(Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. ) - On Wednesday, December 05, South Sudanese in South Sudan and all around the world, woke up to a devastatingly shocking and appalling news that, an enigmatic (at least to those who did not know his family given names as Diing Chan Awuol) a popular writer, acclaimed commentator, and a shrewd political analyst, whose pennames were Isaiah Abraham, has been gunned down at dawn in Juba, South Sudan, by unknown assailant(s). Those of us, who have come to learn of his family given names as Maj. Diing Chan Awuol just hours after receiving the unbearable news of his killing, and, who are now writing posthumous words of praise for his unmatched patriotic and selfless work, knew him simply as comrade Isaiah Abraham of Sudan Tribune and other media publications. He was a true gentleman whose cutting edge analysis and commentary on some of the most important national issues of our time made him a household name. I doubt he knew the magnitude of thinking and mental impacts and effects his writings have had on thousands of young South Sudanese who silently signed on computers daily to sift through a garbage of articles in search of a stimulating and thoughts provoking opinion piece or analysis Isaiah Abraham might have written the night before. Unfortunately, it was never going to be true again last week when our hearts were sunken by bitter news of his savage murder in Juba, by none other than the very same people he proudly called fellow countrymen.
Admittedly, there were times I suspected he might be one of those well connected oil fellows in Juba playing double advocacy and, I started to ask myself questions like who is this fellow? What does he think he is doing and where does he find the time to write always in defiance of the madness which has engulfed and consumed Juba?
Yet, I would find answers to my questions next day in his subsequent articles that he was just a harmless fellow trying at all costs to fulfill a national call of duty for which he took to the merciless bushes of South Sudan at a young age. It was then that I realized he wasn't one of those Post-CPA-Independence petro-dollar empowered gentlemen mooching aimlessly in Juba, but I genuinely believe he was a self-made gentleman who has tirelessly and diligently worked hard—at least for the few years I have been a passionate admirer of his writings, which contributed in laying down the groundwork for a promising future.
The great Frantz Fanon once said “each generation must out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it”. This quote is ever more meaningful and uplifting today at a time the nation Isaiah wholeheartedly loved mourns him, while also commending in his long sleep; the passion, confidence, self-belief, compassion, and dedication to public service, which is a mission and purpose he discovered out of the rubbles of civil war, but, a mission which he never betrayed, but fulfilled, although it let him down by taking away his life at the final step of our nation’s long journey towards fighting for a complete mental emancipation. As someone who has fallen in love with his writings, I know that the ideas advocated by self-empowered individuals like him will always live on beyond the fruitful days of those who cut his life short, for one of Africa’s beloved sons, Steve Biko, once spoke these ever refreshing words that a man should better die for an idea that will always live, than to live for an idea that will die. As he correctly foretold, Steve Biko surely died for an idea which has lived on far beyond the glorious days of his killers, and so will indelible memories Isaiah has left with us.
Late Maj. Diing's writings truly embodied and epitomized the greatness we all aspire to as we search for a lasting national identity that will transcend ethnic divide, gender, age, educational and economic statuses, and all barriers inhibiting our collective progress as people whose bonds should have been cemented by the precious bloods of patriots like Isaiah and millions of those who have perished in the line of national duty. Perhaps, like thousands of South Sudanese he had inspired, I never knew the ethnic community he was a member of, because his intellectual acumen was so inspiring and futuristic to the extent that I cared less inquiring if the Biblically double sounding names: Isaiah Abraham, were real or just pennames like so many young South Sudanese intellectuals are doing nowadays to void meeting the same fate as his. This illustrates how much his writings were deeply cutting into the minds of those who cherish importance of being a member or citizen of a country that respects, values, accepts, and celebrates the power of knowledge and transformative ideas, not parochialism and petty wrangling over allocation of political shares. Even though we today remain a bitterly and dangerously divided and polarized society on the spectrum of ethnic politics and dit e piou (a Jieng word for greediness), the presence of few sensible and rational voices like the late Maj. Diing in public domain provided at least a daily dose of relief that our best days are yet ahead. Therefore, tearing ourselves apart at a time of petro-dollars is doing disservices to millions of men and women watching upon us in their unmarked graves, which are inhumanly scattered across the vast plains, on top of mountains, and in the ever hungry belly of our beloved mother River Nile.
I did not always agree with some aspects of his opinions, however, no matter how bitterly some people disagreed with his political views, daily commentary, and refined analysis of the real issues affecting South Sudan, it was never a sufficient reason to take away a life of such a shrewdly intellectually gifted brother like Isaiah! It was neither his knack, sharp intellectual prose, and the pace with which he wrote nor the credibility and veracity of the materials he always fed us with that made him an intellectual darling to South Sudanese from all walks of life, but the passion, confidence and compassion and dedication he showed, to make a little difference by using the only small, yet effective tool he had: Sharing and spreading knowledge through media publications concerning real issues of our time and that of posterity.
Thus, like all the comrades who have gone before him, Isaiah took an assassin’s bullet for being a voice of the voiceless and for speaking up bravely so that the posterity will inherit a peaceful, successful, and harmonious South Sudan whose lasting foundation has been cemented by the precious bloods of selfless innocent patriots like him. Therefore, even in his long silence, he joins the ranks of those who have fallen before him in defense of our beloved land. We are mourning and praising Isaiah today as somebody whose death gave us an abiding strength and determination to keep peddling on because he was just like us average people who passionately believe that offering and applying every small tool we are privileged with will contribute in creating a prosperous future for a nation we dearly love. And even if it might have seemed at time like he were casting pearls before swine, Isaiah did not die in vain because he spilled his blood and sacrificed his life in the line of national duty for all South Sudanese freedom and peace loving people. Though his love for freedom of speech and expression as a free citizen caused his dear life, he can rest assured in his grave that he has left behind so many other Isaiah Abrahams the assassins’ bullets will never succeed in eliminating till the end of time. Those he has touched with words of wisdom and bravery will never cast a shadow over his unblemished legacy and history will always remember and treasure him fondly as a patriotic freedom fighter and a principled man whose unwavering conviction for justice and fairness could not be eroded away by petro-dollar which is tearing down our national bond.
While his killers may be unknown and perhaps laughing happily in hiding for having succeeded in a mission they foolishly and wrongly calculated as a permanently binding solution to his heartwarming writings, they have only succeeded in taking away his life so we do not wake up next day glued to our computers in search for his articles. Meanwhile, they haven't succeeded in dampening our spirits and will not be able to extirpate a lasting legacy he has planted in the minds and hearts of his fellow countrywomen and men like me. If they really believe silencing harmless and locally grown ideas penned on paper and not the deadly sounds of their foreign made guns is an immediate panacea for all the ills plaguing this nation, then they're dead wrong!
The most important question that has been lingering in my mind (and perhaps many people’s minds) ever since we learned of Isaiah's brutal death is not who killed him, and whether justice will be served in his case (as much as it's important), but rather what will next become the future of our beloved nation and the cause to which he laid down his life? Alas, we have surely read Isaiah's last words. Nevertheless, we also know that he will always rest dignified in his long sleep as a principled man, despite meeting death at the hands of cruel brutes he once watched upon with an unshakable bond of camaraderie in death trenches during war of freedom, liberation, and independence of South Sudan. RIP comrade Isaiah Abraham (Diing Chan Awuol)!