By Jon Pen de Ngong
War is in the blood of the South Sudanese people. For about 10 decades now, we, these peoples, are at war with others and within themselves.
Children are born with and in war. This is true of our war folk tales. When an opposite sex couple meet, they contribute their sex cells which are infected with war virus. The result is a young warrior! And a tribe of warriors is born. And a nation of warriors is made under its warlords.
For example, when the first war broke out, I was about 3. When I clocked 5, I was already moulding clay guns: AK47, ‘AK46’, PKM, RPG, name them.
In my Kolmarek village. The Lion Battalion were camping around and moving about with such submachine guns. They grabbed our bulls, goats, dura, and men and women at will. At my age of 7, I was made to carry a box of ‘Demolition’ (I heard them say do), almost twice the weight of my poor boyish self, for a trekking distance of 2 hours to the next camp. Many boys and women did so.
No. I don’t mean we regretted that. The SPLA were not only our sons but our liberators. They were singing songs of revolution: “Walking, walking, walking day and night looking for what? Looking for our freedom and land!” From such chorus, we picked up the virus and picked up the gun.
I joined them (SPLM/A) at the age of 9. It began like a mobilization from cattle camp to a bush school. I was the pioneer in my village. I told other village boys in a song whose Verse 1 and chorus prophetically go:
“O tell John Garang, never loosen your heart! Tell Salva Kiir, never loosen your heart!Tell Kuol Manyang, never loosen your heart back into slavery! We are all convinced.
This country of ours, we’ll negotiate it through the barrel of a pen, if we fail, it will split into two.
We’ll negotiate it through the barrel of Kalashnikov (gun), if we fail, it will split into two…!”
Indeed, 20 years latter, it did split into two. But two years later, it is unfortunately almost splitting into 64!Why…? Why am I seeing my son and brother’s son clutching at a gun again? NB: The 5- year old child shown holding a gun and in full military uniform in these pictures (name withheld) is real. He is not yet in school but his father, an SPLA officer of before and after, has promised him the inheritance!
Now, we are back at it again, and even planting more of our very own seeds towards the future of this baby nation, the Republic of South Sudan. What should be done, so that this should not be done again?
Begin from from your own household before questioning what the heck Gen. Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar are perpetuating the vice into our coming generation. As Prophet Joshua puts it in the Bible, “I and my household have decided to serve the Lord.”
Therefore, today, I, Jon Pen de Ngong, have decided to save and serve my own household, especially its future content. No more must I allow myself or my son and daughter to be part of the fodder of the myopic war of the seats. In other words, no to joining this senseless post-independence war at its Round 2 stage.
One must begin right from their house. As charity begins at home, peace must now begin at home. When I write ‘at home’, I mean right from one’s mind. I mean it is our moral duty as parents and citizens of this broken country to carry out vigorous psychological disarmament, which is the precipe to physical disarmament. We must teach our children, meaning this our baby nation, how to wedge a soft war. And I am into it. My full creativity must be employed here — not in moulding clay guns but in making play games for peace.
Watch this space for more about my business in ‘soft war Campaign’ strategies under Junub Games with Lual Mayen and other creatives and collectives of South Sudan.