‘I was a proud young soldier’-former child soldier Mayai

By Ephraim Modi Duku Sokiri

To defend a country, you need an army but to defend a civilization, you need education, therefore; it presents a selection of life stories of where a country like South Sudan rolled out its journey from.

Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) that celebrated its 40th anniversary yesterday took a 21-year-journey of militarily confronting the Sudan Armed Forces with all odds and age levels.

Augustino T. Mayai, Executive Director of Think Tank, the Sudd Institute was once a gratified revolutionary child fighter, encountering gun battles from the Khartoum based reservists.

“I was introduced to the SPLA as a child by my relatives those years in 1989 then I eventually joined the SPLA in 1993 and I spent about 3-4 years in the SPLA. I spent about 4 years in the bush,” he said.

Mayai revealed that he did not get involved a lot in the battle front but was aiding in logistical support which was an appalling workout during the time.

“I did not engage in the combat since I was too young, but I provided logistic support especially the Kapoeta approach in 1994-95 and it was a terrible exercise during that time. We were thousands of children in the bush,” he recounted.

Mayai further explained that they were trained to face the enemy that was mistreating them.

Based on the SPLA leaders, the ideology was very clear that “we were fighting injustice which was made on us by the Sudanese regime.”

However even before he could join the liberation movement as a child soldier, Mayai said he had not met any Arab soldier personally except “We had an Arab trader in our village.”

“We were given instructions on what the mission was, and realizing the fact that there were opportunities that we did not have because of injustice, we were not being able to go to school, not being able to have house facilities, road and others,” he said.

He applauded the SPLA that gave him and thousands other men the chance to attain education.

“I credit my success to the SPLA/M, they can be blamed for a lot of things right now, but they have also done a lot of difference. Thousands of the people ended up getting education from abroad,” Mayai added.

Thousands of child soldiers and young men in the SPLA ended up getting quality education in Australia, and the USA, among other countries.

Mr. Mayai said that Dr. John Garang taught them about two battles which was physical and invisible one.

“So, when I got out of the commission, it was very clear by Dr. John Garang that there are two wars, one war was the war of guns and other was the war for ideas. Ideas are expressed using the pen,” Mayai recited.

“So, he [Dr. John Garang] pushed us to get an education even if some of us were engaged in the combat, there were teachers who were providing instructions, even in the camps and guerilla barracks.” he recalled.


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