By Zechariah Manyok Biar
January 29, 2010 — In my section of Dinka, there is a belief that one should not be thanked openly if he or she is still alive. I do not buy this belief now. I now believe that it is important to thank people in the same way we criticize them when they are still alive so that they know what they are doing well and what they are not doing well. I think many people are inspired by good work of others. So we need to point out positive parts of people’s lives so that others can learn from them. This pointing out of positive parts of one’s life must be done with politicians, too.
The Government of National Unity (GoNU) and the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) are full of competent leaders, but we often do not know good leaders because we rarely hear about them since what makes news is bad news. The examples of effective leaders in South Sudan include the Minister of Internal Affairs Major General Gier Chuang Aluong and the Minister of Transport and Roads, Mr. Anthony Lino Makana. Gier and Anthony are drops in the ocean of effective leaders we have in South Sudan. I use them as examples because what they are doing is visible to everybody who is not “good-blind” in South Sudan.
The other leader who is very effective but less publicized is the Minister of State for Finance in the GoNU Dr. Lual Achuek Lual Deng. Dr. Deng is less publicized because he keeps low profile in everything he does. It is not only today that Dr. Deng has done extraordinary well for the people of South Sudan; he did a lot of good things during the North-South war. This article will show how effective Dr. Deng is.
Dr. Deng gave up his luxurious position in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the 1990s and committed himself to serving the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) even when salaries were non-existence. Dr. Deng believed that there was a need for the building SPLM’s human resource to rule when the liberation became a reality.
In 1997, Dr. Deng came up with the idea of distant learning for SPLA commanders, whom he believed would become future government leaders in Sudan after the liberation war was over. Not only did Dr. Deng come up with the idea of distant learning, he made friendship with universities like the University of London in England, the Iowa State University in the United Sates, the University of Fort Hare in South Africa, among other universities around the world, to provide SPLA commanders with distant learning education.
When the then SPLM/A leader Dr. John Garang de Mabior, a Ph.D. holder from Iowa State University, approved Dr. Deng’s idea and selected SPLA commanders for distant learning, some commanders within the SPLA approached Dr. Garang and told him that Dr. Deng was trying to destroy SPLA by sending SPLA commanders to school. Both Dr. Garang and Dr. Deng ignored those concerns and pushed ahead with the building of human resource in SPLM/A because they knew it was a good thing to do.
Even though not every commander who was sent to school for distant learning could make it, given the educational gap they had gone through because of the war, few commanders who made it through their university education are now very effective leaders in Sudan and in South Sudan. The examples of these effective leaders who made it include Lt. General Majak Agoot Atem, now a Ph.D. holder and Deputy Director for National Security in the GoNU; Lt. General James Hoth Mai, a Master’s Degree holder and SPLA Chief of Staff; Lt. General Bior Ajang Duot, Under Secretary of GoSS’ Ministry of SPLA Affairs; Lt. General Pieng Deng Kuol, a Master’s Degree holder and SPLA administrator; Major General Gier Chuang Aluong, a Master’s Degree holder and the Minister of Internal Affairs in the GoSS; among other leaders.
Dr. Deng did not stop there. He thought that an institute of learning would speed up the goal of building human resource in South Sudan. So he established the Institute of Development, known as IDEAS, in 1999 in South Sudan. He also founded the Technical Committee of Intellectuals (TCI) to help in the process of every strategic planning that SPLM/A would make. Dr. Deng sponsored a number of boys and girls for university studies. Some of the people Dr. Deng sponsored are now working in different ministries in South Sudan.
Immediately after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), Dr. Deng put Dr. Garang’s philosophy of taking towns to people into action by buying TV sets and distributing them to 12 centers in Greater Bor area to enlighten people in the rural areas about the modern world. Dr. Deng also took Telecom to Twic East County, helping old men and old women deep in the village buy phones and dial in their huts the numbers of their sons and daughters around the world instead of travelling to Uganda and Kenya to communicate with their children outside Sudan.
Dr. Deng then convinced himself that the only way to change people from the current way of living to a new way of living is to show them how better the new way of living is, compared to their current way of living. To achieve this goal, Dr. Deng bought some tractors and introduced agricultural activities in Twic East County. Communities in Twic East got involved in agriculture-for-market activities. Recently, some communities succeeded in their harvest, others are yet to succeed. But the success of few communities would be the motivation of those who have not succeeded. Now Duk County is gearing up to do what Twic East is doing. Agriculture will soon become a great investment in Greater Bor and beyond.
When the Second Vice President of GoNU Ali Osman Taha heard about the developmental activities that Dr. Deng was doing in Twic East County, he called him to his office and their discussions resulted in the funding of what is now known as Peace Village in the honor of South Sudanese influential leaders. The Peace Village would take town to people in the real sense of the word. As part of bringing town to people, Dr. Deng is building modern headquarters of Jonglei State Governor in Bor town.
During the tribal crisis that almost made Jonglei a failed state in 2009, Dr. Deng decided that it would be good if Gadiang was built into peace city to be second to Bor in Jonglei State, because Gadiang is in the center of Jonglei State. Dr. Deng got support from influential leaders in Jonglei State including Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk, Philip Thon Leek, Dr. Riek Gai Kok, Gen. Gier Chuang, Dr. Majak Agoot, to mention but a few. Now 200 soldiers are in Gadiang area and the construction of roads from different areas of Jonglei to Gadiang is underway. Seventy-seven tractors are on their way to Gadiang to speed up road and agricultural activities. Peace and reconciliation among different tribes in Jonglei State will be done in April this year, in which three hundred delegates will be accommodated in the buildings constructed in Gadiang.
To make the work easy in the area, Dr. Deng is building the Port of Dhiam Dhiam so that Jonglei State can receive its supplies by Nile River. To make communication easy, telephone towers will soon be put up in Gadiang. Water will also be available. Three hand-pumps are already functioning to provide clean water in the area.
About 50,000 acres of land are ready for those who would like to invest in agriculture in Gadiang.
As part of development in rural areas of Jonglei, Dr. Deng, who is a qualified Economist, is now establishing Jonglei Development Bank to provide loans for investment in Agriculture, Real Estate, and small businesses. He is also establishing Dr. Garang’s Memorial Think-tank to help the government of South Sudan make informed decisions.
I can go on and on about the achievements of Dr. Deng. The message I am trying to communicate to our leaders in both North and South Sudan here is that we the citizens of Sudan in general and South Sudan in particular would like our leaders to tell us what they will do when elected in the upcoming elections. We are not interested in your expertise in merely tearing of one another down; we are interested in how you plan to take town to people in your constituencies all over Sudan. Dr. Deng and other effective leaders in Sudan are good examples of what we want our leaders in every state to do. Mere words of how great one is no longer convince us because we have been hearing them since 1983. What convince us now are actions and clear plans for actions.
Zechariah Manyok Biar is a graduate student at Abilene Christian University, Texas, USA. He just graduated with a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry and he is still pursuing a Master of Science in Social Work, specializing in Administration and Planning. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org