Last Sunday was one of the toughest weekends a lot of people in Gambella found it tough to pass by without notice. This was after hearing the tragic news of the death of a fine man, Chuol Tongyik, aka Chuol Nyantut.
According to the news report published by AP in Ethiopia, Chuol’s life was cut short while on a field mission for his job with Catholic Relief Service (CRS), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) which assists impoverished and disadvantaged people. Chuol has been working for the CRS for over two years.
Northern Ethiopia was devastated by war, and it was for that reason that the CRS was there providing much needed aid to war ravaged areas. Details published by AP had it that his life was taken in the town of Kobo, a town in Amhara Region bordering the Tigray Regional State.
Reasons as to why his vehicle was targeted were still sketchy. However, there were reports on the day about exchanges of gun fire between the federal forces and the regional arm groups. At this stage it was not known if the vehicle in which Chuol was traveling was hit in a crossfire or whether the killing was deliberate and intentional. Chuol and his driver, who also worked for the CRS organisation lost their lives.
For whatever reason they were killed, no explanation or tranquillity is enough to justify their death or calm the immediate family members as well as friends and work colleagues all of which are devastated and now mourning in grief.
Chuol’s death at this juncture was not a good moment for the people of Gambella. He had a lot to give A lot of people who heard the news felt that if death were to be traded, it could of course be switched for another person. But because it wasn’t to be the case, all that could be said is that the region in fact has been robbed of a fine man who held no grudge to anyone.
For those who knew him, Chuol never lost a friend on acts of stupidity or improper behaviour. Chuol was a kind of a individual who becomes aware of people’s feelings. That was why he became such a public figure despite holding no ministerial posts in Gambella political streams.
Chuol’s network were not just the people he met or work with. He built queit a big network online. With the insecurity that engulfed the region over the years, Chuol was one of the few individuals who wasn’t shy of answering some of the concerns Gambellians abroad had when asked about the security situation of the region.
He was brave and with that bravery and honesty, Chuol earned a lot of respect and love among those who never met him. To many he was seen as a future leader of Gambella despite himself having no interest in politics.
Chuol loved his regions and at the same token loved those who had the gut and the vision for a better Gambella. Chuol was never tribal. His vision and love were not driven by ethnicity or clannish thoughts. That was why his base was just so elastic accomadating all members of the Gambella ethnic groups. Many believe that was what made him seen as a public icon especially with the way seen in the mourning of his death.
He loved his friends as much as he loved his family members. Chuol always wanted to make people happy. For many who knew him, he was a unifier and a true gentleman not just among the Nuer where he hailed from but also among Gambella regional state ethnic compound.
People as far as in Mejeng tribe and Anyuak some of whom contributed to his tertiary education were shocked and in disbelief on how just a good young man with big life a head of him could just gone like that.
They were just gutted like Chuol’s immediate family members whose lives particularly those of his children have now been shattered.
This sentiment was the same in many people. No one had become dissatisfied on his behaviour as a person or as a colleague or boss on many positions he held in Gambella.
This was exemplified by CRS’s article about his death. “Chuol works hard to make sure that our staff are always safe and provided us security wherever we want to travel” they said. According to CRS, Chuol is survived by five children and his wife. Shall we say May God Bless His Family He left behind and also Rest His Soul In Peace.