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

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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Juba’s Landmarks: A Villager’s Perspective

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