ON THE CASE OF AHEU DENG KUDUM: WHO IS BRINGING DOWN YOUTH TALENTS IN SOUTH SUDAN?
By Jon Pen de Ngong
I am going to restrict my argument in this regrettable topic only to the female youth victims of the talent looters in our young republic. I am going to be particular on a few characters, especially Mary Aheu Deng Kudum and some others like Mary Boyoi and Rachel Angeth. There are reasons leading to my being not only gender-based but also gender-biased in my defence on this vulnerably successful pride of our nation.
Reason number one is this month of November is annually dedicated to the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. Nobody cares to remember, leave alone commemorate, in our country. And what I am going to tackle below is akin to gender-based violence.
In my annual theme of this month, it goes by the title of ‘Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender-biased Silence’. This means those who are silence are biased against the violence meted on our better halves. Unlike the norm, my campaign is against the ‘silence’ on the vice, which breeds the violence. Therefore, I am not being silent against the violent abusers of our women, especially this symbols of our young nation.
As the war of greed is raging in our motherland, our young ladies have been attacked, even on politically motivated grounds! To use an unconventional language, they are being raped everywhere: sexually abused, socially raped, politically raped and economically raped, say, ripped off. How? Wait a minute.
Secondly, I am a talent scout. I have spent a great time of my youth age promoting my country’s young talents, and I have some successful products out of this. I have their testimony, and so proud to have the female part in my story. I believe in girls’ power. Some of my students have become super leaders, super models and are out there promoting our names among the world’s nations.
For example, my young boys and girls of the ‘Little Doves Choir’ are rocking the world out there. That is why it ignites my sympathy to see such national investment being brought down for superficially personal interests.
Again, it breaks my heart – if it does not yours – and kills my spirit of promotion to see our very few female successes being discouraged in a recklessly – if not jealously – conducted activism against the so-called weaker gender; say weaker target. Weaker target because I have never seen social media and main media attacking some filthily rich men in the new republic. This so-called media is mostly strangling young ladies who are struggling to catch up in this competitive market. They are being ridiculed into forced failure. We have a host of examples on this.
CASE STUDY: THE DEFAMATION OF AHEU DENG KUDUM
As briefly described by the so-called ‘Hot in Juba’ blog, Mary Aheu Deng Kudum is one of the few successful young ladies in the cut-throat male-dominated market of South Sudan. She is an orphan, who is taking care of widows and other orphans, hence is very in/directly doing the work of the South Sudan War widows, Orphans and Disabled Commission. Besides helping a handful of orphans, including her own sisters, cousins and other relatives in schools, she is the first (maybe the last) to donate from her own meagre business profit to the wounded heroes in the military hospitals and elsewhere in South Sudan.
Aheu is doing this because her father was killed in the forefront of the Juba Operations in 1992, while directing the SPLA battalions onto Juba around Jebbel Kujjur. Her ailing mother, the widow to the late Ustaz Deng Kudum Thoat, has been a volunteer helping many unaccompanied minors, me included, all the way from Ethiopia, Palotaka, IDP camps in Eastern Equatoria as far as the refugee camps in Uganda and Kenya.
As Aheu’s religious mother, Ayuen Makuei Deng, is nearing the end of active service for the nation, her daughter picks up. This is seen in the way she is sharing her little business earnings with the victims of the wars through social corporate responsibility, something no other South Sudanese businesswo/men do.
To add to the above summed up profile, Mary Aheu is gifted with the kind of the Cushitic beauty described in the Bible of the tall, smooth-skinned people, who are feared all over the world. So, could that be why she is feared all over the country? In 2009, she was feared as the world’s tallest model in history. She was candidate to the World Guinness Book of Records as the tallest model in the world by the time she represented our ‘country’ in the Miss Earth Contest in Manila, capital of the Philippines.
As if that is not enough, she is still helping her South Sudanese sisters in the same project, one of them now (Agot Deng Jogaak) being deported back from attending the Miss Earth Contest Pageant Contest in Austria, Europe; a mistake entirely to blame on the current war situation of nascent nation that is classified under the failed states which are churning out and shunning their own refugees. Ms Aheu used her own resources through Miss South Sudan to facilitate this young beauty to Miss Earth contest, but was denied visa!
Despite these challenges, still, Mary Aheu is dreaming big to liberate other girls from the bondage of early marriage, forced marriage and other socially abusive handlings of young women in our traditionally patriarchal society, something John Masura overlooks in his vitriol against the person of the lady.
Oh, did I mention that she is a victim of a very unspeakably abused marriage at her teen? And this fact is mocked by John Masura and other malicious writers and defamers. This happened in Kakuma, leaving her a single mother with one charmingly promising Jacky today. More about her life history is detailed in her upcoming book, entitled ‘Buying Myself Back To Freedom’.
Having given that background, I am hereby writing this article to condemn the way this successful lady, Mary Aheu Deng, among others, has been discouragingly defamed by our very own home social media, that, instead of promoting talents, is dedicated to pulling them down, especially the young women celebrities of South Sudan. I am now particular on the story (stories) being run by the ‘Hot in Juba’ website, especially on the recent story on Aheu Deng’s business. They might think they are fighting corruption and social vices, but given the tone and style they do it, the gossip websites are doing harm to the success of such youth and future of our nation.
Little is known about the ownership and objectives of ‘Hot in Juba’ blog, but it falls under the tabloid propaganda machinery of the current war. What puzzles readers is why those anonymous brothers running this blog have turned their weapons against our upcoming sisters. My concern about this social media house is that it concentrates on individuals’ – mostly female – weaknesses amidst glaring political blunders now bedeviling our new country. It also rarely touches bigger scandals of the known magnitude in Juba.
When I asked about a little background of the ‘Hot in Juba’, somebody intimated it to me faintly that this anonymously owned and run website sprang up during the days (2014) when Ateny Wek Ateny and other government media outlets desperately called for government supporters to counter the cyber warfare that was harsher on Kiir’s Administration. Whether ‘Hot in Juba’, like its sister or similar blog ‘Talk of Juba’, has such background relationship is a secret yet to be revealed. Well, unlike other blogs like Paanluelwel, Nyamilepedia, Weakleaks, etc. that are political and public in objectives, the Talk-Hit-Hot-blah-blah-in-Juba media rarely condemn the political messes on the masses, but are straggling on the social evils of the struggling celebrities.
On November 3, 2015, ‘John Masura’, a notorious, but near mysterious, blogger wrote very damaging story on Aheu Deng, especially on her politically dramatized project she was running with the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs. According to Aheu and her project’s documents and other facts, she was used as a scapegoat by the big shots of the defence and military leadership to settle their scores in the name of her project. This messy dealings and backstabbing by the chiefs of the military and the ministry led to her breach of the 3-year stationery contract, after she had procured and supplied all the required consignment that her company had won, not medical supplies as wrong presented by the blogger of Hot in Juba. As to how the figures were manipulated to that amount and the fight among the elephants leading to her suffering as the grass, is not my business in this piece. It is also sensitive as the characters in the deal are still very much in power and in struggle against one another.
What I have to point out, having read that libelous blog article, is that Aheu is not 34 years (she was born in the early 90s), not intimately connected to the feuding generals and did not “f**k her way into any contract as rudely mentioned and crudely researched by the defaming blogger, who crowns himself journalist. Journalism is so beaten up these that even some queer-looking ‘mathiang-anyioor’ or ‘jesh mebor’ can pick up an internet AK47 and begin to massacre characters in our citizens.
In conclusion, my subject, as I always do as part of my activism against gender-biased violence, is that we should not invest all our energies on our homegrown climbers like our young women in question. I am always offended to see our ladies of national pride like Rachel Angeth, Mary Aheu, Mary Boyoi, and others being the subject of writing by their very own brothers and fellow youth. I am equally offended to see the youth (girls) on which I spent my energy and talent promoting in my previous media business: The Sudan Mirror, The Southern Eye, The Star, The Younique Magazine, among others that I edited or owned and used to promote such talents. I wish our home media was continuing with the same legacy we built during our days of talent scouting: spotting and supporting as did the media before independence.
Definitely, I have been warned by my friends that I would be the next subject of such tabloid blogs since I have condemned their misdoings. It makes no difference. I have been a subject of defamation and libel since I left my country three years ago. In fact, some individuals serving the regime in Juba are making their livings on me and my like. You know what I mean. But not that for threat, for I am a liberal activist for freedom of expression– expression with impression, not the Hot sort of.
However, I am also a terrible blogger, only that my activism is on politics and rights– right rights, not those right wrongs or wrong rights being promoted in our current state. I am solely on the necks of our politicians, especially President Kiir, upon whose whole responsibility of our nation solely rests. I rarely attack fellow youth who are struggling for survival like myself. So if those ‘anonymous’ blog runners turn their arsenal on me, it won’t affect me, but them. I should whisper it (not threateningly) to whom it must concern that, though I do not fight individual defence battles, I have enough data of this Hit-Hot-Talk in Juba blog tabloids, including the true identities of the owners and operators (if need be, which could be, on moral grounds).
Well, nobody should stay warned from me, because I am their fellow blogger and activist, who equally condemns evil but not individuals. Hot in Juba and the like should continue fighting political and social evils, but on truth ground and not the current bite-and-swallow hate mongering.