Tribute on the First Anniversary of Late Professor Wani Tombe Lako

Quote: If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government.” Robert M. Pirsig.

By Justin Tombe Demetry, June 30, 2016

 Late Professor Wani Tombe Lako(Photo credits: supplied)

Late Professor Wani Tombe Lako(Photo credits: supplied)

June 30, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —— The month of June 2016 marks the first anniversary of Professor Wani Tombe Lako Lokitari who died mysteriously in Addis Ababa during the negotiations that culminated to the South Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement of August 2015. That month of June 2015 brought about a sense of a dark cloud which hovered over by the shocking news of his death, which came to be revealed through an autopsy that, he might have died in late May 2015.

A person that departs from this earth never truly leaves, for they are still alive in our hearts and minds; and through us, they live on. Therefore, even though we are faced with the nature’s reality that ‘Life Goes On,’ writing the tribute of late Prof. Wani tombe Lako still gives me a bad reminiscent of the painful news of his death a year ago. May he Rest in Peace.

The clumsy autopsy conducted due to the circumstances beyond control have made the doctors in Ethiopia to conclude that, he had died of heart attack; however, believe by some of the family members and the general public is that, his death is still a mystery; and we all hope to get answers one day as to what exactly contributed to the death of such a great man.

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Regardless of any convincing or unconvincing answers, we all know that he is with the lord; as such, it is therefore a duration that is worth a reflection on the life and sacrifice of such a great revolutionary figure of our time. The following is the link regarding the sad information of his passing away: https://www.nyamile.com/2015/06/03/the-office-of-grecor-is-deeply-shocked-by-the-mysterious-death-of-its-leader-professor-wani-tombe-lako-lokitari/

Despite the fact that the academic path took Prof. Wani Tombe to the United Kingdom to pursue further studies which landed him positions in the higher institutions in the UK; his unwavering love for the mother land made him to take a bold decision to go back so as to help contribute to the future of South Sudan, and that was after been away for a little over a decade and half.

It later came out that, it was not the first time for Prof. Wani Tombe to have made such a decision of going back to the ancestral land. When the ruthless regime in Khartoum started to massacre the South Sudanese in Juba during the Anyanya-One revolution of 1955 – 1972, in an attempt to get rid of the Southern intellectuals; as well as arrest or liquidate some rising students who stood against Arabization of Schools, Prof. Wani who was young at the time was forced to venture to the neighboring country of Uganda – leaving his parents and some other siblings behind in Juba.

When things calmed down, the pressure of leaving his late father, Ustaz Lino Tombe, who was a then member of parliament, prompted Prof. Wani Tombe to risk his life returning back through the jungles from Uganda to Juba. This was for a simple reason that, he needed to return back so as to assist his father who had a big responsibility; and at the same time, pursue studies inside Sudan rather than being in Uganda as a refugee.

His educational success allowed him to work for NGO’s before joining the academic profession as a Teaching Assistant, and then a lecturer at the University of Juba before pursuing further studies in the United Kingdom. This proves how late Prof. Wani Tombe was connected not only to his family, but to the land and its people.

In 2004 before the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), as a Lecturer of Laws at the University of Readings, Prof. Wani Tombe left the United Kingdom for Khartoum, and resorted in the transfer of his knowledge to the students at the University of Juba as an Associate Professor of Rural Social Development; as well as a Lecturer of Laws – with similar assignment also at the University of Ahfad for Women in Khartoum.

Knowing his talents and potentials that can be put to use for the society to benefit from, in 2005 he decided to join the army as a Lt. Col. in the Sudanese Armed Forces under Special Operations and Military Judiciary. Likewise, being conscious about the importance of the press in the society, he created a widely read news paper called the Advocate English Daily, and was the CEO as well as the Editor in Chief; plus being the Editorial Advisor of the Sudan Vision Newspaper.

His contributions to the news media had enlightened a lot of people regarding what was happening, and the way forward in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU); as well as the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) combined. Prof. Wani Tombe’s contributions to the news media did not come about as a tittle-tattle average person, but an insider who was also a senior employee in the TGoNU in Khartoum.

His unweaving support and dedication about the cause of South Sudanese, in addition to his connections with those at the country’s top echelon, allowed him to be in solidarity; and at the same time, courageously helped out various groups who would have been history and might have not achieved their objectives had he not intervened. There are a lot out there who can attest to that, but since dust haven’t settled yet, it is too early for the facts to be put all together.

Late Prof. Wani Tombe’s ardent publicity subjected him to an encounter at the parliament in Khartoum when he was invited the night before regarding the discussion on the separation of South Sudan versus unity. That encounter drew a number of demagogues, charlatans and sycophants who took his speech out of context, and at the same time attempted to ridicule him as someone advocating for unity.

During the presentation, late Prof. Wani stated that the reasons put forward by many in the North as well as in South Sudan in defense of successions are very fallacious and not truthful reasons. He talked of benefits of unity versus separation; and at the same time, addressed the required changes that were necessary for Southern Sudan to be a viable state. The following were his brief:

  • He had scientifically and critically analyzed the variables of underdevelopment in South Sudan; whereby, you will discover that, many or more than 90% of those variables are imbedded in causes outside of the political causes, at most.
  • The voter in South Sudan must be protected from misleading politicization of wrongful conducts as political facts.
  • In fact, it is the rulers in South Sudan who have abused, misused and misappropriated the 50% oil revenue that went to the Southern Sudanese; not the Northern Sudanese.
  • There is a legal right to explain the facts to the people of South Sudan before they went for voting.
  • The people of South Sudan are suffering from all types of deprivation of rights and freedom; even the right to life.
  • If they are going to vote for succession, the voters must know the reasons why there is so much deprivation of freedom in South Sudan; and that is not because of Northern Sudanese – and if they later discover that the reasons were not the Northern Sudanese, the voters will resort to more violence.
  • Southern Sudan is rot to the core by fractious tribal killings, and that must be address; otherwise, it will never help the succeeding Southern Sudan; and therefore, the voters must be made to understand.
  • He strongly believed that, the greatest enemies to the people of Southern Sudan are the Southern Sudanese themselves.
  • Southern Sudan is proving ungovernable due to tribalism, nepotism and factors of ethnicity. These dangerous variables have entrench the culture of bigotry in the Southern Sudan; and this culture of bigotry is saturated in racism and fascism; and this cannot help any claim for a future independent Southern Sudan.

On the other hand, he eloquently elaborated in what he believed to be some of the comprehensive consequences of a succeeding Southern Sudan.

  1. He strongly believe with proves and tangible facts that point to the fact that, Southern Sudan shall brake into tribal states.
  2. It is possible that some parts of South Sudan shall peacefully or violently demand for unity with the remaining Sudan because of factors which exist in Southern Sudan.
  3. The Southern Sudan shall become a classical failed economy worse than Haiti.
  4. As an economist himself, he had analyzed so many variables which points to total instability in the future nation of South Sudan.
  5. The Southern Sudan shall become very violent because of presence of tribal armies. This is simply because tribal armies cannot be controlled in a constituted state – however you defined that state.
  6. If a state is characterized by unruly tribal armies; then you can’t really exist as a viable state, or part of an international community.
  7. The most serious consequence, which he stated as an enlightenment to his opponent(s) was that; the international boarder that exist between the Northern Sudan and the Southern Sudan shall became the most volatile international boarder in the whole world – whether we like it or not; we shall see that shall happen because the various variables of instability in those extended boarders are there; and these must be taken into consideration, as it will affect not only the Southern Sudan, but the whole Sudan.
  8. The Southern Sudan shall become a magnet for international mercenaries; a magnet for money laundering; a magnet for espionage and spy games with dangerous consequences for the whole of the African Continent.
  9. Southern Sudan shall become a threat to the international peace and security due to its inability to govern itself.
  10. The Southern Sudan shall became a dangerous source of instability for Eastern and Central Africa – for countries like Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eretria, D.R.C., Chad and others. This country shall never see peace again.
  11. The video ended, but Prof. Wani Tombe concluded by saying that, the most dangerous of all is the misleading information being provided to the citizens of Southern Sudan; at the time that, the leaders themselves have a different agenda which is contrary to the dreams and aspirations of our forefathers who started the struggle. These come with dangerous consequences from the legal perspective, which can make the international community to take the leaders of Southern Sudan to an international criminal court for the misleading information provided while having a different agenda; as well as the crimes being perpetuated against the citizens of Southern Sudan for unjustifiable reasons.

The video clip is at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNW4EqSQqOA

Since the citizens of South Sudan were over-captivated and have engrossed their minds with nothing else but the separation without taking a critical look at the facts that needed to be addressed; late Prof. Wani’s speech generated little interest, and many were asking as to what was wrong with that learned individual – only to understand later on that, what he was talking about was right. Such realization of the sober truth came about when things turned out nasty and uncontrollable.

Can anybody in his right mind now dispute the points Prof. Wani Tombe was talking about? If it doesn’t seem like a prophecy, from the scientific perspective, it is an accurate prediction or prognostication of events beyond any reasonable doubt.

Out of curiosity of what he stood for, I myself had a chance in an interaction with him to find out about his ideals and principles with respect to the separation of South Sudan in relation to his speech in Khartoum. In his response, he clearly stated that he was an old guy who grew up and have witness the suffering that Southern Sudanese have gone through in the hands of Khartoum’s successive regimes; and with that, he cannot stand against the separation of Southern Sudan.

Those who have read his papers knew very well how he articulated for the need of the Southern Sudanese to demand for their own problems to be addressed and resolved amicably so as to make informed decision; rather than voting blindly without seeing elements of reform which will amount to a situation contrary to what we fought for.

He also stated that, the issue of separation was the demand of our forefathers who had legitimate reasons to have a separate country; however, the actions, misconduct and tendencies that developed is going to create a situation whereby, Southern Sudan will end up trading an oppressive regime from Khartoum, with an oppressive tribal rulers from the South who are more dangerous than the Khartoum’s successive regimes combined.

He concluded by saying that, his continuous expression of exposing the wrongdoings in South Sudan made some to view him as a unionist at the time that, he was a staunch Southern Sudanese separatist, who wants some drastic changes and the overhauling of the entire tribal leadership who perpetuate their rule at the expense of others through widespread corruption, tribalism, nepotism and autocratic tendencies. That is why he was advocating for the civil rights, rule of law, and the implementation of genuine democracy.

Prof. Wani Tombe’s principles resonates with the quote from Robert M. Pirsig who was an American writer and a Philosopher; as well the author of the philosophical novels who once said: “If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government.”

To me, it is inherently important to point out that, even if Prof. Wani were to have stood for the unity; didn’t the 2005 gave a choice for the Southern Sudanese to vote in a referendum by making the citizens to decide whether to vote for unity or succession? Those who even voted for unity still have to be citizens of the country regardless of their choice, and they deserve equal rights as free citizens.

If it is about the religious belief; Southern Sudanese even from the time of the first liberation struggle had prominent members from other religions; as well as non-believers, who believed in the cause of the struggle for Southern Sudan. They were not spared because of similar religious practice in the north, but were also persecuted by the ruthless regimes in Khartoum. They have equally stood with their Southern Sudanese people in the cause of the struggle.

Religion had never been an issue in our society, that is why you find several families with different religions and non-religious believers, but yet, they still live as one family peacefully without distinction. On the other side of the spectrum, the fact that others had to swear not by placing hands on the Bible or Qur’aan, but by licking a spear in the local courts is a testimony that, religion was not an issue. Therefore, those trivial issues are only good for the narrow minded and the short sighted ones to dwell on.

With the deadly crisis of December 15, 2015 which was brought about by the targeted killings of innocent civilians from particular ethnic group in Juba which resulted to an all out war that engulfed the whole of Southern Sudan; Prof. Wani Tombe who cannot sit back while wrong things are happening decided to join the rebellion as a chairman of the Greater Equatoria Council of Rights (GRECO). The GRECOR mission statement is in the following link: http://www.southsudannewsagency.com/index.php/2014/04/09/greater-equatoria-council-of-rights-grecor/

Apart from his solidarity with the victims of the targeted killings in Juba, Equatorians themselves and other various groups in Southern Sudan have their own demands which needed to be addressed so that the problems of Southern Sudanese can be addressed all together for us to have peace and stability.

After his encounter with IGAD as well as the leadership of the SPLM-IO, Prof. Wani Tombe was assigned as a civil society representative in the peace negotiations which resulted to the 2015 CPA. Prof. Wani Tombe was the first who was sponsored by the supporters of the rebellion so as to tour the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia to advocate about the cause of South Sudan. He categorically stated that, he was not a war monger, but a peace lover; and for the peace to be realized, the wrong things being perpetuated by the rulers of South Sudan which he articulated in his speeches, writings and publications ought to be fixed for us to have a genuine peace. Being someone who liked to keep his hands full, while in Addis Ababa, he was also employed as a Professor at the University of Addis Ababa.

Late Prof. Wani Tombe also being a person who had the love of the people of Southern Sudan at heart, was made to shed tears during his presentations in Calgary, Alberta – Canada; when some relatives of the victims of December 2013 in Juba asked him as to why the Equatorians were unable to stop the massacre of their relatives, but then joined the rebellion afterwards. This same question was asked on several occasions in different ways to the extent that, one Nuer young man stood up by saying, though he appreciated the role that Pro. Wani Tombe was playing, “YOU GUYS DO THE TALKING, AND WE NUER WILL DO THE FIGHTING.”

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In his response, late Prof. Wani calmed the young man by responding that, even from the military point of view, if you are mobilizing soldiers for a cause, you need to talk; for them to be deployed, you need to talk; after they get back from operations, whether successful or not, you still need to talk; and therefore, he asked the young man not to be bothered with the issue of talking about a cause.

As for the reasons why Equatorians could not rescue the victims of 2013 Juba massacre; he pardoned the participants that he is going to state a fact that, most of the Southern Sudanese war assets were divided between the two largest tribes, and are in the hands of Dinka and the Nuer. On the other hand, the disarmament operations conducted were even done selectively, and largely done in Equatoria, leaving Equatorians and the other tribes of South Sudan with few weapons, and others have even none. It was for those reasons that Equatorians became helpless. He further pointed out that, had there been equitable representation, balance in the army or the organized force per see; the idea of targeting one ethnic group would have never even be thought of because of dare consequences to any instigator of violence. His answer generated a lot of applause.

Despite being a learned, eloquent and an inspirational figure with unforgettable contributions; late Prof. Wani was a down to earth person who had a very great respect to both young and old alike. In his public speeches during his tours as well as teleconferences conducted and moderated by myself, he pledged respect to his leaders in the opposition; however, in a dramatic and mysterious circumstances, late Prof. Wani got entangled in some unnecessary squabbles which resulted in the limitations of exercising his full potentials.

What a pity with revolutionary ideals, principles and comradeship gone astray; yet we continue to hear of the so called democratic ideals and principles. What ideals or principles that needed to be sought when capable leaders like late Prof. Wani who had an incontestable devotion to his country, and yet, was sidelined and ridiculed for exercising his democratic rights?

Had there been a stable system, with genuine democracy, coupled with free and fare elections; would there be anyone really out there who can truly be able to stand in the way of people like late Prof. Wani Tome? Given the number of elders and youth in both the motherland and the Diaspora who knew of his contributions, connections and leadership capabilities; their desire to see him in power would have made him sail through victoriously in any election.

Late Prof. Wani was a relentless icon who acted as the voice for the poor and the oppressed. He was a legend of our struggle, and a man of the people who had the confidence and support of many. Being a true hero and a revolutionary patriot of our time who stood by his inspiring principles; he would have been an invaluable figure in transforming the country into what it is meant to be.

His respect to all coupled with laugher, plus the caring warm friendship, and the brotherly call by referring to the young as a ‘brother or a sister’ and the old as ‘uncle and aunt’ was a sense of companionship to many.

Late Prof. Wani Tombe had a very special place in our hearts; and therefore, he will be remembered as a great hero of our time who selflessly put his life in line and have died for it so that we can achieve our freedom which is a long way to go. His death had robbed the Bari Community, Equatoria Community, the academic world, the Sudanese, and the Southern Sudanese at large. May his soul rest in peace.

Justin Tombe Demetry is a GRECOR Coordinator; have worked for several years in the oil and gas industry in Canada, but currently completing graduate studies in Mechanical Engineering, and can be reached at the following email: tombelodemen@yahoo.com


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