HAVE YOU MET THE TENACIOUS JOHN GARANG! The Hero Who Fought For Liberation ? See This
Sept. 18, 2020
John Garang De Mabior
Liberator, South Sudan
Africa is the home of liberators, but none with the tenacity and the charisma of John Garang. He is remembered for his beard, bulky physique and the jet-black skin of his Dinka ethnic group.
For more than 20 years he fought in one of Africa’s longest-running bush wars as the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army to liberate the Christian, animist South and the Muslim, Arab-speaking North. It’s his efforts that eventually set a series of events that saw South Sudan emerge as the independent state that it is now.
John Garang , Sudanese rebel leader and politician (born June 23, 1945, Wangkulei, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan [now in The Sudan]—died July 30/31, 2005, southern Sudan), was appointed to the post of first vice president of The Sudan after having founded and led the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in 22 years of war against the Sudanese government and then negotiating an end to that war. Garang graduated from Grinnell (Iowa) College in 1969 and returned to The Sudan, where he was involved with the Anya Nya rebel group in the Christian and animist southern part of the country. After the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement, Garang was among those rebels absorbed into the Sudanese armed forces. He became a colonel, trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, and earned advanced degrees in the U.S. The Sudanese government grew increasingly Islamist in the early 1980s, however, and when Garang was sent to put down an uprising in the south in May 1983, he instead joined the rebel forces, out of which he built the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, which by 1991 was 60,000 strong. Garang engaged in peace talks with Pres. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir beginning in July 2002, and the talks culminated in the signing of a peace agreement in January 2005, under the terms of which Garang joined the government on July 9 as first vice president. He died in a helicopter crash as he was returning from a meeting with the president of Uganda.
In late July 2005, Garang died after the Ugandan presidential Mi-172 helicopter he was flying in crashed. He had been returning from a meeting in Rwakitura with long-time ally President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. He did not tell the Sudanese government that he was going to this meeting and therefore did not take the presidential plane. In fact, Garang had said he was going to spend the weekend in New Cush, a small village near the Kenyan borders founded by Garang himself. To this day neither the identity of any other participants at the meeting nor its purpose, are known.
After the helicopter had been missing for more than 24 hours, the Ugandan president notified the Sudanese government, which in turn contacted the SPLM for information. The SPLM responded that the helicopter Garang was taking had landed safely on an old SPLA training camp. The Sudanese state television duly reported this. A few hours later, Abdel Basset Sabdarat, Sudan's Information Minister, then appeared on TV to refute the earlier report that Garang's helicopter landed safely. It was, in fact, Yasir Arman, the SPLA/M spokesperson, who had told the government that Garang's plane had landed safely and his intention, in doing so, was to buy time for internal succession arrangements within the SPLA, before Garang's death was to be declared. Garang's helicopter crashed on Friday and he remained 'missing' throughout Saturday.
During this time, the government believed he was still resolving his affairs in Southern Sudan. Finally, a statement released by the office of the Sudanese President, Omar el-Bashir, confirmed that the Ugandan presidential helicopter had crashed into "a mountain range in southern Sudan because of poor visibility and this resulted in the death of Dr. John Garang DeMabior, six of his colleagues and seven Ugandan crew members." According to the Sudan Tribune John Garang's legacy was a major cornerstone in South Sudan's fight for independence. Without Garang, many marginalized people of Africa, including that of Sudan would still be largely forgotten about in the modern world.
His body was flown to New Cush, a southern Sudanese settlement near the scene of the crash, where former rebel fighters and civilian supporters gathered to pay their respects to Garang. Garang's funeral took place on August 3 in Juba. His widow, Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, promised to continue his work stating: In our culture we say "if you kill the lion, you see what the lioness will do".
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