‘Mr Pres­i­dent, please let my hus­band go to bury our girl’

Wife of Gen­eral Paul Ma­long (left) is plead­ing with Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir to al­low him go and bury daugh­ter killed in Moi Girls in­ferno two weeks ago

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - FRONT PAGE - BY KIPCHUMBA SOME ksome@ke.na­tion­media.com

The wife of a for­mer South Su­dan mil­i­tary chief has ac­cused Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir of lack­ing “hu­man­ity” for re­fus­ing to re­lease her hus­band to at­tend the funeral of their daugh­ter who died in the Moi Girls School fire tragedy three weeks ago.

Writ­ing in the Su­dan Tribune on Fri­day, Mrs Lucy Ayak Malek, the wife of Gen­eral Paul Ma­long, now un­der house ar­rest in Juba, said Pres­i­dent Kiir had de­clined to re­lease her hus­band to travel to Kenya to help iden­tify their daugh­ter, Alakiir Ma­long, who was one of the nine girls who per­ished in the school in­ferno.

“On Septem­ber 2, a fire that gut­ted a girls’ dor­mi­tory at Moi Girls School, claim­ing the lives of 9 stu­dents with many oth­ers crit­i­cally in­jured, was another test and touch­ing trial for my fam­ily,” she wrote.

“I had two stu­dents in this school, a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old. My 14-year-old sur­vived the fire with mi­nor in­juries, thanks to her brave el­der sis­ter who man­aged to push her through the win­dow be­fore she was caught up when she ran back to save her friend,” Mrs Ma­long re­counted.

“As my 14-year-old re­cov­ers in hos­pi­tal, her el­der sis­ter is still un­ac­counted for and thought to be among the 9 who burnt in the fire. That un­stop­pably welled our cheeks with tears and en­gulfed us with un­fath­omable grief be­cause, as a tra­di­tion, in death, a lit­tle re­lief comes from the abil­ity to iden­tify and bury the re­mains of our loved ones,” she went on.

She re­counted how the news of the fire hit the fam­ily hard, only for the fam­ily to later learn that their daugh­ter could be one of the vic­tims.

“This grief was com­pounded more on the morn­ing of 6/9/2017 when I called my hus­band to in­quire whether he will be per­mit­ted to come and give a DNA sam­ple to iden­tify his de­ceased daugh­ter and he sadly told me that Pres­i­dent Kiir (well know­ing our cur­rent predica­ment) has de­clined to let him come and help to iden­tify his de­ceased daugh­ter’s re­mains and ar­range for her burial,” she said.

So­cial el­e­ment

“Tra­di­tion­ally as Africans, life and death mean a lot and that is why the tragedy of death brings peo­ple to­gether with none ready to mock the other be­cause of power or what­so­ever,” she wrote.

She added: “Un­for­tu­nately, the lead­er­ship in Juba seems to have lost this ba­sic so­cial el­e­ment of our tra­di­tion and hu­man­ity to the ex­tent that they deny Gen Ma­long the chance to mourn and bury his daugh­ter.”

Like most in­flu­en­tial South Su­danese, Gen Ma­long, a po­lyg­a­mist, has most of his fam­ily mem­bers spread out in Kenya and Uganda.

“My late daugh­ter (Alakiir Ma­long) was a very cheer­ful, kind and hum­ble girl who had a bright fu­ture,” Mrs Malek wrote in a trib­ute to their daugh­ter.

How­ever, she had noth­ing but con­tempt for the way the pres­i­dency has treated her hus­band, of­ten por­trayed as the harsh face of Dinka na­tion­al­ism.

Mrs Malek said that her hus­band had ear­lier sought and was de­nied per­mis­sion by Pres­i­dent Kiir to travel to Kenya for treat­ment. She said that Gen Ma­long’s blood pres­sure shot up af­ter Pres­i­dent Kiir re­jected his re­quest to come to Nairobi.

How­ever, Pres­i­dent Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told South Su­dan’s me­dia that Gen Ma­long had not been de­tained and is free to travel out for med­i­cal at­ten­tion when­ever he wishes, a state­ment that was hotly con­tested by Mrs Malek.

Gen Ma­long was the South Su­dan’s Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (SPLA) boss from 2014 un­til May this year when Pres­i­dent Kiir sacked him and placed him un­der house ar­rest in his home in Juba fear­ing that the dis­graced gen­eral might open up a new front in the coun­try which has been em­broiled in a civil war since 2013.

FILE | NA­TION

For­mer South Su­dan mil­i­tary chief Paul Ma­long.

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