OOPSLEAKS: Why I Turned Down a ‘Decree’ to The Office of the President!
To my son and daughters, who do not know about it; and my family members, who are yet to know more about it–but my enduringly endearing wife, who talked me out of it–I owe you a heartful of heartfelt apologies for depriving you of the topmost and hottest ‘investment’; the shortest cut to riches in South Sudan, probably in the whole world, today! What is it? Working in the Office of President Salva (OoPS), Sorry! I will explain.
Yet, before I tell you many reasons leading to my turning down that most sought-after job in South Sudan, let me tell you first why I am even telling you this open secret of my life. No, I am not revealing why I sneaked out of Juba and never returned for ‘work’ on February 12, 2014, almost one and a half years ago. I will also tell you, next day, why I went to Pagak the same year I went to Juba, including staying around with the then war-abstaining group (G10) of the SPLM. I will also tell anybody, who may care to know in another blog like this, on Day 3 of this ‘blogathon’ that is representing my position in this worthless war of personal egos and tribal ethos, why I am not a secretary to the ‘G10’ (Former Political Detainees) despite my full time dedication (blogging and Facebooking about their release and safety, both in Juba and in exile).
Another important reason for posting this leak and the accompanying letters and pictures is to dispel everything set, said and written against me and about my Juba and other missions by my friends or fiends, the security and others both in IO and IG factions of the feuding SPLM. I hope they will update their files from some of these facts and factors of my personal stand.
I concur with one of my cursing cousins, who protested my decision to drop that ‘OoPS”s job. “What’s the problem with you? You think being that principled means nationalism? If so, then that’s the most stupid type of nationalism I have ever witnessed,” he bitterly screamed upon my return from Juba. This is the second time this job flopped. Of course, whatever way they looked at it, some quarters and friends silently declared me the first defector during this war, not until they failed to establish my real position.
The first one was an intentionally delayed appointment with the claims that the Minister for Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development, was too busy to approve my appointment to the ‘OoPS’ in 2012. However, my close confidante intimated to me that somebody kept holding my file telling the Presidency Minister, “He is another one from Bor!” Well, I didn’t care because I was identified from my civil society business, especially from the letter-booklet I drafted as a CSO committee secretary on the Bashir’s last presidential visit to Juba on January 4, 2011. Six months later, when the President’s independence declaration speech was being skewed and screwed off, my name cropped up in regrets of them not having employed the right goons, hence the beginning of lobbying for my position. See the aforementioned letter linked here: https://weakleak.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/south-sudanese-last-supper-with-president-bashir/
I will tell you everything. And I will tell you why I am telling you everything I have been doing for the last three years of my life in exile. Un/fortunately, I have not kept a regular diary on my trips from Juba to Nairobi (Kenya), Addis Ababa and other peace-hosting towns like Debre Zeit, Bahir Dar of Ethiopia, Arusha (Tanzania), Pagak (South Sudan) and Kampala (Uganda).
To take you back with a glimpse of the origin of my journeys, in January, 2013, I flew out of Juba, only to go back exactly the same time a year later…and then fly out of Juba again! But most important of all this, is: I owe the deepest appreciation-in-apology to my friends, namely; Lam Chuol Thichuong, who saved my life in January but lost his own in December (2013)! Kur Ayuen Kou and Lam Tungwar (and also Mandela Mayen Awan) who went to Nairobi and brought me to Juba in February, only for me to ‘desert’ Juba in the very February (2014).
Am I meandering? Ok, in short, I was appointed journalist to the Office of the President, Salva Kiir Mayardit (OOPS-KM)! Look for more details on the letters scanned and attached herewith. Kur (now in prison after the corruption scandal in the OoPS! Sorry, I would be dead or in prison if I had not quit) and Lam (now a ‘mini-star’ for youth of Unity State) told me my talent was wasting away in exile while things had changed back home. Did I hear the word ‘changed’! Even David Yau-Yau (the main reason for my running away from Bor in mid 2012 and from Juba early 2013) was being ‘invited’ back home. So I was suppose to oblige into being such an indirect apologist and a direct receptionist to David Yau Yau. Over my dead buddy, the late Kerubino Kollen Zullo, who was lured and killed the same way of Gen. DYY (a DIY or Do-It-Yourself death)!
However, Riek was in the bush. Lam Chuol Thichuong and Karbino Kollen (my failed fellow escapee) are in the graves! Different reasons, same death style! More about their death in another piece after this. I am on why I turned down an appoitnment to the Office of the President while the war of greed was raging both in Juba through corruption and in the bush through fighting.
First, I was to work with Ateny Wek Ateny. This gentleman was my fellow fiercest ‘Kiiritic’, just like Gordon Buay Malek, James Okuk, and Isaiah Abraham (RIP) were. There was nothing wrong with working with Mr. Ateny Wek. He would be my close friend-cum-colleague and boss, but something was disturbing me. Were we going to write and speak against or for the people of South Sudan?
As if that is not enough, the indirectly self-mobilizing, seven-man committee meant for what I sensed as ‘Operation Image Cleansing’ for the Government and the president was questionable, to me. It comprised Hon. Michael Makuei Lueth (Info Minister), Brig. Malaak Ayuen (Info Director, SPLA), Col. Philip Aguer Panyang (Spox, SPLA), Mr. Chaat Paul (Info and PR Director, OoPS), Mr. Kur Ayuen (Dep. Info & PR Director, OoPS…the one now in prison with Director-General Mayen Wuol!), and then Mr. Ateny Wek Ateny (Spox, OoPS), plus my poor self (editor, TV campaign host, reporter) among others. What a team! I have no problem with them as some of them are my uncles, friends, and former bosses. All of us were Dinka by ethnicity. As if that’s not enough, all of us – but ATENY – were strictly from Bor. Whether that ethnicity background of this vital national committee was by coincidence is not important here, and also as usual in Kiir’s government. Al muhim (anyhow), we were to be serving and saving the government whose image was at stake at the onset of the ongoing war, the war that has a somewhat ethnic but political undertone.
To bring the point home, something was amiss! I felt uneasy for a reason I could not explain. I wanted that imaginary ‘Big Money in the office of the Big Man’. But there was/is this big challenge…!
So the second point is this ‘huge challenge’. It is my ‘ToR’ (Terms of Reference) or job description. As hinted on my appointment letter (pictured above), my friends who convened and convinced me in Nairobi had the feelings that my literary talent was idle, and my refugee life was miserable. That was so heroic of them! But jobs such as this are not immune of risks. What was on the table for me, which was not outlined in the appointment letter, but was outlying in the disappointment situation in the country, was more pressing than the benefits. I could infer, from my immediate boss’s explanation, that I was destined for the war information business. If 2014 were 1944 when the term ‘propaganda’ was formally used in government departments of the Nazis, the old world wars’ activists would christen us ‘The National Propaganda Committee’.
Pay your attention here: I am still on the reasons that let me drop the job. There were political detainees to be brought to justice (or to injustice), and potentially ‘hanged by the neck until they died’! Others were on the run in the bush, while shouting and shooting. There was a project (scam) called ‘CMC’ (Crisis Management Committee). Millions of dollars were doled out to MPs and all those creative project writers like me. They went out there to their constituencies and announced (on cameras in present of NSS operatives), “It was an attempted coup!” Therefore, communities would not react if they later heard some of their former leaders ‘hanged by the neck until they died’. They attempted a coup, anyway, a narrative to be sung in unison as demanded by the authorities in Juba. My conscience told me, “Don’t sing it (the lie) for money”!
Un/fortunately, I had written volumes of blog articles, Facebook posts and twits disputing the story of the coup. Prof. Adwok Nyaba and a handful of other daredevils had written boldly and extensively on that. So, had I accepted the ‘job’, I would have written that I had been telling a lie all on my social media avenues and main media venues…unless I did not want that money! Not only that, I had even written that Mayen Wol (the OoPS Director-General now appointing me) be sacked over the OoPS’ theft of money in 2013. Check this link: https://weakleak.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/bravo-mr-president-we-dont-need-anti-fire-safes-we-want-anti-theft-safes-to-save-our-economy/
Besides writing a magazine for ‘OoPS’, I would also have to come up with a TV program (SSTV, of course), something akin to ‘The Agenda’ or ‘Face The Nation’ (if not the same) now hosted by my friends: Garang John and Maal Maker, respectively. As an editor and a host, I would also speak in gatherings, besides going out for news gatherings or news-spreading, shuttle diplomacy expeditions like done by Ateny Wek, Col. Aguer and Gen. Malaak immediately around the region that time.
Those, plus other reasons, were the ToRs, say ‘chores’, of my job. Oh, I have to include the following:
MY ROLE AT THE EXTERNAL CIVIL SOCIETY MOVEMENT
Behind me in Nairobi, I had left a huge movement of the external civil society organizations ready to pursue peace the same speed the politicians were pursuing war. From South Sudan Peace Coalition (SSPC) to Coalition of Young Leaders of South Sudan (CYLSS), I was centrally instrumental. Funders’ fingers were itching for our projects, initially to Addis Ababa, then to ‘the field’ or ‘the grassroot’, that grass under the fighting elephants, that village grass whose roots have never been reached since the invention of project proposals and intervention by projects sponsors.
We were six South Sudanese youths travelling from all the four corners of the globe: 2 from Juba, one from Europe, one from America and one through the Middle East, but formerly based in Juba. We had to move to Addis Ababa to do the following:1- Lobby IGAD and stakeholders for the ‘inclusivity’ of the talks (inclusion of the civil society and other political parties), 2- Demand for the release of the former detainees, and, 3- Plead for the Cessation of Hostilities (ceasefire). So, I had to choose which opportunity to use. Morally speaking, my heart was in the Addis mission for peace rather than in the Juba mission for war and money. The dilemma was now solved like this…
I ‘accepted’ the job, but from the back of my heart. All my documents: passport, ‘jeansea’ (National ID Card), age assessment form, etc. were processed and printed express…on the same day…in the name of the OoPS! Then I asked kindly but cunningly to go back and relocate my family from Kampala to Nairobi, and then hand over the project of peace caravan to another substitute. And then come back two weeks later. Did I return? No!
Why? I have not told you the greatest fear that can stop a man from lifting forward another foot. It is not the fear of the future (legacy, my name in history). It is not even the fear of death. It is the fear of the Unknown, not of the so-called ‘unknown gunmen’! This fear had gripped my wife. She reacted angrily and spent the whole night awake on February 8, the day I told her about my journey while I was already at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, en route to Juba. She protested, and questioned me, and then cautioned me against that move.
“Wun-Anyieth (my elder daughter is called Anyieth), that is dangerous! Remember Karbino!” The late Karbino Kollen was my Jonglei Civil Society Group chairman and colleague who was kidnapped behind me on the way to Juba airport the morning we were escaping. As hinted earlier one, he later died in the hand of David Yau Yau, a miserable death of torture and crucifixion…on the cross of peace for the Jonglei people of South Sudan. Thank God, I escaped with John Aborcup Akuer, who later ran from Pibor through Bor in a very short pair of shorts (‘wonder wear’). He joined me in Nairobi to tell the story for the history.
So, in order to give me permission, I promised Elizabeth, my wife, that I would be returning the same or second day (which return was later fulfilled after an expedited ritual of ‘swearing in’ like recently performed by Comrade Pagan Amum, SPLM’s SG) in Juba. I kept the promise and returned to Nairobi four days later (February 12). What convinced her and me to dare that risk of sneaking back to South Sudan was that I badly and madly wanted a passport for my already scheduled peace trips round the region. My first passport was ‘stolen’ during the operation that expelled me from South Sudan the year before. I succeeded and flew out immediately on the evening of February 11, 2014, and proceeded through JKIA to Addis Ababa on the 12th day. My youth were ahead of me by two days. Folks say, ‘listen to your heart’, so I made it!
I mean I didn’t make it to Addis Ababa, but I made it not to be lured into war propaganda with material things while my people were dying everywhere. I have remained the very me that campaigned for the same peace in Jonglei in 2011/2012. There is nothing more gratifying than listening and obeying your inner self, your conscience. When this personal constitution was violated in South Sudan, everything went wrong. People began to lie, steal, kill and walk Scot-free!
Finally, my talent is still intact, and is growing and glowing day by day. So, when South Sudanese are back to their senses later, I WILL PRESENT MY APPOINTMENT LETTER AND ASK BACK MY JOB! Maybe/not!
NB: Watch this space for ‘WHY I WENT TO PAGAK’…and came back the same way the same me.