What is 16th May in the history of South Sudan?

At Dawn around 6:00am then Sudanese local time I guess, a gunshot was heard at Malualchat garrison in Bor. It was a group of soldiers of 105 battalion that mutinied in Bor under the command of Kerubino Kuanyin Bol Deng and Bullen Alier Nhial Mangardit at second command. Kerubino Kuanyin Bol was wounded in the fight in the arm and Maker Jool Deng died in action.  This mutiny was followed by three garrisons of Pibor, Akobo and Pochalla.  The forces linked up in the bushes toward Ethiopian border and were later on joined by 104 battalion of Major William Nyuon Beny stationed in Ayod in June the same year. The defection of South Sudanese soldiers in the Sudanese army was a reflection of anger for dishonoring the 1972 Addis Ababa Peace Accord by the then President of minority regime in Khartoum Jaafar Mohammed Nimeiry who imposed Sharia law, divide and rule in the South where South Sudan was made to rule itself in regions as namely; Bhar El Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile in order to keep us busy with our identity as this and that region and of course the living example was Koro Koro (People of Bhar El Ghazal and Upper Nile were chased away from Equatoria to their respective regions)  in Juba here during the regional government in 1980s, rule us and take our resources easily and freely without hindrance from a few South Sudanese individuals who were conscious of the affairs in the South.

After 105 battalion being flashed out of Bor and liked up with their comrades in the garrisons of Pibor, Pochalla and Akobo were joined by Dr. John Garang de Mabior Atem who was sent by the regime in Khartoum to quell the brewing mutiny fled to Ethiopian border where those of Anya Nya two officers in the persons of Akuot Atem de Mayen, Gai Tut, Abdalla Chuol. Etc., who were either demobilized by the regime in Khartoum during the integration of Anya Nya 1 in the Sudanese Army Forces or dissatisfied with the way the regime in Khartoum is handling the 1972 Addis Ababa Peace Accord, deserted the Sudanese Army and Sudan Territory and camped at Ethiopian border towns of Buteng, Bilpam, Tharpam, Itang as well as bushes of Rant in Sudan where those of Pagan Amum Okech, Nyacigak Nyachuluk, etc were camping. Those dissatisfied South Sudanese officers and politicians who were dissatisfied  with status quo of the affairs in the country, ran to the border of Ethiopia and became  Anya Nya two were unable to mobilize human capital in the South and material support locally, regionally, and from international community to wage the war against minority regime in Khartoum but when the saw group of  Dr. John Garang, Kerubino Kuanyin, William Nyuon Beny, Salva Kiir Mayardit, Arok Thon Arok and you can add on the list. Those of Akuot Atem, Gai Tut and Abdalla Chuol became happy and began to name hierarchy of the movement to be (SPLA/M) beginning with themselves as Chairman being Akuot Atem de Mayen deputized by Gai Tut not knowing that their many years out of the country as Anya Nya two was not felt by the regime in Khartoum while a day or a few days out of Sudan of Dr. John Garang de Mabior and his group mounted pressure on the regime in Khartoum. Thanks God, the group of Dr. John Garang, Kuanyin Bol, William Nyuon Beny and Salva Kiir Mayardit who gained momentum during the period of 1972 peace Accord to 1983 mutiny in Bor by running underground movement in the country took over the leadership with the help of Ethiopian Government of Mengistu Haile Marriam. This was for sure the only way to the independent of South Sudan we are proud of today otherwise the mistake of 1972 Peace Accord would have been repeated by the power hungry Anya Nya two officers hence failing South Sudanese for second time in the quest for independent of South Sudan from oppressors in Khartoum.  

16th May 1983 acts as voice of the voiceless South Sudanese who have been under oppression for a long period of time in the hands of successive regime in Khartoum. The gunshot at Malualchat went viral and the masses of the South Sudanese in towns all over the country, at the countryside in cattle camps and villages came out in numbers heading to Bilpam in Ethiopia for military training.  Passing out of the battalions and divisions all throughout 1980s and SPLA/M successful offensive on the government army shaken the regime in Khartoum where we could recalled how many presidents in Sudan from Jaafar Mohammed Nimeri to Omar Ahmed Hassan Al Bashir vacated presidency that they could not withstand the mighty SPLA/M war. However, in 1990s, SPLA/M fell as if its fall over the tree, I may leave this narrative to history if at all there are and would be such brave historians to archive journey of the South Sudanese in the quest for their independent.

It was because of this day we are reluctant to come out in numbers and commemorate cheerfully with joy that my father held a family meeting around fire at night in 1987 that Garang Mabior wants children and I decided to send you to him to go and do what he wants you to do. So I trekked to Ethiopia at the age of nine years old. Together with other boys of my age, below and above my age stationed in Panyudo Refugee Camp as a standby force. This was the main and hidden agenda of the movement leadership for bringing and opening up camps for minors or red army while school was the surfaced agenda for them to succeed in mobilizing children from their parents all over the South, Jebel Nuba and Blue Nile.

We attended a military training in Panyudo and one of the singers brought forth a song which challenge the leadership and each and everyone in the SPLA/M that, “do we need  to wage a third war  against Arabs for the war of SPLA/M is the second to Anya Nya 1 failed war? The answer in the same song was no, we will achieve our independent with this war of SPLA/M which started on 16th May 1983 in Bor. If one think, think and think over and again, you can clearly see that mistakes noticed by keen and sharp individuals in Anya Nya 1 movement and momentum gained during the period 1972 to 1983 were the heavy weight hit on the enemy on 16th May 1983 that the regime could not maneuver to find a way out of a defeat. That is how important is 16th May my dear comrades and good citizens of the Republic of South Sudan.

As we commemorate 38th 16th May anniversary, this is the day where masses heard the gunshot in Bor all over the South, Jebel Nuba and Blue Nile, hurriedly rushed to listen to what inspired 105 battalion gunshot and its turn out to be a formation of a formidable mighty SPLA/M. we the living need to tell heroes and heroines that your decision and action culminated into independent of  South Sudan and that we challenge our commitment in elevating living condition of our masses who have been suffering before and during the period right from 16th May 1983 to 9th January 2005 in the hands of minority regime in Khartoum. That the injustice, inequality and unequal distribution of resources have no room in a virgin land and youngest nation in the world that we took arms to liberate, in which some had died of hunger, diseases, killed by wild animals besides the main death in combat with total lives claimed at 1.5 or rather 2 million lives lost to gain our sovereignty.

In commemorating 16th May during the twenty one years of the liberation struggle, the day at the dawn in the morning used to be received with gunshot in the liberated or SPLA/M administered areas to remind us of our journey of thousand miles that started with one mile in Bor on 16th May 1983. The people and ruling party SPLM needs to capitalize on its pillars of foundation. 16th May is one of them. So use this day to thank South Sudanese masses that came out in numbers to support the course of the struggle with their lives, those who contributed material support and those who support SPLA/M politically inside and outside Sudan. 16th May should have been a day where SPLM tells South Sudanese how SPLA attacks and captures towns from Arabs, how its ambush government forces that follow them in the bushes of South Sudan, Jebel Nuba and Blue Nile for those who were not in the movement and young generation to be knowledgeable about SPLA/M   successful pursuit of independent during the course of liberation struggle. SPLM as a ruling party needs to tell South Sudanese that we have done one, two, and three and we will do one, two, and three at every 16th May commemoration. Simple as such, South Sudanese will become hopeful that their party SPLM liberated them and has a plan on how to move them forward socially, economically and politically.

The writer was an infant insider of the SPLA/M

Reach at kuchadeng@gmail.com

Daniel Deng Kucha Deng Nhialwongjok

Cellphone: 0923199991

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