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SPLM/SPLA Day: Commemorating the 37th Anniversary of May 16th

By Willy Mayom Maker, Canada

Sunday, May 17, 2020 (PW) —– To commemorate the 37th day of the SPLA, the following are my memorable moments during the training.

The Comrade Paul Anyuat was the overall commander of the training. Comrade Paul was extremely passionate about the SPLA. He took his job seriously, and he was very good at it. “When you launch an assault under the enemy fire,” he often warned. “Don’t bend or stoop. If you do, the bullet will enter from your head and exit from your ass. Instead, stand up straight when launching an assault and let the bullet punch through your body. You could be a disabled person.”

The late CDR Deng Deng Rihan was the deputy commander. Comrade Deng always looked serious. I never saw him smiling, ever. “Enbuu, he always shouted, meaning “attention.” The first time Comrade Deng introduced himself in the parade, he said: “While I’m talking, I don’t want anyone to move, talk, sneeze, or cough.”

Soon, Chol Bol Bol (now in the USA) coughed. “Take him to the river and beat him thoroughly,” Comrade Deng ordered.” Chol Bol Bol Awendit was the first victim of Comrade Deng. Remember, Comrade Deng had just married Chol Bol’s big sister. The guy, who started punishment with his brother-in-law, scared crap out of us.

The training started with bodybuilding exercises, such as pushups, sit-ups, jogging, and so on. Then, we learned marching, salutation, rolling, and so on. After that, we did tactical maneuvers, known as giamat. The moves were derived from animals’ movements. For example, giam dud–crawling on the stomach like a worm; giam tigil –walking like a monkey; giam sogur –squatting and walking like an eagle; giam gonya –leaping like a frog, and so forth.

Teamwork and comradeship were highly emphasized in training. You trained, bathed, ate, slept, and even used latrine as a team. If one person wanted to use the toilet, for example, the entire platoon or squad would jog to the latrine, while singing revolutionary songs.

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One of my battalion-mates had a weak bladder, and we were tired of running with him to the latrine now and then. Also, the Comrade in question did not know Arabic, the only language used in training. So every time he wanted to ask permission to go to urinate, he would whisper to us in Dinka, “How do you say, I want to go to urinate in Arabic?” “Ana deir ne bul,” he was told. But he kept forgetting the phrase. Tomorrow he would ask the same thing again. So people were tired of both running to the latrine with him and translating.

One night, we were sitting in the parade as one of the instructors, Geng Maker (now somewhere in the USA), was lecturing. Geng Maker, with his thunderous voice, used to talk for hours. The Comrade in question whispered again in Dinka, “How do you say, I want to go and urinate?” One guy who was tired of him decided to fool him. “Ana ma dier ne bul (I don’t want to urinate,)” he told him the opposite.

The Comrade in question raised his hand. “Comrade, ana ma deir ne bul,” (Comrade, I don’t want to urinate),” he said. Instructor Geng Maker said, “Okay, you stay. I didn’t tell you to go and urinate.”

We started to chuckle, knowing the Comrade in question had learned his lesson. But soon, our laughed faded. The comrade in question relieved himself while sitting. The urine flew on the ground, staining our butts. We couldn’t move; otherwise, the trainers would beat us to death. Lesson learned. Instead of helping our comrade as a team, we decided to bully him. We ended up with his urine on our butts as a result.

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Finally, we were trained on how to execute raids and ambushes, as well as how to launch successive attacks. We trained on how a platoon, squad, or coy attack separately as part of a larger unit or battalion. The final lesson of the training before graduation was the entire unit or battalion attack. It was called ujum katiba.

We were also trained on what to do when captured by the enemy. You were not supposed to give the enemy any information, no matter how much they beat you. And if you had documents with sensitive information in your pocket, you had to chew and swallow them so that the enemy couldn’t read them.

In this exercise, I was teamed up with Madut Mabior (now a colonel in South Sudan Army). He was the leader of our company or coy. As a bodyguard, I was given highly classified documents to carry. When captured by the enemy (the trainers), I had to swallow these two papers.

Carrying our wooden guns, we followed a trail as we walked up and down a mountain. Somewhere the enemy (trainers) had laid ambush waiting for us. We had to be vigilant. Remember, the trainers, who pretended to be the enemy, had real guns with live bullets. They had to shoot in the air. But we had to use our wooden guns and shot with our mouth, “ta, ta, ta…”

Comrade Madut warned me that when we fall in ambush, I should run faster to avoid being captured and beaten. Most importantly, we had to avoid swallowing the papers.

As we entered a dry stream, the enemy started shooting. We were in the ambush. We used our wooden guns and shot back, “ta, tat a, ta…” Then we took off running. “Sabit, sabit…” they shouted. But we didn’t stop.

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A couple of people were captured and beaten to unconsciousness. Some swallowed their documents.

Salutations to all martyrs and veterans of the SPLA/M!

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