Home | Comment & Analysis    Wednesday 29 June 2011

President Salva Kiir in New African Top 100 List

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Recognising a prophet in his home continent?

By John A. Akec

June 26, 2011 — Bad news travel fast. Good news travles slowly but can also travel fast. That is the reality of our highly wired-up and networked global village, the world. For example, the unlucky South Sudan Member of Legislative Assembly Hon. Aleu Ayeny Aleu, received bad press last week when he was unable to take hard questions from journalists on some articles related to media freedom in South Sudan’s interim constitution, and instead chose to walk out of a public consultation meeting in Juba’s Nyakuron Cultural Centre. Instantly, everybody heard the unfortunate incident and what a flood of bad-mouthing the legislator had to endure!

In contrast, I thought to share with my readers some good news. And the news being that President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit, fashion super model Alek Wek Athian, together with founder and former boss of Zain mobile telecom giant, Mo Ibrahim, are the three Sudanese who appear on the list of 100 top most influential Africans. The list was compiled and published by the London-based New African magazine. It also contains Bishop Desmond Tutu, President Nelson Mandela, Jonathon Goodluck, Jacob Zuma, Professor Wangari Maathi, writer Chenua Achebe, Kofi Annan, and Wael Ghonim, the Facebook blogger credited with organising the Egyptian revolution, among others. Having two South Sudanese in this illustrious list is a great credit for the people of the nascent nation. It signals a very promising start.

And for all the controversy stirred up by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in the last decade, Mr. Mugabe too is listed amongst the top 100 most influential Africans living today. The list is not ranked in any particular order of importance or significance, according to the magazine editors.

Commenting on the publication of the list by New African, a commentator for The Economist makes clear the distinction between being famous (well known faces with no real influence on the world around them), and being influential (that is being one or more of "opinion-shapers, doers, agitators, groundbreakers, and myths busters..."). This clear distinction between what is influential and what is famous is something I never reflected on nor thought about before. For me, famous has always appears to be synonymous with influential. Now I know and have learned something for which I am forever grateful.

Despite the generosity of the African culture and people, the continent has rarely taken the full credit in regards to its contribution to global good. This is now changing. According to Baffour Ankomah, editor of New African:

“This is the first Top 100 Influential Africans issue of New African.

“Our continent has produced, and continues to produce some impressive individuals from all walks of life who are having a profound impact not only on Africa but on the international community. The names on the list I am sure will be discussed the length and breadth of the Continent. And the list in itself is not necessarily an endorsement as such but what it does show is the diversity of skills, talents and personalities amongst Northern and Sub-Saharan Africans in contemporary times, and who are driving change across the continent and beyond.”

New African editor is right. The South Sudanese born supermodel Alek Wek has been in fashion world since 1995 and there is no slightest suggesting that she is quiting the limelight anytime soon. In words of New African editors: Alek Wek "inspires many African girls to say they are beautiful just as they are."

The North Sudanese of Nubian origin, Mo Ibrahim, an electronic engineer and telecom business tycoon turned-philanthropist, sold his mobile telecom business (Celtel) for US $ three billion and devoted his time promoting good causes that include good governance in Africa by awarding very generous monetary prize annually to a retired African president who has done exceptionally good things for their country during their term of office.

And prominently on this prestigious list was President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of the autonomous government of South Sudan who, according to the magazine, "using his dogged pragmatism, led his people through tough and tortuous negotiations to independence in 2011." The magazine hopes that in Kiir’s reign which will commence on 9 July 2011, South Sudan will witness improvement and peace. As a son of South Sudan, these accolades make me proud. As son of Greater Gogrial in Warap State, where Kiir Mayardit and Alek Wek originate from, I am doubly enthused.

It is worth reminding ourselves that we in South Sudan, have often criticised President Salva Kiir, not necessarily always fairly, for what he failed to do. Yet rarely acknowledging what has been achieved under his watchful eyes. Perhaps, this drives home the point that prophets are rarely recognised in their home town. The New African shows us the importance of positive encouragement. Ours does not always have to be criticism, more of it. Juba today and other South Sudan cities are is a far more lively than they were in dark years of war in mid 1980s/early1990s. That is if you were there at the time, and you happen to revisit Juba or other cities in 2011. We need to count our blessing and not only count what we do not have.

It is also worth noting that throughout the history of South Sudan, sons Greater Gogrial in Warap State, like their counterparts in other states of South Sudan have contributed enormously to the struggle and advancement of the cause of South Sudan in many spheres of life, ranging from politics to military to academia to judiciary to media to culture and sports.

We have a long list (not in particular order of importance) of influential names that include Apuk Paramount Chief Giir Thiik (who baffled British administrators with his dodged wisdom), Southern politician and statesman Bona Malwal (Sudan’s presidential advisor who recently announced his retirement from active party politics from 9 July 2011 to devote his time to research and writing. I wish Bona Malwal good health and productive intellectual output in his new choosen role), General Emmanuel Abur Nhial (second in command to General Joseph Lagu during Adis Ababa accord in 1972), General Kuol Amum (a fearsome Anya I movement commander and later SPLA commander), basket ball player Manut Bol, Dr. Lawrence Wol Wol (first and last South Sudanese to be finance minister in Khartoum), Dr. Justin Yac Arop, Ambrose Wol Dhal (one of earliest South Sudanese diplomats of immense intellect and one a group of liberal Southern politicians called Big Six), Kerybino Kuanyin Bol (a Sudan army officer who led Battalion 106 in historic Bor mutiny in May 1983 and thereby sparked SPLA long liberation war), General Salva Mathok Beny (currently presidential advisor for Security and SPLA Veterans Affairs), Justice Ambrose Riiny (first South Sudan chief justice), Justice Chan Reec Madut (Khartoum and Harvard’s trained judge who oversaw with Prof Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil the successful and historic South Sudan self-determination referendum in Jnauary 2011), Professor Matthew Atem Aduol (gynaecologist and 2-terms vice chancellor of Bahr El Ghazal University in Wau and currently founding vice chancellor of Rumbek University), Kornelio Koryom Mayik (founding general manager of Ivory Bank),Sister Amandit (an entrepreneurial-minded Catholic nun who founded and run a successful private girls school in Aweil before civil war broke out in 1980s to close it down), Nhial Bol Aken (the outspoken, yet fair-minded editor of the Citizen newspaper, who is always in trouble with police in Juba for his critical views), Jacob Jel Akol, the widely influential editor of Gurtong website, Dr. Jok Madut Jok (the Layola University Professor who did much to raise expose modern day slavery in Sudan through his books), Aman Aniek Atak (Alek Wek’s niece, and a promising young women civil engineering student who began at Imperial College and now completing studies at Cambridge University). The list is very long. These are self-made individuals who elected to indulge their passion in the society without fear. Let us thank God and the women of Greater Gogrial for giving so generously from their wombs to the advancement of South Sudan. And may the culture of allowing individuals to be different and free to persue their passions without hinderance endure in that part of our land.

Last but not least, my final words are reserved for Gogrial great son, the President Salva Kiir Mayardit. Congratulations for this recognition. You are in a very privileged position and you hold great potential to make a difference to the lives of millions of South Sudanese at this point in our history. Indeed you have already done much through your "dodged pragamatism." I pray that when it comes to making choices about your legacy as the first president of an independent South Sudan, that it will be working for peaceful coexistence of all our peoples; for peace and fearless freedom to reign across the length and breadth of our vast land; for prosperity that is not confined to privileged few; democracy that is self-evident; justice that knows no colour, status, or tribe; and rule of law that exempts no one, no matter how powerful. You are not to dwell on bradishing glittery yet empty slogans; nor engage in sweet talk during occasions that is never followed through with concrete actions, but to have deeds that are reality lived everyday by common man, woman, and child of South Sudan.

Mr. President, write these goals out at your door post. Let them decorate your chest. Tie them to your neck. Cling to them and let them direct whatever you do from rising of the sun to the time it sets. Let no self-interested kingmaker or temptations of power persuade you away from their sacred path. And may God of all truth be your wise counsellor, your protector, and your redeemer in your going out and your coming in: everyday, every hour, every minute, and every second.

The author is vice chancellor of University of Northern Bahr El Ghazal in South Sudan, and chairperson of Academics and Researchers Forum for Development, a think-tank and advocacy group formed by the South Sudanese academics and researchers. The writer edits a blog: www.JohnAkecSouthSudan.blogs.... To get in touch, write to: jaakec@unbeg.edu.sd.



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  • 29 June 2011 11:00, by JAMUS

    To Akech

    The list of influential Gogrial’s sons is superb but it has been contaminated by One Vermin,"Bona Malual".He had done more damage that good to our nascent nation.Besides,you have heaped collective credit on an individual,who happens to be your kinsman Kiir.For southerners to gain back their trust,he should not fear corrupt Bhar el Ghazelle ministers who had squandered our resources.He should directs their arrests and prosecution and there,he will regain back his lost credibility as he is considered a tribalist and turns a blind eye to corruption orchastred by his kins and kiths.

    Jamus

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    • 30 June 2011 06:59, by Meendebai

      I got few words for the author of which he must answered!

      What’s exactely prompted you to write this article?
      Do you think your article is worths for the public’s consumption?
      Is this meant for oneness or togatherness?
      Are you a tribalist or nationalist as per the above eulogy?

      NB: To all who might be agitated with my takes, I think it’s fair to criticised and be criticised. That’s all, I’m doing here....!

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      • 30 June 2011 16:46, by Mr. Truthteller

        What is wrong in Warrap state?

        Why waste money to pay to the magazine in order to publish those names presented to them from Juba?

        Oh, my, last time it was certificate from Kenya with 100 thousand dollars, today it is for publishing a list of unfortunate names.

        I don’t know how much it will cost to publish the top 10, and not the crowded top 100.

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    • 1 July 2011 13:46, by whistleblower

      Chinese Agent pushes up cost of development in South Sudan

      Transparency International and the NGO, Corruption Watch, both issued statements today expressing their serious concern at the way the cost of much needed developmental projects in South Sudan are being pushed up by a Singaporean agent purportedly acting on behalf of Chinese contractors
      The agent identified as Robin Ong, has reportedly negotiated commissions in excess of ten percent of contract value with Chinese contractors including CNOOC which is bidding for a pipeline contract, China State Construction which is bidding for a dam project and several road and bridge projects, China railways which is bidding for rail projects and CAMCE which is bidding for cement plants and agro industries processing units.
      These projects total almost two billion US dollars and Ong’s commission payments exceed US$ two hundred million. This is money that is being diverted from priority development projects and into the pockets of corrupt officials and politicians in South Sudan.
      Ong is reported to have paid for lavish trips to Malaysia and China for the Vice President Riek Machar and the Minister of Mines and Energy Garang Diing. He has also paid for trips to Macau by the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Stephen Dhieu .
      In a leaked letter to CNOOC, seen by Corruption watch, Ong states “ My partners in S.Sudan, Gen Riek Machar and Gen Tut Deng Yat are two of the most powerful men in the country. Gen Machar, who is the Vice President, will soon be the President, and even now takes all decisions in the Government. I have been mandated by him personally to act as his advisor on all contracts with Asian companies……….”
      Corruption Watch has appealed to The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, who has a reputation for not tolerating corruption, to rein in the activities of commission agents who are poisoning the body politic of the soon to be independent country. In a press release today, Jonathan De Mobray, the CEO of Corruption Watch said “ at a time when thousands of South Sudanese have no food, water or shelter, it is incredible that ministers in the S.South Sudanese government appear to be actively conniving with an agent to siphon off much needed funds”. He has called upon the US State Department and The Chinese government to thoroughly investigate the activities of Mr.Ong and take appropriate action

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    • 1 July 2011 13:51, by whistleblower

      Chinese Agent pushes up cost of development in South Sudan

      Transparency International and the NGO, Corruption Watch, both issued statements today expressing their serious concern at the way the cost of much needed developmental projects in South Sudan are being pushed up by a Singaporean agent purportedly acting on behalf of Chinese contractors
      The agent identified as Robin Ong, has reportedly negotiated commissions in excess of ten percent of contract value with Chinese contractors including CNOOC which is bidding for a pipeline contract, China State Construction which is bidding for a dam project and several road and bridge projects, China railways which is bidding for rail projects and CAMCE which is bidding for cement plants and agro industries processing units.
      These projects total almost two billion US dollars and Ong’s commission payments exceed US$ two hundred million. This is money that is being diverted from priority development projects and into the pockets of corrupt officials and politicians in South Sudan.
      Ong is reported to have paid for lavish trips to Malaysia and China for the Vice President Riek Machar and the Minister of Mines and Energy Garang Diing. He has also paid for trips to Macau by the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Stephen Dhieu .
      In a leaked letter to CNOOC, seen by Corruption watch, Ong states “ My partners in S.Sudan, Gen Riek Machar and Gen Tut Deng Yat are two of the most powerful men in the country. Gen Machar, who is the Vice President, will soon be the President, and even now takes all decisions in the Government. I have been mandated by him personally to act as his advisor on all contracts with Asian companies……….”
      Corruption Watch has appealed to The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, who has a reputation for not tolerating corruption, to rein in the activities of commission agents who are poisoning the body politic of the soon to be independent country. In a press release today, Jonathan De Mobray, the CEO of Corruption Watch said “ at a time when thousands of South Sudanese have no food, water or shelter, it is incredible that ministers in the S.South Sudanese government appear to be actively conniving with an agent to siphon off much needed funds”. He has called upon the US State Department and The Chinese government to thoroughly investigate the activities of Mr.Ong and take appropriate action

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  • 29 June 2011 12:24, by Nhomlawda

    Your list is impressive, indeed full of good people who had devoted their energies to their careers at national and international levels. However, it is unfortunate to have highly influential figures you have mentioned coming from Warrap but still Warrap remains one of the states Dinka clans are hostile to each other like they don’t even belong to one tribe. Please you guys in this list (of course the living ones) should do something about hostilities among Dinka communities in Warrap and Lakes too. Warrap group of influential personalities have achieve influence at national and international levels but not at local and state levels and that is really embarrassing.
    President Salva Kiir’s humble behavior is admired by many including many SPLA commanders and his predecessor John Garang.
    He is a cool headed leader and that is a good approach to leading diverse and hostile communities.
    Of course his good behavior had been misused by his right hand men in GOSS - putting the president at odd with public opinion.

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    • 29 June 2011 14:40, by Edema Darius Marcello

      Dear Readers,

      Surely hostility remained and still meanders around the New African top 100 list Dinka Family. The key to do away with hostility has it’s formulae in Rationality. I advise that let our rationality not be overcome easily by Emotion.

      Far behind but at the top, he is managing with alot of difficulties. Proud of him are his village mate with the culture of hostility that they forgot being an exammplary like him.

      Many people within the Country and the rest of the world wonders when one says "Charity begins at home". The top man is made sad and depressed.

      May all Southerners live like him but not like some of his villagemade who made him sad and depressed.

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    • 29 June 2011 17:38, by AdierCien

      In The Name Of The Trinity God Amen

      Nhomlawda

      You sound right in the fact of recent outbreak of conflict between Aguok and Apuk communities over a local issues. The conflict erupted at the nearly end 2005 and successfully came to an end in 2007. Both communities normalized the situation since it was misunderstanding among them. Another conflict outbreak was from Luac and Akok in Tonj south. It was a baseless conflict but it cease upto date.
      However, you’re not right in the way you described Warrap as a hostile region in south Sudan. Definitely you are not correct, you see, when you start to observe the activities and the behaviors of Warrap in general, you can see it seem they have abandoned elementary behaviors and they are upto expectation of new life in their livelihood.
      The common thing to people of Warrap today is only friendship starting from:
      Gorgrial county ie
      Twiny Bol Nyuol,
      Awan Chan Nyal,
      Agong Muon Aken,
      Kuany Ayok Guong,
      Abyei Deng Kuol and
      Apunk Giir Thiik.
      Tonjdit ie
      Luany Aguer Adael,
      Apunk Padoc,
      Akong Teek,
      Lon Ariing Mawien,
      Kongoor.
      Kuajok the Head Quarter of Warrap.
      NB:
      The above names of places are written in Dinka early pronounciation with their respective Chief.

      In the far south west of Warrap there living Luo [Jur] community living in hormone life with Dinka.

      I live in several counties of Warrap State a soldier life but one day I never witnessed a none Warrap person being mistreated by the residents of the state.

      We are wishing all the tribes of south Sudan to visit or be friends with us. Come and see the nature of the state’s Head Quarter Kuajok.

      Happy Independence Of South Sudan July 9th 2011.

      God The Father Of All Living Things Give Us Your Bless And peace Upon South Sudan.

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  • 30 June 2011 07:36, by George Bol

    John Akec was promoting Gogrial history. I think there is no problem at all. But I think he got loss on his trends of thought a little because he did not write what he meant on his title. Sometime people lost thought when too much are in mind to be address,so for me let him write someting about Gogrial so that people will really know who are Gogrial. Thanks

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  • 30 June 2011 08:11, by Wadjube

    Much as we Southerners acknowledge the contributions of our men and women to our dispesation, pathetic writing like that of John Akec make us wonder how far we have to go before we think of ourselves as Southerners first then Jenge then one from Gogrial. This trumpet blowing article goes to show what calibre of people we have in sensitive places of authority such as a VC of an up and coming university and leaves one wondering how such instituitions are run.

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  • 30 June 2011 09:24, by Aleu

    John Akec.

    I am not a person who cover up people that are too close to me although you are from my native State. This article of yours, there is a consideration to tell you my friend, this is one of the worsen article you have never post since. The writers always said, analysis has to invovlves breaking a subject in to its parts and seeing how it might related to analytical and if I use this concept without any doubt, you will be place with those arrogant people according to the way you poorly list up Gogrialism in your article.

    Remember the most problems from our brothers of Dinka Bor, was the way how they says, things randomly when our late Dr. John de Mabior was leading in the SPLA/SPLM without knowingly they became too arrogant to their brothers and sisters in Southern Sudanese. The achievement for the SPLA/SPLM and plus the referendum election can not and will not be calim by one county or one State nor one tribe no matter how difficulties the whole Dinkas went through all kinds of situations but you must have to control your attitude and I know you will understand me.

    There is nothing wrong from Aleu Anyeny Aleu, because there is must be a respect which mean if you are a none Southern Sudanese citizen then, I would assume that person can not ask about the single constitution to be change while he is not a citizen of that nation otherwise, the people receive Aleu as a someone afraid to answer are too dump not to understand there must be respect not to make your influence to another affairs from another continent. You can be a friend but you must respect other affairs and that is why Aleu Anyeny Aleu was not happy when none Southern Sudanese asking for single law to be change.

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    • 1 July 2011 13:05, by Martin Garang Aher

      Well, it takes a minute to see someone differently.

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