CRAWL OF HOPE

A hot mid-July Sunday morning in Juba. I jumped out of bed, realizing I was late for Church service at Grace Community Church(GCC).

This would be my first church service to attend after returning from Nairobi where I had been on formal mission for about a month. There was no way I could afford to miss it. It took almost an hour to get to the Church, just in time to catch the choir in worship. The notices, giving and prayers followed thereafter. The pastor gave a shout out to the new comers and those who had been away for long, like me. As the sermon commenced, a crippled man, a regular at the church, crawled slowly on his bare knees and struggled to seat on one of the empty seats at the back.

Although I had seen him more than once, I had never taken time to get to know more about him. On this day however, I felt remorseful as I watched the bruises on his knees because of crawling on the stony bare ground. Questions lingered in my mind: How does this man live his life? I took out my notebook and jotted down 5 questions that I’d ask him. I wasn’t sure he’d allow me to interview him based on my experiences with such people. After the service, I grabbed a cup of coffee and talked to one or two people, keeping in mind that I had an interview to do. I walked back to the church and found my ‘target’ playing the piano. Each time the service ended he’d crawl to where the piano is and play music which cheered him up. I approached him and introduced myself. He said he is John Malish. The 34-year-old Malish is a South Sudanese from Acholi land and happens to be a father of three, a boy and two girls, born of different mothers so basically, he has three wives who stay together with their children at Magui, Uganda. He lives at Gumbo in the outskirts of Juba, in a house of one of his close childhood friends. He studied up to form 2 but was forced to drop out due to financial strains and disability. At that time, he was staying with his grandmother in Juba because his family was poverty-stricken and couldn’t afford to house, feed, clothe and educate him. He attended school in Juba till the age of 6 when he started experiencing severe muscle pains and when he went to hospital, the doctor told him that he lacked enough iron in the body and a healthy diet. He was put under medication for about a month. This medication helped him in a way because he got back on his feet and embarked on his studies but 6 months later, the severe muscle pains started again and this time they hit him hard. It reached a point where he couldn’t move even an inch due to severe pains. He was taken back to the hospital and was put under the same medication he had before, but it was all in vain, Polio had doomed Malish. The sad news was not well received by his family, so they disowned him blaming it on superstition (they thought he was bewitched) forcing him to dwell on the streets of Juba begging.

John believed that his life was cursed and therefore didn’t deserve to live and lived a life of resentment and self-pity. Life on the streets is uncouth. Merciless and foolish street boys rob him of whatever little he has, beat him up and insult him despite his situation. John cannot stay off the streets because that’s where he gets something small to eat but many times he sleeps hungry. I asked him how he commutes from home to the streets and he told me that his friend is a motorcyclist and helps move him from home to Juba Town and vice versa. His friend doesn’t help him, yet they stay in the same house and happen to be very close. The current economic crisis has turned people into no sense of compassion’ because they’re busy focusing on their own lives. I asked him about his religious affiliations and he told me that if it wasn’t for his professed Christian faith, he would have been ‘history’ ages ago because he used to contemplate suicide. He came to know about GCC

through a regular, Jonathan Khatiya who invited him to the church. I asked him if he had any vision/ hope for the future and with tears rolling down his cheeks he sighed and said, “If only people could see beyond my disability and show compassion and love towards me, I’d really appreciate. It’s not about the money after all. I just want to be like the rest of you and feel human because right now, I feel like I’m a creature that isn’t visible to the human eye.” John Malish envisions a bright future and even though he’s in his thirties, he still hopes that one day he’ll embark on his education and live his dreams. He also told me that he has a passion for music and wishes that one day one time, someone could teach him how to play the piano (that’s why he’s always fiddling with the piano keys) even though he knows not what he’s doing if the sound produced by the keys cheers him up and makes him feel human again.

 

 

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PHYSICS OF EGO

AS TIME GOES BY OUR MINDS, HEARTS AND BODIES GROW. OUR PRIDE AND EGOS GROW

WE TEND TO LET ‘EM OVER GLOW AND OUR THOUGHTS AND EVERY ACTION SHOW

MANY STUMBLE AND FALL ON THEIR ATTEMPT TO RISE WHEN OUR EGOS COLLIDE

IT’S JUST PHYSICS, THE PRESSURE GETS TOO DEEP WHEN GLORY WE SEEK

 

WE TEND TO PROJECT OUR FEARS AND FAILURES ON ONE ANOTHER

JEALOUSY IS EVIL’S FRUIT AND SIN IS THE MOTHER ROOT

I WANT IT ALL I WON’T THINK TWICE BOUT MANSLAUGHTER’ A BROTHER

PEACE, LOVE & POSITIVISM MINUS UNITY & AUTHENTICITY EQUALS ZERO IMMUNITY

THERE’S ALWAYS GONE BE THAT DARK BLANK SPACE IN OUR COMMUNITIES

AND THE TRAGEDIES WILL NEVER CEASE

TO EXIST…………

 

WHAT HAPPENED TO SACRIFICE AND SELFLESS LOVE?

THE SADDEST TRUTH IS YOU WON’T BELIEVE THIS

MANY WOULD SING & SAY:

it died with Christ!”

 

 

POWER OF THE GAMEPAD

Growing up, I always had this mentality that every good deed one does deserves some token of appreciation so basically, I had no sense of gratitude and greed had taken the better part of me. Anyways that was me back then, I always wanted more than enough and this cost me a lot hence the saying goes that experience is the best teacher. Despite the fact that I was raised and bred in a Christian background, my teenage years were nothing close to the high expectations my family had for me. I had an elite education background because I went to the best schools but unfortunately, I slipped and fell on the way and was out of school for some time due to some common reasons which have led to the destruction of many youngins in our today’s society. Anyways, let me just get to the main theme of this article which is, ‘being in charge of thy self’. Literally speaking, a game/joy pad refers to an input device used for gaming purposes. It is a video game controller that can be held with both hands and has multiple buttons on it to be pressed by the thumbs. Same case applies to man, someone might take advantage of you and control your life and the choices you make and all your actions solely depend on that particular person, you have no say in your life because you’re likened to a lifeless game device which can’t function without an input device. In as much as I’d love to relate a game pad to a real-time situation, I’d also like to clarify that this isn’t no fictional tale but a real-life story rather. Peer pressure is a societal vice which has ruined the lives and promising futures of many young men and women in our society, I’d be spitting in y’all faces if I told you that I had no share of it and even though I know that I’m putting my life in jeopardy by writing this article, I just don’t want so see our young boys and girls walk down the same path and live to regret their choices and actions. It all started in my early mid teen years, I used to hang out with my home boys from the block and I actually got to enjoy their company because all we did was just take evening strolls, sit, eat and talk whilst getting up close with the females and interacting with them. This friendship among us (3) was tight and as time grew, we grew fond of each other. Our friendship wasn’t all that bad because we weren’t doing anything contrary to moral societal practices. One of my friends, Prince Ober was this ‘get along with everybody’ character so he had very many friends and was in his own world, an underdawg celebrity. We used to hang around each other pretty often because of the proximity, he was my neighbor and also my classmate. His family is well off so it’s quite obvious that he had more than he could ever ask of and basically, he had things that many of us wouldn’t get even if we worked ourselves to death LOL!! Since we were in boarding school, we only met up with the rest of the guys over the holidays because they were in different schools. In school, my friend and I formed a group with other boys who sat at the back of the class and together we just decided to be hard knocks and inseparable. However, the dividing factor came in the grades because the rest of the boys weren’t that sharp and focused on their studies but we still kept our clique alive despite all that. Our clique officially became a gang since one dude called Bryant Nyagah karanu told us that he knows more about gangs because he was affiliated with one back at his residence but was looking forward to form his own so as to gain popularity and also make a name for himself in that particular world of gangs. We figured out later that he was an orphan whose parents died in a car ordeal when he was pretty young and was in that school courtesy of his brother but they had to struggle to where they are at the moment. Nyagah had a very violent upbringing hence he was always being suspended for fighting and he believed that to get what you want, you had to fight for it, not only by word of mouth but also physically to the highest degree of violence possible and this later on led to his expulsion after a series of fights and he even went to the point of fighting the school principal and injured him severely. After his expulsion, he promised to tell us more about this gang thing and during holidays we linked up and he walked us through the protocols, you see it’s funny that this gang world has its own system of governance which is untouchable because they’ve got a lot of connections with very many people of high status, corrupt police and business men officials inclusive. The first step was getting initiated and usually, they’re done in a cultish sort of way because it involves spilling of blood, chants and an oath of allegiance. However, that doesn’t mean that one will be initiated into the gang fully but a whole lot more was required of you. One had to do all sorts of derogatory acts such as robbery, burglary, murder, sell and do drugs, rape and lots more (I’ve never been no rapist or killer tho) but I’ve done the rest so many at times when I was in 9th and 10th grade (on and off school), I’d spend my nights in prison cells after being caught in bar brawls or having no ID card and other irregularities but got out after a day or two courtesy of my ‘connect’. I can’t go into further details because it might cost me my life. What I was trying to imply in this short article is that I got involved in gang and criminal activities because I couldn’t connect with myself and I barely knew who I was. I was just living by other people’s thoughts, ideas and actions and that’s what peer pressure is all about. One doesn’t want to be on the opposite side of one’s peer’s decisions because you feel so attached to them and can’t live without them but all that ishh is wrong. With all that being said, Just follow your heart and don’t do what others do because it simply seems cool even though you know that it ain’t right.

CRIES OF A YOUNG BLACK WIDOW

Deep in the darkest depths of a country in Africa, lies a young bereaved woman whose pain is immeasurable. She’s got nothing left to grasp on rather than her pitiful self. Memories of her broken past haunt her on the daily: Husband was slain to death, daughters raped, humiliated and mutilated beyond recognition. That’s not the end of her unfortunate misfortunes. Her parents starved to death, brothers and sisters were tortured to death due to their professed Christian faith and lastly her friends and family were shot dead by stray bullets and planted mines on a quest to reclaim their lives. It’s been more than two decades now but sadly, her dreams of a fruitful, peaceful and fulfilling life continue to get shattered. She has tried all means of achieving a peaceful life, but it all goes down the drain and many at times, the cycle of torment goes on and on. Life has been so uncouth for her, she is in an unexplainable state of poverty which has ruthlessly befell her. Her house is made of simple thatched grass and mud, at night she wanders in total darkness. When she falls sick, no medical attention is given to her because the hospitals are rather crowded and distribution of medical resources is limited and corrupted so sometimes she tends to suffer and wait upon God’s grace. The roads that lead to a bright future are remote and cannot be easily accessed by the big truck of opportunities that often get stuck on the way. Her love life is in shambles because the men who come her way tend to take advantage of her meekness which most of them mistake for weakness. The lamenting woman is a striking black beauty whose astonishing glamour makes her a victim of a man’s pride and lust. Many at times, these so-called bachelors often dressed in sheep clothing toss around with her heart and make empty promises which they never fulfill. If nothing is done with immediate effect, this gorgeous, young and intelligent black woman will cry to death leaving behind a cloud of unbreakable curses and many shall perish. Despite her pains, trials and tribulations, she keeps track of her faith; just as St. Theresa taught those who were before us and passed it down to this generation, the black widow prays and forgives the sinful nature of her oppressors. Surprisingly, she still sees a flicker of hope glimmering beyond the vast high hills and mountains.

Insights: My love for poetry has made me do a deep self-evaluation and dug so much that I found a hidden treasure which I ought to share with others. The short time I’ve spent in my country has really taught me a lot. This piece of poetry in article form is about South Sudan and the things that are happening there, the young black widow is South Sudan and the bad things portray it’s current situation. I hope y’all get inspired.

“MY RICHNESS IS LIFE”

What is Life? many at times we ask ourselves this question but the answers vary depending on our level of understanding and experience. As humans, it is normal to be unsatisfied with what we already have because we have a tendency of ‘trying to fit in’. we complain about the limited existence or non existence of our ‘unquenchable thirsts’. Below are real life stories of people who struggle on the daily simply because they can’t afford to live a ‘normal’ lifestyle as yours and mine. They have no access to basic needs such as food, water, clothing, education and healthcare yet they’re happy and believe firmly that things will change one day but they’re thankful that they’ve been privileged to have the gift of life. My friends and I just don’t sit home and watch Telly or browse the internet for latest fashion trends. Instead, we walk around exploring life from different dimensions and this has taught us the essence of gratitude, I hope that you’ll see life as it is as i walk you through this journey of daily hassles.

Mommy Nanny (Margaret) and her Daughter (Daisy Achieng)

Margaret, a single mother (Probably a widow) has been struggling  everyday of her life for the past 24 years and works as a Tailor to achieve the basic necessities of life. She’s very fortunate to be blessed with twins (Boy-Melvin, Girl-Daisy Achieng) but unfortunately, the girl was diagnosed with Meningitis at a very young delicate age. For the past 24 years, Daisy Achieng has lived with Meningitis which she was diagnosed with at the age of 11 months. Her mother first noticed her ‘abnormality’ as many would term it when she convulsed from her crib. Daisy was rushed to Russia District Hospital in Kisumu County, Western Kenya where she spent a week in the ICU then another 3 months under hospital care. For the next 3 years, she went through physiotherapy whilst being taught how to walk and talk. This technique kind of worked and at age 7, she took her first steps and since then, she has made some commendable progress. Her contemporary major challenge is to express herself and relate with others because she endeavors to talk, an ability which she almost doesn’t have but still, this hasn’t stopped her from making friends and being social. in fact, she has won the hearts of many in her village because she’s so full of vim and vaguer. Her mother Margaret, was so courageous to let people know of her daughter’s abnormality by letting her live a open normal life despite the fact that their customs strongly termed Daisy’s condition as a curse and anyone who associates with her, deserves punishment. There are many  like Daisy out there but the shame and self-pity their care givers have, silences their potentials or possibility to receive help. Margaret bears all the burdens of being the breadwinner and mother of the house because she’s the only one her children pin their hopes on. Despite her limited time and busy schedule, Margaret still manages to bathe, clothe and feed her 24 year old daughter because she cannot do anything by herself (Meningitis literally kills a person’s ability to do anything). Undeterred by her condition, Daisy has a joyful heart and rejuvenated spirit which keeps her going through her difficult long journey of life.

“I need new crutches and can’t just walk out on myself and give up that easily, I gotta stay strong”  (Sam)

  If you stroll along the streets of busy Nairobi, you won’t fail to notice the presence of street boys, girls and even families. Why would you waste your time socializing and interacting with these unlaundered and pestering folks? here’s the reason why; My friend Daniel Wanjala and some of his goodwill friends from the a certain youth-initiated group called ‘fom ni gani’ came across a disabled beggar whom later introduced himself as Sam and they thought it was enough to take a moment (actually they bought him a loaf of bread and a packet of milk) to hear him out. Not too long ago, Sam worked at a local construction company which sadly, cost him his leg resulting to a sort of distortion and difficulty in walking. A pulley snapped and the heavy wires landed on his leg, breaking his bones into small dregs. For such a case, he’d have faced an amputation surgical process but luckily enough, the steel rodes placed on his bones helped to keep his leg intact. Dan and friends met him a very desperate and devastated young man due to his inability to move and work to cater for his own needs which left him no options but to just sit and beg on the streets. his dying need for new crutches has really disturbed him because what he gets from the ‘Samaritans’ is barely enough to feed him. The short time Dan and friends spent with him remains a memorable treasure in Sam’s heart because due to the exposure and awareness they created by sharing Sam’s story, earned him new crutches from a altruistic and touched soul. Sam now stands tall and proud with his new crutches hopping and looking forward to move through life successfully.

EQUALITY GOES BOTH WAYS

In my country South Sudan, there are no cases of men/boys being victims of Gender Based Violence and if they exist, they’re unheard of so I’ll put my focus mainly on Female GBV because it’s rampant and carried out in the open. GBV, from an African historical context has unfortunately, over the years become an aspect of culture in certain communities amongst diverse ethnic lines in Africa which is addressed with little interest or none at all. Many at times, the mentality that a male member of family/society is the most superior and dominant has not only made a woman or young girl a victim of physical, verbal and mental abuse but also a slave to; locked emotions which can’t be expressed openly, unwillingness to voice their opinions and concerns due to fear, deliberate injustice and prejudice among others. Women and girls are treated with no respect and can be used as vessels of selfish gains like wealth, power and influence. Some certain group of communities particularly, the Dinka still hold on to bad cultural norms such as ‘lawful indirect human trafficking’ through expensive payment of dowry. This rush to get fortune which one hasn’t sweated for is as a result of poverty, illiteracy and ignorance. The ones who suffer severely are women and girls because the latter is often forced to drop out of school, gets married at a very delicate young age hence doesn’t enjoy the privileges of being a youth and lastly exploited to satisfy a man’s lust. At a national level, the education background of a female is undermined no matter how legit her qualifications are. Her eligibility to get a job is 100% guaranteed if she offers herself in return. This promotes laziness and poisons the mindset of a girl child which devours her into believing that her chastity is a free ticket to being successful in life. Gender equity, a bridge that will allow S. Sudan grow: Politically, economically, socially and psychologically can’t be achieved by simply sitting behind one’s computer/phone screen and type words of sympathy without putting them into practice. As a young, educated and concerned citizen, I’ll provide three possible solutions which can bring this GBV epidemic to an end and make us all equal in the eyes of the law. First and foremost, Education is a pathway to self-identity because if you know who you are and the purpose you are living for then definitely life becomes tolerable and understandable therefore making everyone accept each other for who they are without considering gender difference. Secondly, we as South Sudanese must and if not totally, try to minimize ridiculous bride prices in our communities. Instead of buying numerous herds of long horned cattle, fathers should invest that money in educating their sons and daughters alike so as to sustain the future of their families and the nation as well. Finally, I’d urge the parents who take part in discouraging the talents which their children have by categorizing such abilities into so called ‘gender roles’. In my country, this is very common and has to be addressed with immediate effect. Developing one’s talent starts from the ground level then grows gradually into a perfectly mastered craft if put into practice. The wise say “watch and learn!” We, S.Sudanese appreciate our successful western brothers and sisters but why don’t we take it upon ourselves to shape and build our very own successful icons in our homeland despite their gender. With success comes power, honor and respect, anyone can get such qualities: It could be Deng or Mary.