By Deng Vanang, Dares Salaam,
April 23rd, 2018(Nyamilepedia) —– Every man has a friend to count on whether at good or hard times as there is a foe to equally content with.
In this reality of life Daniel Wuor Joak is no different among five already passed away friends to whom I happened to be closer while living in Kenya in early 1990s and 2000s.
First among them to fall under the hellish spell of grim reaper in 2006 is a renowned Professor of history, Gabriel Giet Jal.
Who admired my unwavering pursuit of education to the point of confiding in me to major in history as I entered Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Nairobi in September, 1997.
Not knowing what to do with history rather than teaching, I silently turned down his request and instead majored in philosophy and political sciences.
Only to realize the gift he saw in me long after he died when I’m currently engrossed in chronicling history into series of books as well as making the in-depth comparative political analyses.
Professor was to be followed in death in around 2011 by William Koang Tut Doh or John Garang’s christened young general who captured a string of towns his senior SPLA’s Commanders either trembled in fear or failed to do so.
He became my senior University colleague and afterwards successfully introduced me into a guerrilla politics in midst 2002.
His passing on was followed by that of my cousin and friend, Rev. Stephen Ter Nyuon of Sudan Presbyterian Church back in May, 2015.
With whom I shared a name sake Stephen, devoted Christian and great life skills scholar in his own right.
Rev. Stephen as popularly known, would always engage me in scholarly discussion after consuming a sumptuous supper as deliciously prepared by one of the best cooks in the community.
This person is none other than his wife, Sophie Pal Gai and current government Minister of Water Affairs in Juba.
Christian moral ethics in human life were his pet subject for the heart to heart discussion.
We are because of others and giving the needy not to gain in return are the basis of divine providence, he would stress in a light touch.
The lectures went on until Comprehensive Peace Agreement, CPA in 2005 was signed and consummated that led to mass exodus to Juba and subsequent formation of pre-independence’s transitional government.
Whenever visiting Juba, he would check on me together with another best friend and age mate, Dr. Gai Thurbil Yat.
Just to see that we were okay and progressing well in the same Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Gai became my friend in early 1994 days after his arrival in Nairobi from Khartoum.
While in Khartoum he was friend and colleague of my elder brother, David Jal Nyang.
But his friendship with me became indelibly enduring than that of my elder brother with him. Thurbil as fondly known to far too many people, had striking habits of easy going character, making friends on shorter notice and in definitively cracking jokes.
A bookish guy and a fan of music like myself, he was fond of buying Congolese music albums and English novels for us to consume with all the insatiable relish.
Among these novels were Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, The Last Words by Taban Lolyiong, etc. in our small rooms.
Which were first situated in Kawangware and again in Ruiru in Nairobi before getting awarded with scholarships.
Despite being courageous to speak up his mind in face of adversity, his undying love for good life could finally goad him into unconditional surrender to our very communal and resourceful, but unapologetic adversaries in 2001.
A betrayal I took gracefully while I carry on with the fight we are not to blame for both on earth and in heaven till this day.
As master of jokes and Director of IT and Training, I remembered Thurbil sarcastically saying and I quote: ‘’Which government South Sudan has ever had that I don’t know before this one?’’
The daring, but laughable question was in response to being accused of not knowing nitty-gritty of government’s bureaucracy by our former boss, Director-general for information and veteran civil servant ever since 1970s, Mustafa Biong Deng.
Especially, given the fact that he Mr. Thurbil was fresh from academic studies.
As for Hon Daniel Wuor, I came to know him back in 1993.
At the time, he was visiting Addis Ababa from Norway while I had a short stint at Addis Ababa University, Sidis Kilo campus.
He was a friendly and engaging personality to everybody irrespective of class and riches.
A curious individual who chose not to remain oblivious to public information.
And above all, he was publicly known to be more determined, courageous, straight forward and visionary in pursuit of a cause he believed in.
A reason he chose not to cling onto trappings of power of Upper Nile state education minister and neither got enslaved to earthly possessions at the expense of his beloved people when conflict broke out in December, 2013 nor surrendered to the government despite being ravaged by terminal illness till death.
Daniel was rigidly argumentative if not convinced on subject matter of debate, while flexibly accommodative when the reverse is true.
I remembered telling him as an MP among other Nuer MPs in an Interim National Legislative Assembly in Juba following the formation of first Goss cabinet in November, 2005 to lodge a formal complaint to President Salva Kiir Mayardit as to why he awarded the Nuer as the 2nd largest ethnic group in the autonomous region only two Cabinet Ministers and one state Minister in Khartoum-based GONU.
He immediately rose to the occasion among others while the rest were trembling in fear and bolting out until the President assured us he would rectify the mistake in any future reshuffle.
This incident came after he was threatened with a one-man recall from parliament before being sworn in the next morning by then deputy Chief of General staff in charge of logistics and future army chief of general staff of SPLA, General James Hoth Mai.
That intense discussion by a few privileged individuals took place in certain evening over predominantly self-serving positions on a Nile river site Hotel.
A threat he uncharacteristically laughed off as ever passing proverbial dogeel’s night than hitting back with a legendary defiance in his usually grimacing face when annoyed.
The General was by no mean feat one among truly and publicly declared liberators in a recently conquered ghost town of Juba peddling undue influence in the newly found authority as their institutional personification.
Who also a month before stripped me of my Upper Nile State Assembly seat as nominated MP among several other political victims.
The unfortunate legislative stripping brought Daniel so close to me in a comradely solidarity against tyrannical powers that be until his last breath at dawn on Saturday of 21st April, 2018.
His book, The Rise and Fall of SPLM/A’s leadership which is his literary debut, is a true reflection of his forth right moral traits which informed his way of life while on this wretched earth.
And one in which a reader can hardly find a deliberate fabrication, except unintentional one since no master piece of art is always perfect, be it contextually or textually.
The author of several books, Deng Vanang, is a graduate of the Catholic University of East Africa in Kenya with a bachelor degree in Philosophy and political sciences. He got awarded with undergraduate diploma in public relations and management at Kenya school of exports and imports in Kenya. And in later years secured a post-graduate diploma in print media journalism from the University of Nairobi as well as a post-graduate diploma in peace and development studies at the University of Juba, among several short courses certificates in both information and governance from East African region and Republic of South Africa. He once served in SPLM/A during the war of liberation as political commissar and other political groupings in the post-war period. He became a Director in GoSS’ Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in Juba until 2010 while serving as the columnist with various newspapers before and after the December 2013 conflict erupted. He can be reached via his email: email@example.com
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