudanese political and intellectual renaissance is a nonsense to our successively autocratic cliques, a nuisance to our excessively aristocratic colleagues, it is a nuance of sense to our obsessively artistic colleagues. However, there is one vile virus to this revolutionary rebirth: it is dread, cowardice, fear, phobia, or any relative to those terms traumatically instilled in the minds and dramatically inscribed on the souls of our people by atrocious wars that have raged on under brutal regimes that have reined in, and under dictatorial leaders that have reigned over them time immemorial. To cure this ghostly malady, call it ghastly malaise, it would save a lot more to desist from asking a warrior, a daredevil patriotically critical and superficially sacrificial as such, how secure he or she is in the forthcoming head-on collision, for which some political whores and economic Judases, the ‘crostitutes’ according to Poem 57, are sweating flood and blood to turn into our national coalition through their personal collusion. Those questions or cautions, to me and my likes, are not only utterly demoralizing but also entirely demobilizing. For the same point, from the same poem quoted earlier on, remember:
I’m a retired boy-soldier,
Disarmed of my gun – an old AK47,
Re-armed with a pen – my new AK47.
It is said, the pen is mightier than the sword.
My word my s-word, a double-edged sword.
For rather I would shout with my tongue or pen,
Nor me neither I would shoot with a *tong or gun.
***In conclusion, it is not enough to wipe out all the writers in South Sudan, and if there is anyone who wants to avoid criticism, tell them to not waste their time deleting thousands of writers from the face of the earth, rather, let them delete thousands of critical terms in the face of the internet as well as externet (dictionary). As I said it in another writing of my fighting, it’s like deleting your friend’s e-address or this blog so that you open yours. In short, there is enough space above everybody regardless of whether you are upright, downright or all right.
To see why my scarecrows should not crow at me every time there is death at my neighbourhood, click the following link to the story of how I survived the stabbing and kidnapping in Kampala in 2006 and 2007, respectively (Page 9 of the PDF)…JST0404_Issue9new