Bor community in Canada celebrates independence, remembers its great contributors

(Calgary, Alberta, Canada) - One might think that the period of fanfare, pomp and color accorded an independence day was over when South Sudan became independent on July 9 this year. However, you could be proven wrong as South Sudanese communities continue to celebrate across the globe.

Last weekend, South Sudanese Canadians who hail from the Greater Bor Area of South Sudan threw a spectacular party in Calgary, Alberta to celebrate the hard won freedom and to remember thousands of martyrs the community has lost as a result of half a century of liberation wars. The Greater Bor Area consists of three counties of Bor South, Duk and Twic East in Jonglei State.

“The 21 years war of revolution from 1983 -2005 started in Bor,” Said Boul Malual Gurech, Chairman of Bor Community in Calgary. “The first person to die from the first bullets of that revolution was from Bor. The leader of the liberation movement was from Bor. We wanted to show the public that our people did not die in vain.”

According to the Technical Organizing Committee, the event was not a mere chest thumping exercise by the Bor Community. It was rather a way to reflect on its own contributions to the achievements of South Sudan independence, to teach the younger generations born in Canada about the history of their homeland and to remember the martyrs who made the independence happen.

 Members converged in Calgary from Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Brooks and Lethbridge. “It was a test of our unity and ability to come together as people of Bor from different cities in Alberta and organize such a successful event,” said Garang Isaac Kot, Co Chairman of the Technical Organizing Committee. “It was important for outsiders to know how much this community has contributed to South Sudan's independence.”

“The celebration was a thank you to all our heroes and heroines from Bor Community,” said Dieu Mark Atem, a member of the Technical Organizing Committee. Through a projector, Dieu Atem and Yuot Alier, another Technical Organizing Committee member, presented a Power Point Presentation along with historical pictures and video clips on a gigantic screen in the celebration hall to the delight of the invited guests and participants. The celebration was also marked with parade, dancing, singing and speeches.

“A human has a name and an address. Independence [of South Sudan] has given us our name and our address – our homeland,” said Boul Malual Gurech. According to him, those who fled the country and lived as refugees in other lands uniquely understand what it means to have a country of your own.

 “The event provided a comprehensive insight into our history in an unbiased manner,” said Deng Lueth, Co Secretary of the Technical Organizing Committee. “[The independence] marks the end of the struggle for freedom and the beginning of the development of our homeland.”

The celebration highlighted time treasured achievements from the iconic liberation leader late hero Dr. John Garang, who hailed from the Bor Community. John Garang was remembered for his vision of a Sudan of equality regardless of race. His vision inspired resistance across Sudan which led to Northerners, Easterners and Westerners (Darfurians) to join the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM/SPLA) to fight for freedom and dignity. Garang’s larger goal was to achieve a united Sudan on a new basis while his bottom line goal was to set the South free.

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Late Dr. John Garang (far right in front row) built the Sudan People's Liberation Army or SPLA to become one of the most disciplined and successful liberation armies on the African Continent!

From the scratch, Garang built the SPLM/SPLA to become one of the strongest, disciplined and most successful liberation movements on the African continent. By 1991, the SPLM/SPLA held control of most of South Sudan except the major towns of Juba, Malakal and Wau and most part of Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains. In the liberated areas, the SPLM/SPLA under Garang set up civil society administrations and crafted a strategy of peace through development. As a leader, Garang had a vision of fighting poverty in a free homeland, embodied in his taking “towns to people” approach, which has continued to inspire and inform the SPLM’s or South Sudan’s development plan. Garang’s greatest achievement remains his negotiation and signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, which put an end to the 21 years of war and paved the way for the independence of South Sudan in 2011.

Other leaders from Bor Community whose contributions were highlighted included Abel Alier, Arok Thon Arok, Martin Majier Gai, Akuot Atem Mayen, Alier Mangardit, Paul Awel, Aquila Manyuon, and Kuol Manyang Juuk, among a long list.

Although he never joined any of the liberation movements, Abel Alier (1933 –present), Sudan’s Vice President from 1971 to 1981 and Southern Sudan High Executive Council President from 1972 -1978 & 1980-1981, was in particular recognized for his peace effort between the North and South, especially his peace advocacy which led to 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement, and ended the first civil war as well as his mediation between the SPLM and the NCP, which led to a high level negotiation between the late hero Dr. John Garang and Ali Osman Taha of the Khartoum Government.

Arok Thon Arok was remembered for his military contributions to the liberation struggle, especially as one of the founders of the SPLM/SPLA. Martin Majier Gai was remembered for his human rights and freedom advocacy and for his role in writing the first SPLM/SPLA manifesto, which set the legal and ideological foundation of the movement. Akuot Atem de Mayen was remembered for his role in the Anya Nya One Movement and as the leader of Anya Nya Two Movement championing the quest for the independence of South Sudan.

Jesh-Al  Amer or Red Army, whose some of its members are known in the west as the Lost Boys of Sudan, were remembered for their role during the liberation struggle, especially when most of them left Kakuma Refugees Camp in Kenya twice on foot in the 1990s to contribute in liberating some of the key towns in South Sudan. About 90 percent of them were from Bor, according to Deng Nhial Garang, Bor Community Chairman in Brooks, Alberta. The first SPLA Battalions of Koryom were mostly comprised of people of Bor Community.

The celebration commemorated the Bor Traditional leaders who offered the highest martyrdom when they were massacred in 1967 by the brutal Khartoum government for resisting against the oppression of their people. The massacred leaders included Bor Area Paramount Chief Ajang Duot de Bior along with his sectional leaders Jogaak Deng, Bul Koch and Athiew Madol, among others.Bor traditional leaders were also recognized for their role in mobilizing the community to feed the SPLA during the liberation struggle.

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Some of the Bor Community Chiefs in this 1957 photo paid the highest martyrdom when the brutal Khartoum Government massacred them in 1967 at the height of Anya Nya One Movement for their resistance against the Khartoum Government's oppression of their people. Bor Community Paramount Leader Ajang Duot de Bior (in photo number 4) was among those killed.

The celebration also recognized contributions from freedom fighters across South Sudan such as Father Saturnino Lohure, William Deng Nhial, Aggrey jadden, Joseph Oduho, Joseph Lagu, Samuel gai Tut, William Nyuon Bany, Karubino Kuanyin Bol and Salva Kiir Mayardit, among others.

 


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