31ST ANNIVERSARY OF THE FALL OF BOMA TO THE SPLA:
I am always proud to be part of this favourable stories of our history from my big brother, Kur Garang Deng. Today, April 8, 2016, I have learned a very important piece of history:
1- The day Boma was captured 31 years ago.
2- The brief life histories of Martin Manyiel Ayuel and Nyacigak Ngaciluk
3- The origin and meanings of the local coinage of ‘boma’ and ‘payam’ as the nucleus of our administrative system of government, etc.
Remembering Cdr. Nyacigak Ngaciluk and Cdr. Manyiel Ayuel
I am grateful to share with the public, especially the generation coming after, the origin of the victories of our liberation movement and army (SPLM/SPLA). Today, April 8, 2016, marks 31 years of the capture of our first and permanent town of Boma (South-eastern Jonglei) in 1985.
In fact, the first assault by the Aggreb Battalion on April 1 whereby ‘Boma Fok’ (Upper Boma) and Karakon were captured; the commander’s headquarters and the garrison station (Pan Kite and Karakon), were overrun at 5.30AM. The first coy (company) of Aggreb (Scorpion) Battalion attacked ‘Pan Kait’ under the command of Capt. Chol Muorwel (a very brave, tall, huge and handsome son of the land who hailed from Tonj, also referred to as Tonj de Geu Anyuon). He was killed immediately in the forefront of the assault command. Kudos to the late Capt. Chol and his blood that cemented our nation’s foundation.
In resistance was Boma Tehet (Haiti) until the 5th day of the operation.
Then came in an abrupt cease fire ordered by Cdr. Dr. John upon the ousting of President Gaafar Mohammed Nimeiri in Khartoum on the said date. Dr. Garang attributed this storm on Boma and the popular uprising in Khartoum as having contributed to the fleeing of Gen. Nimeiri. It was expected that the incoming regime may cooperate.
Unfortunately, the Junta regime that took over made that unilateral cease fire of the SPLA an April Fools’ Day and showed no sign of interest in the so-called ‘Southern Problem’ (SPLM/SPLA war). So Maj. Nyacigak Ngaciluk ordered 1st Lt. Daniel Deng (a son from Aweil), a commander of the Second Coy (Siriya Tahnia), who further dispatched 2nd Lt. Ayuel Garang Deng Khoc of the First Platoon to attack the Lower Boma (Boma Tehet) even without the orders from Col. Garang (the C-in-C) on this day, April 8 (1985).
The capture of ‘Haiti’ was accelerated by heavy shelling by the Artillery group under 2nd Lt. Dhieu Warabek Ayuel (AchotM**). Lt. Dhieu was killed later in 2002 in the battle of Khor-Englisi, 16 miles from Torit on the road to Juba. So the Lower Boma division was cleared of the enemy forces the same day. Hence, Boma Hills town became a permanent symbol of victory there and then.
Before I conclude this section (Part A) of this piece of history, let me congratulate my comrades, both fallen and alive, the Scorpions of the Aggreb Battalion, on this day of our history. My special remembrance, as the then teenager ‘scorpion’ (infantry soldier) of Aggreb, goes to all my commanders namely: Nyacigak, the commander, and his deputy Capt. (now Lt. Gen.) Anthony Bol Madut, known by his codename ‘Rock’.
I can also remember the only surviving officer of the First Coy is 2nd Lt. (now Maj. Gen.) Angelo Jonkuch Jool (Awoijok), who captured Pan Kite (headquarters) as commander of the First Platoon of the First Coy of Aggreb (Fassilah Wulah) of the Scorpion Battalion of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army in 1985.
I cannot close without mentioning the few comrades who are still alive today, that include, again Capt. Anthony Bol Madut (Dept. Cdr. of Aggreb), 1st Lt. John Malony Riak, Administrator of Aggreb, 1st Lt. Atem Biar Diing (Ustaz Atem-mayen), Secretary (adjutant) of the Battalion, 2nd Lt. Angelo Jonkuch Jool, 2nd Lt. James Kong Chol (Cdr), who is now Lt. General as the head of the SPLM-IO Advanced Forces in Juba, 2nd Lt. Mawut Wuoi, 2nd Lt. Matthew Aluong Gai Awan, 2nd Lt. Kennedy Gain Ngare, 2nd Lt. Kolor, now in Wild Life Service, 2nd Lt. Chol Abraham Kuchkon Pach, as a few to recognized among others.
Also, I cannot forget the NCOs, especially our signalist Cpl. Nathaniel Guut Thuch, also known as ‘November-Gulf’ in military codes. He is now a Major General. Similarly, for the record, the fallen heroes who fell alongside Commander Capt. Chol Mawel are: Mayen Athiak Kuech, huge and tall gunner for PKM submachine gun. He was a famous singer and wrestling champion in the Pakker Section of Twic East and he died with four of his cousins from Bere Clan. Let us also remember Akuang de Ayuel, who fell with three cousins from Ayuaal section (particularly from Anyang family) of the present Nyuak Payam of Twic East County (Bor subtribe of Dinka).
To my former school mates who started with me at Pawoi Primary School (Aluel-nom village), our pioneer teacher, Aguin Dau Aguin, was wounded in the same attack and later died of internal bleeding after spending two nights alone in the bush. Having been discovered and brought to the garrison by a Murle hunter, despite an attempt to evacuate him in helicopter, Ustaz Aguin succumbed to the wounds in Zink, Western Ethiopia. May his name remain in our memories!
For those who are alive today, ‘Khali na celebrate’ (let’s celebrate as Emmanuel Kembe puts it).
THE ORIGIN OF THE WORD ‘BOMA’ AS THE SMALLEST UNIT OF OUR GOVERNMENT TODAY
Dear reader, there is a big reason for remembering Aggreb. They really laid the foundation of our nation as recognized in one of the lines of our National Anthem of the republic. First, they captured a very strategic town of Boma Hills, which marks the first town to fall to the SPLA in history. As if that was not enough, Boma became the only town that had never been captured by Khartoum forces (SAF/NIF) between 1985 and 2005 of the 21-year struggle, which is the longest civil war in Africa.
For this reason, Dr. John Garang and his colleagues named the nucleus of their political system (last administrative unit) as ‘Boma’. Today a number of ‘bomas’ forms a ‘Payam’…with ‘Payam’ being another local historical coinage by Dr. Garang and the King of Anyuak as ‘New Nation’, or in Dinka and other Nilotic dialects as ‘Pan Yam’ (new home), which denotes the idea of the ‘New Sudan’ (NS).
Now, is there no reason to celebrate ‘Boma Town’ and the fallen and survivor heroes of the ‘Scorpion’ Battalion?
REMEMBERING CDR. NYACIGAK AND CDR MARTIN MANYIEL
As mentioned in Part A above, it would be a disservice to the sacrifices of our heroes not to briefly talk about the solid characters of our fallen leaders. Shown are the lucky photos of my two great leaders and comrades in the liberation movement, namely: Cdr. Nyacigak Ngaciluk and Cdr. Martin Manyiel Ayuel Akech. These heroes are the first of the high ranking commanders who fell in action on their liberation road to this nation. I am sharing their memories because they died during this season, just like Uncle Lual Diing Wol.
1- NYACIGAK NGACILUK
I met Cde Nyacigak in January 1985 when we graduated from military college at Bonga, in a small village of Anyuak called ‘Abwola’ near Pinyudu. We came upto Raad and rested for a while before attacking Boma on the first day of April 1985 as explained above. Following the fall of Boma, we came again to Kapoeta in 1986 when he was an overall commander for Aggreb, Bee and Neiran battalions, before he was killed this time of the year. I do remember his nickname in Murle language is ‘Nyacigak-Adoi’ or ‘Adoi Kak’, the strongest champion…(check this with any Murle member near you for accuracy).
His strength is seen in action. During SPLA’s long journeys, for example, he would let the whole battalion proceed for like 30 minutes and then started from behind and caught them in no time. We used to make fun that his bodyguards would always suffer from diarrhea due to his fast walking style. I learned later that Nyacigak was a sportsman during his youth.
2- Cdr. Manyiel Ayuel Akech:
I remember Cde Martin when we travelled from Buna, Lomurnyang up the Didinga Hills, and settled in a place called Lokochot, the peak of the Didinga mountain, which was used as a detention centre for the prison departments during the colonial Sudan. As I can remember, it is the coldest place in South Sudan. We proceeded down to Chukudum, then headed for Chakari in Lango area, then to part of Lotuho land in search for the enemy forces.
Manyieldit was a very honest elder, who used to take care of the young soldiers. He loved children and used to refer to them as the ‘New Sudan Leaders’. Manyiel Ayuel died of a natural sickness in Nairobi and was buried in Torit. Mabruk comrade, You have accomplished your part!
He was a fierce commander of ‘Bee Battalion’, which later fell under Ngacigak command. Cdr. Nyacigak was a member of the Alternate Military High Command, and was commanding Agreb Battalion as Tahir Bior Lueth, now a muslim council leader of South Sudan, commanded Neiran Battalion.
Cdr. Manyiel’s passing, like that of his colleague, Cdr. Nyacigak, was a big blow to the movement. However, we continued soldiering on with our objectives of the movement.
THE BEST WAY TO HONOUR OUR HEROES
In line with their martyrdom that has given us the present day Republic of South Sudan, it is my passionate appeal to the government of South Sudan, especially the governors of Boma and Lomurnyang states (of the current 28 states) that they name the highway connecting Pibor to Kapoeta as Ngacigak Road, for he was the first senior officer to die for this country, in 1986 in the Ruweto area, north of Kapoeta town, on the way to Pibor.
- I therefore appeal that a similar road be named after Manyiel Ayuel either in Torit where he was laid to rest or in their region of Bahr al Ghazal or anywhere in South Sudan.
In conclusion, since we have our new country, I dwell on this heroes because they are not among us today, given the way greedy competition for recognition is the only business today. Also, this is the new season during which they lost their lives. Therefore, let us stand up for them.
NB: Watch this space for the next story and historical pictures.
The Author, L/Cpl. Kur Garang Deng, was a lance Corporal of the Second Platoon of the Fourth Coy (Wikil Arif fi Fasilla Tahnia betah Siriyah Raba) of Aggreb Battalion under the 2nd Lt. Kon Anyieth Mabil. His coy was deploy as a cover on the road from Boma to Kapoeta.