Apart from being a profound, compelling and fascinating read, the book breaks new ground in terms of examining the interaction between the political and military especially the relationships within emerging countries and their interaction with so-called world- and regional leaders. Where does the transition from political process to direct conflict happen and how, in the African scenario (with particular reference to South Sudan, the World’s youngest country, the future of which sits on a knife edge) could this horrifying situation be resolved?
It is a must for anyone who has an interest in international politics, the socio-political scenario in Africa, its relations with the rest of the world and the prospects of its people. Will reflects a sensitive understanding for the upliftment of the underprivileged and developing people in the world. It seems that there is a genuine wish among many to assist these seemingly hopeless cases of the world, but sadly many attempts have been fruitless and have benefitted an unscrupulous minority which has been massively enriched from ill-gotten gains.
But it is not only a book for the studious temperament, it is an evocative and an easy, awe inspiring read. It has huge pathos and tragedy but it has a good ending!
Will Endley has a formidable reputation in terms of his military career and capacity as a soldier and a leader, in particular (having served successfully in the heat of battle, holding commands in some of the elite fighting formations in the old SA Defence Force, as well as in peacekeeping operations and leading the integration of the combatants in the Southern African conflict for freedom of political aspirations). He has an equally impressive reputation in the work he has done in the support of humanitarian organisations including the UN in ‘de-mining’ activities (lifting of potentially dangerous landmines) in such ‘hot-spots’ as Afghanistan and Iraq and most recently of course in South Sudan.
He is the only person I have ever come across who has been so compromised as to have been arrested under false pretences and imprisoned, faced an utterly flawed court process and was remanded in custody facing an illegally imposed death sentence in horrific circumstances. It is with staggering strength of character and resolve that he describes his survival in these lonely conditions until after his release was achieved by his sister, Charmaine Quinn, other family members and friends.
At all times he remained faithful to his friend and close ally, Vice President of South Sudan, Riek Machar, who had appointed him to oversee his security arrangements and who himself has experienced massive betrayal and huge frustration in trying to set South Sudan on a course to stability and ultimately a sustainable position (and indeed even wealth) in the face of gross greed and mismanagement.
The book is structured interestingly, starting off with biographical details which confirm his personal capacity, moving on to cover various aspects influencing the evolving of the story from a geographical overview to political, social and economic insights into this the newest country in the world. It also provides for a perspective into its relations with countries with a relevance to its existence. He examines the roles of the aid agencies involved in trying to secure a future for South Sudan all of which he clearly understands and with which he is deeply acquainted.
He describes accurately and in detail the armed skirmishes and battles surrounding the deep political divide that haunts South Sudan, including force levels and military competence.
Then it is on to his harrowing personal experiences in being arrested without justification and being jailed under a sentence of death in ‘The Blue House’ and subsequently ‘Juba Central Prison’s Death Row’ it includes such details as his interactions with fellow prisoners (and their mutual support). In jail, he found himself writing the most poignant poetry – a newly discovered talent, one which seemed to help with dealing with the areas of his mind that that remained unfathomable under these dreadful conditions. He owed his survival to the support of friends and family outside the jail as well as many of the inmates of the Juba Central Prison’s “Death Row”.
He describes in jaw-dropping clarity the frighteningly illegal and incompetent way in which he was tried in the capital of Sudan, Juba for offenses carrying amongst others the Death Penalty. He virtually ran his own defence against all odds. He also describes the limited and ineffectual interaction which he had with the South African Embassy in Juba. Eventually, it was his sister and his friends, largely, who prevailed and secured his release.
This book is one of a kind and reflects new directions in this rapidly evolving world of ours. It is a book not to be missed by anyone.