By Kur Garang Deng
Dear readers, it has been a while without reading from each other on our beloved country’s history of liberation struggle, especially our fallen comrades. Since 1983, we have to continue upholding our kind of marital vows with our comrades and our country: for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part!
So this time round, we are remembering and celebrating the glorious life of our commander, Cdr. Nyacigak Ngaciluk, the top senior SPLA freedom fighter who fell in action at the beginning of the war of liberation.
Today was the darkest moment for Aghreb, Bee and Neiran battalions in particular and the SPLA/SPLM in general in 1985.
On the 6th day of the 12th month of 1985, just two and half years after the launching of what became the longest liberation struggle in Africa, and 9 months after the capture of Boma, Cdr. Maj. Nyacigak Ngaciluk commanded the Aghreb (Scorpion) battalion in the first most successful battle that saw the fall of Boma Hills town to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). Sadly but not regretfully, he was fell down by an enemy’s bullet during the operations on Kapoeta.
Following the fall of Boma, we were ordered to march on Kapoeta in 1985 when he was now promoted as a member of the SPLA Military High Command and appointed as overall commander for the three battalions of Aggreb, Bee and Neiran before he was killed this time of the year.
During our good old days when the only goal for dying was not to win the battle but to win the war, or not to win a position but to win a nation, most of our gallant commanders used to be in the forefront of the fire. Yes, this most precious donation of one’s dear life was for a price, that is, for the freedom of our people and establishment of our own nation!
At the side of the South Sudan’s pioneer, senior hero were several comrades of Bee Battalion and Scorpion (Aghreb) Battalion. I can remember just a sample of these brave brothers (with tears in my eyes and pride in my heart)…!
The first most notable was our ‘fanan kabir’, Deng Dau Deng Jurkuch (Deng-Ayok). This most daring fighter was shot while running with a revolutionary morale boosting song across the lines of fire, like his commander Nyacigak, who was killed while whipping forward the soldiers during the flank attack on his headquarters at Ruweto, north of Kapoeta, 33 years ago today.
Sgt. Deng-ayok was a very disciplined soldier. Most impressively, he was the only vocalist with a loudspeaker voice who could cover the entire training camp with a song during our days at Bonga. The late Deng Dau, to those who may not recognize him, was the Kongor’s best singer before the war.
This information serves to add to the knowledge of the heroes’ children, relatives and friends, like of the late Nyacigak, Deng-ayok and others, who have survived their parents to witness the results today. May they be celebrated forever as their blood cemented our nation’s foundation!
Though I cannot recall the whole list of our fallen heroes of that battle, I can still have in my memory my two cousins who were also killed in the same battle, namely; Makuei Kur Malek, Manyiel Mayen Makuei (manyielthi), and a friend whom I met at the cadet training by the name of Deng Bior Duot (Deng-abhach).
Of course, I did not witness them fall because I was not at the side of Ruweto but was on the other side around Jebel Zarab-nahr hill for a simultaneous assault on Kapoeta. Our troops were ordered to launch an attack the same time with Cdr. Nyacigak’s forces early in the morning from the Boma-Kapoeta road but no sound of gun was heard from the other side. Our forces did not get any reason for keeping us incommunicado since the only means of communication was a backpack radio transceiver 77 RU22K. This only gadget was exclusively controlled by officers through the operator.
While still wondering why we had to abort the attack upon being ordered to the headquarters, we could sense from the eyes and body language of the officers that something terrible had happened. As a military tradition, nothing was open. The news circulated through whispers till two days later it became clear that the commander and several others were killed.
In fact, to my other surviving comrades, I may conclude this section of this piece of sweat-and-blood history without remembering all our dear comrades, who fell besides us in the name of the now free Republic of South Sudan. My special remembrance, as the then teenager ‘scorpion’ (infantry soldier) of Aggreb, goes to all; dead and alive. This important date took me so long but later discovered from the archives and from the radio message that was sent to the late Ngaciguk’s wife, now Hon. MP, Banguot Amum.
This narrative of one of the most honoured comrades of our history cannot end without remembering the formidable lionesses of the struggle. One of our comrade sisters of the struggle (Katiba Banat or Girls’ Battalion) was Cde. Banguot Amum Okiech, the widow to Nyacigak, now a Member of Parliament representing one of Cdr. Ngaciguk’s Pibor (Boma State) constituencies, in Juba.
Therefore, on behalf of all the gallant ladies of the liberation, Hon. Banguot is not only the symbol of relation between the Colo (Shilluk) Kingdom and Murle Community but a bond of our new nation. Fear those ladies who transformed military comradeship into lasting family love during those troublesome days of the bush war.
It cannot also be closed without thanking our leaders, also founders of our today’s independent nation, in the name of our President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his colleagues for keeping the widows and orphans of our liberators around the fireplace of the state.
For those who are alive today, ‘Khali na celebrate’ (let’s celebrate as Emmanuel Kembe puts it). Note only that but let us always remember our fallen comrades who have led us thus far!
Long live the legacy of Cdr. Nyacigak Ngaciluk and The Martyrs!
Long Live the History of our People’s Struggle (SPLM/SPLA)!
Long Live The Republic of South Sudan!
Cde. Kur Garang Deng
Former Aghreb Battalion Member, SPLA.