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Deng Vanang Opinion Press Release

Opinion: Lt. General Yiech’s death blows the lid off our resolved differences,

By Deng Vanang,

April 11, 2021(Nyamilepedia) — General James Yiech Biet Nhial is known as the freedom fighter of all times. A colossal who traversed the world of military politics and survived three consecutive civil wars of Anyanyas, SPLM/A and SPLM/A-IO.

Lt. Gen. James Yiech Biet Nhial passed away in hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia(Photo credit: supplied)
Lt. Gen. James Yiech Biet Nhial passed away in hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia(Photo credit: supplied)

He was a youthful liberation pioneer of many firsts among his Anyanya one’s countless contemporaries in the 1960s.

Joined Anyanya II at Bilpam in the 1970s and courageously fought against their ouster from Bilpam by SPLA from 1983 till 1988 when the two rival factions re-united to face the common enemy, Khartoum.

After the 1991 split, he threw his lots behind Nasir faction against the Torit faction all the way to 2002 when the two rival wings of SPLM/A ultimately reconciled to become one against Arab domination of Sudan.

In 2013 till he died last week, 7th of April, General Yiech repeated his strong resilience of being with his people always as word betrayal wasn’t his calling.

As the man who believed in contentment is gain phrase, he never used his position to enrich himself as was the fashionable craze to many of his colleagues.

When he was a sector commander in Jonglei, he could order his finance officers to return to the divisional headquarters the leftover cash after all soldiers received their salaries to the annoyance of those officers.

As he was revered alive, he was also loathed. For so long as one lives in this sinful world, differences with others equally become the norm.

In addition to the fact that conflicts are least avoidable as part of natural growth shaping sciences and human social structures for the better.

What is more important is to always forgive as we continue living.

Some differences take shorter time to forgive, while the rest take longer time.

Especially resolving them when one is still alive or after death so that the deceased reaches and meets his maker with some purity of soul, if not entirely.

In death humanity finds a middle ground to forgive and let go.

It is this in time when death not only becomes sorrow, but also an opportunity to reconcile and happily move on.

In closely knighted Nilotic society like that of the Nuer for an example, social differences are hard to reconcile, infectious and passed down to the next generations of the involved parties.

The bell of reconciliation rings louder only when an event such as a rite of passage, wedding ceremonies and funeral rites occur when people get together.

It is when sadness of such great magnitude becomes salvation of relatives from involving in long ravaging feud of their kith and kin.

The happy ending becomes the healing unity of purpose that never before existed between the affected families.

It is from this unity between two people national reconciliation begins as a proverbial single step of a long journey.

In death we also reflect on past relationships between the dead and living for complete forgiveness and healing which perhaps started way back when all those involved were still alive.

It moreover serves as a means of informing those who never knew the kind of relationships between the deceased and people he left behind. Some of which are definitely rosier or rockier.

Such public information is told with a lighter heart full of jokes and a great sigh of relief that all is well and already passed under the bridge.

Between me and the late General was an orchestrated foul play and not an enemy. Before the foul play, we only heard of each other through others.

In the 1980s and 1990s I only knew him at a distance by name as a renowned Anyanya II’s warrior, but he didn’t know me of course.

Being an elder he couldn’t know a young boy like myself at the time unless we lived in one place.

In the turn of the century {2000} that foul play rather than fate brought us together.

The cheeky political schemer knocking our heads was Honorable Simon Kun Puoch.

Kun desperately created a rift between two of us or even more as a means to undermine my brighter future.

He put in the mouth of General Yiech what he didn’t want himself to tell me in public to have a wider effect.

He very well knew General was in command of greater Nasir under Dr. Riek Machar.

Making him my enemy would mean I would be declared persona non grata and never to set foot in Nasir he once considered and still considers with his family as their own dynasty which my revolutionary characters obviously challenge.

He knew Nasir is my homeland and a source of my livelihood like any other person who belongs there.

He found a fodder in General Yiech to use against me.

Kun was not my enemy per se from a start. It was his young brother Gabriel Gatwech who wronged me and I had to hit back the hard way in 1995 with a letter widely circulated in Nairobi .

It is from that letter, highly inspired by my roommate late Gai Thurbil Yat, Dr. Riek Machar and his then incumbent rebel Governor of Latjor State, Biel Torkech Rambang, South Sudanese saw a prolific journalist and writer long before I went for the short course of journalism.

Many think today Journalism is my main academic career. It is rather a quarter of my accumulative knowledge.

I’m a philosophy’s graduate. In other words I’m a philosopher, a person in search of knowledge derived from the word philosophy.

Back to the story.

Kun used a long standing feud in the Nuer youth Union’s election in early 1997.

In the election SSIM/SSIA leadership including Kun and Riek Machar were against me rising to the top leadership of the organization I partly built as an adviser with other fellow youths.

To them I was a potential politician who in future would mess up their political arithmetic if I became a leader of an influential youth organization.

Machar’s inner circle was also uncomfortable with anybody outside greater Bentiu and Fangak taking over the leadership of the Nuer youth, a conspiracy which extended to a wider Nuer leadership and it is still lingering even today.

It was an election I could only lose to win by dividing up big blocs’ votes to reduce the winner’s margin which was to be later subjected to a lengthy period of dispute.

To resolve the dispute, I then dissolved myself into a benevolent mediator and all the candidates still in bitter contest for leadership were back under my guidance

I was now home and dry out of the deep woods to the disappointment of Kun and company who wanted me to remain in mess with my credibility gone with the win.

In the dispute created between me and General Kun, I played a big fool at the time I had a Philosophy degree certificate.

I blamed it all on the forces of the underworld.

I couldn’t have responded to Kun’s incitement and all would stop there and then.

To my miscalculation, I didn’t respond to the General’s provocation in Eastern Jikany’s meeting in Nairobi chaired by Professor Gabriel Giet Jal Liep.

The heat was too much on me, with all eyes of community elders on me.

I kept my cold and silence which I should have continued outside the premises.

As the child born in and of the revolution, the revolutionary’s burning fire in me couldn’t accept such subjugation I thought could stick on me if I didn’t respond.

In the beginning of the week, I went straight to Professor Giet’s residence at Kenyatta University where I requested him to reconcile me with the General.

The aim was to ask the General to explain himself further on the matter and why he could fault me when we never stayed in one place, let alone knowing each other and possible reconciliation at last.

An appeal Professor well received as an honor being my friend and regular visitor to his house.

AS full time professor he was a bit busy before he could spare time out of his busy schedule.

I was impatient and as the result chose an arrogance of the pen over sobriety.

I wrote a strong worded letter calling General names to deliberately sink his spirit for malicious characterization of myself.

In the letter I was also cleaning an impression wrongly created in me by Kun through the General.

Up on hearing, reconciliation efforts stalled before they could pick up as the Professor got irked and threw in the towel .

He rightfully blamed me for asking his skillful hand in reconciliation while launching a blistering offensive on the General at the same time.

In an attempt to redeem the image I lost three consecutive battles in the span of a week.

I also realized that I wronged the elders- General and Professor.

I forgot the fact that the elder is always right in whatever he says traditionally.

I equally offended the elderly professor for asking him to do what I didn’t mean as he might think.

And by wronging them I acquitted Kun from his obvious guilt and therefore achieved what he wanted -multiplying my enemies.

In the following year 2001 I signed for an internship with Care International operating in General ‘s area of command, Mading.

It was a victory courtesy of an intervention from Dr. Machar and Nyang Chuol Dhour who replaced Kun at the helm of the Relief Association of Southern Sudan, RASS.

Went to Lokichioggio from Nairobi in preparation to fly to Mading where the General was laying in wait for a sweet revenge upon my arrival as he was being advised against doing so by Nasir’s junior officers around him.

However, Kuiluel in me was airborne to Mading regardless and ready for the momentous clash with the General holding the gun and behind me the popular public opinion.

God eventually intervened to restrain us from colliding.

How? In the night before the next day I was down with deadly fever and got hospitalized. After release, my assignment was diverted to Udier in Longuchuk, a world away from Mading.

The second time we met was in Juba in 2007 as he waited for his military deployment at Bilpam in the compound of the relief organization headed by Simon Kun himself.

We were strained in greeting and conversation, but following several meetings in the same place, General delightfully told me, Deng you are still harboring the same quarrel we had in Nairobi six years ago.

I feel sheepish and lost for words, except grinning back at him in gratitude and that was the end to the bitterness, with spirit of reconciliation duly affirmed.

With the above mentioned parting words, may your soul rest in eternal peace freedom fighter of all times.

Deng Vanang is an author and opposition UDRM/A’s Secretary-General in SSOMA. He is cordially reachable at: dvanang@gmail.com.


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1 comment

Ghol Bor April 12, 2021 at 1:29 am

Mr. Deng Vanang,

There are no v-for Vanang in our Nilotic plains and valleys.just like ‘hat, for poll tax’. You low lowly informed fools have been playing games with the muonyjiengs/Jaangs/Jenges/Dinkas

You often called yourself, a journalist—-a lowly informed Nuers ke nyantoc, piece of trashes?!!!.

William Nyuon Bany is a superior Nuer ke nyantoc boy and even the muonyjiengs/Jaangs/Jenges/Dinkas. Low lives, be very very careful..The muonyjiengs/Jaangs/Jenges/Dinkas are not playing balls with you and allies.

Fools, Mr. Daniel Kuoth Mathew (DK), is the only a well educated Nuer and Mr. Marial Benjamin. Where is your Riek Machar? He had long since gone to ‘William Deng Nhial battalion’.

Here in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Bhar El Gazelles. You are not welcomed into our villages. You are enemies. take it or leave it.

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