By William Madouk
South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, during celebration of the 40th anniversary of SPLA Day, paid tribute to fallen veterans, saying their sacrifices yielded the youngest nation in Africa continent.
President Kiir, called those who perished in the liberation war “heroes and heroines.”
The head-of-state recalled battalion 105 that was under the command of Major Kerbino Kuanyin Bol, who shot the first bullet against Khartoum regime in Bor Town of Jonglei State.
“On this historic day, I call upon you to remember the sacrifices, we have made in our painful journey to statehood,” Kiir said in his remark on the SPLA Day.
“It is in them [sacrifices] that, we as a country find the meaning of our existence. It is because of this that we are duty bound to recall our people’s sacrifices,” he added.
The President also added that it is because of sacrifices, that they derived their determination to continue working in realization of ideal ideology that they fought for despite numerous challenges.
“The Sudan People’s Liberation Army in its character was and still a people’s army. This character was reflected in its composition,” he noted.
Mr. Kiir emphasized that 21 days after the Bor incident, Major William Nyuon Bany who commanded the Ayod garrison defeated the Sudanese army in that town and later retreated to bush.
He explained that this move was followed by other soldiers who left their garrison and went to Ethiopia where they formed the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and Movement (SPLA/M).
“The formation of SPLA/M and its call or armed struggle was answered by thousands of peasants, students, civil servants who flocked to Ethiopia to join the movement,” Kiir recalled.
“These common people who formed the bulk of the SPLA fighting force followed their orders and executed their duty resolutely until we attained our independence. Today we stand tall because of their sacrifices,” he continued.
In recognition of those who paid ultimate sacrifices, president saluted battalion 105, 104, Jamus, Tiger, Timas, Koryom, Mour-mour, Kazuk, Zal-zal, Intifadha, Intisar and all other units and formations who joined the liberation.
“Let us also salute the officers who led theses formations, chief among them, our late. Leader Dr. John Garang de Mabior who successfully marshalled our struggle towards the attainment of our aspiration of a free and independent South Sudan,” the president noted.
Kiir also paid homage to those who sacrificed their lives during the war of national liberation, asserting that without their courage the objective of free and independent South Sudan would have not been achieved.
“To all our organized forces, I commend you for your dedication to duty and call upon you to draw your inspiration from the rich tradition of the SPLA as you work to protect our citizens and their properties,” he advised.
The 40th anniversary of SPLA Day is celebrated at Malual Chaat Military Barracks, Jonglei State, in a low-key function for a rather glorified national event.
The annual celebration of the SPLA Day – was to remember the contributions of the heroes and heroines who fought for the country during the Anya Anya movement. The celebration is made for the liberators who liberated the country on May 16, 1983.
The formation of the SPLA started during the second civil war in Sudan and continued for 21 years and led to the killing of over two million people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
Eventually, it resulted into the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and independence of South Sudan. On May 16, 1983, a group of southerners in the Sudanese army’s 105 garrisons in the Bor area revolted.
The mutiny was followed by 104 garrisons in Ayod, Akobo, and Pochalla, the defection of southerners in the Sudanese army affected the 1972 Addis Ababa peace agreement, which was rescinded by the then Sudanese president, Jaafar Nimeiri.