WHO OWNS ALIER ATENY?
Just as Agel Machar is not Agel Machar Teny, the type of ‘Alier’ I am addressing the ‘Youth of the South’ through here is not Alier Teny, he is Alier Ateny. He is not Alier Ateny Wek; and not Alier Makuei Lueth, either. He is Alier Ateny Lueth. Still, he is not Alier Ateny Lueth per se, for Uncle Ateny Lueth does not own anybody above 18 of age, legally speaking. Well, Chief Ateny-dit owns in Alier that scarlet liquid running in his vein, and the name, of course. If Alier eloped with someone’s daughter today (God forbade this long ago by uniting him with the sufficient daughter of Martin Majier Gai), Ateny Lueth would be involved by Dinka customs. However, unless Sultan Ateny were a generalized member of Jieng Council of Elders ideologically, the old man would not care what political party his boy subscribes to.
So, dear brethren and sistren in crisis, before you pounce on and pound your fellow youth with a tiger speed and an untidy speech on behalf of Uncle X-dit or Gen. Y-dit, check yourself up, shake yourself off. Who owns you? Who has colonized your psychic, and what has occupied your physique? Beware, you might be under somebody’s ownership; worse if under those politically stinky armpits. Watch out before you are washed out!
This brings me to this question. When, in the gospel according to Jieng Pharisees and Sadducees (JCE), is a young South Sudanese allowed to make their own decision? Is this, if any, different from our national constitutional age mark? I am playing the card of a deliberately naive native here because of the experience I have received from our tribo-politics of our days. In Bor, just as in other ethnically owned towns of South Sudan, I have seen some youth who swear to shoot down Alier Ateny or the likes of Jon Pen should they step on their Bor soil! Why?
I am going to dwell more on him, myself and other persons concerning the policy governing any party or community membership in South Sudan.
For these and other reasons, any member of a tribe that subscribes to a government leader from a tribe other than their very own is a traitor. Yes, I have been called so, even without having formally declared allegiance to any political leader. I was shocked to come across a certain social media campaigner purporting that the Western Equatoria speaker of parliament, Hon. Bage, was assassinated because of his alleged allegiance to the Kiir Administration. If this is true, then there you are!
As I have shown it above, the character I have chosen, Alier Ateny, is meant to represent any youth of South Sudan that risks subscribing to a notion contrary to Kiir’s nation. Kiir’s nation here refers to that utopia whereby every citizen must toe the line and and toss the lie, so long as they do unto the will of the historically ordained ‘Ayatolah of South Sudan’. Failure to do or say unto the will of the ‘Almighty Liberator’, in reference to our recent war of freedom, equality, prosperity and all those pompous terms only found in the SPLM/A 1983 manifesto, you are outright declared as a ‘traitor’. And this has been overdone by those whose weakness have been exploitedly turned into a wickedness by the system. I mean those diehards of the system (in my Jienglish nomenclature, ‘The Kiiristians’). And I have also seen this tendency with a corresponding group I refer to as ‘Riektionaries’, those who reacted to the shooting in Juba and followed Riek Machar “because the Nuer were being killed in Juba”. My sin, together with the same stock of youth, is that I had not registered my emotional allegiance to either camp.
So this is how an ‘Alier Ateny’ is owned in South Sudan. If you oppose the government or our leader, you are a rebel. If you talk to the rebel, you are a rebel, etc. I call it the ‘Makueyan Principle’, but then call it very hypocritical in the sense that the same Hon. Michael Makuei, the Info Minister, does not fully subscribe to his notion. For example, in Addis Ababa, I witnessed him dining with the rebels, sharing the same hotel with the rebels, chatting friendly with the rebels. Surprisingly, by the end of the day, he would wave at his SSTV’s Oyet Patrick and face the camera, “Any journalist that interviews a rebel is a rebel!” This is not even hypocrisy, call it ‘Hypokiirisy’. This is evidenced in the way the government coerced the majority illiterate people of South Sudan to stage mock demonstrations against a document they know no content of. In the same way, they tricked the youth into fighting the war of their politicians greed, only to abandon them in the battlefield and sign peace for which they are jostling and hustling for positions. We must learn this bitter lesson this time unless we, the youth of South Sudan, want to wage another war of similar status! Alas, we are doing it big time here on the internet!
For instance, some sectional youth leader just decided to stage a campaign against the few of us, the Bor guys who have not been given a poisoned chalice to join the band wagon of tribal campaign. This guy just woke up one day and decreed on his fellow brothers this ‘tribal fatwa’, an Islamic sort of open court declaration on an apostate to be killed by whom it must concern as seen in the screenshot picture attached here. Like father like son, these guys are practising a one-way traffic leadership style, in my own term, the ‘Demokiiracy’. This is a common line we always come across, “You’re either with us, or you’re eliminated–be it through excommunication or extermination!
Ironically, this youth leader of the Australian Bor (county) Community was my comrade in the Jesh Ahmr of Palotaka. Well, it would not be decent enough of me but I must remind Majok Piel (Kijana Ali Piel) that this Jon Pen on whom he is passing his ‘tribal decree’, a community death penalty, today is the same Ngong Aluong who used to treat his jigger wounds in Palotaka Minors Health Centre. He may not see himself in the picture below, but I know him vividly. I hope he could remember the day I, with James Jok Lual (now a leader in Aweil) and Agem Lok Akhot (not sure of his whereabouts), initiated an infamous ‘jigger joggers’ (jumbas) conducted to the stream every evening. The jigger joggers’ marathon was not a punishment but a rehab exercise initiated to keep the jigger-infested Red Army members fit and clean. Into this, Ali Piel (Majok) was enrolled. I hope his memory has not faded of his bitter encounter with Lado Santino, a fellow jigger victim on whose toe he badly stepped. The story must stop here, but I had to retell it not for bad reason but to just remind my brother that I was there when he was in need. Now, he is doing the contrary while his jigger stench is still doing the round in my mind’s nose.
On the case of brother Alier Ateny, he has his own reason of joining Dr. Riek Machar and the movement. He can tell it better than I can. I am using him as a case study. His story is geared towards Bor youth, especially those who swear not to share a space with him or with his like-minded youth. Having been appointed as the governor of Jonglei State in the SPLM-in-Opposition, I have seen people wondering if he is going to stay in Bor.
Come on guys, if Riek is back to his position, even more powerful than the previous one, who are you to think Alier Ateny has no, or is not, right to be a leader in Jonglei or anywhere in the Transitional Government of National Unity? To those Bor guys who think he does not belong there because he has joined their enemy, the Nuer, I have one piece of information to pass across to you here.
In the first place, Mr. Alier wields a Masters’ Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy besides other qualifications from Australia, so I cannot campaign for him on the side of job. Of course, I am saying this not because I am recommending him but because of the universal fairness based on humanity, constitutionality and the truth of God.
I mean Mr. Alier has never stayed in this SPLM armed opposition’s position of a symbolic governorship for long in such a way that he can claim some leadership initiatives given that Bor is not under the rebels’ control, but this is what I witnessed from him. His conviction, according to my opinion, of joining the SPLM-IO without a substantial cousinly army was not to fight the people of Bor but to help them get the truth about this futile war and protect them from further massacres. It is worth reminding that Alier on his arrival from Australia witnessed the Bor attacks live in Baidit during that ill-fated Christmas season, only to join the same attackers 6 months later. There must be a big reason behind this decision. He demonstrated this in Pagak in a Bor Community meeting on the IGAD consultation proposal in December 2014. Chaired by Jesus Deng Atem as Bor Community leader in the SPLM-IO, which I attended, the meeting came out with the following demands addressed in writing to Chairman Riek Machar.
1- That Bor should no longer be used as ‘Matar de Tong’, or the battlefield (to borrow from a certain Bor Women choir song). This means any intended operations aimed at toppling Kiir’s government must not be conducted in Borland as done in late 2013 and early 2014. Alier played a major role in this. To make sure no more atrocious operations, the son of the soil, Maj. Gen. Dau Deng was designated the operations commander of the Greater Bor area. From that time, if there were any unfortunate incidences in between the Nuer and Borland, then they did not happen as an organized attack on the community in 1991 and 2013 under Gen. Gatdet and the White Army.
2- That no Bor State (Jonglei State) leadership be set up in Pagak as no Bor community existed there, apart from the near 30 members who were part of the army and political leadership of the movement.
3- That in the community compensation and reparation chapter of the agreement, Bor be compensated on both sides as it was subjected to destruction by three armies, namely the rebel forces (White Army and Gatdet’s forces), the Government forces (SPLA) and the Uganda army (UPDF). We gave several instances why Bor deserves this status in the reparation and compensation.
Besides the above demands by our community whose majority in membership ranges from Duty County that was in the rank of major general and a commissioner, Bor County that had Alier Ateny as a director in the office of the chairman and a delegate in the peace negotiation, and Twic East county (that had only 2 members, one of them community chairman, Jesus Deng). Take note, the Bor County members who always haul boulders of blunders at the Twic side of Bor, your county has more members in the armed opposition camp than Twic East, all of whom worked for the protection of Bor people after the destruction. With the above community demands, some optimists would not see them as negative forces or traitors to the land, regardless of all traumatic wishes against them.
On my own behalf, I should also add the unforeseen part of the war, the humanitarian sector. Since I left Jonglei as a result of community peace activities to exile with my civil society group one year before this war broke out, I have never stopped working with my communities on the same line. Therefore, when I saw an opportunity of such needs on the other side of the war, I could not hesitate, seeing myself not only a Bor Dinka genetically, but also a Jongleyan in particular and South Sudanese in general. So I flew to Pagak on December 1, 2014 and out on January 1, 2015, as I used to do to Addis, Debre Zeit, Arusha, Kampala, etc. along the peace trail that year. Was I on a civil society peace consultation and supervision mission only? No. I am a writer and have a vision to pursue in the literary desert of South Sudan, so I was on a fact finding tour on the Side B of this war. Truly, it might have taken South Sudanese 20 months to restore peace but I am not sure how long it will take them to make peacemakers. Peacemakers are not politicians who care about their security socially, politically, economically and physically, they are daredevils. So am I. (More details in my next article on ‘The Pagak Dairy’, a summary of the lost diary showing my encounter with the famous Nuer hospitality, the Bor and Dinka women among the Nuer Community, the brief encounter with their prophet Dak Kueth, etc.)
To round it up just for now, I have to maintain my original line of resistance against the anti-nation building evils meted out against the nation-loving citizens by the system of the day. The tools the regime and its ‘Kiiristian community’ used for owning or disowning the Alier Atenys of our generation, are tribe, bribe and threat. And to those who think they can psychologically kidnap and mentally castrate the entire youth of South Sudan into dogging the administration that has abandoned the principles of our liberation struggle and squandered the goodwill of the people, you will be met with tough resistance, some of which I have enumerated in my concluding paragraphs, which is a quote from similar piece I wrote to the youth of Bor last year, here.
In other words, Riek Machar and the armed opposition of the SPLM are a byproduct of Kiir’s leadership style, so why waste my time on him or other rebels of Kiir’s power greed as if I were a December-15 reactionary? Riek or Mabior de Garang have their own reasons for running away from Juba, but we meet in two main grounds: Common citizenship, common reform agenda—varied methods.
Having had an ability to see this coming in 2012 and 2013, I wrote about it. It is the very youth, especially from Bor, who were the first to fight me in defence of the leadership that has brought the country to the brink of collapse today. My heart bled and I told them what they were killing us for! It came to pass! I followed closely the political development in the run up to the war in 2013. And I said it boldly with a confession why our youth are in this confusion: three times in my own personal statement, which I am repeating here for the purpose of speaking out not only my mind but the truth—which must be said to set us free as a new people and a young nation.
There is no amount of Tribe, Bribe or Threat that will compromise the person in me to tell other than the truth against the will of God, the constitution of my nation and the lives of my fellow citizens of the Republic of South Sudan.This means belonging to a certain community cannot and will not make me defend a wrong leader, neither will any personal benefit do me this damaging change of heart, nor will I ever vow to any threat in the name of committing a constitution-coated crime in order to save and serve the interest of one citizen or a group thereof.
So, now, who owns Alier Ateny? Who owns Jon Pen? Who owns you? Who actually owns the youth of South Sudan?