OpEd, Politics

Capt. James, a wounded hero, has this to say

Capt. James is handless. He was not born without hands, but he lost them during the liberation struggle for independence. This is not the only injury he had sustained. He had sustained multiple injuries.

Before his arms were amputated, a PKM bullet had penetrated his abdomen, injuring his small intestine. In the hospital, a portion of the intestine was resected and he recovered fully. Because of his dedication to the course of the struggle, he picked up his gun again and went to war. He fought it for years without any injury again.

In 1997 when there was a massive expulsion of Arabs from all the towns of the then Southern Sudan, James was fighting in Rumbek. A colleague next to him in the frontline was shot and when he drew closer to drag him behind, a bullet landed on his left hand. James fell the exact way a trained soldier falls down and opened fire on the opponent.

After 5 minutes of no gunshots, James crawled to check on his shot colleague, but unfortunately, he found him dead. He wept over him bitterly, but could not follow the Arabs to retaliate. He picked up the deceased’s gun and crawled to where he deemed safer. Unfortunately, where he deemed safer was not safer.

A bullet missed him by inches and when he placed his gun over the injured hand to shoot at the enemy, his enemy was faster than him. The uninjured hand was then shot multiple times. He fell down as if dead but was not dead. The enemy thought he was dead and left.

James almost bled to death had it not for his faith in the liberation struggle. A group of armed civilians moving in the path where Arabs were being driven accidentally met him lying down bleeding profusely. They carried him to where wounded soldiers were being transported to where they were offered medical attention.

In the hospital, the only treatment an orthopaedic surgeon suggested to James was amputation. So shocking! Assuming you were the one. You would cry until you cry no more. But James is a lion. He held his breath, took courage and told the surgeon to prepare his surgical instruments. When somebody watching shed tears, James could ask a simple question, what if I was shot in the head? Would the surgeon amputate my head? He was stronger than pitiers.

If I die, I would die a hero! I have fought enough and this fighting in which I was shot might be the last, James prophesied and it came true. James was taken to the theatre to have his both hands amputated. 3 hours later, James recovered from anaesthesia and looked at himself. All he saw were bandages around the amputated areas. He bit his lip and felt upset about it.

Remember all this happened to James and he was not given any military rank. When the CPA was signed in 2005, James was still rankless and then was transferred to Wounded Heroes where he is serving now. James tried claiming his rank, but he could not make it until 2016 when he was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant at once. Then he received another star in 2021, making him a captain; the rank he maintains to date.

James is unassigned and so, he waits for the mere salary and you very well know the abnormal months a salary takes to come. He has no hands to grip an axe and cut down trees for charcoal just like other soldiers do for survival.   When the demands of his family grow, the only thing he can afford is to sit down and cry bitterly, blaming himself for fighting like a lion in the liberation struggle that later pushed him to the periphery.

He bites his lower lip and concludes, had I known, I would not have taken that brave decision to join the then SPLA, now SSPDF, but rather I would have remained a peasant to put food on my family’s table. A part of me is buried, but I’m still underprivileged, James says with tears flowing down his cheeks.

Thanks for reading “Sowing the Seed of Truth”.

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