Gurtong Is Not “a revenge preaching & killing machine”

"A response by Jacob J. Akol to J Nguen’s Opinion published elsewhere on World Wide Web."

Note: Since facts do not appear to speak for themselves anymore on the world of Internet, I will respond to the below attack on Gurtong Trust – Peace and Media Project as directly as possible and avoid reading into any speculative reasons as to why the writer decided to lance such an attack. My comments are invaded in his text in blue.

October 5, 2014

The Gurtong Trust-Peace and Media Project is a revenge preaching & killing Machine: why are the Norway, the UK and the Swiss’ Governments’ Foreign Affairs Funding it?

Response: On the contrary, Gurtong preaches against killings of any sort, including revenge killings. This is evident in all our platforms: Website, Radio Programmes (which are also streamed on our website), Gurtong Focus Magazine and Mobile Video, some which are on Gurtong You Tube for all to view. The funding countries listed by the writer above include one which has never funded Gurtong – I wished they all did and do after this “promotional attack”, intended or otherwise.

By J. Nguen,

Opinion.

Google Photo, Gurtong.

The photos of the Gurtong Focus Magazines Cover titles, which are included as examples of Gurtong’s hate preaching, are: The November 2013 issue -“Revenge Killings” subtitle “A Cry for Justice”? And the December-January 2013/14 -“2013 Drifting To Chaos!” subtitle “Year Of Action And Feather Ruffling!” It seems obvious that Mr Nguen has not read the contents of either issue, otherwise he would never have concluded that these two issues were preaching revenge and killings of anyone. The two issues were in fact devoted to warnings of approaching chaos and the devastating effects of the vicious cycle of revenge killings, specifically in Lakes and Jonglei states. All you have to do is purchase a copy and read these issues for yourself. In the November issue the Editorial warned: “Beware of Security Deficit Mr President:” with this intro: “While the security of our President has become visibly expansive and very scary at times, the security of the ordinary citizen in many of the South Sudan’s states and the national capital has become increasingly threatened day by day, thus raising the questions: Is the President’s life truly threatened to have such a huge and heavily armed convoy each time he moves around Juba? Is our nation under siege or are the security agents simply enjoying themselves in Juba, terrorising motorists and pedestrians in the name of “security for the President?” The tune is thus set and there is no point getting into the main body of the editorial. The reader can buy and download the issue from Gurtong’s website or buy a hard copy from our office in Juba or Nairobi.

That November issue had this title: “Jonglei Revenge Killings Need Political Solution”, an interview with Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, then EU Ambassador to South Sudan.

The same issue also had this title: “ Need to Strengthen Administration of Justice in South Sudan”, an Interview with Professor Akolda Tier, who is Chairman of the on-going Constitutional Review Commission.

Another title in the same issue runs: “Educated Youths: Targets of Revenge Killings”. This was and still is a fact in Lakes State. It was a report from the state.

Other titles in the same issue include: “NBGS Local Chiefs Rebuke Revenge Killings”. “Revenge Killings: Culture Of Child-Abduction, Cattle-Raiding To Blame”, reports from our states correspondents. Where then in this issue is Gurtong “Preaching Revenge Killings”?

The December-January issue was almost ready to go to print when the December bombshell dropped in Juba. Therefore only three opinion pieces, which are usually last to come in, touched on the conflict itself.

The Editorial, always my page – except on one occasion in honour of Chinua Achebe – had this title: “When Insecurity Knocks on the Door, Liberty Flies Through the Window!” (Not entirely original but useful). The intro: “When security concerns for the  survival of Government and stability of the state become the preoccupation of the government of the day and the general population, everything else becomes secondary: Education, health, agriculture, infrastructure, trade, tourism, roads, freedom of expression and the press, along with liberal democracy, transparent governance, justice, control of tribalism, nepotism and corruption; enabling foreign policy and investment – name it – all become victims! And South Sudan is speeding along that disastrous route at the moment. Can it slow down, stop and reverse?”

The second opinion in this issue was by Martin Garang Aher, with this title: “Presidential Guards In Juba: Mistiming The Nation’s Zero Hour.”  He simply went on to decry that the guards’ actions spoiled a political process that was about to resolve the SPLM Party’s problems peacefully and politically.

The third opinion was by Dr Eric Reeves and had this title: ‘The “Coup” Attempt In South Sudan.’ Take note of the quotes in the “Coup” by the time President Kiir had called it a “coup Attempt”. Dr Reeves is a careful, responsible researcher and always backs up his opinions with evidence. The rest of the issue was all about other topics such as education, development, investment, culture etc.

These two issues, which Nguen exhibited as examples of his alleged Gurtong’s promotion of revenge and killings, do not do the writer credit. Where else, then, has Gurtong gone wrong to become a preacher of revenge killings etc.?

Let’s look further into this opinion.

Oct 5, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — Is this how the world works? I am shocked and saddened by the fact that an organization that preach revenges day-in and day-out is still getting hundreds of thousands of dollars funding from well to do nations, like the Norway, the UK and the Swiss. Isn’t it ironic? Where justice in this absurd dealing?

This contradicting proposition reinforced the notion that revenge is sanctioned and in our blood like it or hate it. For one, the Americans perfect revenges like nothing else, wholesale, on daily basis. They do it in disguise of protecting national interest or maintaining human security. The good news is however, U.S., doesn’t preach revenge. Their approach is reactive in nature but disproportional to the core. Call it furthering U.S. hegemony or maintaining human security is not the trajectory of this piece.

The bottom line is, as I write, U.S. is on a full pledged war campaign against the ISIL, the militants organization based in Iraqi and Syria. ISIL made a lethal mistake for beheading two American citizens in cold-blood and threatened yesterday to behead another and called it a show of force. As a result there are now paying for their ruthless deeds and miscalculated combat tactic.

The truth is, hate speech or preaching revenge wherever it happen is a crime under the stature of international law, which is the focus of this article. An essence, any organization or state that promotes or aids this kind of language financially or otherwise is a terrorist and must be dealt with severely with a full force of the law.

Based on this principle, no one, no organization or state is above this clause. Surprisingly and for some reason, Gurtong Trust – Peace and media Project is allowed to preach revenges on daily basis and still gets funding from Norway, UK and the Swiss. Why is Gurtong Trust –Peace and Media Project immune to hate speech crime? Why is it allowed to promote hate speech and revenge without it being made accountable?

What was all that about? Gurtong does not publish hate speeches. Period. If there is anything against Gurtong, it is the uniform rejection of publication of hate speeches or extremely biased opinions without balance. When on occasions we publish a seemingly biased opinion, we try to balance it with a similar counter opinion. We do not publish hate speeches against anyone, including Riek Machar and Kiir Mayardit. This is not an easy thing to do in a country where one is expected to join one side or the other. Gurtong has dumped a loads of hate opinions directed at either Riek or Kiir; and we are not about to change our mission and objectives for which we were founded.

As a concerned citizen, I am bothered and saddened and decided to write about it. Thus, I feel I am perfecting my duty furthering forceful stand of international law. Second, it’s my rightful duty as a world citizen to ensure that peace and human security prevail. Therefore, this preluded my legal rights to call to question any wrongdoing or warmongering to prevent futuristic anarchy and bloodshed, even though damage is already perfected in Gurtong’s case.

For example, on December 15th, 2013, Dinka militias directed by the President, who is also a Dinka, went on a revenge sphere against the Nuer innocent civilians in Juba. In this fiasco, perhaps, we know the planners and promoters of the Juba Nuer Massacre and Gurtong Trust –Peace Media Project topped the list.

Comment: You are welcome to express your opinion, publish (even on Gurtong – provided it is not hate opinion) or hand over any evidence to the “Investigation Commission” against Gurtong. I guarantee you want find it, simply because it does not exist. By making such baseless and libellous accusations, know that you and those who publish such material are only a step away from being sued for libel should Gurtong wish to do so.

To put blatantly, Gurtong Trust- Peace and Media Project as an organization is a prime promoter of theJuba Nuer Massacre; a massacre, which subsequently triggered a countrywide bloodbath.

Comment: As I said, provide evidence to the Investigation Commission. We have no intention of suing you for libel – not just yet!

For those who might not be aware of what “Gurtong” stand for and what it means in Dinka, you are missing out. BIG TIME! “Gurtong,” by itself is a double-edged sword and lethal at best. Gurtong are two words combined, “gur” and ‘tong’. Gur means revenge. “Tong” means war or spear in a lesser degree. The direct translation of Gurtong is REVENGE THE WAR. What war?—is indeed what makes Gurtong Trust – Peace Media Project a revenge preaching and killing machine of all time in South Sudan’s shaky history.

Comment: Granted that Nitlotic languages (Nuer, Dinak, Acholi and others) recognise the words and therefore have different interpretations of Gurtong, your interpretation of “Gurtong” is significantly in error. Gurtong, as explained on our website, is an Anyuak Ritual for Peace. When two parties are in dispute in which death has occurred, a Gurtong Ritual would be performed to end the feud. Paying an animal or money to end the feud is not enough among the Anyuak until the Gurtong Ritual is performed. This involves the gathering of the feuding sides/communities in one place. The two leaders or elders of the feuding sides will hold the shaft of a spear and together grind (gur) the sharp edges of the spear (tong) against a block of stone until both sides are blunted. The significance of the ritual is that a blunt spear does not kill. Done like that in public and with prayers, a goat or bull would be slaughtered and the meat is shared by members of the feuding families or communities. That would then be the end of the dispute. The name was chosen by the famous Kwacakworo, alias Dr Perner, the Swiss anthropologist who spent years living among the Anyuak. It is the same Perner who believes, just like I do, that the unity of South Sudanese defends very much on the understanding of and respect for what is positive in their traditional cultures and languages, with the maxim that “All cultural values are equal, no matter how big or small an ethnic community”. Kwacakworo and Napoleon Adok Gai (whom you mention here below) were founding members of the Gurtong Trust over 10 years ago and they are still trustees.

To place this into a neat perspective, Gurtong Trust –Peace and media Project was founded in 2002 by Napoleon Adok Gai as “Gurtong Peace Project” in London, UK and registered in Nairobi, Kenya in 2004. Subsequently, in 2007, Gurtong was registered in South Sudan under “Gurtong Peace and Media Project,” where it now exists as “Gurtong Trust – Peace and Media Project.

Comment: The information in the above paragraph is not news to anyone who reads Gurtong, since it is available on our website.

In the paragraph above, we may have noticed that words such as “peace” and “trust” were thrown in the mix. It was done so intentionally to confuse the funders to ensure monies flow, and it worked. From then, to now, Gurtong is being funded by Norway, UK and Swiss, who would otherwise calls for its shutdown, if they knew better.

Again you are mistaken. Gurtong Peace Project is what it originally was as when it was formed in London. It brought South Sudanese families from different ethnic communities together, first in UK (London) then later on continental Europe, to sing, dance and shared together. You will recall that the split of 1991 left our communities in the Diaspora as well as at home badly divided. So both social gatherings and the website were aimed at cementing peace among South Sudanese communities. Napoleon, being an IT specialist, started the Gurtong website for discussion among South Sudanese around the world, including the so-called “Lost Boys” and later “Lost Girls” in North America. They were also in Australia, though there the term “lost” was rarely attached to them. It was then I was contracted by the Swiss to moderate and edit the website.

Gurtong was registered as a Trust in Kenya in 2005 and that’s where the word Trust originated. We were registered as a media in Juba 2007. So it seems you are trying to string the names together to make a pointless argument.

Considering its managing characters, Gurtong Trust –Peace and Media Project’s daily business is runs by Mr. Jacob Jiel Akol as its director after Mr. Gai call it quit. Mr. Akol called himself, a veteran journalist. Interestingly, there is no coincidence why Mr. Akol took Gurtong’s managing director. Mr. Akol knew quite well Gurtong’s mission as a revenge preaching and killing hub.

Napolean Adok did not quit. He was recalled by the Government of Southern Sudan to be part of the investigation into the cause of the death of Dr John Garang. Adok remains one of the founders and Trustee of Gurtong to date. I was, by the time Napoleon returned to the government, the Moderator and Editor of the website, having retired from my previous job and having completed a couple of books. The Swiss, who funded the project, hired me to manage as well as edit the Gurtong website at the beginning of 2006. I have since added the other three platforms: The Magazine (Gurtong Focus), Radio Programmes (which are broadcast by other radio stations and are available on the website), and “Mobile Digital Cinema for Peace”. This last item has specifically peace messages and uniting cultural activities. The peace messages of the Mobile Digital Cinema were exhibited among communities and youths in Bor (included Dinka, Nuer and the Murle), in Pibor (among the Murle). We were unable to go to Akobo and Uror where we planned to show the messages to the Nuer youths and communities there due to the rainy season and later the current conflict. Note that these peace messages, initially from Paramount Chiefs of the Murle, the Dinka and the Nuer, have some of them already transcribed into two other languages each from the original. Nuer to Murle and Dinka, Dinka to Nuer and Murle and Murle to Dinka and Nuer. You can download free from our website and listen to the peace message in any of the three languages.

Mr. Akol was the subject of the so- called “Bor Massacre” documentary, which flooded the western media outlets in the 1990s. Akol himself is from Bor where 1991 incidence occurred. Let’s say, he is from the grieving community though everyone was a victim in the “triangle” or beyond. Given Akol’s brief background, it’s sufficient to conclude that he has every reason at heart and purpose in mind to keep the Gurtong running at all cost. Hence, the prime purpose is to keep the Dinka community reminded and to eventually cue Dinka to take revenge against Nuer for 1991.

I don’t quite understand what you mean by “Mr. Akol was the subject of the so- called “Bor Massacre” documentary”. What documentary? By who? I neither was in Bor nor witness the “Bor Massacre”. And no, I am not from Bor as you assert. I was born 7 miles north of Gogrial Town in Warrap State. I went to Ayiel Village School near Gorial, then to Kuacjok Elementary and Intermediate Schools; then became a refugee in 1963, exiting into Central Africa Republic from Source Yubu and then into Congo, exiting into Tanzania at the beginning of 1964, then into Zambia and then to the Irish Republic by October 1964. All that story is available in my book: “I WILL GO THE DISTANCE, The story of a “lost” Sudanese boy of the sixties”. You can buy it to be better informed about my childhood if you are so interested. I proceeded to UK where I completed my education and returned home to Juba in 1976 as fully (BBC) trained broadcaster (Radio and Television). I headed the English Language Service of Radio Juba, then proceeded to Khartoum where I introduced the first English Language weekly programme, “Guest of the Week”, on Sudan TV. I Khartoum, I also doubled as “Regional Editor” for Sudanow Monthly Magazine as well as Stringer for the BBC and London Guardian. At the end of 1981, I got a job with an international relief and development organisation as their Africa Director for Communications. The Southern Sudan Government’s resolution to release me for only two years to be reviewed after that, was the last resolution the Government of Abel Alier passed, as their government was dissolved by President Numeiri the following early morning and everything deteriorated into the later long war there after. So you can say I was lucky to get out in time before everything went up in smoke.

That new job based in Nairobi took 20 years of my working life. Covering famines and wars throughout Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi, DRC, Angola, Mozambique, Sierra Leona, Liberia and lot, lot more. You may accuse - or praise me - for having been instrumental in the international media’s coverage of the Ethiopian Famine of 1984-85, Somalia war and famine 1992, Rwanda Genocide of 1994, of the so-called “Lost Boys of Sudan” exodus to Kenya through Kapoeta or South Sudan’s Famine of 1998, never the “Bor massacre”.  I was never there, and therefore never witnessed or covered it. Much of my 20 years experiences in Africa and elsewhere around the world, including Canada where you say you now live, are  recorded in my book: “BURDEN OF NATIONALITY, Memoirs of an African Aidworker/Journalist 1970s-1990s.” So I can claim to be a legitimate “veteran journalist”, never you doubt it.

Below, I provided logical reasoning and justifications for this to make sense to ordinary South Sudanese and Gurtong’s funders. Gurtong Peace Project” as mentioned above was founded during peace times. One, it was formed at the time of the “merger” between two South Sudanese principals, Dr. Riek and Dr. John Garang’s factions after the split of 1991.

Not only that, 2002 was the year when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was negotiated and where some vital protocols were signed between the north and south Sudan warring parties. In 2004 and 2007, when Gurtong was put to operations in Kenya and South Sudan respectively, it was times of tranquillities.

Therefore, I find it very difficult for anyone to call for revenge given the political developments in Sudan at time. Undoubtedly, you will agree with me that calling for revenge considering the circumstance makes no logical sense if ill intention was not the very motive of Gurtong. If not so, then, why are the Gurtong founding members calling for revenge yet the whole country was gearing up for peaceful settlements of her crises?

Is it not true that during peace times, peace promoting organizations would have sprung up and formed at ease? Why calling for war revenge? And to whom was this revenge intended against? After December 15th, 2013, one concluded that Gurtong’s founding members had one thing in mind, preach revenge against Nuer nation.

As planned, a cruel and heartless revenge killing happened against Nuer ethnic group on December 15th. 2013. Reports estimated that more than 20, 000 thousands innocent Nuer civilians were murdered in cold-blood within 4 days. In this case you would say Gurtong’s mission of revenge fulfilled.

Hence, there is no room to deny this. There is no logical reason to argue that Gurtong was preaching revenge against Arabs. This is unrealistic. After the CPA was concluded in 2005 and independence in 2011, any revenge preaching misconception against Arabs north is obsolete.

Based on these grounds, it’s sad to report that the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the Norwegian People Aid (NPA), the UK and the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs funded and still granting monies of well intentions aids for criminal activities, Gurtong Trust – Peace and Media Project’ mission to revenge.

The lingering question that needs answers from Gurtong’s funders is whether they knew that Gurtongmeans revenge the war in Dinka or were they simply blindfolded and cheated by words “trust” and “peace” added in the mix to cover up Gurtong’s vicious plan?

Sadly, before our watchful eyes, Gurtong Trust – Peace and Media Project continue to tell us it trusted revenge and yet three Western nations continued to grant hundreds of thousands of dollars for it to exists and preach revenge and bloodshed in South Sudan. Is it not true that the phrase “Gurtong Trust” mean the organization trusted revenge?

At this juncture, I put my case to rest. However, the ball is in the Norwegian People’s Aid, the UK government and the Swiss’ Ministry Foreign Affairs’ courts to decide whether they should keep aiding and enabling a revenge preaching machine.

And so, in the paragraphs above, ends your accusations against Gurtong as a hater of the Nuer? With due respect I beg to differ that you have done nothing of the sort. If anything you have simply done your best to promote the good work of Gurtong, unintentionally it seems. Thank you nevertheless.

It suffices here to point out that Gurtong has always been a multi ethnic organisation, exemplified in its Board of Trustees and Advisory Board members from all the three greater regions of Equatoria, Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile; which, for your information, include two prominent members of the Nuer Community (check our website) and of course the founding members. Our Mission and Objectives remain very much the same, even after the tragic December events, which continue to claim lives - even as we are wasting time here on this nonsensical accusations - of innocent members of our communities. In a joint Board and our Donor Partners meeting in Nairobi in February this year, Gurtong refocused its activities in the recording on video “positive testimonies”, where possible, of South Sudanese who had gone out of their way to assist members of communities, other than their own, to escape death or injury in Juba, Akobo, Bor, Malakal and Bentiu. And indeed such encouraging stories do exist amongst the Nuer, the Dinka and other communities and we have already started recording. All the best, Nguen; and I hope you stop and denounce this silly witch hunt against Gurtong Trust – Peace and Media Project. Let’s join hands together to find a peace solution to the this terrible war. Jacob J. Akol. 

Nguen is a concerned South Sudanese living in Canada. He can be reached nyolgaar@yahoo.com

http://nyamile.com/2014/10/05/the-gurtong-trust-peace-and-media-project-is-a-revenge-preaching-killing-machine-why-are-the-norway-the-uk-and-the-swiss-governments-foreign-affairs-funding-it/

 

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