People Choosing Peace: Ayuel Madut (South Sudan)

By Ochan Hannington

My name is Ayuel Madut. I come from the small South Sudanese town of Tonj, in Tonj state. I am 33 years old, and I am a former fighter.

I fought alongside the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) that later took power in South Sudan. During the guerrilla war I was a child soldier. At such a young age I thought I fully understood the reasons for fighting the Khartoum government, which was our “enemy” then. Black, and Christian, Sudanese people were regarded as second-class citizens - we wanted to restore our identity and dignity among our population.

But now, all that has changed. The so-called “liberation” that we fought hard to attain is a paradox.

There are two major political divisions within the ruling party, SPLA. Now there is both Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement and Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement in Opposition. It is very difficult, at times, to comprehend because there is a large number of people who sacrificed, especially during the armed struggle, for this country. It cost them a lot. Some of my colleagues paid with their own lives, fighting for peace and freedom.

We are living in a period where there is big rift, caused by political players. But I have always advised brethren and friends to refrain from hurting each other. I strongly believe, and usually remind others, that these unnecessary killings - as well as humanitarian disaster - happening in our community, will end.

Peace is everything. With peace there is no killings, no insecurities, development comes fast, young ones get education, trade flourishes, and the economy becomes viable and strong.

Above all, I will continue to implore my countrymen and women not to lose the hope of getting the South Sudan we want from the South Sudan we have.

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