The renowned war veteran, the most senior member of the Anya-nya movement, and a founding member of the SPLA/SPLM, General Chagai Atem Biar who passed on at his residence in Juba over the weekend has been described as a “larger than life” individual.
Late Chagai died on Saturday 27th July, 2019 -after a long illness.
The Minister of Defense has described General Chagai as a nationalist who helped lay the foundation of SPLM/SPLA in the 1980s.
General Kuol Manyang said General Chagai was a disciplined soldier, a liberator, nationalist and friendly person.
Kuol gave a short eulogy of the late veteran to Eye Radio.
“Comrade Chagai Atem Biar was a member of the Anyaya one he fought during the first war of Anyaya that was sparked in Torit in 1955. He was a soldier who also fought during the uprising in Bor in 1983. He and the rest were among activists of the internal cell that led in to the war. He should have actually been a member of the high command of the SPLM/SPLA, but because he was an important figure, a very close associate of Dr. John Garang. Comrade Salva, Kerbino, William Nyuon, Arok Thon were associate of comrade Chagai and when he died recently, President Kiir almost broke down because he was a very instrumental nationalist and very friendly to everybody. Chagai has played a very important role in the war of liberation. He was the Director of Bilpham, Commander of Bilpam -the headquarters of the SPLM/SPLA Since the time the movement was established.”
Chagai Atem’s name is reference in a statement that has forever been enshrined in the hearts of the SPLA/SPLM veterans when Kerbino Kwanyin Bol handed over the command and control of the new Southern mutineers to John Garang on May 13, 1983.
“Garang, the son of my mother, have you come?” Major Kerubin said. “Take over the command from here. Chagai, my work is finished: give me something to drink and let’s celebrate the start of the revolution.”
These words have resulted into Chagai being described as the embodiment of the huge cost at which the independence of the South has come.
He spent 58 years of his life immersed in the struggle to liberate South Sudanese from the inception of the Anya-nya movement to the formation of the SPLA/SPLM.
Chagai was one of the most senior members of the Anya-Nya liberation movement, which broke out in 1955 in protest at the way in which the colonial masters; Egypt and Britain, were handling the negotiations for independence of Southern Sudan.
He was there when a ceasefire was made in 1972 after the Khartoum government led by President Gaffar Muhammad Numeiry and Joseph Lagu agreed to grant conditional autonomy to the South.
After the signing of the CPA in 2005, he was given the role of the Chairperson of war veteran’s commission.
In 2011, he defied a doctor’s advice to stay in the hospital in Nairobi, and flew to Juba to witness the declaration of independence.
Through the years, due to old age, General Chagai battled illnesses and his mobility was affected.
Last month, President Salva Kiir paid him a visit in Juba, after returning from getting medical attention abroad.
On Saturday, news broke that the veteran soldier had passed on.
President Salva Kiir and First Lady Mary Ayen paid the family a visit at their residence in Tongpiny in Juba to condole with them.
It is not yet clear what the funeral arrangements are for the close to 100 year old veteran.
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