History South Sudan

A brief biography of Martin Manyiel Ayuel

Compiled by Mack Awer Agobjang Deng Chan
Martin Manyiel Ayuel Akech Athuai Aker,a member of Underground Movement and a founding member of SPLM/A(Photo credit: supplied)
Martin Manyiel Ayuel Akech Athuai Aker,a member of Underground Movement and a founding member of SPLM/A(Photo credit: supplied)

March 15, 2021(Nyamilepedia) — Martin Manyiel was born in 1942 in Rumcuer village in Akuar, Twic, South Sudan to Ayuel Akech and Mother, Ajak Atem Akuoc. His father Ayuel Akech was a farmer and owned a lot of cattle. He was a respected community elder in entire Akuar Lang Juk and beyond. Martin was the first born of 8 children to Ayuel Akech and Ajak Atem. His siblings are Achel Ayuel, Atem Ayuel (deceased) , Achol Ayuel, Aker Ayuel (d), Ngok Ayuel (d), Athuai Ayuel (d), and Mathuc Ayuel (d).

His other siblings from his father’s second wife are Emmanuel Makuach Ayuel, Andrew Aguek Ayuel (d), Philip Manyiel Ayuel, Aluel Ayuel, Achol Ayuel and Ater Ayuel.


Martin enrolled in Pawil Anyuon Elementary School in 1954, Mayen Abun in 1958 and finished his Intermediate School in Busery in Wau in 1962. He was admitted to Rumbek Senior Secondary School the same year. In 1962, Abbud Regime shut down all the schools in the south because of Anya Anya War. Rumbek Secondary School was relocated to Khartoum in the north and reopened in 1966. Martin completed his high school there in 1967. He joined Sudan Military College in 1971 and graduated in 1973 in Batch 25. After his graduation, he was commissioned in Mechanized Division of the Sudan Armed Forces. In 1974 he was deployed to Wau, to Gadariff in 1975 and to Kajokeji in 1984. Martin held various roles in the army and rised to the rank of Lt. Colonel.

Political Activities

Martin was a member of the Underground Movement, a group of South Sudanese army officers in the Sudan Army who were opposed to President Nimeri’s policies in the south. This group was composed of former Anya Anya officers and well educated Military College graduates like Martin. They were planning to go back to war and declare the south independent.

Martin was very close to veteran politicians like those Bona Malwal Madut and Abel Alier Kuai. There are sources which say that Martin privately worked in Abel Alier’s office when he was a Vice President of Sudan and the nature of his work was political, meaning Abel Alier was a rebel at the palace.

1983 Mutiny in Bor Town

Although Martin Manyiel was a member of the Underground Movement which launched the rebellion in Bor Town on 16 May 1983, he did not join the movement right away. He stayed behind for two years because he was deployed in the far north at the time. So there was no way for him to join the rebellion. In early 1984, he was transferred to Kajokeji military garrison in Equatoria. Lt. Colonel Martin Manyiel Ayuel defected to the SPLA/ SPLM the same year with his entire unit and equipment on 7/3/1985 after subduing the northern components of his forces. His joining the SPLA during that critical period was hailed by all South Sudanese as a patriotic move, and indeed, it was! Martin’s joining the SPLA changed the way it was conducting its war operations. Although it was a guerrilla army, Martin Manyiel introduced the conventional way of executing the war and this immensely reduced loses in terms of SPLA personnel and equipment. Upon his arrival to Bonga in Ethiopia, he was given a command of Bee Battalion of Muor Muor Division. He

was deployed to SPLA War Zone One in Equatoria to go and capture Kapoeta town. His forces and those of Commander Nyachigak Nyachiluk overran Boma Plateau in May 1985. They proceeded to Kapoeta where Commander Nyachigak Nyachiluk was martyred in Rwoto, a small town north of Kapoeta. After the battle of Kapoeta, Martin was recalled back to Ethiopia by the leadership and appointed Director in the Office of the SPLM/SPLA Chairman in Addis Ababa. In 1986 he was appointed a Member of Political Military High Command, the highest organ of the Movement at that time. He was number 12 in the hierarchy.

In 1987 Martin Manyiel was deployed in Eastern Upper Nile Zone Two War Theatre, starting from Sobat River up to Renk was under his command. His headquarters was based in Abwong. Martin became critically ill after he was bitten in the leg by unknown insect in the swamps of Upper Nile. In 1989, he was recalled back to Ethiopia to seek treatment for his illness. After that he was sent to Eastern Equatoria. His health began to fail during this time. He spent most of his time in the frontlines and his requests to go for medical treatment abroad were always turned down by the leadership.


In early 1992, The Political Military High Command members of the Mainstream SPLM/SPLA of the Torit Faction after the split in 1991 met in the town of Chukudum to explore the way forward for the Movement. It’s reported that in this meeting, CDR Martin Manyiel had a heated exchange with the late Dr. John Garang in the manner he was running the Movement. It is reported that Martin told Dr. John to rebuke his close confidantes and bodyguards to desist from labelling anyone who criticise the Chairman as “Nyagat”. It is said that the Chairman was not happy and immediately days after the meeting Martin Manyiel was given a leave letter to go to Germany via Nairobi for treatment. He was quoted to have said that ‘how could I go to Germany when I did not ask for that’. He was told that all the arrangements have been made and that the head of the SPLM Office there will take him to where he will receive his treatment. He was told that he is being send there in order to come back in good health for the summer offensives against the government troops and the operations will require all High Command Members to be present in their command zones. Martin left South Sudan for Nairobi and boarded a plane walking to Germany. One week later he was brought back to Nairobi on the stretcher. He was admitted in Aga Khan hospital under the care of late Dr. Justin Yac Arop. Martin Manyiel Ayuel Akech DIED one week later in the lapses of Mariano Ajuet Akuei and Piot on May 6, 1992.

Martin Manyiel Ayuel Akech Athuai Aker is buried in Torit Town, Eastern Equatoria, South Sudan.

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