South Sudan Army (SPLA) Politics of disrespect for their dead members
Sep. 21 National <http://www.southsudannation.com/category/national/>,
Uncategorized <http://www.southsudannation.com/category/uncategorized/> no
By Daniel Juol Nhomngek, LDC, Kampala, Uganda, SEP/21/2016, SSN;
Revering the dead is a culture of humanity. It is done in different parts
of the world and by different communities. In Traditional American Indian
burial prayer, for instance, the respect of the dead is shown in the way
they are talked to as if they are alive.
The dead are part and parcel of the living community members and they must
be respected. In Traditional African Communities and in particular Dinka
Community, the Dead are respected because they are considered to be part of
In addition, in Dinka Community the families of the Dead are looked after
and even those who died before getting married, their brothers or other
living relatives marry for them wives. The question is: why do we respect
There are a number of good reasons, both moral and material aspects for
respecting the Dead. First of all, the dead had contributed to the welfare
of the living members of their community while they were alive.
Sometime they might have sacrificed their valuable lives to save the
community by lying the lives down. Besides, the dead have left their
families that they used to cater for as they were the sole bread winners,
so they expected their living to respect them through taking care of their
families whom they left behind.
The statement in the above paragraph explains as to why the livings are not
allowed to kill ourselves when a person they depend on dies; this is
because he expected them to continue his or her legacy. Thus, his widows
and orphans plus other close relatives are stopped from killing themselves
while grieving because they represent him in the world of the livings.
Spiritually, the Dead are considered to be closer to God and because of
that they are seen as interceding for the living and protect them from bad
spirits or evil spirit as the Christians may term them.
In moral aspect, the Dead are part of traditions and customs and act as
conscience that guides our actions in all areas. Hence, majority of the
Dinka people and other tribes in South Sudan used to hate corruption
because it was uncouth and anti-South Sudanese Culture to be involved in
corruption of all kinds.
However, in South Sudan today things are different in term of morals.
Morals are thrown to the dogs and the life is becoming meaningless as it is
equated with wealth in terms of money. Thus, as Sigmund Freud has put it in
his Book, Civilization and its Discontent:
“It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false
standards of measurement that they seek power, success and wealth for
themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is
of true value in life. In making any general judgment of the sort as
pointed out by Fred, we are in danger of forgetting how variegated the
human world and its mental life are.”
In fact, there are a few people from whom their contemporaries do not
withhold admiration, although their greatness rests on attributes and
achievements which are completely foreign to the aims and ideals of the
multitude as seen in the case of the Late General, Lat Makoi.
As Sigmund Fred again explains above, the proper conclusion one can reach
when reflection over the greatness of people is that the greatness of any
person does not lie in how much wealth one has but it is found in how much
love for humanity one has, as seen in the case of Nelson Mandela in South
Africa and Martin Luther King in North America.
However, in South Sudan today the tendency is that greatness is seen in
terms of wealth. So the people are struggling to corrupt the country in the
process of accumulating unbridled wealth in order to be rich and famous.
Therefore, the Dead are no longer respected is because they are seen as not
product and contrary to the interest of those who are struggling to be
rich. Hence, the respect for the dead is no longer part of culture and
morals of the so-called “powerful and tycoons of South Sudan”.
If such tycoons respect the dead then it is only done out of formality.
This is because corruption for physical resources has engulfed and
swallowed up the community as people struggle over limited resources with
insatiable desire for becoming rich and famous.
For the above reasons, the Dead no longer have room in the kingdom of the
rich of South Sudan and in particular in the heart of the top army
generals. There is no respect for the dead in the army as the mission of
some top generals is to achieve material wealth and power. Hence, the
politics in the army has taken a dirty twist as the dead and their families
are being ignored.
Members of the army are being used like slaves who are valued for their
services but upon their death, they are forgotten and their families are no
longer in the priority of the masters.
Then, the question is: why serving a system that does not care for the
welfare of its members, a system that is set in a way that disregards the
families of its dead members?
I am really angry with the way the Dead army members and their families are
treated by the top generals who strongly believe in wealth, power and fame
to the extent of forgetting they were one time mere soldiers with no ranks.
I came to the realization of the fact that things are not good in the army
of South Sudan and there is a dead politics that has reached the extent of
disrespecting the dead. How on earth can a family of a general who devoted
the rest of his life in serving South Sudan being treated in a contemptible
manner as shown to the Late General, Lat Makoi?
The Late General, Lat Makoi, served the SPLA for the whole of his life. He
joined the rebel Movement, Anyanya 11 which was later transformed into the
SPLA/M in 1983. Sadly enough, though he was a very bright student and had a
bright future ahead of him (had followed his dream that he had in Rumbek
Senior of becoming a medical doctor), he had to sacrifice his future in
order to fight for the right to self determination of South Sudanese that
was realized in 2011.
Due to his dedication and hard work, he climbed ranks and files until he
became a general when he died on 17th September, 2016. Because of his hard
work and moral integrity, he was highly respected when he was alive, no one
knew including him that one day he would be disrespected even inside the
Nonetheless, after his death we were shocked and dismayed how deadly the
politics is in the army of South Sudan.
The question is: if the politics affected top generals the way it
negatively affected the Late General Lat Makoi’s family, what would be the
status of the mere soldiers who are in the front lines? It is obvious and I
do not need an answer here.
However, the politics in the army of South Sudan has reached the extent
that without reforms the country will be thrown into further and worse
chaos. What makes such a politics even worse is the fact that it is mixed
with immoral and corrupt practices among some of the top generals who use
the army code of discipline to perpetuate corruption.
Moreover, the army is not different from cattle keeping and hunting because
army is very much based on tribes and because of that if a person does not
have anybody on the top of military hierarchy then he can be borrowed at
There is no difference between militias and trained armies in South Sudan.
Corruption has created porous inlet in which all kinds of persons are
allowed into the army even though they are not trained.
As a result, majority of the soldiers are not trained but they’ve been
corruptly given ranks that put them above the trained soldiers and since
their mission for joining the army was not to serve South Sudan but to get
money, then, they are corrupting the army system to become rich as soon as
Where there is corruption the first victims are always valuable morals and
cultures. For that reason, valuable South Sudanese cultures and morals that
use to respect human rights and the dead have been sacrificed at the altar
of corruption and the high priests, who are top army generals are wielding
sharp knives ready to cut anybody who points out the vice of corruption in
Therefore, the lower ranking army officers and other army members without
ranks are being mistreated, their salaries are being grabbed by some of the
generals and if they complain, they are subjected to the army disciplinary
code that does not allow complaints against misdeeds of the top army
generals hence the lower soldiers always appeal to their guns to shoot down
the army generals as a solution to their grievances.
Moreover, even in among generals the generals who are not corrupt or who
hate corruption are hated by corrupt generals and mistreated. Lat General
Lat Makoi was one of the few army generals in South Sudan who hated
corruption but because of that he had to pay for his sin of hating
It was worse to see that even after his death his family was subjected to
the same politics in the army in South Sudan. His family was promised that
the plane was being prepared by the government to come and pick them in
Kampala Uganda due to the insecurity on the road to Juba.
Nonetheless, the politics came and destroyed the plan as one of the top
generals who was supposed to sign the paper in order for plane to come
refused and the reason for his refusal was not given. As a result, the
children of the late and his wife were forced to risk the insecurity by
travelling by road which was dangerous. However, the children had reached
In short, the way the family of the Late General, John Lat Makoi was
treated leaves much to be desired. It appears that those who were against
him in the army when he was alive are still after his family and his soul
even after he died.
South Sudan army politics of disrespect for the dead members should stop if
the army will continue to support the system because it is useless to
support the corrupt system that segregates it members.
NB//: the writer can be reached through: juoldan...@yahoo.com
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