ZOE ALADA-(EDITOR) Societies and countries fail in some aspects and yet succeed in others. It might be the case that a nation is not doing well on the economic front but on the right path with how it takes care of its most vulnerable members. Unfortunately, countries such as South Sudan have failed on every single criterion imaginable. The country has lost on enterprise, governance, and humanity.
Now, when it comes to the subject of war, it is only befitting that, ordinary men with extraordinary courage and selfless hearts who gave their lives to secure the peace of their nation, are appropriately recognized and compensated for their patriotic service. However, the converse is often the case. The brave heroes who forsake all to fight for their country are frequently deserted.
Major Bol Macuor Kulang, is a victim of this neglect and disloyalty that a government shows to its faithful war veterans. He is a disabled officer who was enlisted into the SPLA during the war, used by the government, and neglected afterward.
After he had fought for the SPLA and served the government during the war, Major Bol Macuor Kulang in 2012 asked a young man who was a deputy director of Finance in the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs to assign him to a department in the directorate. Unfortunately, his request was delayed for three months because excessive corruption, favoritism, and nepotism had eaten deep into the system. Consequently, before one could get such an appointment as requested by Maj. Bol, one had to be in the inner caucus of the Bilpam elite or a member of the Awanism Mhadia Family in the state of Bahr El – Ghazal.
Peter Adwok Nyaba, in his book South Sudan: Elites, Ethnicity, Endless Wars, and the Stunted States described the Bilpam Elites as a group of bloodsuckers who were just like the political, military, and business elites.
At length, Maj. Bol was finally given an appointment to head an Archive office in the directorate. The appointment was a blank one. The job had no description, no role, no responsibility attached to it, no staff to work with, and no formal structure. He was given the job and left alone to sort himself out. As at that time, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) was still in control, and it was more of a dictatorial movement.
Maj. Bol took the job he was given, located his office, and he discovered it was in a hidden place, not even in an open space where he could be easily contacted or where he could call for help when an emergency arose. The deplorable state of his office, however, led to his second injury while he was still discharging his duties as a responsible citizen.
And even if he was employed, the Major was never paid a penny while he worked at the directorate. He worked without compensation or allowance. Nobody was bothered about his well-being. Most appalling is that he was owed salary for more than five years. Only one Journalist who worked with Juba Monitor managed to write about his story and featured a picture of him in a wheelchair (Juba Monitor is a self-regulating Newspaper in South Sudan’s capital, Juba).
As a result of his physical impairment caused by the injuries, he sustained while working for the government, Maj. Bol was meant to be flown abroad for urgent medical care. The movement, however, waved everything aside, probably because he had no connection whatsoever in the Bilpam Elites group who urgently treated their people anywhere they could get better medical care.
Also, while he was down, Maj. Bol had no visitor from the directorate where he worked and from the government. The head of the directorate never thought it wise to send delegates to check on him. The only person who showed concern was his late Uncle Abot Awan, who wept on seeing his condition.
Furthermore, in the Ministry of Defense, Maj. Bol was abused and insulted severally because of his disability. Brig.-Gen. Magor Ajang would always disparage him before officers at Bilpam and had openly accused him of lying about the fact that he got his disability through injuries he sustained from a gunshot. Even when he tried to lodge a complaint against Brig.-Gen. Magor Ajang to his stepbrother, Lt.-Gen. Bior Ajang, who was a secretary in the directorate, Lt.-Gen. Ajang would always dismiss his complaint with the view that his stepbrother was drunk. This is to show how irresponsible and undemocratic the government is towards the plight of the weaker masses.
In addition, the SPLA also labeled him a blatant liar even when the top officers in the defense ministry were fully aware his disability came up as a result of a gunshot injury he sustained. He wrote to Kill Manning, the Defense Minister, to inform him about the injustice being meted out on him by the people he worked for. The Defense Minister replied to him, “There is no room for me to intervene in issues that don’t fall directly under my responsibilities.”
To compound his problems, Maj. Bol’s promotion–while he served as Head of Archive office at the Ministry of Defense, Bilpam–was unjustly withheld for three years without a proper explanation. He is a wounded hero, not just physically but also emotionally because of all he experienced.
The personal life story of Maj. Bol Macour Kulang is a sad one. Most times, he is unable to narrate it to people without bursting into uncontrollable tears.
Despite his predicament, he made sacrifices and fought for his country. Thus, one can boldly say that he is a contributor to the successes and achievements of South Sudan.
Therefore, the government should be fully aware of the violation of his rights and the severe injustice he suffered for so many years. Maj. Bol Macuor Kulang deserves to be nationally recognized and honored for his selfless service.
However, the appeal for justice, compensation and reward does not apply to the Major alone, but other ex-servicemen who have suffered similarly after gallantly giving their lives to shape a brighter future for the people of South Sudan. Some fought and lost limbs; others fought to the death. Now, it’s time someone fought for them. The narrative must change from wounded and forsaken to remembered, honored, and immortalized.