My Bittersweet South Sudan

May 16, 2016

I prayed for the conflict to last just a couple of hours or even a single day, but it didn’t

As I sit on my bed with my laptop placed on my lap, mixed emotions run through me. I can’t control my tears as I write this.

Listening to my favourite South Sudanese songs of freedom and joy such as “Ci Mal Been” (Peace has come) by Doup Pur Doup and “Celebrate” by Emmanuel Kembe, remind me of that glorious day in 2011 when all the children of South Sudan felt a heavy load lifted off their shoulders.

The sweetness of freedom

On July 9 2011, I got to witness members of my community reminisce about the two-and-a-half-decade war that took the lives of their friends, wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and their children.

I was there as hundreds of South Sudanese people gathered at Yeronga State School Hall; even those people who usually stayed indoors came out to celebrate the birth of their very own country.

South Sudanese people from all the tribes of our motherland gathered as we celebrated our freedom with prayers, different cultural dances, and speeches from the wise, poems, food, and cries of joy. It was a joyous and united day for my people.

That was the day anyone could see the love South Sudanese—young and old—have for their home land.

I will never forget how thankful our community was and still is. I remember seeing my mother’s eyes fill with tears as she said to us “we are finally free my children; you now have your very own home”.  It felt so good to have our very own home – South Sudan, the land of milk and honey.

On that same morning, the South Sudanese community in Toowoomba was given the opportunity to raise their flag at the Toowoomba City Council. Many wept in silence as they watched the New South Sudan flag fly high in the sky. This was the first gesture of Toowoomba’s Australian Community showing their overwhelming support to their Sudanese brothers and sisters.

Short-lived sweetness

It didn’t take too long for my South Sudanese people to go back to that dreadful placed called paan piiny (hell). The devil tore through my beloved homeland, turning the country into hell on earth.

On 15 December 2013, I turned on the TV and saw news headlines of the conflict that overnight, took over Juba – the capital city of South Sudan.

My head started to spin and my stomach turned. The first thing I did was call my father who was based in Juba. He too didn’t understand what had happening as all he heard was the sound of gunshots while he hid in the house.

Father even asked me to read to him the latest news article Al Jazeera had written on the situation.

I prayed for an end to the conflict

I prayed for the conflict to last just a couple of hours or even a single day, but it didn’t. I remember praying, “God please stop all the evil that’s taking over Sudan; please keep my family safe,” as tears trickled down my cheeks.

My faith in God became so strong through this heart-felt event. Days, months and years go on as we wait for peace to return back to the land of Kush.  The conflict has taken its toll upon my people whom still suffer to this day.

A senseless war

Now, all I can think about is how sad, disappointed, angry, helpless, hopeless, and heavy my heart feels with the load of pain carried as a result of this senseless war.

I have lived most of my life without my father due to this country, and yet we have gone back to level zero.

Feelings of guilt

People don’t understand how hard it is being a South Sudanese refuge youth living in diaspora. We are gifted and privileged to have a comfortable place to call home, food to eat and the opportunity to get an education, while many people my age don’t have a roof over their heads or enough to eat.

It’s a bad feeling especially when I take things I am privileged to have for granted. It’s an even worse feeling knowing that not only South Sudan lacks these basic needs, but a majority of my continent.

The worst feeling though, is knowing that your mother and our father’s tribes continue to hate and fight one another; it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

As I sit here on my bed with my laptop placed on my lap, I continue to pray for peace amongst my people; I pray for our leaders to use their power for good over evil; and, I pray for Africa as a whole to wake up because I know when Mama Africa wakes up, she will shake this world and rid it off evil.

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