The ‘Mathiang Anyoor’ is the popular name for military recruits who were mobilized in 2011–12 and later incorporated into South Sudan’s national army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), at the beginning of the civil war in 2013. The Mathiang Anyoor were comprised primarily of Dinka male youth from the Aweil area of Northern Bahr el Ghazal and played a critical role in keeping the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) government of President Salva Kiir in power by providing much-needed manpower following defections from the military at the outbreak of the war.
The Mathiang Anyoor forces amplified the ethnic overtones of South Sudan’s civil conflict and are alleged to have committed atrocities against civilians. The Mathiang Anyoor were closely associated with their political patron Paul Malong Awan, the former governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state (2008–14). Malong later served as SPLA chief of staff (2014–17), and the Mathiang Anyoor were instrumental in his rise to power and subse-quent challenge to Kiir’s leadership in 2015–17. The rise of Malong and the Mathiang Anyoor eventually exacerbated rifts in Kiir’s coalition, resulting in Malong’s sacking and subsequent exile in 2017.
He joined McClatchy in November 2010 as a special Sudan correspondent out of Juba, South Sudan, where he contributed in-depth coverage of the breakup of Sudan into two countries.
A native of western Illinois, Boswell moved to Nairobi as a freelancer in 2009. His work from the region has appeared in Time Magazine, NPR, Bloomberg News, Christian Science Monitor, World Politics Review, Jane's Intelligence Review and Small Arms Survey, among others, and he served as an editor for Voice of America.
His reporting is underwritten in part by a grant from Humanity United, a California-based foundation that focuses on human rights issues.