Sunday, June 8, 2008

Yes most honorable and exalted commander sir

I was sitting out the other night at a friend's tented camp, having a drink and relaxing at the end of the week under the glow of the kerosene lamps (this friend's tented camp has no power) which made it hard to see the others who were scattered around the platform.

Suddenly, this large Sudanese man in a suit turns to me and stares me down with a, it must be said, pretty aggressive glare. "I am Commander Deng" he tells me, "But you can call me the Honorable Deng."

Of course.

Honorable Commander Deng, I come to find out, was one of the senior rebel commanders during the war. Honorable Commander Deng is now an extremely powerful man in the South Sudanese assembly, being the head of the law and security committee, the chair of the SPLM caucus and generally just a man not be trifled with. Honorable Commander Deng feels that of ALL the horrors of the war, the killings, the looting, the displacement, the subjugation, the most awful thing, the thing that is really going to kill South Sudan, you know what it is? Women and girls no longer ask permission before they go out. Men are no longer able to control the movements of their women-folk quite as much as they did.

Now, obviously, Honorable Commander Deng could have me arrested, beaten, deported or killed pretty much with a twitch of his little finger so, uncharacteristically, I kept my mouth shut.

But I always find coming across these old rebel guys interesting. They are almost never good and noble men, as you would hope. They are usually arrogant, misogynistic, violent assholes (please excuse my language) who spent too long living in the jungle with a gun.

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