Friday, June 7, 2024

Fool, Skeptic and the Slay Queen -- (PART 1)

Photo: by Shorena on VectorStock

It was summer. July. Hot. Being outside was therefore less desirable. There was no air conditioner in their apartment, so Fool and Skeptic spent time in the mall, cooling down. Well, it was Skeptic who loved cooling down in the mall while reading a novel or monograph on some Greek philosophy, mostly pre-Socratic philosophers.

Fool also came with novels or philosophy books with fancy titles he didn’t understand: Morality and Polyamory, Free Will and Determinism, Compatibilism and Free Will, Ubuntu and Power, Aristotelianism and African Philosophy, Phenomenology of Violence, etc. He didn’t read any of them of course. But he fancied the idea of being considered well-read.

“Fool is a well-read man,” he would say to himself looking into the mirror in his room.

For him, it was edifying. He didn’t care about what things meant objectively if people understood them in the way he liked.

But Fool’s favored pastime in the mall, as Skeptic read his books, was to stare intensely at women as they walked by. To avoid being taken for a creep, he used the book to hide his sexualizing and objectifying stares.

“How I wished my son was like you two,” a woman once said as she passed by.

Skeptic was engrossed in his reading. He didn’t hear what the woman had said.

“What did she say?”

Fool smiled: “She said she wished her son was like us.”

“You mean me!”

“Hey, don’t be like that. I have my book, so she was talking about both of us.”

“But if she knew the truth…”

“She doesn’t. So, she’s talking about both of us.”

“Okay, I give that to you,” Skeptic would say and resumed his reading.

Fool would go back to his women-watching as he called it.

As people milled around, Fool described women’ boobs, the size of their legs, the size of their buttocks, the color of their skins, their heights, and any feature that, to Skeptic, was a sexualization of women. To mock Fool, Skeptic called his women-watching, philofoology. It was foolishness personified as an artistic desire for women.  Here are sample descriptions of women in Fool's philofoology (women-watching).

“With that ass, I think God loves you, girl!

“Now, that figure is what I’m talking about!”

“With that beautiful face, I think God must have sipped his favorite wine just before he created you.”

It went on and on until they left the mall.

Men, apparently, did not exist whin philofoology. There was no man-watching. Anyone listening to Fool’s description of passersby would assume there were no men in the mall. But some of the women he described walked together with their husbands or boyfriends. Anytime Skeptic heard lamentations like the ones below, he knew Fool didn’t like what the man was doing. That was the only time men mattered in women-watching.

 “What an idiot!”

 “Look at him waddling like a pregnant duck!”

“Oh, for goodness’s sake, keep your dirty mouth from her soft cheeks!”

 Thiɔ! Why are you holding her hand in the mall like an insecure half of a man!

"Look at that potbelly, leading your way like your bodyguard!"

 “Oh, C’mon! How does that cockroach appeal to that beauty?”

“No complain there, you deserve that ugly slay queen.”

"Look at those chicken legs! I can break them with a mere sneeze!"

Fool laughed anytime Skeptic said he sounded like a misandrist. 

"I'm a man. How can I hate men?" Fool responded gleefully. 

But Skeptic didn't mind Fool's jealousy-inspired pseudo-misandry. It was the description of women that bothered him. When Skeptic reprehended him, he would say, “I’m just being Dickensian. Charles Dickens, you know, used to sit by the train station with his notebook and write down descriptions of people passing by.”

Skeptic would look up from his book: “First, that’s not what Dickensian means. Dickensian means his writings or the poor living conditions about which he wrote in England of the industrial revolution, remember? Anyways, Mr. Chauvinist, Dickens wasn’t only writing down descriptions of women.”

“Dickens was a man so don’t bother me…how do you know Charles Dickens wasn’t staring only at women? ‘It was the best of women. It was the worst of men’.”

“Oh Jesus, Fool! Really? So you admit you are only staring at women?”

“No, no, but I…”

Fool suddenly stopped mid-sentence. 

“Slay Queen!” Fool then whispered.

 Skeptic stared disapprovingly at Fool.

“I hate it when you do that!” Fool complained.

“Do what?” Skeptic asked with a frown.

“When you speak through…oh, never mind…she’s coming.”

“Who’s coming, Fool?”

The Slay Queen, as Fool called her, was strutting by with a commanding presence that Fool felt like cat-calling her. Having seen the temptation on Fool’s face, Skeptic stepped disapprovingly on the Fool’s right pinky toe.

“Ouch!” he writhed in pain quietly. He was wearing sandals, so the pain was more intense than it usually was when he wore his Jordans. Not wanting the Slay Queen to hear him yell in pain, he muzzled his moan. 

Fool and Skeptic were not sure about what to say if she accosted them. Girls were their kryptonite. They did not know how to talk to them.  But they knew they had to talk about the Slay Queen as she passed close by without looking at them or even greeting them. Beautiful girls didn't admire people like them, they thought.

But the Slay Queen passed by them anytime they were in the mall. It was as if she knew when they would be in the mall. She was intriguing. With a long, flowing brown wig stopping just above her buttock, yellowish red face, unnecessarily thin stilettos, her behind wiggled. That’s what Fool liked.  But Skeptic noticed that the color of her face was not natural.

“It’s just make-up,” Fool would retort back.

“Look closely. It is not just make-up,” Skeptic would say.

But on that day, she walked past them, stopped for a while and then came back. Fool was watching her from the corner of his eyes as he hid his sexualizing gaze in the book. Skeptic was not paying attention to the Slay Queen. He was, as always, busy reading.

“Hello boys!” she said with an expressionless face. 

Skeptic was startled.  Fool feigned surprise, but he had been watching her movements since she emerged from the corner and walked toward them.

“Hi!” Fool said shyly. 

“I always notice you watching me," she said. 

“Me?” Skeptic asked, surprise written all over his face.

“I apologize on behalf of my friend. We come here to read in a cool place in the company of beautiful folks,” Fool said.

She smiled. Skeptic stared in horror.

“I want to show young people that even in the age of the internet and the social media, reading remains the best way to separate oneself from the crowd,” Fool added proudly.

Skeptic was lost for words. She continued to smile.

“But I thought…”

“Yes, he thought wrong,” Fool added, cutting Skeptic short.

“I wasn’t talking about your friend. I was talking about you,” she said to Fool.

Skeptic smiled as Fool stared, astonished.

“Me? What do you mean?”  Fool asked.

“Your friend is always engrossed in his reading, so he pays no attention to me. I noticed that you pretend to be reading, but you use the book as a cover. People are too busy to notice that you aren’t reading,” she said.

Fool remained silent. Skeptic continued to smile. 

“So, do you like boys who read or boys who don’t?” Skeptic asked.

Fool was still silent. He was embarrassed.

“First, it’s men, not boys. And second, liking someone is determined by a cluster of things. Reading alone cannot cut it,” she said and puckered her lips to the left of her face. 

“Fair enough. But there is one thing that catches your eye first before you consider all other characteristics in the cluster. You can’t see that cluster the first time you see someone you like,” Skeptic said.

“Fair enough. I knew there was something special about you.” she said.

Fool was still silent. But he didn't like her last comment. 

“You don’t talk like a Slay Queen,” Fool finally said.

“Oh, God! Why would you say that?” Skeptic almost screamed at Fool.

He knew Fool was trying to sabotage his chances. 

“It’s okay, boys. I’m used to it. Men always assume I’m less intelligent because of the way I dress. They write me off as brainless until they talk to me. 'Slutty!', they say. But then I open my mouth....and then they get surprised...and then they intimidated,” she said.

“So, you like smart guys?” Fool asked.

“I like who I like, smart or not. There is of course bare minimum in intelligence I would expect.”

Fool smiled. He thought to himself: I have a chance with her.

“I notice you staring at me on the top edge of the book. I do that sometimes. That’s why I notice it.”

“Oh my God! You’re like me,” Fool beamed excitedly.

She shook her head gently: “Not so fast. But I liked you.”

“Oh, oh!” Skeptic said, smiling conspiratorially. 

“’Oh, oh!’ What?” Fool said with a grimace. 

“I think he meant the past tense ‘liked’ in my response,"  she said, explaining what Skeptic meant.

“What does that mean?” Fool asked.

“It means you disappointed her, somehow,” Skeptic said.

“What?” Fool marveled.

“I thought you only stared at me occasionally, and that you liked reading. But I can see now that you don’t like reading at all,” she said.

“So, you like reading? That makes no sense at all” Fool sounded confused. 

“It makes sense if you first try to know a person.”

“But you dress like a Slay Queen, and you bleach your skin.”

“Would you stop it! I can’t believe you!” Skeptic yelled at Fool.

Like a child, Fool had no filters. He paid no attention to the emotional impact of his words on others. He believed people shouldn’t get angry when he spoke truth to them.  Being real, he'd say.

“He’s right,” she said finally.

Skeptic was surprised: “What?”

He expected her to at least deny skin bleaching. What kind of a person admits bleaching without a moral qualm? Skeptic was confused.

“Yes, I use skin lightening creams. But that’s a conversation for another day. See you boys.”

Neither Skeptic nor Fool knew what to think of her. Her fashion style screamed “vain”, “silly,” and “shallow.” But when she opened her mouth, Skeptic only wanted her to keep on talking. She makes more sense than most of his nerdy friends. Nothing about her made sense at all. For Fool, he couldn’t understand how someone so sexy could be so smart and well informed.

 Fool's philofoology had taken an intriguing turn.

(To be continued… )


Written by Kuir ë Garang (PhD). For permission to reprint this story, email me at 






Friday, May 17, 2024

SPLM's predatory elitism and the red army’s betrayed generational mission in South Sudan

 Published on Friday, May 17, 2024. 

Photos: WHAS11; City Reviews

'Garang also reiterated the importance of education to the red army as future leaders in his speech to Sudanese refugees in Itang Refugee Camp (also in Western Ethiopia) in 1988. Garang told civilians that Southern and Western Sudanese were excluded from power in Khartoum because they are said to be uneducated. “Why are they not educated?” he asked. He added that “this is why we have built schools for the red army because they are the future generation. No one will say in the future that they are not educated.”'


As we yet again commemorate another May 16th, I think about the future of South Sudan through these three generational groups: The SPLA generation, the red army generation, and the youth (as conventionally defined by the United Nations and the African Union). 

When I read in Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth that “Each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it”, I wonder about the youth in South Sudan and my generation (the red army generation). With the current political and economic situation in South Sudan, the red army generation seems to have betrayed its generational mission.

But is this generation to blame? First, what is this generation and why it is important?

The red army generation, called the lost boys of Sudan in the United States where some of them resettled as refugees in early 2000s, were born in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. To the Southern rebels (1983-2005)—the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA)—the red army generation was to furnish Sudan with disciplined, educated post-liberation leaders.

Of course, SPLA recruited some of these boys as combat infantry in the 1990s. These older boys, called Jesh el-assuot (black army) informally because they were of fighting age according to the SPLA, were hardly adults as conventionally defined. It is however important to note that the SPLA leadership believed in the education of this generation. With all their short-comings, which are very well documented, SPLA  leaders did not blindly use them all as child soldiers. The future was a haunting presence.

While the use of child soldiers must be condemned, and rightly so, it is important to understand the cultural and the survivalist context in which SPLA recruited and inducted them as child soldiers. This cultural dimension, while not necessarily acceptable per se, must be factored into any analysis of South Sudanese liberation history and all its complex dimensions. It cannot be ignored, or oversimplified, if the present status of the youth and the red army generation in South Sudan is to be properly contextualized.

The SPLA senior leadership also understood that a revolutionary agenda without any strategic plan for the young generation is foolhardy. Speaking in 1988 to Jesh el-amer (the red army) in Pinyudo Refugee Camp in Western Ethiopia, John Garang de Mabior, the co-founder of SPLM/SPLA and its ideological architect, said that the duty of the red army generation is “to re-build the country.”  Garang added that “my responsibility and the responsibility of my generation will be to dismantle Old Sudan…we will raze it to the ground.”

Garang also reiterated the importance of education to the red army as future leaders in his speech to Sudanese refugees in Itang Refugee Camp (also in Western Ethiopia) in 1988. Garang told the civilians that Southern and Western Sudanese were excluded from power in Khartoum because they are said to be uneducated. “Why are they not educated?” he asked. He added that “this is why we have built schools for the red army because they are the future generation. No one will say in the future that they are not educated.”

The importance of education for the red army is also underscored by the decision by the SPLA to send about 600 young men and women to Cuba in the mid-1980s for education. Another important educational program encouraged by the SPLA leadership to educate the red army generation produced scholars of Face Foundation of Polotaka, Eastern Equatoria.

Additionally, in refugee camps (Itang, Pinyudo, Dima, Kakuma, etc) where the red army settled, SPLA appointed leaders to supervise them. They emphasized the importance of education to aid agencies providing relief services in these camps. On a personal note, I completed elementary and high school in Kakuma Refugee Camp due to SPLM’s emphasis on education. It is with this emphasis on education that a prominent SPLA commander, after talking to my mother in 1995 in Mangalatore Displace Camp, accepted to take me to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Schools in Mangalatore were poor. Because of the itinerant nature of internally displaced persons, I found it difficult to benefit from constantly interrupted schooling.


With this emphasis on education and the red army as future leaders, why then are the youth and the red army generation marginalized in South Sudan?

The obvious answer is what SPLM leaders have become. Instead of building an inclusive economy and democracy, or allowing the red army generation to play that role, SPLM has built a self-enrichment kleptocracy where a coterie of powerful political and military elites siphon state resources to foreign banks. Within this system, the youth is seduced into it or marginalized. This predatory “gun class”, as South Sudanese scholar an former minister Majak D’Agoot calls them, has become callously parasitic on state resources.  So the conditions in which the youth and the red army generation could fulfil their generational mission, in state-building for instance, are non-existent.

As D’Agoot has noted, “SPLA has morphed into a degenerative gun-toting aristocracy that straddles the sociocultural, political, and economic spheres like a colossus.” This has enabled a predatory elitism, an elite-centred economic system of reciprocity. They have made it the political and economic culture in the country. The youth and the red army generation joins them because it pays. Others join this predatory elite on ethno-centric basis. The generational mission has become an inconvenience or a threat to personal safety.

To stop the gun class from money-laundering, the United States sent Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, to Kenya and Uganda, which have become money-laundering hubs for South Sudanese gun class. After Mandelker’s visit, money laundering continues. State-building and service provision have been abandoned.  

Instead of being allowed to fulfil their generational mission, the youth and the red army generation face arbitrary arrests, tortures at national security secret locations, and the unexplained disappearances. Frustrations has also caused self-destructive decisions for this generation. The rebellion and subsequent assassination by the South Sudanese army of businessman and philanthropist, Kerubino Wol, and the arrest by the FBI of Dr. Peter Biar Ajak, resulted from these generational frustrations. It is the attempt by the youth and the red army generation to fulfil their generational missions that puts them in trouble with the South Sudanese national security.

Those in positions of power are appointed through nepotistic arrangements or through political cronyisms. They are mere tokens without real power. For instance, the deputy governor of Jonglei State, Atong Kuol Manyang, is the daughter of a powerful former SPLA commander, Kuol Manyang Juuk. Kuol is also a senior advisor to President Kiir. The deputy Mayor of the city of Juba, Thiik Thiik Mayardit, is the nephew of President Salva Kiir.

The governor of Jonglei State, Mr. Denay Jock Chagor, the national minister of health, Ms. Yolanda Awel Deng Juach, and the national minister of petroleum, Mr. Kang Chol, are among the red army generation who were appointed through the revitalized agreement for the resolution of the conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCISS) signed by SPLM-In-Government and SPLM-In-Opposition in 2018. SPLM leaders find it nearly impossible to appoint the youth and the red army generation into positions of power on merit.

Co-opted South Sudanese youth and the red army generation must therefore reject SPLM’s predatory elitism however solvent. Otherwise, corrupt, and self-centred leaders in their 60s, 70s, and 80s will continue to be the past, the present, and the future of the country.  


Dr. Kuir ë Garang is the editor of TPR. 

Fool, Skeptic and the Slay Queen -- (PART 1)

Photo: by Shorena on VectorStock It was summer. July. Hot. Being outside was therefore less desirable. There was no air conditioner in their...