Gambella, March 23, 2019 (GCDC) – The father of recently released South Sudanese spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, has revealed how he co-founded Bilpam, which became the historical General Headquarters for subsequent South Sudan’s liberation movements before the independence of the new east African state
“After the [Addis Ababa] agreement [of 1972] failed, four people decided to rebel again. These were Vincent Kuany Latjor, Michael
He said the four officers traveled to his village near the South Sudanese border to meet him and identified the site for them which became the historical General Headquarters for Anya-Nya 2 and then SPLM/SPLA.
“The four men came and stood in my garden behind my house. They asked for me. I came to them and we talked while standing in the garden. They said they were told to come to me so that I could identify a site for their would-be base,”
He also recalled that he initially proposed two sites the four men should choose from; one called Chotkuach and the other called Bilpam.
“I pointed to two locations, Chotkuach and Bilpam. They spent the night at my house. The following day I took them to see the first site called Bilpam because it was hilly forest and closer to my village. They liked it. They said we are too Christians and we want you to pray for this place. I prayed. After I prayed they also asked me to cut the first tree [before they could clear the area]. I cut the first tree. They went back to Itang and came back with 50 soldiers. I gave them a bull for their immediate feeding. This is how Bilpam was established,” said
He became a good friend to Chigai Atem, who was the administrator of Bilpam under the leadership of late John Garang and supported him by contributing cattle and other local food items from the village for feeding in Bilpam.
His son, Dak, who later on became the official spokesman for the former first vice president, Riek Machar, was abducted in Nairobi, Kenya, in November 2016 and deported to the South Sudanese capital, Juba, in a move condemned internationally by human rights bodies and the United Nations. He was released on November 2, 2018, in accordance with the IGAD’s mediated revitalized peace agreement signed between South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir and Machar, leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – in Opposition or SPLM-IO.
“It is my prayer and hope that this peace in South Sudan should hold,” he said.