Home | News    Thursday 2 August 2007

Sudanese students commemorate Garand death in US Iowa

By Tim Miller

July 31, 2007 (AMES, Iowa) — Many gathered in the Gallery Room of the Memorial Union to commemorate the death of John Garang de Mabior, the former leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and ISU student who graduated with a Ph.D. in economics.

He was later sworn in as vice president of Sudan, where he served for less than a month before he died on July 30, 2005, in a helicopter crash in Africa.

The South Sudanese Student Association hosted the event and Andro Kout Garang Dau, vice president of SSSA and sophomore in genetics, gave the introduction.

"This is an evening we would like to make a tradition," Dau said. "And hopefully every year we will meet here to commemorate his memory."

Dau said Garang would listen to everybody and after one speech in particular, listened to people from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. the next day.

"That’s the kind of man he was," Dau said.

Garang was greeted as a hero everywhere he went in Sudan, Dau said. He also said the people need to utilize the power they have to push his vision forward.

Dau then introduced Moon Kuk, president of the Iowa chapter of SPLM.

"Today is a sad day for all of us," Kuk said.

Kuk said it was important to keep the memory of Garang alive to support his vision and keep it alive.

Even though Garang is dead, the fight still continues, Kuk said.

"Iowa should be proud of their educational system because it allowed Garang to be successful," Kuk said.

Yasir Arman, a member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Political Bureau and National Council, which was formed in 1983 and involved in the 22-year civil war with the Sudanese government - was the final speaker.

He had known Garang for 21 years and had fought alongside him in Sudan. Not many people know Garang better than him, Dau said.

"I would like to salute the American people for their support of democracy and peace of Sudan," Arman said.

As well as mourning Garang’s death, Arman said, we are also celebrating his life. Garang did his best to make the world a better place to live for everybody, Arman said.

The last 20 years were a struggle for equality and peace in Sudan, Arman said. He said it was a struggle of many, man people.

"Dr. John Garang was a symbol for that struggle," Arman said.

Garang spent eight years of his life in Iowa.

He considered himself an Iowan, Arman said.

The colleges he went to in Iowa had a huge impact on him, and he was always proud of people from Iowa.

"He was a very good ambassador for Iowa State University," Arman said.

Arman said Garang would tell everyone he met about his experiences at Iowa State.

After Arman’s speech, a candlelight vigil was held outside the Memorial Union on the north side of Lake LaVerne.

Pouring out into the night, everyone held a candle in salute to the life of John Garang and what he has done to change the world.

Garang meant a lot to the movement, as well as to Sudan as a whole.

"He is the most important leader and intellectual in the last 100 years in Sudan," Arman said.

Garang spent eight years in Iowa during the 1970s and 1980s, earning his bachelor’s degree at Grinnell College before enrolling at ISU.

He returned to ISU twice during the final years of his life to speak on the situation in Sudan. In 2002, he addressed a crowd of nearly 1,000 on his vision for southern Sudan. His final visit came in 2004 when he spoke on the country’s pending peace agreement.

(The Iowa State Daily)