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Tribute to Samuel Diing Aruei Bol by Atem Yaak Atem

The family, relatives and all who knew Samuel Diing Aruei, who died suddenly last week in Melbourne, Australia, are still in deep shock. Late Diing Aruei, who was leader of Kongor Community in Australia, was also a lay reader in Red Door Church, Melbourne. That church is one of few churches whose congregation is made up of nearly all the speakers of Jiëëng dialects. It's also one of the few churches where young people of all ages (as well as the elderly) regularly attend in large numbers. The priest in charge is Rev Monica Ayak Kuol. Known to friends and family as Diing-Agok (Agɔɔk), after his uncle, Diing- Magok (Magɔɔk) Aruei Bol, grandfather, among others to late Bishop Daniel Dau Deng Diing, and great grandfather to Stephen Makuach Akech Arok Diing. Late Diing was an uncle to Deng Bol Aruei, the head of Red Army Foundation. He was first cousin, among others, to the late Chief Chol Apiok (Apiöök) Bol Aruei, and his successor, Chief Akoi Apiok, one of Pareng's senior chiefs. Diing was born at Duarbek (Duarbɛ̈), in what is now called Kongor Payam, the third child of Aruei Bol Aruei of Pareng clan and Adiöör Alääk Luël of Paan de Bior (Biöör) clan. He was brother to late Aluät, Bol-Kadot (Kadɔ̈ɔ̈t), Deng- Mayen, and Dau-Machoor. Step-siblings were Alek, Diing-Duut, Bol-Jiëër, Abul-Magor (Magɔɔr), Dau-Maluel (Maluɛɛl), Dhakayo Dhieu (Dhiëëu)-Bil, all deceased, and Akuol, the only child of Apajok (Apajɔ̈ɔ̈k) Dut who is alive.

The larger family to which Samuel Diing belonged was invariably known as Paan de Aruën de Bol or Paan de Aluän (Aluät) de Ayooi, the clan’s matriarch. Aluat Ayooi hailed from Duor (Duɔ̈ɔ̈r) section of Duk Padiet, today a part of Duk County, Jonglei State.

Due to the floods of the 1960s that devastated southern Upper Nile Province, leading to the displacement of more than half of its population, Diing went to Khartoum North where his step-brothers, Dääu-Maluɛɛl, and Dhakayo Dhieu were working in private sector. Young Diing went to school in Mazad, a sprawling suburb of Khartoum Bahri. For his secondary education Samuel Diing went to Malakal Senior Secondary School, in the Upper Nile Province capital. His contemporaries at Malakal Secondary included Taban Deng Gai, one of the five vice presidents of South Sudan, and Gen Gier Chuang Aluong, former government minister in Juba from 2005-2013. After obtaining his secondary certificate, Samuel Diing became a school teacher. Following the outbreak of the second civil war in 1983, Samuel Diing Aruei was among the young people who joined the new insurgency. With his knowledge of Arabic and English, Diing was selected to train in the signal unit as well as general military combat. When the SPLM/A leader, John Garang in 1985 singled out Radio SPLA for special praise as an unconventional battalion, he didn't include- deliberately for security reasons- the masses of the people who were feeding the guerrilla army, the secret internal cells, bodies affiliated to the Christian Church, the SPLA air defence unit under Garang Akok Adut, or the signal unit, which under Gier Chuang Aluong was not only a secure communication network for the SPLA various commands and units, but also an effective and impregnable system that was conducting electronic warfare in its own right: breaking into the enemy military communication system. At the rank of 1st lieutenant Samuel Diing Aruei was assigned as a head of signal to Hadid Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Francis Ngor, one the most the SPLA most competent commanders and a very down to earth as a person. In late 1984, forces of Hadid Battalion captured and briefly occupied the strategic government garrison at Maban at the border between Upper Nile and Blue Nile Regions.

In less than a year from that Lt Col Ngor died in battle in eastern Upper Nile, gallantly fighting to the bitter end in defence of his soldiers and heavy equipment. Samuel Diing later trained as a member of SPLA batch five, known as Shield Five. He was commissioned as captain. Soon after that change of government in Ethiopia and the split within the SPLA in 1991 meant changing fortunes in the SPLA. That also meant new deployment for the SPLA officers and their forces to new war theatres. Captain Samuel Diing Aruei was deployed to Eastern Equatoria. That was the time when SPLA was rapidly losing all the areas it had occupied and became under the SPLM administration. The only outposts left were Boma on the Ethiopia border and Nimule to the south. During the war, Diing's brothers were in thick of it: they were all carrying arms as soldiers. In addition to him the other brothers were Deng, and Dau, all serving as non-commissioned officers (NCOs), as well as his elder brother, Bol, who, along with middle age peasants and cattle herders from Bor area had been taken from their villages for military training in Eastern Equatoria. Bol who was married, returned home at Duarbe to be with his wife, their young child and his ageing mother, Adior Alaak. During the infamous Hunger Triangle that wiped out hundreds of thousands among civilians in the northern part of what is now Jonglei State, losses in Diing's immediate family included his mother, Adior, brother Bol, his wife and their small child, sister Aluat Aruei and three of her children. It was soon after that Diing and Ayen Lul married. They have four children: Aruei, Aluat, Bol and Deng. They live in Melbourne, mourning the unfathomable loss of the beloved husband, and father. Many, many family members, late Diing's colleagues and friends at home in South Sudan and all over the world join in consoling the family at this very difficult time. Members of the public are kindly requested to respect the privacy of the grieving family members. Diing who was a brigadier in the South Sudan People's Defence, SSPDF, at the time of his passing, was an active member of his community. He played a leading role in mobilising resources, especially funds, for self-help projects at home. One of those was support for health centre at Kongor which was built and equipped through money raised by the community members in South Sudan and in the diaspora. Support for local teams working on dykes to protect the area from flood waters has been another undertaking in which Diing was very instrumental. On learning about the passing of Samuel Diing Aruei General Dr Akol Diing Duot, who had known the late Samuel Diing Aruei for many, years including the time they managed Kakuma Refugee Camp, has noted that Diing will be remembered for his humour and unwavering determination to serve the common people. His step-sister, Akuol Aruei, has said her brother was someone "who never withdrew from a course of action he chose to follow." Rest in peace Diing-Agok. A full tribute will be released during the last funeral rites sometimes this year.

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