Having detested successive policies of marginalization exercised by minority clique regimes in Khartoum, Dr John Garang de Mabior, Kerubino Kuanynin Bol, William Nyuon Beny and Salva Kiir Mayardit abdicated their privileges as high-ranking officers in the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), and walked to the bush in 1983. That marked the birth of contemporary Sudanese revolution, which became known as Sudan People's Liberation Army and Sudan People Liberation Movement, SPLA/M, under leadership of Dr John Garang de Mabior. Despite difficult situations faced by the Movement during its 22-year-long armed struggle, John Garang de Mabior managed to successfully lead his forces, till he achieved Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with the Government of Sudan (GoS), in January 2005. A crowd of unknown figure, estimated as six million people thereafter, received Garang as a victorious freedom fighter, when he returned to Khartoum for inauguration as the First Vice President of the Republic of Sudan, and President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS).
Unfortunately, triumphant Garang passed away only three weeks, after assuming his duties in Sudan’s collegiate presidency in a mysterious helicopter crash. His death sparked wide range riots all over the country, leaving hundreds of people dead, and resulting in arrest of almost 4,000 people, mostly from South Sudan and other marginalized areas.
Honour to the Visionary Leader.
Post Garang’s death, many people around the world expressed their deep sorrow and sympathy for his untimely departure. That was equally true for those who opposed him and allied with the National Islamic Front (NIF) regime. They were quick to pay him homage as an inclusive political figure who brought us CPA- the first ever peace agreement that allows people of South Sudan to exercise right of self determination, as well as advocating for restoration of dignity to all marginalized masses in Sudan. The global philanthropists empathized and sympathised with marginalized people of the Sudan in mourning for the death of Dr John Garang as evident in condolence messages sent by prominent world leaders, such as President George W. Bush of USA, President Youri Museveni of Uganda, Mr Amer Mussa of the Arab League, Mr Koffi Anan of United Nations and, even the long term rivalry of Dr John Garang, President Omar Hassan Ahmed el Bashir of Sudan. All in all, there was an internationally shared sense of shock and despair, but one person among many stood out distinctively against the eulogy of Dr Garang. That individual is Mr Bona Malwal Madut Ring, the current advisor to the president of Sudan. Unlike millions of Sudanese and their friends who are mourning the death of Dr Garang, Bona Malwal Madut is joyfully beating his harps in melody, giving thanks and praises to his Nhialic (God) over tragic incident that took away the life of John Garang. Bona Malwal even made a trip to Juba, during Garang’s burial to make sure that he sees the sand thrown on his coffin. He then, indulged in a ruthless campaign to defame a man he failed to discredit while alive.
Insulting John Garang in His Grave.
As if death is not in itself painful enough, it is sad for others to disrespect the dead and continue to abuse dead people in their graves. It is hurting to all people who care about the deceased not to mention the very close relatives and friends.
To all the oppressed and marginalized people of Sudan for whom John Garang de Mabior sacrificed almost his entire lifetime fighting for their freedom, justice and equality, his sudden death in the helicopter crash was more than a simple tragedy. They felt enormously hurt, more than just a loss of a human life, because John Garang was their light and hope for a brighter future and they were and continue to be devastated by his tragic death. Unfortunately, amid this period of pain and grief, Bona Malwal continues to rub sharp knives on their wounded hearts by repeatedly insulting John Garang in his grave. To insult a living person with lies is annoying and to do so to any dead person, whether that person was a leader or not is vexing, beyond imagination. That is why most traditions and cultures Worldwide choose to respect the dead.
We expect behaviour of Bona Malwal towards a deceased to conform with common norms and values of Sudanese. For instance, it is an abomination for any one to appear gleeful over the death of a person. The dead is respected to the extent that all pre-existing bitterness ceases between adversaries, if one of them dies. In fact, others would even make a plea for a bitter enemy who is very ill not to die, so that their bitter rivalry is not curtailed by death. Yet, it is ironic that a lot of the lies being spat on John Garang’s grave are coming from an elderly Sudanese national who is supposed to rebuke youngsters, if they attempt to disrespect the dead.
Bona Malwal Is a Liar.
Our attention was first drawn to these insults, when we read the content of an interview that was conducted with Bona Malwal Madut, following his appointment as an adviser to President Omer el Bashir. That time he continued to propagate his persistent lie that his problem with the late, Dr John Garang was due to the concept of “New Sudan”. Then he made a disrespectful remark that he would have not joined the Government of National Unity (GNU), if John Garang were still alive. A lot of us who had continued to hold Bona Malwal in their hearts as a respectful elder could not believe what they read and wondered whether that was a slip of tongue, under pressure from a journalist. We will expand later below to indicate why we think the points he raised were pure lies.
Regretfully, Bona’s derogatory statements did not stop at the end of that interview. He continued to make more fabrications in London, during his meeting with number of selected audience that he addressed in Marriott Hotel in London on Sunday the 30th of October 2005. In that meeting, Bona is reported to have alleged that SPLM was given $490 million (Four hundred and ninety million US Dollars) around the time of the return of John Garang to Khartoum for inauguration as First Vice President of Sudan and President of South Sudan. Bona shamelessly implied that this money was given personally to John Garang by Omer el Bashir and also added that the sum was untraceable after demise of Garang. When one of the attendants questioned the validity of that allegation, Bona asserted that he was primarily told by President Omer el Bashir and confirmed to him by Vice President, Salva Kiir Mayardit. As part of our investigation, we delegated one of our journalists, Mr Giir Biar to find out the truth from President Salva Kiir, during his recent visit to the USA. An extract from that interview is quoted as follows:
Question: “...lately Mr. Bona Malwal in Oxford, stated that president Bashir told him that, there was some money given to Dr Garang and he claimed that money is not traceable. What do you know about that?”
President Salva answered, “I don’t have any knowledge about money that has been given away. So I was not present when Mr Bona Malwal was talking to President el Bashir. Anything that was discussed between the two I can not really come to answer about it nor was I well presented when the money was given to Dr Garang” end of the quote.
We also asked the same question to the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of the GoSS, Mr Arthur Akuien Chol who simultaneously dismissed the validity of such receipt of amount to have reached SPLM account. Unless Bona has concrete evidence to prove otherwise, we came to conclusion that he is just fabricating these lies to kill the living character of a dead hero, Dr John Garang de Mabior.
War with Militia.
Unfortunately, Mr Malwal’s spree of lies did not stop in what he mentioned above. He is reported to has gone ahead in the same meeting in London to reveal that John Garang had issued a four-month period as deadline to Paulino Matip and his militia group to either join SPLA or Sudan Army. Bona went on to emphasize that it was fortunate that a potentially disastrous military conflict that might have taken place between the SPLA and Matip’s militia was averted by his death (John Garang de Mabior). Here is what he said, “South Sudan was heading towards a disastrous civil war but thank God John Garang is dead.” To associate what one considers to be a good outcome of somebody’s death is in our opinion an expression of relief and satisfaction over that person’s death and it hurts us a lot to learn that anything good is reported as an advantage of the death of our leader Dr John Garang De Mabior.
At this juncture, let us specify why we think all statements alleged above are lies. Since it is impossible for the late Garang to come out of his grave to defend himself over these slanders, we have taken our own initiative to do so on his behalf in total respect to him in particular and to the dead in general. It is to be noted that we conducted extensive investigations with concerned parties, mainly the SPLM/A leadership as mentioned above to find out the truth. We will now refute Bona’s lies one by one.
A) The Concept of the New Sudan.
We believe that it is a pure lie for Bona Malwal to keep saying that his dispute with John Garang de Mabior was over the issue of New Sudan, as a concept of liberation. This is because of two reasons. First, Bona Malwal had been fighting side by side with John Garang, as a resource person to the SPLM/A for twelve years, during which he attended most talks between SPLM and Sudan Government. At no time during that long period did he openly voice his discontent about New Sudan. On the contrary, he was vigorously propagating New Sudan and defending SPLM/A in his UK based newsletter, the Sudan Democratic Gazette. He was always praising John Garang as a good leader and defending the concept of the New Sudan as proved in the following extract quoted from the book, “The Horn of Africa”, edited by Charles Gurdon, published (1994, p.96). The full quotation goes as:
“...John Garang’s call for "New Sudan" of equal opportunities and responsibilities for all its nationalities is, to many northern Sudanese, as bad as call by some southerners for separation. How can John Garang, a southerner, think that he and his kind can be equal with the Arabs? There are endless anecdotes that portray the deep racism that characterizes the northern view of the south, but deference to brevity, two will suffice. A typical Arab northerner Sudanese, who cannot bring himself to accept the frequently repeated slogan of SPLA that they want to liberate the whole country and create a New Sudan, once remarked angrily: " whom does John Garang want to liberate?" Another said, after the SPLA captured Kurmuk in Blue Nile province in December 1987 and was threatening to bring war deeper into the north: " How can John Garang, the naked Dinka from the cattle camp, think that he can rule Sudan?" The speaker was a primary schoolteacher who may be very well not have gone beyond primary education himself, for often primary school-leavers are trained to teach at the same level. John Garang is not only an accomplished military officer, who has earned his present rank of colonel while an officer in the Sudanese army, he is also an accomplished academic who holds a doctorate in economics. Some would say he is over-qualified for any job, but to this simple northern Sudanese he remains a southerner and thus a "naked Dinka".
As shown above, how can Bona convince us that he was not a part and a parcel of the concept of "New Sudan"? Even without concrete evidence in this extract, we doubt that a person of Malwal’s intellectual calibre would take such a very long time to process and object to a well-defined concept and objective of SPLM/A that he followed for twelve years! Furthermore, we know that Bona Malwal started whistle blowing, when late John Garang officially banned him from exploiting slave redemption program. We therefore, view Malwal’s discontent with the idea of New Sudan, as a counter reaction designed to mask the truth about his encroachment to slavery redemption program in Northern Bahr el Ghazal. We call it hiding or masking one’s anger for a different reason behind the curtain of New Sudan and singing a common song which most people who were discontented with SPLM/A for different reasons used to sing, a song called “I don’t like the concept of the New Sudan.”
Our charismatic leader, Dr John Garang de Mabior died after delivering us the CPA using the strategy of New Sudan, which embodies referendum. What better alternative than referendum can Bona Malwal offer to the people of Southern Sudan? And what is preventing him from doing so instead of continuing to criticise, criticise and criticise John Garang de Mabior who has paid the ultimate price of martyrdom.
B) Bona Malwal Conditioned His Appointment with the Death.
We also believe that it is a false imagination for Bona Malwal to assert that, if Garang were still alive he would have not had a chance to join the Government of National Unity, GNU. To the best of our knowledge John Garang had continued to involve Bona Malwal in major events, such as inviting him to attend the Peace Ceremony in Nairobi. Unless Bona had planned to decline any ministerial appointment offered to him, because of any grudges against John Garang, we feel that he was potentially one of those who would have been appointed, if Garang were still alive. Hypothetically, even if SPLM might not have nominated him for a ministerial or advisory post, South Sudan Democratic Forum (SSDF) to which he belongs could have offered him one of their shares in the Government as it did by granting him presidential advisory position to Omer el Bashir. Bona would have been in presidential palace with Garang, because there is no provision in the CPA or both constitutions, which specify that, “Bona Malwal is not allowed to join any Government in Sudan or South Sudan, as long as John Garang de Mabior is alive.”
C) War with Paulino Matip.
To say that, if John Garang had not died war would have erupted between SPLA and Paulino Matip’s militia is another big fat lie from Bona Malwal. The CPA is clear about the fact that other military forces are required to choose whether to join SPLA or Sudan Army, which is exactly what they’re doing now. We do not understand why the same militias would have refused to do the same as specified in the agreement if John Garang had not died to an extent that this would have led to another war in the South. Disarmament of militia is not a subjective initiative which could make Malwal to rejoice over the death of Dr Garang, rather it is a binding regulation stipulated in chapter five of the "Security Arrangements" ratified at Naivasha, Kenya on 25th September 2003. Article 7 "Status of Other Armed Groups" states at paragraph (a) that, "no armed grouped allied to either party shall be allowed to operate outside of the two forces", SPLA and the National Islamic Front Army. Again paragraph (b), under the same article states that those militia "who have the desire and quality shall be incorporated into the organized forces of either party (Army, Police, Prisons and Wildlife forces), while the rest shall be reintegrated into the civil service and civil society institutions". The rejection of Malwal to disarmament of militia conforms to the allegation circulated by one of the Southern Sudanese last month at the Sudanile electronic website that Malwal was an advisor for the destruction of the people of the south Sudan and in particular the CPA.
D) Alleged millions of Dollars.
The allegation that John Garang was given over four hundred million US Dollars by Omar el Bashir and that the whereabouts of that money is unknown is a pill that was too bitter for us to swallow and tolerate compared to the three mentioned above. Our primary intention in writing this paper is to reassure all our people that our leader John Garang de Mabior did not receive or embezzle such money. He has only been falsely smeared by whoever fabricated that lie in London.
We also launched an enquiry on this matter and failed to find any substance of truth about any money given by Bashir to Garang. Our investigation revealed that huge costs incurred during John Garang’s enthronement as first vice president of the Sudan and President of South Sudan were met by the friendly countries, namely USA and Norway. The four aeroplanes bearing white colour of peace that transported the SPLM Leadership and other national delegates to the ceremony were generously hired by Norway, while the expensive hotel accommodation of delegates was kindly funded by the United States of America.
Post CPA, the GoSS is entitled to obtain its funds of oil shares from the government of Sudan as per CPA stipulate, thus Bona might have interpreted that as a bribery to Dr Garang. Yet, we confirmed that only around $200 million (Two Hundred Million US Dollars), a small fraction of the oil share owed was actually paid to the GoSS in successive instalments after death of Dr John Garang. These instalments are also being remitted through official bank channels and would not have been handed to John Garang, if he were alive. As the same way this instalments are not paid to either SPLM or Salva Kiir Mayardit in person rather than GoSS. Thus, we are proud to prove that our leader died without having received personally any amount of money from Bashir. If John Garang were susceptible to bribery, he would not have continued to lead the struggle for the marginalized unpaid for 22 years in SPLM/A and also in Anyanya-1. If money too were his preference and not the liberation of his land and oppressed people, he would not have given up his prestigious high-ranking military position in SAF and his professorship status at University of Khartoum with all associated privileges and life style only to go and lead a guerrilla war without any payment. If luxurious life was his dream and not the freedom of his marginalized and oppressed people, why would he, and others e.g. Salva Kiir Mayardit spent most of their lifetime in the bush and not in Oxford nor in the “Amarat” of Khartoum?
Although we are convinced that no $490 million was offered to SPLM as alleged we would like to give anyone else, including Bona Malwal himself a benefit of the doubt to provide indisputable evidence to back up this verbal allegation. We condemn all people who are engaged in the dirty game of disrespecting or insulting the deceased with lies in their graves and demand this practice must stop. Let it be known to every one that we are prepared to defend our departed leader against those who bombard him with lies. We urge everyone to leave the souls of Dr Garang and his fallen comrades to rest in peace.
We the signatories of this paper and other supporters, who are deeply affected like us by persistent defamation of our martyrs, call upon Mr Bona Malwal to refrain from making further degrading remarks on our lost heroes. We would have made the same request to our departed leader Dr John Garang, if he were the one alive and continued to insult Bona Malwal in his grave although we fully believe that our leader, Dr John Garang would have never uttered a disrespectful statement against any dead person given his steadfast record.
We strongly believe that it is better for people who are alive and overcritical like Bona Malwal to implement what they think is the best way forward other than the gift of referendum that our martyrs delivered by sacrificing their lives, instead of only criticising endlessly. The least we can do to all the millions of our people who sacrificed their lives for us and our land is to remember them positively and let their souls rest in eternal peace irrespective of whatever views we held in our hearts individually against some of them when they were alive. Bona Malwal must not continue to ignore our call; otherwise we will be obliged to unearth his recent ignominious financial deals in Khartoum.
Signed on behalf of affected members of the SPLM
1. Mr. Kuel Maluil Jok, Helsinki, Finland.
2. Dr. Achier Deng Akol, London, United Kingdom.
3. Mr. Sabrino Majok Majok, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
4. Dr. Mawein Akot, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
5. Mr. Kwai Malak Kwai, New Haven, CT, USA.
6. Mr.Martin Mapour John Majak, Jonkoping, Sweden.
7. Mr. Darious Garang Wol Mabior, Sydney, Australia.
8. Mr. Akok Manyuot Madut, Missouri, United States of America.
9. Mr. James Kur Muorwel, Eskilstuna, Sweden
10. Mr. Martin Mou Mou Athian, Tronhiem, Norway
11. Mr. Daniel Deng Lwal (Deng Falasha), Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
12. Mr. Acuoth Makuac Riak, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada