Between Dr. Riek Macher Teny, Daniel Abushery Daniel and Me!!

"President Barrack Obama, begins his work’s day by going over all of the major newspapers and TV channels..."

By: Luk Kuth Dak

Luk Kuth Dak
Daniel Abushery Daniel and I were talking the other day. We have known each other from a very young age, me having seen this earth before him. It was there in Nasir that we first met. We attended the same primary school, and he was a freshman when I was a sophomore at Malakal Senior Secondary School, before I transferred to an Arabic school in Shendi to escape away from the brutality of the English language, which was introduced abruptly the moment we set foot in High School in 1977. From there, our friendship flourished and endured through the years.

His dad, Ustaz Daniel Nyang Toul, a distance cousin to my mother, was a selfless educator, who believed in educating children. He relentlessly toured our entire area luring parents who were otherwise unenthusiastic about education, to send their kids to school. I was one of the beneficiaries.

Unlike Daniel’s, my Daddy, the late Judge, Kuth Dak Mut, was an uneducated man. Nonetheless, he was armed with a Law Degree in common sense, judgment and wisdom. He sat on the bench as a judge for decades until he decided on his own terms to walk away when aging began to catch up with him. Yet, his consul was always sought for to the very last day of his life.

But more of that has anything to do with the title of my article except to give a flash back to the beginning of the friendship journey between Abushery and I. And to tell you a little bit about our fathers, hard working men who loved serving their communities.

So, Abushery and I had some conversation the other day about the current political hot topics. After all, we have an abundant in common. We’re both fluent in Arabic language. Besides, I was his biggest cheer-leader when he was playing soccer along side the late captain/ chief, Gatkouth Pour-deed Boub. He was my biggest fan and admirer when I was anchoring the evening news at Juba Radio.

Dr Machar (right) and J J Akol (left) at a media event recently in Juba
On that day, Daniel called me up to give me the telephone number to Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, RSS, who’s here on a private matter.

When I rang up the number, a sleepy voice announced that the person on the receiving end was, in fact, the number two most powerful man in the RSS. “ How are you Dr. Machar, I asked?” “ I’m fine, and who are you, he inquired?” “ I am Luk Kuth Dak; do you know me, I demanded?” “ No, he said.” “  Well, I’m a columnist, a former anchorman at Juba radio and a former press secretary to the former Upper Nile State’s governors: Daniel Koat Mathews ( D.K.) and Col. Simon Manang, I assured him.” (the later is from his home state of Unity).

Still no luck!!

I reminded the VP as well that a few years ago, Kormach Gak Deng and me (then freshmen students at Morris Brown College, here in Atlanta, Georgia) visited with him in his hotel room in down town Atlanta when he came here at the helm of a high-ranking delegation from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM/A) for a peace conference hosted by the former US President, Jimmy Cater, at the Cater Presidential Center, between the SPLM and the government of Sudan. I also told him that on the second day, I retuned to his hotel with gifts of books authored by one of my heroes, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, including the “I have a dream” speech.

Did he recall all those? Not a chance!

Now, if you think the VP’s memory lost ends here, think again! in more articles then one, I came to his defense when he was subjected to a barrage of some vicious attacks by some journalists from the Bor area over his (admitted) responsibility on the tragic massacre in Bor in 1990.

Most recently, I also lauded him, in an article, for coming out clean, and by publicly taking responsibility for his actions against innocent civilians in Bor. (Those article are all available in all of the major newspapers’ website) .

 But the VP didn’t read them!!

As Bill O’Reilly often says, I have no “ beef” with the VP for not remembering me. After all, it’s been a quarter of a century since I left the anchor desk at the Juba Radio’s Arabic service and became a refugee in the US and later its citizen. But what I have a beef with, clearly, has to do with why is it that our politicians DO NOT give a darn about what (we) writers stay up all night long writing in order to draw their attention and to connect them with their constituents? So, the compelling is: where does the VP get his news from since its self evidence that he cares less about the media?

Rumor mongers? I bet.

Without a doubt, the news media can be a very important tool for direction and guidance for anyone in a public office. This’ so true in the case of the United States of America!!

By his own admission, the most powerful man, and perhaps the busiest one in the world, President Barrack Obama, begins his work’s day by going over all of the major newspapers and TV channels, Fox  News included! He does so because the new media provide him with a mirror that reflects what his administration has done right, of where it fell short of. In another word, the President needs the media, not the other way around.

Hence, I am pretty sure that very many of you, except the VP, know that it’s only been a few weeks of my writing drought. That was simply because my day job at the Marriott International became a little bit demanding of my time. As a result, my weekly column didn’t appear. Other than that temporary suspension, I had in the past been able to write a weekly political viewpoint in all of the major newspapers in South Sudan. That’s where my heart is, and that’s what I enjoy doing the most.

Finally, the most profound question is, when was the last time Dr. Machar made his physical state of health public?

Evidently, the VP is obviously overweighed, and he spends thousands of hours on the computer playing games!!

Luk Kuth Dak is a former anchorman at Juba Radio.

Posted in: Opinions
Comments
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23/10/2011, 11:55 AM
 - Posted by Jacob Akol
Dear Luk,

I sympathise with you. However, it is my opinion that politicians anywhere do not read or pay any attention to what journalists write/say because they are seeking for wisdom or guidance. Rather, they do so because they must, fearing that they may be caught unaware by their literate critics and public. In a country like South Sudan, the constituents that elect our politicians are largely illiterate and have no idea what journalists are talking about; and most are also tribally loyal. Wait for another fifty years or so and perhaps they may begin to behave like the Obamas of today.
Regards,
Jacob
23/10/2011, 2:02 PM
 - Posted by James Mijok
Dear Luk,

Some politicians in South Sudan do read what journalists write and some do not at all for one reason or the other. In the West, most politicians absolutely do read what journalists write because all these opinions about government or other related issues do count to Westeren politicians as far as public opinion is concern. And I do agree with Jacob akol that "the constituents that elect our politicians are largely illiterate and have no idea what journalists are talking about; and most are also tribally loyal." In addition to this, our politicians do not care about what the media or journalists and other writers/contributors care about simply because they are doing the opposite contrary to what all these folks care about or should I say that they that they are busy with other stuffs that matter to them most if you will.

Finally, I want to make a correction to comrade Luk Kuth Dak that the tragic Bor Massarce took place in 1991 and not 1990 as far as our history is concern.

Thanks,

James Monyluak De Mijok
27/10/2011, 6:41 AM
 - Posted by Justin Maker
Dear, Brother Luk

Thank you for your many contributions and highlight on
very essentials issues concerning our beloved country. I have read your article careful & I share your feeling towards our politician.
The relationship between media and the government in South Sudan is a pragmatic relationship. Politicians gets their information from the circle of gangs who who only tell them what they wanted to hear. Our leaders fear those loud voices who engage in public pronouncement of controversial substances.
it is absolutely important to recognize that the gangs politics has cast a shadowed over intellectual concept of information. The fear that independent media ( in Luk Case) is so dangerous and has potential to criticize the mainstream without consequences is real.
The lesson here to our politicians in general is understanding the importance of social media, as most connected internet users know, is a force to be reckoned with these days.
If Mr. VP has ambitions in democratic principles of our new nation and wants to be a voice in mainstream SPLM he needs to be connected well with those intellectuals and develop in-person relationships for his own success. There are no limits in todays media somebody in America, Warap or Bantiu could be a thunder voice then those in Juba political circle.
Critics may argue it is impossible for vice president to know or remember all those he has met through out his visits. True, and it may sit well to those who have not follow Luk's article, but to me I would not believe due to the nature and substance of which Luk's has tackled some of the most sensitive issues of national interest, having met someone of Luk's character in more than one occasion, being from the same tribe, and a prestige of being a mainstream SPLM who has never altered his position even at the darkest times of our movement history.
God and Mr. VP Reik Machar only know if this is a true memory lost or selective memory recap!!!!

Thanks
Justin Maker
27/10/2011, 1:05 PM
 - Posted by Jacob Akol
It will not surprise many here that the media in South Sudan still operate under what I have often termed "playing a game of football without rules". We are told that "the media is free to report anything within the law"; but what law?

From way back in 2003 when the Association for Media Development in South Sudan, AMDISS" was formed and up to date, the media laws the association, the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) and international partners have been working on to replace repressive Khartoum's media laws and equally repressive pre-CPA SPLM media guidelines, are, as I write, still sitting in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

They have been going forward and backward between the Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Development and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting; and at one time presented to the Council of Ministers and presented to the former Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly, largely deformed from what we knew them to be to the extent that the media cried out as a unit for help. No doubt the rubber-stamp assembly, then packed with apppointed SPLM members, would have passed them in the distorted form they were in without much debate.

But the GOSS would have been the laughing stock of the democratic world; this fact regarding the need for a transparent and democratic governance in South Sudan to project a positive international image to achieve independence, was pointed out to the President by AMDISS leadership in a memo. The President directed the Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs to see that the issues highlighted by AMDISS were serious and that the laws should be adjusted to conform.

But, instead of working with AMDISS and the Assembly to correct omissions and commissions, the minister, feeling perhaps affronted by the media leadership daring to write to the President over his head, elected to withdraw them from the Assembly. Ministers have come and gone from both the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of Constitution Development; but these draft laws have been going forward and backward between the two ministries for two years now. These draft legislations include "The (Public) Right to Information" and "Public broadcasting".

Now that we are an independent country, there are increasing voices in the current administration who argue that our media is still "irresponsible" and therefore it would be "irresponsible" for the government to pass into law the public "Right to Information" and freedom of the press to even form their own "Independent Media Council" or to have an independent Board of Governors for Public broadcasting as stated in the held-up legislation. This, no doubt, is a repeat of the mistakes many independent African countries have gone through in the last 50 years.

Does President Kiir and Vice President Riek believe in the freedom of the press and the public right to information? I used to think so; but the prolonged delays in passing these laws and the continued intimidation and arbitrary arrest and harassment of journalists by individual “referees” applying their own rules in the absence of official ones, make me begin to doubt their publicly stated commitment to freedom of the press and the "zero tolerance to corruption" they often talk about.

Now, will they read this? It is most likely that if they ever hear of the discussion that has been going on under this opinion piece by Luk, it will be from a distorted and negative second hand. The only time they will be able to find out the real untruth of what they have been told is when they are no longer in power. As it is there are too many vested interests under them totally dedicated to “protecting” their bosses from “outside” and unwanted influences. We have hard challenges ahead of us.
Jacob J Akol
AMDISS Chairman
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