Salva Kiir,President of the Republic of South Sudan: Biography and Education

Source: This article was first published by prof HAKIZIMANA Maurice

His full name is Salva Kiir Mayardit, he was born on September 13, 1951 in Bahr el-Ghazal, to a Dinka pastoral family in Akon village, Awan-Chan Dinka community of Gogrial County, South Sudan, as the eighth of nine children (six boys and three girls) in the family. His father, Kuethpiny Thiik Atem (who died in 2007), was a cattle herder who belonged to the Payum clan.Atem had three wives, Awiei Rou Wol, Adut Makuei Piol and Awien Akoon Deng, as well as 16 children. Kiir’s mother, Awiei Rou Wol Tong, was a farmer who belonged to the Payii clan.

He is a South Sudanese soldier and statesman. He is the first president of the Republic of South Sudan since 2011. He was appointed commander-in-chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in 2005 after the death of John Garang.Prior to South Sudan’s independence, Salva Kiir was Sudan’s first vice president (in the administration of Omar al-Bashir) from 2005 to 2011.

John Garang the Moses of South Sudan

Salva Kiir – Joshua from South Sudan

Salva Kiir graduated?

As mentioned in the introduction, Salva Kiir Mayardit was born on September 13, 1951 and his story is clear: he joined the rebellion in southern Sudan when he was barely 10 years old, and by the end of the 1960s (before he reached the age of 20), the young Salva Kiir was already a confirmed military man. He had risen to the rank of officer when Sudanese President Jaafar Numeiri made peace with the rebels as part of the 1972 agreement in Addis Ababa.

The young Salva Kiir Mayardit did not go to school , he may have dropped out of primary school,he can read and write, but one thing is certain: during his military career, this gentleman graduated from the Sudanese Military College. Apart from that, this man has no other training.

People say that Salva Kiir is a president who is not eloquent, who does not like to talk or make speeches, but a hard worker who is much appreciated by his ministers, advisers, generals and citizens.


In his private life:brief Biography of Salva Kiir

  • The man has no formal education apart from his military training.
  • He has 7 other siblings from his father’s 3 wives.
  • Great Lakes University of Kisumu awarded him an honorary doctorate.
  • As president, he is strongly opposed to homosexuality.
  • He started as a low-ranking officer in the army and gradually rose through the ranks to become the first vice president of Sudan and then the first president of South Sudan.
  • He was rumored to have married another woman, the daughter of his former classmate, at a private event, but the man he did not comment on.
  • Kiir was born to a father who was a cattle herder.
  • His father has three wives and his mother is a farmer.
  • He is not seen as totally supportive of the free press in his country.
  • The actual number of his wives and children is not known, as most things about him are out of reach to the public.

His big black Stetson hat

In 2006, during a visit to the White House, Kiir received a black stetson (a cowboy hat) as a gift from U.S. President George W. Bush. He would have liked it so much that he bought several. He now rarely makes public appearances without wearing one—except in the church.

Marriage & Family

Kirr is legally married to Mary Ayen Mayardi who is highly respected in the country. The woman is much loved and is considered a disciplinarian. The couple has children including Munuti Salva Kiir and Adut Mayardit.The actual number of his wives and children is not known, as most things about him are out of reach to the public.

Mary Ayen Mayardit 

Salva Kiir is rumored to have secretly married a younger woman named Aluel William Nyuon Bany, the daughter of a former comrade, the late William Nyuon Bany, a member of the Nuer ethnic group and former SPLA leader. The traditional Dinka ceremony is said to have been conducted by his brothers. Neither Salva Kiir nor his wife Mary Ayen Mayardit have publicly commented on the allegation. According to Kenyan media, “Kiir’s in-laws” have asked for privacy.

Salva Kiir is a devout Christian, “a Joshua” to South Sudan

“Many political analysts and thought leaders around the world describe him as the biblical Joshua who took the mantle of leadership from Moses just as the Israelites were about to enter Canaan and skillfully established the then-fugitives in the Promised Land,” the South Sudanese government said on its website.

Salva Kiir is a committed Christian. He makes no secret of his identity, as the church is one of the main platforms for his public discourse. An independent South Sudan was Salva Kiir’s long-held dream – far more so than Garang, who favoured more rights for southerners in a united Sudan.

In 2005, Kiir said you have to choose between “a second-class citizen in Sudan or a free person” in your own country. This statement won the hearts of millions of South Sudanese. South Sudanese voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence from South Sudan in January 2011, with 98.83% of voters preferring to secede from SudanOn 9 July 2011, South Sudan became an independent state, presided over by Salva Kiir.

Salva Kiir, dictator or tolerant?

South Sudan plunged into civil war on 15 December 2013 when fighting broke out within the national army, which was plagued by political and ethnic divisions fuelled by the rivalry between Salva Kiir and Riek Machar.

The armed conflict, which included ethnic massacres, rape and torture, has left tens of thousands of people dead (estimated at between 50,000 and 300,000) and more than 2.3 million displaced.

“South Sudan needs truth, not trial” —Salva Kiir

Le président sud-soudanais Salva Kiir (à gauche) et son vice-président Riek Machar (à droite).
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir (left) and Vice President Riek Machar (right). Photo ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER, SAMIR BOL/AFP

“Building a nation is not an easy task. We know this, because it is our life’s work,” the two former sworn enemies of South Sudanese politics wrote together in a New York Times op-ed published on June 7.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his vice-president, Riek Machar, believe that peace in their country requires the creation of a “truth and reconciliation” commission rather than trials of the perpetrators of abuses committed during the two-year civil war.

“We are determined to ensure that our country never goes through civil war again. Even with our differences – in fact because of them – we are determined to reconcile our communities and create unity,” write Salva Kiir and Riek Machar.

The tolerant president who is always willing to give in and reconcile with his sworn enemies?

“South Sudan’s coming together can only be truly guaranteed by following a path: that of an organized peace and a reconciliation process with international support,” said Kiir and Machar, who are accused by the UN of being responsible for the majority of the violence committed since the beginning of the conflict.

“We intend to set up a national truth and reconciliation commission along the lines of those in South Africa and Northern Ireland,” they added. Those who would tell the truth about what they saw or did would be granted amnesty, even if they expressed no remorse. (…)The purpose of this process is not to seek forgiveness, they argue, but to prepare South Sudanese for the immense task ahead: that of building a nation alongside those who have committed crimes against them, their families and their communities. »


In 1993, General Salva Kiir nearly died in a plane crash in Kenya

Thirty years ago, in 1993, Salva Kiir was a General in the SPLA rebel movement fighting for the independence of Khartoum. The plane, which departed from Nairobi, crashed in northwestern Kenya and villagers rescued the future head of state and other passengers.

South Sudan in pictures,a 12-year-old country

Juba capital city

South Sudan-Portrait of a war-torn country

2012: 1st anniversary of South Sudan’s independence


University of Juba

Juba Aeroport

What did you already know about South Sudan and especially its President Salva Kiir Mayardit?

Source: This article was first published by prof HAKIZIMANA Maurice on

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