The Fall of Kapoeta
The Fall of Kapoeta
Ayan was almost dragging her feet when the Arabs ordered her and the other girls to move forward. They were all tied together with ropes and marched in line behind their captors. Some of the Arabs carried whips in their hands and slashed the body of any girl who slacked behind. Ayan fell on her face and could not stand by herself. The whip cut her delicate body like a sharp sword. Her voice failed her when she tried to cry.
A strong girl knelt over Ayan’s body and helped her to stand on her feet. With eyes flooded with tears Ayan began to move away from her village. She advanced physically but her soul continued to cling to her old village. Over her head she saw the vultures hovered in the sky, waiting to feast on the dead bodies of her parents, two brothers, baby sister, and the other murdered villagers…
Ayan was taken as captive along with other Southern girls and brought to the North of Sudan and sold as a slave girl… Her bridegroom Malwal came all the way from America to search for his Captive Bride…]
… That night Malwal slept like a log. The old man continued to speak to himself for an hour thinking that Malwal was still listening. From the time he brought his guest to his hut, the old man was talking about one topic that Malwal should accept his advice and return to Kenya and fly back to America.
With heavy eyes, Malwal rejected the advice and fell asleep. The old man went on and on explaining why his guest should not take a risk and go to Kapoeta. If Malwal had remained awake for another half an hour and heard the horrifying stories the old man had told he would have dropped his plan and returned safely to America.
On the next morning the old man had trouble-waking Malwal from sleep, but it was the guest who requested his host to wake him before the sunrise. Before he left that morning Malwal had a breakfast with the old man, who packed some water and a little food and gave them to his guest.
Luckily the rain season was over just a few weeks before Malwal arrived in Sudan. By then the highroad was dried up, making the walk less difficult. Malwal walked as fast as he could and rested only briefly. He was in a hurry to reach the city Kapoeta before the sunset. An old woman with her daughter and her daughter’s three children told Malwal that they had been walking for two-and-a-half days since they left the city.
This report frightened Malwal and made him speed up. If he had known what awaited him in Kapoeta Malwal would not have been in a hurry to get there.
The tragedy happened just three hours before his arrival. As soon as he reached the outskirts of the city he was arrested by the government-patrolling truck and taken as a war prisoner. He was accused of being a rebel spying for the SPLA (Sudanese People Liberation Army).
Malwal pleaded for his release but the Arab soldiers showered his face with blows and kicked him with their heavy boots. Then, they hurled his half conscious body like a sack of grain into their military truck and headed to the city. His hands and feet tied up with ropes, Malwal landed hard on the floor of the truck.
With the speed of the vehicle Malwal’s face kept bouncing on the truck bed like a football. He constantly begged the soldiers to assist him but they mocked and cursed him instead.
In fact the Arab soldiers hated the spies more than the actual rebels. Whenever they caught a boy or a girl whom they accused of spying, they would beat him or her until they would extract some information. As soon as they were satisfied with the interrogation of their victims, they would kill them. Of course if the suspect was a girl she would be raped by tens of the Arab Mujahedeen soldiers before she would be shot deat.
Because such an execution was against the Geneva Convention the soldiers invented a method to get rid of the dead bodies. There was an old stinky lake located near their military base. This lake was used as a burying place for the victims. The citizens of Kapoeta called it the Lake of Skeletons.
The Muslim soldiers would open the stomach of their victim and dump his/her body into the dirty water. So far no man or woman ever escaped such a tragic end if she or he was accused of spying.
Malwal was one of six unlucky Southerners who were arrested that day and taken for interrogation. When he was dragged out of the truck and thrown into a small room, Malwal found some Southern detainees already there.
They were all tied up to posts and their bodies were bleeding from head to foot. Some of them had their faces so marred from the brutal torture that Malwal could not make out whether they were males or females. Likewise Malwal was dragged to a post and fastened to it.
The Arab soldiers left the room as soon as they became sure that Malwal was securely tied up. When the Muslim soldiers disappeared, Malwal tried to converse with the other detainees. Either they had become deaf and mute due to the torture or they were too scared to talk to him and reveal some of their secrets.
For a week, before Malwal was arrested, the Arab soldiers and the Soothern rebels had been fighting continuously over the city. Like a piece of bone that two furious dogs were fighting over. There were heavy losses in both sides.
For seven nights the rebels attacked the city. Every time they attacked it, they were able to penetrate inside the civilian areas and get supplies of food and forcibly recruit new rebels. The government soldiers would not fire at them until they leave the city in the early morning.
Then, the soldiers would come out of their hiding places and chase them for a few kilometers and return to their base. This hide and seek was going on for seven nights.
On that day, a few hours after Malwal was arrested the attack was resumed. The rebels came a few hours before their usual time. The entire city was dark. Every light was switched off by order. The military siren was sounding continuously. The city was rained on by heavy artillery.
The rebels were determined that night no matter how much the loss might be, that they would have to take the city. The attack was concentrated on the military base where Malwal was held captive. His ears were deafened by the bombardment.
The rockets lit up the small room like flashes of lightning. Malwal concluded that his end had come. After a couple of hours the rockets stopped but the sounds of the machine guns still could be heard. Malwal heard the soldiers shouting some words of encouragement to each other. Their shouting indicated to Malwal that the rebels were too close.
“Allahu Akabar” responded another soldier.
“Death is truth and life is false,” shouted yet another soldier.
Those words of encouragement did not last for long. Malwal began to hear the steps of fleeing soldiers. He expected some of the escaping soldiers to come in the room and open fire on them. Malwal saw a dark figure rush into the room.
The figure switched his torch on Malwal’s face. Malwal closed his eyes and waited for the bullets to hit his body. Instead he felt his hands and legs being released and heard a voice shouting at him in broken Arabic “Take this kalashinkov and fight.” Malwal recognized the speaker as a Southerner. He took the gun and waited for further orders.
“The city was already taken by our brave soldiers. We still need to clear it of the coward Arabs. Kill any one who comes your way. Even those traitors who fight with the Arabs must be killed.” Malwal ran behind the soldier who rescued his life and joined the battle.
DON’T FORGET AYAN AND THE OTHER TWO MILLION VICTIMS WHEN YOU VOTE ON JANAURY 9, 2011.
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- Haroon Moghul: Why Arab and Muslim Are Not Synonymous (huffingtonpost.com)
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