The August 28th, 1991 brought us independence!

BY: Simon M. Deng, JUBA, South Sudan, AUG/29/2013, SSN;

Exactly 22 years today, Nasir residents of Upper Nile State in South Sudan experienced this August 28th with mixed feelings. Civilians did not know what the split would bring to them. The town was buddy with rains that crowded roads with dulled water and mixed muds which lasted for days. UN agencies stopped dropping rations due to heavy rains. There was no enough food because most people did not harvest that year since they just returned from refugee camps in Ethiopia after the change of Ethiopia regime. The magnitude of the event itself was overwhelming in the town.

Though no cellphones and Internet for anyone in the town and the surroundings to inform relatives and friends about the episode, everyone appeared to have a way to convey the message across the controlled areas.

I just arrived few weeks before Nasir went through this change. The rebel movement that we knew, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), had split into two factions, the Nasir faction and Torit faction. The message that came from Keat Beek, the headquarters of the Nasir faction to town and other areas varied.

Everyone did not know what the change in the movement meant. There were fears of a war in town between rebel factions. Tensions were high and no one knew where else to go if war really broke out. But leadership in Keat Beek said no wars in town and people should mind their business which was great news, but it was unpredictable.

It is important to note the movement 22 years ago split because of differing principles and not on a tribal context. The Nasir faction supported self-determination for the people of the South Sudan. The self-determination included democracy and provisions for human rights.

The Torit faction, on the other hand, supported a unified, secular, democratic Sudan and wanted to end discrimination of its citizens based on religion or other natures.

Dr. Riek Machar Teny, Dr. Lam Akol, and Commander Gordon Koang Chuol led the Nasir faction while Dr. John Garang de Mabior and other comrades, including the present-day South Sudanese’s President, Lieutenant General Kiir Mayardit, remained in the Torit faction. The split had caused significant confusion and panic and galvanized civilians and soldiers on tribal bases, which was were not the intentions of the leaders as I stated above.

The right of self-determination for people of the South Sudan had brought Independent South Sudan on July 9, 2011 even though it did not come without a prize. The movement still has uncompleted works in order for the people of South Sudan to safeguard their long waiting freedom and development if we are going to have a “Democratic South Sudan.” This is if.

Some of these challenges are confirmed and enumerated by Dr. Riek Machar as six key contests during a meeting with members of the politburo on 5 March, 2013. These comprised of “rampant corruption, tribalism, economic problems, insecurity, poor international relations and the party’s loss of vision and direction,” (

Few months after the Split, I left Nasir to another nearby village and talked to an old man about the situation in Nasir since the split in the rebel movement. The old man explained that a Nuer prophet, Ngudeng Bong, had predicted many decades ago that this division would occur and that people of [South Sudan] would have their own government.

The old man continued and said the “prophet mentioned in his message that Dr. Riek Machar Teny would operate a nation under a tree and would be heard around the world.”

The prophet stated that Dr. Riek Machar Teny would hold up the flag of the South Sudan in front of the nations of the world, and I believe this indeed came true in 2011 when South Sudan President, Lieutenant General Salva Kiir Mayardit delegated Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny to present South Sudan as a new nation at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York.

What’s interesting enough is that the old man did not mention anything about South Sudan after the independence. The Nuer prophet, Ngudeng, probably did not prophesize whether South Sudan would be a democratic nation which respects democratic principles such as freedom of speech and human rights, as well as a prosperous nascent, or an autocratic nation, which is ruled by dictators under hostile laws that do not respect un-yes men opinions.

Good example is the selection of the current South Sudan Vice President, Mr. Wani Igga, a follower friend with less to offer effective leader. President Kirr wants another follower friend as a new speaker of the parliament which has failed to enact any significant laws to govern the country since 2005 under the former speaker.

According to Richard K. Mulla, an MP representing Mundri West county in Western Equatoria State, “the violation of the conduct of business, saying he suspected the executive leadership of interfering in the affairs of the assembly with the aim to impose a hand-picked speaker,” “A hand-picked speaker”!

Good leader does not intermediate his people but encourages them to follow his vision. It is important for South Sudan to have a visionary leader, otherwise, it would always be painful to live and remember South Sudan’s pasts when leaders are guided with emotions and tribal politics.

“The president came in with a bad mood and introduced to us Cde James Wani Igga for his nomination as the new Vice President. Then he started to threaten us with dissolutions and dismissals. After he finished with his threats nobody spoke and the meeting ended like that. We will now sit today as parliament to see what to do”

It is a shame for trusted MPs to fall short of their responsibility without showing leadership. Daniel Awet, the deputy speaker of the National Legislative Assembly, backed Kiir’s actions in an exclusive interview with Sudan Tribune on Tuesday. This is worse than enough for someone in this position to fail miserably just to score some tribal political points.

In conclusion, August 28th, 1991 is a day in South Sudanese history that would not be avoided since number one of the overarching goals is South Sudan Self-Determination which brought us South Sudan in July 9, 2011.

The principles for democracy, human right issues, fair government that treats citizens equal despites their tribal or religious contexts are daunting works for self-determinate South Sudanese to ensure the event August 28th 1991 did not happen in vain.

Simon M. Deng lives in Juba South Sudan. He can be reached:


  1. upiu says:

    Sorry Simon but you failed to explain how Aug 28th, 1991 brought about South Sudan independence. It’s hallmark, as known by most South Sudanese as far as history goes, are the massacres and the eventual apology from the ‘cleansed leader’ you are trying to make a case for.
    Nice try though, but South Sudanese are not that stupid.

    • andrew poth says:

      i think your claims to the article clearly explains that you are anti-Nuer and by way no -one has committed massacres. let me tell you, the Nasir faction did have clear vision for south Sudan that’s why Dr machar came up with self-determination. It wasn’t john Garang’s ideas, he inherited from machar because he realised he was failing in the struggle for the country.
      shut up and move on otherwise.

      • bolabokdit says:

        Mr. Andrew Poth
        there is no way you can drag the discussion into a way you can not win it. This is a very thin argument that doesn’t hold any truth.
        there are two things that will go down in the history of South Sudan which destroyed Riak machar credibility. One is his move to defect from movement and his fighting along side Omar El Bashir forces. Secondly, massacre of Bor population. remember every single conflict we see today especially in Upper nile is bred by Riak Machar because he trained civilians against civilians.
        You said self-determination was Riak’s idea with his faction, but why he begged it from Khartoum government? did Khartoum accept Riak’s ideas and separate the South Sudan? if not why asking Omar Bashir?
        Dr. Garang believed South belonged to Southerners and it looks foolish to ask something that belonged to you.

  2. Mankien town says:

    Daniel awet akot is just a tribal deputy speaker not national, but they wrongly using the parliament building to falsify the nation, like they act as leaders instead calling him Dinka speaker, because in pact he does not know his principal as a speaker of the people.
    for instance the president told mps not to talk or ask questions, what this real?

  3. Dear Simon,
    You’ve remembered and written very awakening or historic article about the August 28th, 1991 National which I call a Salvation for South Sudanese. The day is every year been celebrated together with Martin Luther King “I have a Dream” Speech which was also celebrated yesterday Wednesday, August 28th, 2013.
    I personally wanted to write similar article but I by chance found myself engaged somewhere else. So all in all you made it and this day should be celebrated yearly in South Sudan.

  4. Dr Makoi Welken says:

    This is an important article but I think it needs improvement and substantiation. The author has made clear his opinions which can be regarded as bones that need some meat on them. President Salva Kiir, at his first chance as chairman of the SPLM appointed Dr Riek Machar and Dr Lam Akol in the next most important positions below his position in government. They also had a grip on the affairs of the SPLM party, through themselves and also through their close associates, particularly in the first half of the Interim Period.
    Naturally, people do these kinds of things to recognize contributions made during the liberation struggle. If it is true those practices on the side of the President were a result of an evaluation of Dr Riek and Dr Lam, such evaluation would be incomplete without the consideration of the events of August 28, 1991. One would conclude that such evaluation was very positive indeed.

  5. These 2 doctors are really professionals, they have properly studied the ideology of united Sudan that was imposed by john Garang which could not give headway. the dream of Dr. Riek machar is to see south Sudan as a prosperous and democratic society where every body will have to express his/her thoughts without intimidation, and this dream will be achieved sooner or later when south Sudanese will realize who will bring true democracy in our nation.
    Riek machar is a master of SS self determination that resulted into the sovereignty of this country we are enjoying today, and his plan became blueprint for CPA but due to submissiveness and greed nobody recognizes what he did in the past, than remembering that 1991.
    the split was ideological background of the movement when Garang was talking of unity and Riek and lam Akol were talking of free independent SS. but in any situation where there is confusion, no one cares about the future, ss future is always declining due to lack of directions. one day this confusion will come to an end and new chapter will be opened one and for all. SS shall live to see the independent dividend where democracy will be a choice for free nation than totalitarianism, authoritarianism and many ill practices.

  6. bolabokdit says:

    Mr. Simon
    Without exaggeration and hatred or tribalism, Riak Machar and its Nuer Faction are known as people who stab SPLA main stream movement at the back during the course of struggle. According to Riak Machar calculation he thought it would be easy if he appeases Omar Hassan El Bashir by fighting alongside his forces then he (RIak) will be nominated as president of South Sudan without Garang. However, Arabs know very well that they have to use cowards to deter Garang but not to engage with them in anything real. Riak failed miserably in Khartuom agreement he sign with Omar and he came back convinced that SPLA/M vision is the key.
    All Riak activities from Nasir to Bor to Juba then back toKhartuom and to Marial Bai are documented and they are in majority people’s hands. I myself can vote for Riak if he shows sign of working for the common interest, but now what I see are the same symptoms of looking to be a president and that is all whatsoever. No matter people are in the hell or paradise Riak insist to be president. I still like him as a brother and Comrade if he reconsidered his deed. Riak should prove to the people what happened in 1991 was a mistake rather than being celebrated.

  7. Aloe says:

    Dangerous mythology from a well-fed, well-oiled propaganda machine that has been capitalizing on the blood of the people for too long. The assumption is that the amputated geographical zone called South Sudan is synonymous with Liberation and Independence for the people. It isn’t.

    For the people, the amputation has just meant a smaller cell to be abused by a new old guard. This is the kind of superficial analysis and black/white thinking expected of minds with a killer mentality. They don’t go too deep. The split in 1991 prolonged the agony of the people just like this newest split will. History will judge the backstabbers poorly. They are two faced. One face with Kiir when it suits them, one face against him when it suits them. One face with Bashir when it suits them, one face against him when it suits them. Real duplicity. We don’t want Kiir, Riak or Akol and all their baggage. They do nothing but eat and load us down and then spin-doctor the truth.

  8. malith Alier says:

    Some Nuers if not all are duped by fragile Ngundeng prophecies. They also exhibit bad tendencies of cut-out and cut-in, something still evident today. They continue to exhibit defiance and justify failures at every turn.

    • Malith Alier:

      The prophecies of the Prophet Ngundeng are not fragile, however they are totally misunderstood by the Nuer people. In fact, they never respected and listened to the Prophet Ngundeng until he cursed them and died. Now they realized that Ngundeng was indeed a prophet, therefore they began to fear him and respect him in his death. The prophet Ngundeng had never said that Riek Machar would be a president of South Sudan. However the Nuer people had never comprehended the teaching of Ngundeng and that is why they are imposing Riek’s leadership on the people of South Sudan.

      “The truth must be told even it hurts”
      Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang!

  9. Dau-network says:

    Simon M Deng.
    Your article is useless by some points including celebration of 91 faction. brother, Dr Riek and Dr Lam moment passed away in Khartoum and cremated by Dr Riek 2002 statement that SPLM is a key of liberation.
    Who is the winner between a guy who crossed a racing line and those who started running first but failed to reached the line.
    Not a matter who called independence of South Sudan otherwise we would have got our independence in 1947 when Joseph Okello Garang then leader of southern section called for our independent which didn’t happened without separate army to defend it.
    Anya-Anya 1 and 2 of Akuot Atem Mayen and his deputy Gai Tut were for independence of South Sudan but did they crossed a line. Saying an ideas doesn’t achieve without plan B example help from Nuba, Darfur and others marginalised areas.

  10. Leader says:

    Simon M. Deng,
    Please polish your English so that your message is understood very clearly. I know this is a general problem with most semi-literate supporters of Riek Machar.
    As for your August 28th 1991 Nasir Coup. Please tell us how it brought about the independence of S. Sudan.
    Self-determination did not come because someone talked, talked and talked about it and later went to Khartoum to collaborate with the enemy in order to exterminate the free fighters in the bush.
    Riek went to Khartoum, signed an agreement which lacks safeguards with the regime and later ran back to join Garang’s vision which brought the independence.
    Self-determination is not a creation of Riek Machar and the Nasir faction. It is a principle in International law that was known to everybody in the Movement including Garang.

    • Leader:

      Will the Followers/supporters of Riek Machar understand your political point of view or explanations? They thought Riek went to Khartoum to bring Ngundeng’s Dang and self determination for the people of South Sudan. I really find it harder to debate or reason with my Nuer Cousins. Reasoning with them is just like shouting loudly on the top of the mountain in the wilderness. They will never hear or understand your point of argument and they keep repeating themselves from time to time like deaf or lunatic. Now I understood why the prophet Ngundeng cursed them.

      “The truth must be told even if it hurts”
      Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang!

    • GatCharwearbol says:


      You and your partner, Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang discredited Dr. Machar in every opportunity you get. Why is it hard for you to understand that sometime the best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend? The sole objective of Nasir faction was indeed to re-direct your Uncle, Garang from his unachievable vision of Secular United Sudan. Of course, this vision of his got lost in the shuffle. He came back to the vision that many South Sudanese have been longing for – self determination. Remember, your first bulletin was shot to the separatists. Who are these separatists? These are the South Sudanese who want to have their own nation.

      I know, I know——— you will now flatter yourself that Dr. John Garang said this “If you want to be second citizens in your own country, then vote for unity”. Dr. Garang said this after he had seen the reality glittering in his face that the only way out was the idea of the separatists that he didn’t want to heed to long time ago. Now, what do you have to say for yourself? Please hang your head in shame.

      This is what the Nasir faction brought about the independence. It made Dr. John Garang abandon his Secular United Sudan vision and its re-direct his thinking to seeking self – determination rather than the Whole United Sudan. What part of this don’t you understand?

      Please stop licking Kiir Mayardit’s feet. He is driving our nation into abyss and you are ok with that. Don’t you have any sense of detecting the right and wrong?

      As a personal advice to you, please find something better to do because your brain does not line up with reality and you do not seem to read things between the lines. Any logical person won’t fail to comprehend why the Nasir faction brought about the independence of South Sudan Republic.

      • Gatcharwearbol:

        Dear Cousin and SSN Friend:

        We have been debating this issue of self determination for almost a year now and none of us is unable to persuade the other. However, I would like to leave you with the two examples that late Dr. John Garang gave to the SPLA soldiers who questioned him about the idea for the liberation of the secular united Sudan. The examples or answers which late Dr.John Garang gave to the soldiers in 1980’s were as follows:

        1. Dr. John Garang advised and encouraged those SPLA soldiers who did not want to fight for the secular United Sudan to keep fighting until they liberate all the entire South Sudan and then stop at the border between South and North Sudan. He promised to leave those soldiers alone at the border and he would continue to fight Northward for and with those who are marginalized in North Sudan. Late Dr. John Garang asked the soldiers if they have had completed the liberation of South Sudan? If not, then Why are you worried about the liberation of the Secular United Sudan while the South is still under the occupation of the Arabs?

        2. Dr. John Garang told the Dinka and South Sudanese freedom fighters that they have to aim and demand higher should they wish to achieve something lower than what they are highly aiming or demanding from the Arabs. He explained that if you find somebody carrying a big and small fish and you want to beg for one of those fishes. You should not ask for the smaller fish otherwise unless you would get nothing at all. You must ask for the Bigger fish in order to secure the allotment of the smaller fish. According to late Dr.John Garang he asked for the bigger fish in order to get the smaller fish. In the simple team, the Bigger fish is the liberation of the Secular United Sudan and the smaller fish is the self determination for the people of South Sudan. This of Course was pelpel (Smartness of) Jieng and I never expected you, Riek Machar and the likes to comprehend this simple political tactic and manoeuvring. The smart man, late Dr.John Garang invented this idea as he and General Joseph Lagu had failed to achieve the self determination in the previous civil war.

        How did Riek Machar achieve the self determination for the people of South Sudan? Why did he massacre the unarmed civilians in Bor if he was really asking for self determination? Why did he return to Kiir and late Dr.John Garang if his (Riek)’s way of asking for self determination was right? Cousin, We look alike and our lifestyles and culture/tradition are almost the same, however our political thinking and pelpel (smartness) are totally different.

        “The truth must be told even if it hurts”
        Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang!

        • Aloe says:

          I have concluded that Riak is a spin-doctor with a PhD in revising facts from the University of Scrubbing Reality. He chose that degree because it is best suited to his nature. No amount of debate and logic will alter the way he spins. He is not physically wired for reality – never has been, never will be- and he has started a program of honorary degrees in spin-doctoring that he hands out liberally to his disciples, themselves in desperate conditions, and hoping for respite.
          There is a whole army of youth who are graduates from this university. It’s necessary to keep confronting them with reality, but at the same time quite hopeless. Desperate as they are, they want short-cuts even if it means embarrassing themselves by admitting that their king settled for a partial home while Garang demanded rights to his FULL home. Garang’s history didn’t start in 1983. He was out to redress the confiscation of his land and the disenfranchisement of his people in TOTAL. Mediocrity had other ideas.


        • Domain says:

          Good article cuz

  11. William Deng says:

    Simon M. Deng,

    Thanks for pointing out the cause of the split in 1991. It is true some people deny the call for self-determination for people of the South Sudan on Aug 28, 1991 brought us the “Independent South Sudan.” It is theoretically evidential to note cookers and eaters differ on the same food table of who might be credited for bringing the food. However, people with commonsense understand the truth.

    If no one talked about the goal, if no one sacrificed and signed an example paper (call it KPA), if no one committed for the implementation of the signed document, how would January and July 2011 really have occurred? Dr. John Garang and those that knew facts cannot afford to deny the wisdom and commitment of Dr. Riek Machar and his contributions but the born tribalists would never agree with you or anyone else for anything contradictory to their tribal interest.

    For Mr. Leader, this article is an educational and you should not have any problem understanding it if you were able to uncover your tribal lenses. Simon was fair and eventually numbered significant events that happened during that time. You can also remain logical but critique with facts not liaise tribal politics.


  12. John Gatwich says:

    Sorry once again. I thought you should be reasonable. Dr Garang vision of united sudan was a goal aimed higher so should he fail reaching the sun he will land in the moon. can you understand this great vision? he stated it again and I quote, “I and those who fought for the last twenty one years have brought you CPA in a golden plate. it your choice during a referendum to either vote for a second class citizens or be free, it absolutely your choice.”
    all this were an encouragement to all south sudanese to vote for freedom which they did, not from visionless and power hunger leaders like Drs of Nasir faction which brought suffering to all south Sudanese.

  13. Lare Justice says:

    @Upiu, Lukudu Garang, Leader and fakes alike, why you keep asking the same stupid question? the so called John Garang was fighting for stupid Ideology of United Sudan and Dr. Machar Teny had clear Vision for South Sudan which is the Self-determination. What a bunch of coward crooks, confused people.

    • Lare Justice::

      Dinka and some South Sudanese patriots had relentlessly fought for the liberation of South Sudan while the majority of Nuer allied themselves with the enemy(Jalaba) to deny the self determination for South Sudan. Now that the peace, leadership and food has come to South Sudan, All the Nuer traitors have returned from Khartoum and are now beating the drums of war to liberate food and presidency from those who sacrificed their lives and limbs for it.

      Cowards, Start the war for the liberation of food and you would be defeated and expelled from South Sudan just like Huto tribe of Rwanda. Where were you when the real nationalists were fighting for the liberation of South Sudan? Did your allies (Jalaba/Arabs) give you the self determination? Shame on you food lovers and traitors!

      “The truth must be told even if it hurts”
      Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang!

      • GatCharwearbol says:

        Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang:

        Wait a minute! When did you become a separatist? When did you fight for self-determination? Remember, you are the ones who deny us the self-determination. You shot your first bullet at us not to Jallaba. How did it feel when the guns were turned at you? Everybody knows you were fighting for Secular United Sudan and not self-determination that you are trying to rob us out off. Is it because Self-determination brought food to you that you want to make it your achievement? What a shame!!

        What happens to your Secular United Sudan? Did you achieved it? Please stop running around like a chicken with its head cut off snatching other people’s achievement and turn it to be yours. Don’t you feel ashamed? Go away and lick Kiir Mayardit’s feet; he needs someone to make them clean and your resume’ match well with the Job.

  14. Dau-network says:

    Nuer people tried very hard to be part of the history of south Sudan but not at all, the majority of them were supported Dr Hitler and killed members from all 64 tribes of South Sudan which makes nuer to be the less tribe in history while were number 2 1983
    People can make forgiveness but history can not .

  15. Lare Justice says:

    Lukudu Gatkuoth Garang,
    You said the slaves Dinka where the one that fought the war? What a bounch of lies. Your coward blind Dinka Salva kiir just messes up everything, and you just wait and see what is going to happen to your tiny ugly Bahr El Ghazel before the upcoming 2015. My fake cousin “Gatkuoth Dead Garang.” FYI, the Nuer-Naath went from their Homeland of Unity State all the way to Gambella, Ethiopia back in the 18 & 19 century by killing all the coward Dinkas on their way. Since they Mighty Ney ti Naath did it to you Dinka before, they’ll definitely do it again before your coward eyes.

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