By Dengdit Ayok, South Sudan, APR/28/2015, SSN;
Malakal, that town which had fallen on the bosom of river Nile as if she was thirsty and wanted to keep herself, drinking from its pouring mighty stream and in fact she is, was and still is one of the most beautiful towns in the country.
It is a glorious and glamorous town that had seen calmer days and much relative peace and stability during the wartime, which was considered to be the longest war of this continent — than post war time.
It was an umbrella sheltering her sons and daughters under her leafy shadows as a hen hides her chicks under her wings, where there is safety and sense of tenderness and passion.
The town had been visited by evil and frivolous hands after the guns went silent and the emergence of peace in 2005. It was during this time that the ruling Ingaz regime (meaning salvation) in Sudan, and which did not save a single soul, used Gabriel Tanginya (a warlord) to spread death and corruption, resulting into the killing of innocent people in Malakal in 2006.
Sadly, the same warlord repeated the same tragedy in the same town in 2009.
I had wished to visit Malakal in peacetime; nevertheless, I could not make it, except in wartime, a few days after the eruption of war in Juba in December 2013. She had appeared attractive and charming to me from the air, but I found her utterly destroyed after the aircraft landed.
The airport was in good condition, but the neighborhoods and shops and marketplaces were an exposure of a massive destruction.
Her children who survived death in the crossfire painstakingly made it to the UN headquarters, some had fallen. Their bodies were horribly inflated in a scene that makes the heart shed tears before the eyes.
Vultures fed on bodies of the poor people that were redeemed by the blood of the martyrs who had sacrificed their lives for them in the liberation war in order for them to live!
Birds of prey from the sky gathered to feed on the corpses of our beloved people who should have lived in peace!
In the army barracks, I held my breath in an attempt to avoid inhalation of the air which was overshadowed by the bad smell of the rotten corpses of the soldiers who were said to have been engaged in sporadic shooting, but I almost lost breathing.
I took pictures of those dead soldiers. A Kenyan journalist working for the Associated Press captured a very horrible picture that was widely circulated on social media. Here is the picture in words:
“A soldier in full uniform, fallen on his back, with his face towards the sky, a raven flying over him, and an eagle devouring his carcass. He was lying down near an old bulldozer, in the barracks”.
On our way back to the airport, the UN team was digging mass graves for the dead people whose bodies have filled the town and the river. Woe to warmongers and warlords!
The town later witnessed attacks and battles of hit and run between the government troops and rebel forces; death toll grew higher among our people in Malakal. The town was devastated and broken into pieces, due to the repeated battles over its control by the government troops and the insurgents.
In the middle of last week, when fighting intensified between the soldiers under the command of Gen. Johnson Olony and the bodyguards of Mr. Governor Simon Kun Pouch, according to reports, I knew that citizens who have returned to Malakal in the recent times were the victims of that senseless fighting.
All those battles have turned that beautiful town, lying on the bank of the river Nile, to nothing.
I wondered: Has the warlords finally designed the fate of Malakal to death and destruction? If so, as it is the case now, how long will it go on? Why the war seems to have refused to abandon it since those chaotic days of Tanginya? Why should the civil population be subjected to such a disaster?
This must stop, and the perpetrators must one day face the court of justice, not under this government, but another government.
The magnitude of desolation and killing that Malakal town had witnessed is higher than the rest of the towns in Upper Nile region – it is a double destruction. If the ongoing destruction and killing in the region was to be distributed in portions, then Malakal shall undoubtedly have the greatest portion.
Woe to killers and devastators! The stage that the ruin has reached in Malakal is like that of Jerusalem, the capital city of the Jews in the ancient times.
I am weeping for that town which became a mass grave for her sons and daughters, when it was their beautiful town and their home, in which they lived and had their dreams.
It is so sad that their lives ended in that horrific manner, which is not acceptable to the heaven before the earth.
When Peter the apostle of Jesus Christ drew his sword from its sheath and cut off the ear of the High Priest’s servant during the arrest of Christ in the orchard, Christ said to him: “Those who kill by the sword, will also perish by the sword,” and so, was it the case for those who brandished their weapons in the face of Malakal.
People do not deserve killing and death, but life, peace and dignity.
I was very much affected by what happened in Malakal last mid-week. The impact of that damned war on me was a serious psychological blow on my mind.
Nonetheless, no matter how long this night may take, the daybreak will surely come. And I have expressed this faith and hope in a poem I called, “A Hopeful Cry for “Land of Great Abundance”.
Here are its words:
Oh, my land,
I cry for you…
Thy sons whose hearts
Hatred has settled,
are devastating you day and night…
They have forgotten you;
they have forsaken you and your welfare…
Shelling, bombing of towns;
has become a daily culture…
Malakal is burning,
Hands of treachery are still causing
More disruption and division
among our communities..
Your sons have fallen all over,
They have fallen for no right!
Died for no cause!
Thou shall not be at ease,
and taste peace and tranquility
except when the hands of treachery are gone,
The sun of eternal peace shall then rise all over you,
then the desolated towns shall become houses of smile,
then shall we see you beautiful,
and glamorous in giggling of children;
in the joyful ululations of our mothers,
and in songs of our shepherds…
Then the sun of hope will rise again,
We make our way forward,
Strong and united,
Build the homeland of our
pride and the land of our ancestors;
live in harmony,
Sleep with our eyelids fully closed…
Mr. Ayok is a journalist and political commentator. He is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org