opinionBy Holy Crook
In the year 2099, Majak Ago'ot Atem and Nhial Deng Nhial die of old age; on the same day - December 31. They go straight to Hades. Hades lies between Heaven and Hell. It is a sort of a way-station. Just like any other institution, it has policies - rules and regulations. Authorities in Hell, Heaven and Hades work hand in hand. Hades coordinates the activities. It keeps copies of the lists of those who are destined for heaven and Hell. Anyone who gets there has his or her name ticked and shown a room to wait for instructions - whether to proceed to Heaven or Hell.
Here, Nhial and Majak share a bed because the place is congested as big numbers of people keep coming from earth. This is because people are dying in wars, and others, of fatal man-made diseases created by European and American scientists just to reduce the overwhelming world populations, particularly the poor.
Nhial and Majak recognize a lot of South Sudanese they knew way back on earth, mostly those who let down South Sudan during and after the liberation struggle. These were those who collaborated with Khartoum and consequently butchered their own people in exchange of food. Some were those who broke away from the government and worked to destabilize South Sudan during its infancy.
Amongst the old buddies they meet in Hades are Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, Gabriel Tanginye, Peter Gatdet, George Athor, Bapiny Manytuil, Olony, Samuel Gai Tut, Akuot Atem and many others. Each and every one of them narrates why he is spending such a long time in Hades without going to Heaven or Hell.
As they chat, Nhial spots two elderly men seated on a mat made of reeds. "Oh my God, am I dreaming or is that Abel Alier and Joseph Lagu?" In unison, they reply "yes." immediately, Majak wonders: "What happened? I thought they were in heaven, considering how they participated in the fight against Khartoum regimes."
The two dudes walk over to the elders and greet them. As the conversation gets interesting and deeper, Nhial chips a question in: "Uncles, we're so surprised that you two are still here, what happened? We thought you were in heaven. What happened?" Being so old, Abel and Lagu say they can't remember what went down.
The truth is, being the senior and wiser figures in their region then, they surprisingly gullibly allowed President Numeiri to drive a wedge between them. President Numeiri had them fight one another after he successfully made Dinka Bor cattle destroy Bari farms. Both Lagu and Alier failed to resolve the problem amicably, leaving it to escalate into wider political conflicts involving students, civil service and other societal groups in the South.
In the beginning, Lagu was the best leader. He tried his best to keep the rebellion strong and progressive but he gave up in the middle of the revolt against Khartoum. He is a quitter. Besides, during his tenure as the Second President of the High Executive Council of the Southern Sudan Autonomous Region, Lagu got carried away by the goodies - including a big-breasted northern woman - offered to him by the then Khartoum regime, thus forgetting his people and their cause. To make matters worse and like Alier, he relocated to Khartoum. Their decisions and actions, in many ways, caused incalculable suffering amongst their people.
To cut the long story short, Nhial and Majak are summoned into the boss' office. The head of Hades, a huge dude with a big scary scar on his left cheek, briefs them: "Boys, you're so lucky, you just got here and I have been instructed to ready you for an exit. I received a message from Heaven last night. It says your names have been screened and you were found sinless: you were good political leaders. You never got involved in corrupt practices. That's it, boys. Prepare for your entry to heaven. You've a couple of hours."
The two walk out of the room with faces shining with big smiles. Back in the dorm, they break the good news to their countrymen. Some express happiness for them. Others feel jealous. Tanginya is one of the guys who are unhappy about the good news. He gets up and begins to attack the two verbally: "how come you guys are going to Heaven? God must be crazy. That's not fair at all. You lazy dudes who let down South Sudanese. You were always silent about critical issues affecting the common man. Particularly you, Nhial, as a Foreign Minister, what good things did you do? All you did was bragging, all day all night, bragging about academic papers. When Khartoum was committing atrocities, killing and destroying structures in the country, when your Sudanese counterpart was winning sympathizers using diplomatic war tactics, like a statue, you sat in your chair, doing what you do best - keeping quiet. You thought degrees and doctorates would work by themselves? You're the type of people I rebelled against Salva Kiir's government for. Had I entered Juba with my commandos, I would have shot you in the ear. For you, Majak, who the hell do you think you are? Mister Parrot, do you really believe that you are without blemish; that you are going to Heaven? God must be kidding me. Let me count the bad things you did in South Sudan. One, you were involved in........."
Here scuffle erupts. One of Majak's supporters punches Tanginya in the face, provoking the two sides to get at each other like lions. They cause a big scene. A Kenyan man is overheard saying, "hawa watu wanapenda vita sana."
Majak and Nhial arrive at the Gates of Heaven. St. Paul and St. Peter are guarding the gates. "Hello, brethren. Welcome to Heaven. I'm your brother, St. Paul and my brother here is St. Peter. Identify yourselves, please."
As they undergo formal procedure, some people inside the walls of heaven begin to peep at them through the beautifully designed transparent gate. Nhial smiles and nudges Majak. "Look, do you recognize those people over there?" Majak said no. "I can't blame you. It's been long. I am seeing familiar faces. I can see Saturnino Lohure Hilangi, Majok Mac Aluong, Nyuon Bany, Malath Lueth, Arok Thon Arok, Ageer Gum, Peter Panhom Thanypiny, Francis Ngor, ........"
"Brothers, let's finish the routine first," interrupts St. Paul. "We have scanned through the Book of Deeds and we found that you're all clean. Welcome to the Garden of Eden, brethren." Nhial and Majak happily walk in.
Before they reach the other crew who are eagerly waiting to hug and kiss them, St. Peter calls them back. "I'm afraid, there's a little problem. We just realized we had not considered one side of you, brothers. Weren't you members of a South Sudan's political party called the SPLM?"
They exchange glances and hesitatingly say, "y-y-y-e-e-s-s, we-we-we were."
"Well, thanks for admitting that. We're afraid, there's a little problem, brethren," says St. Peter. "Any South Sudanese who supported SPLM especially after it negotiated the independence of the country, no matter how many good deeds he did while on earth, shall never enter the Kingdom of God."
With tears rolling down their cheeks, Majak asks, "why why why, Brother Peter? We have been very good people. We lived exemplary lives among South Sudanese. You can't do this to us."
Peter shakes his head in disagreement.
The pair kneels and pleads with the holy men. "Look, guys," narrates, St. Paul, "there is nothing we can do right now rather than allowing the rule to take its course. The SPLM issue is a big deal here in Heaven. Even some angels have been assigned to solely watch the activities of the once adorable party. And I think the best way we can explain this is to remind you of one of the quotes by Desmond Tutu:
"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."
The pair lets out deafening cries.
"Guys, stop weeping. Crying won't help. Whether to enter Heaven or not is nonnegotiable," continues peter. "Tutu's quote explains everything. When your colleagues in the SPLM government were raping South Sudanese politically, economically and socially, you chose to keep mum. You just watched the multitude writhe in pain. The SPLM did more destruction to the citizens than the successive Khartoum regimes. SPLM killed the hope for a better tomorrow, which helped them survive into independent South Sudan. After the international community granted South Sudanese independence, the SPLM turned into a group of shameless liars and thieves - a mafia. Contrary to their promises they made to the public, the SPLM proved itself blind and deaf. It introduced social injustice. The former Bushmen pauperized the citizens who had counted on them during the long civil war. When it assumed power in 2005, the SPLM got involved in a number of grand malpractices. They neglected their roles and focused on self-enrichment. The poor got poorer. That's it, Brethren. No single SPLM member shall enter Heaven. It's written. Now, go to Hell. It's not far from here."
The pair had hoped that heaven was the place to be. With the breaking news delivered by the Holy Men, the pair faints. Hours later, they gain consciousness later only to find themselves in front gate of a fortified town guarded by some mean-looking horned-men and women. "Hey macs, you expect to be welcomed? Where do you think this is? Heaven," Barks a Cerberus-shaped guard.
He grabs Majak and Nhial by the ear and drags them towards the entrance of the facility. He kicks them in the butts and bangs the door.
To their amazement, the new place looks more of an earthly penitentiary institution; contrary to the biblical frightful descriptions of Hell. It looks awful though. It's afternoon. People are in groups. As the chaos in the new place mesmerizes them and with mouths wide open, they hardly believe what they are seeing. A huge crowd was mocking a small group of dark-skinned familiar men. As they get closer, they find out that it is some short man trying to stop a fight between two groups.
Unsurprisingly, these are all SPLM senior officials and members participating in a face-off with their former enemies on earth. The notable ones here are Salva Kiir, Pagan Amum, John Luk, Wani Igga, Ann Itto, Makuei Lueth, Kuol Manyang, Rizik Zachariah, Rebecca Nyandeng and many others. Nhial approaches Barnaba Marial and without greetings asks him to explain what is going on. "It's a very long story, brother. Kiir is bullied everyday as usual. Our enemies have resumed the earthly disagreements and hate here in hell. Lam Akol and a bunch of other unpatriotic South Sudanese have befriended Omar Bashir. Lam always harasses Kiir and when Kiir tries to discipline him, Bashir emerges with his crewmembers including Thabo Mbeki, Hu Jintao, Yau Yau and among others. Yesterday, Bashir himself broke Kiir's jaw. Anyway, welcome brothers. At least your arrival is of advantage to us. We will always fight off Bashir and the company."
Few weeks elapse. Majak and Nhial learn a lot. It's like many people hold grudges against the South Sudanese in Hell. Some of them those who are retrying to retaliate for injustice committed by South Sudanese. One such a group is that of Ugandan businessmen who got cheated in the Dura saga. They had lodged a case at their High Court, seeking for a declaration that the refusal of the South Sudan government to pay them as per the Memorandum of Understanding with Uganda is unlawful. However, every noise they made went unheard. South Sudan turned a deaf ear. As a result, they mistreat the SPLM. SPLM members are the cooks, dishwashers, cleaners and all types of odd job doers. In other words, they're living in hell within hell. To be continued....