By Francis Chagai Bol*
Date: Monday, May 18th, 2020
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” – Martin Luther King
During the long leadership wrangle between the two leaders of Bor Community Association in Australia, Abraham Koor Abuol and Andrew Erjok Apech, and their supporters, there was hope that one day everything will be done peacefully. There was hope that a trusted team of mediators could bring the two groups on the table to reached an agreement to hand over the community leadership to an interim team who would supervise the current affairs and arrange a new election in timely manner.
That hope became a reality when an Interim Committee headed by Mr. Kuot Kuol Malith was formed early this year and mandated to take care of the Community while organizing elections.
This development was seen Bor Community both in Australia and abroad as a good step in the right direction for Bor Community in Australia. Many people were happy and hoped to see the end of the so-called Live-videos and bad commentaries (insults) against each other on social media.
Unfortunately, that optimism turned into despair on Saturday, April 23rd, 2020, when the world learned from the Chairman of the Interim Committee Mr. Kuot Kuol Malith (Through live video) that his leadership has not been given both documents and Money by the rival leaders of Bor Community Associations in Australia. This message was shocking in the sense that Bor Community is losing faith and trust in her leaders, fast. Do we really elect leaders who are principled, ethical and accountable to Bor Community?
If money and documents have not been handed over to the Interim Committee as agreed, then what kind of agreement did Abraham Koor Abuol, Andrew Erjok Apech and their respective Associations make? If the formation of the Interim Committee was done in ethical and inclusive manner, and if both leaders agreed to it, then what other powers do they have that permit them to keep Community’s documents and money?
These actions make one wonders whether these leaders represent the interest of Australia’s Bor Community or themselves? One also wonders how Australia’s Bor Community views these leaders’ actions. Do Australia’s Bor Community bylaws justify these leaders’ defiance and refusal to handover the community’s resources and documents?
How would these leaders become candidates again if they refused to hand over the assets and documents to the Interim Committee? Knowing what we know now, it is important for Andrew Erjok Apech and Abraham Koor Abuol to hand over the Community’s documents and Money.
How else could Australia’s Bor Community entrust anyone of you to be her leader again? Surely the two leaders need to rethink through the course of their actions and ought to put Bor community first.
It’s important for both Andrew Erjok Apech and Abraham Koor Abuol to understand and distance themselves from the practices that have become commonplace in our community: a leader refuses to hand over documents and community resources; when he/she loses an election, he/she claims election rigging, runs away to run a backdoor association with the resources and the documents he/she refused to hand over. This is not the best way forwards for Australia’s Bor Community especially when we need our unity now more than ever.
Andrew Erjok Apech and Abraham Koor Abuol represent the interests of their respective groups of supporters within Australia’s Bor Community. Given the interconnectedness, we know what they have been grappling with all these years; however, their refusal to hand over the assets and documents to the new leadership shows the ugly part of that struggle which must be ended by handing over the documents and resources before the next election. These two leaders must not destroyed the name of Bor Community before the world, and set bad precedence to the upcoming youth as bad leadership could likely spill over to the next generation. Certainly, the youth are watching. It is good to protect them from following in the current leadership path in few years to come. And this is because the youth regard their community leaders as their role models and will likely act in the same way.
Bor Community back home and abroad faces enormous challenges at this time. These challenges require us to unite our minds and resources. Any leader who engages in divisive actions such as refusal to work with interim committee, confusion and abuse only serves to further the rifts amongst us. These kinds of behaviors are not signs of good leaderships and there’s doubt that Bor Community is aware about this impending situation ahead of them.
Australia’s Bor Community is one of the largest in the Diaspora. Divisions and lack of unity within the Australian Community is a big weakness for Bor Community in general.
Bob Riley’s assertion is true, “Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during hard time when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.” Still, there is hope that the ‘hero’ within both Abraham Koor Abuol and Andrew Erjok Apech, and Australia’s Bor Community will be revealed during these hard times. I am optimistic that these leaders will honor the agreement they signed to work with the Interim Committee. We hold hopes that any issues one may have with the current interim committee could be voiced at an appropriate forum, that documents and community resources will be handed over and that elections will be organized soon.
As members of Bor Community worldwide, we urge Abraham Koor Abuol and Andrew Erjok Apech to work hard for the unity of Australia’s Bor Community. We also urge the Chairman of the Interim Committee Mr. K. K. Malith De Reech to seek better ways to work with both leaders and community elders so that documents and community resources given to him can be responsibly kept with accountability and that Australia’s Bor Community Association’s election could be organized immediately.
As the late hero and leader of Civil Right Movement Martin Luther King puts it “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” This piece is solely my personal opinion. It’s an attempt to warn, urge and encourage our brothers in Australia to value our unity and work together to overcome the challenges facing our community in Australia and homeland.
Francis Chagai Bol is Bor Community concern citizen living in Canada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org