Happy 9th Independence Day, South Sudan!

Happy 9th Independence Day, South Sudan! As we celebrate, let us reflect and resolve to do better. As we celebrate, let us honor our sacrifice-laden past, and seize our opportunity-filled present to secure our prosperity-promised future.

This young boy pictured celebrating our first independence day is now nearly a man. 9 years later, are his expectations fulfilled?

Sons and daughters of South Sudan, for the sake of our children, NO MORE BETRAYALS!

For now, I leave you with an offering of a poem for reflection:

No More Betrayals

Those streets lining
Remembrances of timeless sweetness, are
Now lined with our commingled corpses.

Those trees holding
Etches of timeless commitments,
Now no more than ash.

Laughter shared by the pure-hearted
Budding-buddies of lifetimes past and present
Now muted forever by the drums of war.

Brotherhood fused in fields of play,
Nurtured in shared pasture lands,
Now torn asunder by the supremacy of creed (greed).

Marriages consecrated in exchanges of sacred cattle,
Cemented through precious gifts of daughters,
Seeding nations united by blood;


Remember the laughter,
Once inspired by innocence,
Now spoiled by greed (creed).

Remember “Friends Forever,”
Once etched in hearts,
Now blinded by hate.

Remember sacred life unions,
Once perpetuated in blood,
Now shed by revenge.

No More Betrayals.
No More Betrayals.
No More Betrayals.

* ‘No More Betrayals’ is the title poem from my collection of poetry, No More Betrayals. For more information on the book, visit: https://apukmayen.com/books/no-more-betrayals/

**Photo Credit: Giovanni Turco / Freedom House DC

A Riotous Bosom

One smoldering afternoon in Juba found me completely uninspired. I needed two things: a refreshing drink and some excitement. Well, the first is a no brainer, Logali House’s kerkede[1]mixed with tonic water. It always satiates that desire. As for the latter, it is nothing a bar could offer. So, I turned to my ever-intriguing companion and conveyed my predicament. As it is usually the case with him, we delved into a philosophical conversation, ever so cyclical and ended up with the need for definitions.

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The Big Tree

“Be kind to all, at all times,” an adage my father says whenever he advises me on what brings blessings to one’s life. He also says that, regardless of how poor he may be, and what little possessions he boasts of, what is priceless, is his good name. “They can call me anything, but they can never call me a thief, ” he would proudly add. So I was brought up to be kind to all at all times, and never to take something that doesn’t belong to me. Virtues better suited for utopia, you’d think! For here, kindness is a weakness readily exploited by even the closest friends and allies. To not take what’s not yours is equal to stupidity. Better yet, taking what’s not yours is camouflaged so well, that you’d think it’s an entitlement.

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On Sovereignty And the Girl Child

Sovereignty is a concept that is relevant to all tiers of existence and identity, from the individual to the group, community to the nation.  It is inherently tied to the formulation of interests, and to the submission of energies and resources towards their achievement, without external interference.  You may ask, what is sovereignty for a child, and the girl child, in particular, as a dependent in the context of a family in South Sudan?

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The Beacon of Peace and The Sacred Grove

Duk Padiet – The Beacon of Peace

We arrive at​ Duk Padiet in the morning, after a short flight from Juba. It is the rainy season, and to the pilot’s delight, the dirt landing strip is dry and clear of cattle, although we land right by the market’s cattle byre. I notice as immediately as we dislodge the plane that Duk Padiet has black soil mixed with sand. So when it rains, the sand rises to the surface, preventing muddiness. Duk Padiet is part of the former Duk County of Jonglei State, but since 2016 it became a county, along with Duk Payuel and Panyang. Duk Padiet is breathtakingly beautiful; its population is noticeably young and industrious.

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On Women: The Marginalized of the Marginalized

We have founded this nation upon great human sacrifices in the fight for justice and equality for all. We have a legacy of struggle centered on the elimination of all the forms of marginalization, suffered at the hands of successive regimes in Sudan, be they social, cultural, economic, political, religious, and or racial. It is, therefore, incumbent upon a nation like ours to not allow the corruptive seed of marginalization to thrive in the form of marginalization based on gender.

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What heaven is to me…

On October 4th, I woke up to this beautiful photo on my facebook feed.  It had this caption:

These 5th graders have surprised us with their reading abilities as they have accepted the challenge of reading poems aloud from a poetry collection authored by one of their own “a South Sudanese.” The program was meant for their seniors/secondary school students, but they were like “we can read and write poems too.” Which they have read perfectly.

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With gratitude, I embrace the fullness of this moment of solitude.
I drink deeply from the spring of solace,
Grasping the pure joy of forsaking all attachment.

Happiness dwells within me.
What an amazing revelation!
As the pendulum of circumstance swings,
I rise higher and behold everything in peace.


© Apuk Ayuel Mayen 2017. All rights reserved.

Juba’s Landmarks: A Villager’s Perspective

Juba is expanding exponentially.  As I regard the city as the plane takes off and prepares to land on my frequent flights, I am always surprised by new developments.  A new five-story building that seems a sudden apparition here, a new informal settlement sprouting there, and a new hotel, bar, and restaurant everywhere.  Juba is growing, and its echoes are deepening.  In the most part, the latest developments don’t interfere with my sense of navigation or direction as I go about the city.  Except for once.

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