REMEMBERING THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE SPLA: SO BOL AYUOLNOM AND THE ‘MANNYA’ CAMPED IN MY VILLAGE IN 1985?
PART A (AN ADDITIONAL PART BY THE BLOGGER, JON PEN)
Again, this is another captivating piece of sweet history from Kur Garang Deng! Because the writer has concluded (in his story that I have shared in Part B below) that the aim of writing this eyewitness account is in memoriam of our fallen heroes and to stimulate the memory of those comrades who are still alive to add their version of their history, this is my boyish voyage. I am not obstructing your reading, but just adding the flavour on the characters mentioned in Kur’s brief life story of the heroes.
ABOUT DENG ALOR KUOL
Actually, my interest in the picture is that young man with ribs exposed under a loosely open shirt. He is marked ‘Deng Alor’! I asked Mr. Kur, the narrator, what happened. He said Deng (1st. Lt. then) was wounded in an ambush in Anyuak land in the Jonglei’s eastern border thickets on their way to the training camp in Bonga, Ethiopia, in 1984. According to the vegetation behind them in the picture, it must have been around June as the writer rightly put it.
But my interest here is: if this is the very Deng Alor that somebody attempted to hang by the neck until he almost died this time in 2014 (30 years later), then I am shocked of how politics has staged a coup against history in South Sudan!
Again, if this is the very man somebody wrote to UN and the world about, of being a foreigner by Abyei not being part of us, in March 2016, then I am in double shock how greed has eaten up our brotherhood (comradeship) in South Sudan!
So this is the man they are saying he is not a South Sudanese after the 33 years of donating his blood and sweat to liberate this nation; libelled and labelled rebel so that he could not become our Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Coopeartion? We are damned and doomed!
ABOUT THE LATE BOL AYUOLNOM
I am so proud to come across such a name again. In the same year, maybe 1984, when I was about 4 years, this man did actually pass through our village. It was about a planting season. This is how I remember him. Some man of my village used to refer to me as ‘Bol Ayuolnom’ as an attribute to my hairstyle of a spiritually dedicated village boy (Ayul).
There were three camps in our village of Kolmarek (Aboudit) as far as Jalle. The SPLA camped in successions, so I can’t remember the times very well. I believe Kuur can.
One camp belonged to some leader called ‘Comrade Nyankot’ (I don’t know why in female name), but I hear that is the tradition of some Dinka sections like Thony and Aliap where that commander hails from (current Awerial of Lakes State). By the way, is Cdr. Nyankot still alive?
The other camp that followed was for somebody called ‘Peter Panom Thanypiny’. I remember by his funny name and how they mercilessly tied and beat up one of their soldiers till blood was pouring from his buttocks and mouth. That sight nauseated to the extent I could not eat and began to hate soldiers. I heard tge accused wanted to rape one old woman at night in our village. The Movement was so brutal on those brutal on their civilians, unlike now!
Then the last was the mobile camp of this man, Bol Ayuolnom. Fotunately, my memory is not affected by age because of their coincidental funny surnames they were identified with. So I began to know Bol Ayuolnom, not because we have a cattle camp called Ayuolnom (East of our village at the border with Murle, near Aramjang), but he left behind a ‘brother’ called Bol Yaak (or Bol Maatuur). I guessed he must be related to Bol Ayuolnom. That man remained in our village after the ‘Man-nya’ group of the SPLA conscripts passed along. He was too weak to walk. Bol Matuur remained with several others, including Malek and Marial (can’t remember their other names), who was ‘adopted’ by Uncle Ustaz Malual Alith. The bold, old, bald, Old Sudan teacher was later murdered in cold blood during the Nasir Declaration in 1991 in Riek’s headquarters with several other Dinka officers like Akim Aluong and Chol Riak.
The term ‘man-nya’ was a begging courtesy used by the ‘Masijid’ (SPLA conscripts) passing through our Bor villages from Bahr al Ghazal. Politely, they humbled themselves, “Man-nya, muoc ha piu. Man-nya, muoc ha cam. Man-nya, muoc ah ca (Girl’s mother, please, give me water, food, milk, etc.).” So we gave them those stuffs as well as the nickname, ‘Mannya’, not knowing I was going to be the same ‘Mannya beggar’ in Acholi land in Eastern Equatoria 5 years after.
I am sorry, ignorance made us thought the ‘Mannya Boys’ were trespassers, hence a nuisance to our villages as it was a bad tag we, villagers, used to refer to that lot, who later turned out to be our liberators whose blood cemented our nation’s foundation! By the way, the Bahr al Ghazal badges came two years after the famous 12,000 of Koryom exclusively from Bor had moved to Bilpam. So it was not a new experience.
They did not use forceful language, they were so honest and respectful to our mothers and villagers about their suffering on their way to our own rescue mission. This is in spite of the fact that they were dying of disease, hunger and thirst as they trekked on bare soles from Bahr al Ghazal (Aweil, Warrap, Wau, etc.) through Bor and Pibor to Ethiopia.
I am writing this with tears rolling down my eyes (thanks to the waitress of Yala Tower for bringing me a tissue for wiping my tears of nostalgia and guilt). I miss our good old days, as I meet our bad new days today.
Meanwhile, allow me to hereby apologize on behalf of my villagers for that label (Mannya) attached to the would be Mormor or other battalions forces that gave up their lives for what we call a South Sudan republic today. Tribalism or clanism, which was a taboo those days, are part of our constitution these days (of ethnic federalism). Shame on us!
Interestingly, after the Bol Ayuolnom group went, Bol Yaak remained firmly behind in our family. He had a big open ulcer that was nursed by my uncle, Anyang Alith (RIP). In 1986 or thereabouts, a nation’s call came that was the turn of my family to donate a son in a mobilization drive known as ‘Buluk ke Diak’ (every subchief with three draftsmen). Know what? Bol Maatuur volunteered to go in place of my brother, Alith Aluong, and Marial and Malek did the same for my other cousins, too!
When turned down by the Kuol Manyang’s men because he (Bol) could not be drafted twice: to represent his family in Bahr al Ghazal and another in Bor, he went on hunger strike. So he was registered in the new name of Bol Anyang, instead of the old name of Bol Yaak.
In the story of Bol Ayuolnom and Bol Yaak, I want to show you what unity, patriotism or nationalism meant during our liberation times. Let us talk of the SPLM/A of today, even in my own Bor village, leave alone Tonj area in Bahr al Ghazal, I cannot live there as anybody’s brother in 2016 compared to 1986 or 1996.
May God bless Dr. John Garang and Bol Ayuolnom, and/or I should add, May God blast Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, for turning us into brothers’ killers instead of brothers’ keepers.
NB: As Bol Ayuolnom is a martyr, I do not know where Bol Yaak (Bol Maatuur) is today: whether with Bol Ayuolnom in heaven or here with us on earth, I send him my brotherly regards with this message: By your actions so far, you are a ‘manh-nya'(a girl’s brother), not a ‘man-nya’ in our family today. Anybody who knows anything about Bol Yaak, his whereabouts or any of his relatives, please let me know.
PHOTOGRAPHIC INTERPRETATION: REMEMBERING THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE SPLA
By Kur Garang Deng
Look inside the picture for labels of the rebels of our liberation struggle, taken in 1984.
The picture above was taken at Teda Village, also known by SPLA soldiers as Pan-Anyuak, in Western Ethiopia. I came across the picture later during my days as a Commando member assigned to the Headquarters of the C-in-C, Dr. John Garang, in 1986. However, the event in the picture took place when I was in the training camp in Bonga, Ethiopia.
For this reason, the picture is hereby dedicated to Victor Bol Ayuolnom. A story of our history came about when remembering our old comrades with a friend a few days ago. When mentioning Bol Ayuolnom, many people, especially my friend who was chatting with me, did not recognize that hero.
People in the picture: Dr. John Garang de Mabior (RIP), Kerbuno Kuanyin Bol (RIP), Salva Kiir Mayardit (our current president), Victor Bol Ayuolnom (RIP), Deng Alor, Costello Garang Riiny, Kuol Deng Abot, who was a sergeant and was responsible for the prisoners of foreign origin shown in the picture, for the handover. Costello Garang Riiny was sent from Germany as the coordinator for the release of these prisoners between the SPLA and one of the European countries of the prisoners’ nationality.
The rest of the comrades in the picture were some of our soldiers and our friends, besides the prisoners.
The late Victor Bol was assigned to Bahr al Ghazal operation. He was a lieutenant Colonel deputizing Lt. Col. Khawaj Makuei as commander of Jamus II Battalion. Lt. Col. Bol was also in company of some of his comrades, mentioned here among others: 1st Lt. Deng Alor, the Political Commisssar of Jamus II Battalion, 1st Lt. Ayuen Alier Jongroor, 1st Lt. Baghat Aguek and 1st Lt. Warabek Ayuel Warabek (aka: Mabaai Ayuel). I have just mentioned these few officers to my friends and readers as points of reference on the mission of the Buffalo (Jamus II) Battalion, in case of further inquiries.
In the picture, 1st Lt. Deng Alor is seen with an open chest because he was undergoing a bullet wound pain that he sustained in his chest in action at Ajuara, an Anyuak Village near Pochalla. They fell into a Sudan Forces’ ambush on their way from Bahr al Ghazal to Ethiopia around May or early June 1984.
I kindly ask members of Buffalo, Tiger and Tumsah (Crocodile) battalions, who were around by then, to confirm.
NB: The SPLA/SPLM was an orderly and discipline movement that recognized human rights. They used to free thousands of POWs (Prisoners of War) including thousands of their enemy troops. The white men in the picture were the first POWs taken and released by the SPLA in our history of liberation struggle. We meant liberation by its real meaning, even liberation of individuals like these foreigners and thousands of other Sudanese. Unfortunately, the NIF Islamist regime used to finish off our soldiers and other hostages right away in the field. The culture of killing women, children and other vulnerable groups was not our practice.
ENDNOTE: For this or any other picture of our heroes, anybody who wants to use it for private or public consumption should contact me for permission and for a copy of a clear one. In addition, as in all my other history accounts, I like mentioning names and origins of the fallen heroes for ease of reference. It is only for historical, not political, consumption. This is also to refresh our readers and balance their daily reading of other non-history materials both online and offline.
To borrow a Kiswahili saying: Sisi natoke mbali bwana (We have come a long way, ya Jamah).