QUOTE: “What an elder sees sitting, the young can’t see standing” – Gustave Flaubert
BY: J. Nguen, OCT/04/2016, SSN;
First and foremost, I like to inform my readers that I put a lot of genuine thoughts into writing this piece. I glanced and underscored the Nuer’s customs and values particularly those governing the relations between personalities following communal hierarchy.
Standing with integrity guided by moral compass, I came to a fine conclusion that this writing has to be done for the sake of public good. With straight face, I believed the Nuer elders deviated from their noble duty of preserving and protecting the community’s values and help steer the society to fruition in the time of need.
Evidently, it used to be common practice that elders are revered and celebrated next to the “higher power,” with respect to unbiased and corrupted deeds. Thus, elders used to be genuine and wiser in dealing with issues threatening community’s well-being.
As I traveled, I learned that this notion of “wiser elder” is universal across cultures based on the same thinking of genuineness. In these cultures, elders are perceived wiser, good thinkers and as a result hold position of importance in society.
Overtime, this argument has been ingrained into people’s thinking not just because elders have cheated death but because they have experienced life’s ugliest lessons and then through these experiences, elders have known life lessons better than the rest of us.
Also history has taught us that this paradigm has existed for centuries. Utilizing Pilieny School of Thoughts, it’s believed that elders become of age, which produced the thinking that “what an elder sees sitting; the young can’t see standing.”
Sadly, in the recent times, I’m afraid this noble status has been eroded and elders of South Sudan, particularly among the Nuer elders. Evidence shows that panorama of “wise elder” faded with times for the past 30 years.
The epitome of what the heck happened and why the wise elder phenomenon has gone soar among the Nuer ought to be researched for the fact that our elders used to be wiser, consistent, goal oriented and have been the navigation post for the society.
Besides, the next generations and some of my own generation deserved to know the cause of such a profound change of lackey character include and not limited to learned helplessness, corrupt moral compass and lack of genuine undertaking.
In order to avoid generality, I must empathizes this lack of moral compass only applied to educated Nuer Elders who in the recent times resorted to nothing but pauperism – pathetic beggars and worthless elders to be exact. If I may add, it’s disturbing to have learned that the Nuer Elders adapted lack of endurance, little foresight and purely became moral crooks underlined by betrayal and stooge characters.
For example, in the past three decades, educated Nuer elders portrayed lackey character politically and socially and often characterized by sheer idiocy driven by extreme short-sighted admiration of material goods than any other time in the Nuer history.
Subsequently, these behaviours contributed to detrimental demise of community’s good reputation, firm political stand and elders’ worth.
It’s true that the Nuer Elders gave up stature of being genuine state-men but instead took a high road of undisciplined crooks. Thus, I’m not sugar-coating. This assessment is universal among my peers.
The catch, I must admit no one like to venture into this guarded territory of questioning elders’ moral compass. It’s difficult to do under normal circumstances.
But time has matured to tell the obvious and remind the Nuer elders that with alarming speed they are proving worthless day by day. It’s also important that they need to be reminded considering their relentless desperate moves of auctioning the community’s good name without shame. In part, Uncle John Juan Dong’s article has helped intrepid my stand in this regard.
On August 31st, 2016, I came across Uncle Dong’ article and I read it with supreme interest and enthusiasm. The article by and large talked about the SPLM/A-IO’s Political Bureau (PB), specifically its role on Dr. Riek Machar’s widely discouraged return to Juba on April 26, 2016.
Mr. Dong’s blamed Nuer elders in the PB for the eventuality that ensued on July 8th, 2016, in Juba, precisely the assassination attempt on Dr. Machar’s life. An event, many well informed individuals called as a Gen. Taban Deng Gai’s violent brainchild of taking the SPLM/A in Opposition by force.
Sadly, Uncle Dong called Gen. Taban’s violent betrayal of Dr. Machar and the Movement as a noble rescue mission meant to somewhat salvage a long dead peace agreement.
In my honest view point, Uncle Dong’s comment is a clear watershed of the Nuer elders’ lackey character and confused moral compass in its extreme true form. Calling a violent move that killed or meant to take someone’s life for a position is tragic and stupid in more extreme measure considering his education and age.
In essence, this is one of the reasons why I refused to remain silent in the face of elders’ sheer foolishness. Because of that misplaced statement, I gathered my inner strengths and then wore my classroom hat to shed some lights on indisputable truths.
Uncle Dong himself is an educated and retired Nuer elder. For the most part, if age and education make anyone wiser or foolish or something, then, he is no exception.
However, Uncle Dong’s audacity in sharing discussions of the SPLM/A-IO’s inner circle in Pagak, South Sudan between November and December 2015 as the Movement prepares to send an “advance team” to Juba is appreciated and at least placed him a knot above his peers.
I’m aware that time has changed for better or worse, but let me assume that Uncle Dong’s narrative is truthful and correct. Following this line of thinking, I therein shared where I agreed and disagreed with him:
Where do I agree with Uncle Dong?
I agreed that if Dr. Riek’s security “convincing conditions” such as revocation of 28 States order, lifting of state of emergence and treason charges against him and IO top leadership, demilitarization of Juba and assigning cantonment areas of IO’s troops in Equatoria and Western Bhar El Ghazal were respected by the IO’s PB, the assassination attempt on Dr. Machar’s life would have been avoided.
I also concurred that a lot of lives lost on July 8th-11th, 2016 in Juba between the warring parties would have been completely averted.
On the contrary, if these courses of actions were taken, I’m for the opinion that it would mean another route of political trajectory with respect to the peace agreement, which could have benefited anti-peace agenda and the outcomes of such as moves would entirely be different by now.
Where Do I Disagree with Uncle Dong?
First and foremost, during war time, one is required to know his/her foe or friend well. This is where the narrative of a “decorated four-star general” came about. Uncle Dong appeared to have been troubled by this narrative, which I think is the problem.
In his article, he lamented that “there is no qualified and patriotic leadership of a movement that categorizes its citizens into grouping even though they belong to different parties just because to gain political position when the movement is seeking for unity and popularity.”
This line of thinking is wrong and in my opinion misplaced to say the least. I must stress that what is happening in South Sudan currently is a military confrontation not a political rhetoric where political discourses are discussed on the table.
Because of this, one needs to know a rival enemy thoroughly well. For example, when Gen. Taban and Amb. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth took over the SPLM/A-IO leadership in the Crown Hotel, Juba, both were fully convinced that Dr. Machar, the chairman of SPLM/A-IO was subdued completely and would end up dead.
In that regard, members of the SPLM/A-IO who remained in the Crown hotel with Taban and Lol were undoubtedly part of the conspiracy. So much so, those who congratulated Gen. Taban’s illegal move of becoming the South Sudan First Vice President were also part and parcel of scheme to kill Machar and other top leadership of the SPLM/A-IO.
No one can sugar-coat this unquestionable truth unless he/she is an accomplice. Without any doubts, Gen. Ruai Kuol Jal is qualified and justified in identifying Gen. Taban’s supporters because they are people’s enemies for lack of better word.
In any form or shape, this is not a tact of “fueling the political suffering of Dr. Riek and the people of South Sudan at large.”
To be brutally honest, war is imminent in South Sudan, Dr. Machar has been betrayed and suffered politically and so are the people of South Sudan as well. Dr. Machar was betrayed in all fronts by the educated Nuer elders especially the politicians.
As a result, Dr. Machar narrowly escaped a “death trap” planned and executed by an in-law (Gen. Taban). Painfully, this followed the narrative that almost all educated Nuer elders or politicians are “chasing a mirage” and Uncle Dong is also included.
Speaking of the people of South Sudan’s anguish, Salva Kiir and cronies are still perfecting their suffering as I write. For example, Kiir and his Dinka militias have killed 20,000 Nuer on the 15 of December 2013 firsthand and are currently in hot pursuit the killing of the Equatorians and Western Bhar El gazal folks in great numbers.
Therefore, I failed to understand the futuristic suffering that Uncle Dong is referring to in this regard rather than lack of political firmness among the Nuer elders.
I like to put God’s notion aside here. Truly speaking, Dr. Riek would have been dead by now had it not been for the disciplined young men, who fearlessly put their precious lives on the line. I must stress that this is not “political wavering, greed and envy” or personality attacks as Uncle Dong alleged. It’s life and death nostalgia.
Similarly, I strongly disagree with the notion that Gen. Taban’s surrender to Salva Kiir was intended to end the conflict and eventually would lead to the formation of South Sudan national army. In my honest view/opinion, this is a far-pitched and unconcealed lie.
The Nuer Elders and their newly found political prostitution.
Frankly speaking, Nuer elders used to be good judges with clear moral compass for the community well-being. They used to preach, preserve and protect society’s moral values and customs. However, for the past 30 years, this has not been the case for educated Nuer elders or politicians. The Nuer elders are misguided and have lost touch with reality on how the world works politically.
The Nuer elders developed bizarre lack of moral compass and this become more apparent in 2013 after 20,000 innocent Nuer civilians were massacred in Juba by Salva Kiir and cronies. Thousands of Nuer innocent civilians were targeted and murdered in mass numbers than at any other time in Sudan history.
Anyone identified as a Nuer person at the time was killed on sight and this went on for four days nonstop. There was no distinction between personalities; all Nuer were licensed to die on President Salva Kiir’s order.
Venerable population among the Nuer such as children, women and elderly suffered extreme cruel death as well. Similarly, Salva Kiir ordered government soldiers and militias to rape Nuer women and girls in lieu of their salaries in Unity State.
Sadly too, Kiir referred to all Nuer as dogs in a televised public rally. He (Kiir) stated, “Nuer are like dogs.” He lamented loosely that, “when a dog’s owner beats his/her dog, that dog would run away but before you know it, that dog would return crawling back to the owner as if nothing had happened and then look the owner in the eye,” seeking forgiveness and unfortunately this is proven by the Nuer elders.
Despite this hurtful statement, Salva Kiir was proven right by none other than the Nuer elders.
First, it was the Bul Nuer elders followed by other Nuer elders including Simon Kun Puoch, Marial Benjamin Bil. James Hoth Mai, Dr. Riek Gai Kok, James Kok Ruei, Thomas Duoth Guet and judge Gatwech Lul, just to mention only a few.
However, the Bul Nuer elders shamelessly mobilized Bul Militias population and joined ranks with Salva Kiir in a merciless killing of Nuer sons, daughters, wives, mothers and fathers in cold-blood, perfectly proving Salva Kiir’s dog analogy in a bizarre twist.
To prove their hopeless worth, the Bul militias were involved in gruesome killings and destruction against Nuer civilians in Unity State in tragic measures and sadly some Nuer elders cheered them on.
For example, Bul militias minced women and girls’ sexual organs after rape, castrated boys, burned the elderly alive, abducted girls and looted properties. Rightfully, it’s true that these acts are not only more than lack of moral compass but satanic in its extreme form.
Second, for a year and half after bloody December 2013, the rest of the Nuer elders held together with the victims to ensure community’s survival. But before long, in around August 2015, another group of Nuer elders broke ranks with others on the pretext that Dr. Machar, the leader of the SPLM/A-IO, was refusing to defeat Salva Kiir militarily.
The elders splintered purposely to form a new movement whose aim would be to remove President Salva Kiir by force. Such a new perceived movement never took off and its personalities’ relations never panned out.
Before long, there were humiliating bickering and disassociation among the breakaway elders and stooges saga took a center stage and some ended up surrendering to Salva Kiir, who called them “dogs.” Something wrong here, don’t you think?
The elders included Uncle Yoal Dok, Tot Chuol, Thoan Teng, and Uncle Mario Marie Dhuor and together with disgruntled military men disgracefully surrendered to Salva Kiir without any condition to cover their shame.
Miserably, they went back crawling like dogs mimicking Salva’s exact words. These elders went back crawling before the man who previously ordered the killing of their sons, wives and daughters after raping. What a shame!
Thus, it’s important to note that Uncle Dok, Uncle Dhuor and accomplices are educated Nuer elders and the top leadership of the Nuer Council of Elders, a copycat of notorious Jieng Council of Elders.
Other tiers of Nuer elders who splintered with them went to Khartoum, Sudan, on self-imposed exile. In comparison, they have done a noble thing as opposed to those who crawled back to Salva Kiir like dogs.
A good lesson in this development is that young emerging Nuer educated leaders, all generals in the fields and grassroots populace were not affected by the Nuer elders’ selfish and shameful surrender.
Thirdly, on July 22, 2016, Gen. Taban and other tiers of Nuer elders made another shameless surrender to the regime that raped and killed their relatives. This time, the move was carefully calculated and executed with deadly force and intensity.
Gen. Taban colluded with the regime and conspired to kill or capture the SPLM/A-IO top leadership. However, they failed to kill anyone from the IO’s top leadership but managed to kill patriotic and braved Generals in the line of duty.
Thus, I must stress that I have lost count of Nuer elders who did not abandon self worth and who instead embraced lack of moral compass, integrity and lackey character of low life ‘dogs,” as Salva Kiir stated. The good news is my peers still somewhat retain moral compass, which has gone wry among the Nuer elders.
In closing, lack of moral compass took a centre stage among the Nuer elders for the last 4 years (2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016) of conflict in South Sudan. It’s apparent the centuries held ‘wise elder” paradigm diminished overnight and replaced by childish behaviours characterized by puppet and stooge new norms.
Despite the stark evidence, I still wonder why educated Nuer elders lost their morality to a fascist regime whose supreme objective is only to promote Dinka-ism and culture over others – plus the fact that Nuer populace are living as refugees in their own country.
As I write, all institutions in South Sudan are headed by Dinka nationals, which showcased the sadistic reality of Dinka hegemony. Note, this is not a pre-empted statement and even a revered and celebrated scholar and veteran, Dr. Peter Adwok Nyaba wrote on this.
He stated that the nation’s “Presidency, National Security Service, Military Intelligence, Presidential Guards, Police, Prisons, Wildlife Forces, Civil Defence, the Foreign Affairs, the Judiciary and the Central Bank of South Sudan, all headed by Dinka nationals.”
Under this circumstance alone, I would confess before the Supreme Being, if rebellion or taking up arms against Salva Kiir is the most satanic act under the sun over other evils, it’s an excellent act and undertaking under the sun for all humanity to survive in South Sudan under one nation.
J. Nguen is the Chairman of the Nuer Supreme Council, political commentator and analyst. He can be reached at email@example.com.