Forgotten

I watched a love die once;

Starved of every ounce,

Doused in a liquored haze,

Then set ablaze.

The pieces drifting in the wind,

Lost to all left behind.

Images stuck in my mind,

The empty stare trying to find,

Words that could speak truth,

A story of our youth,

Innocence lost to the froth,

That killed us both.

From this righteous course,

I carried this withered rose,

A reminder of the great loss,

Losing you was.

When the tears dried,

With nowhere left to hide,

I saw the rose wither,

And I grew bitter,

It was too cold,

Nothing left to hold.

Maybe I was the flame,

And you were the same,

We burnt up too bright,

In the dying light.

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Coy

Our eyes meet mid-stride,

The shy smile you try to hide,

Warm and inviting me to your side,

If I find words bridging the divide,

Don’t look away before I have my say,

I like the way you look today,

So would you stay; make my day,

Or will you again come my way?

I ask you miss, don’t be so coy,

My heart is not a toy,

I may not be the buoy,

But I could be your Baby boy.

Teach me that secret language,

If it could help me salvage,

Your attention from that baggage,

Thinking all men are Savage.

Stranded

I have been on the roam,
On a thousand roads home,
none leading back to your smile,
So would you wait a while?
Its selfish to ask,
But I have put myself to task,
Wracking my brain,
For a single thought train,
To explain why it’s not the same,
Saying your name.
Vague and vain,
I have nothing to gain,
in the nitty gritties of saying “boo”,
Or chiming along “me too”.
Taking pleasure in the silence,
Anxious to keep a balance,
Between my secretive tongue,
And a convoluted memory bank.

Rebel

Look how far we’ve fallen
Out of touch,
And as such,
Your eyes are swollen.
With a tight lip,
And a sudden gulp
Your heart beaten to a pulp
Too broken to keep.
I wait out the silence,
Until you shudder,
To revel in my plunder,
With acts of violence.
I wrote songs of pride,
Trying to hide
This monster inside,
Hiding you in my shade.

Nomads

“Is there anything better than a bath under the moonlit sky,” Zack thought to himself, the gentle breeze brushing against his skin in the dissipating heat of the sub-saharan evenings. A feeling of nostalgia swept over him as the lyrics of a Lauryn hill song crowded his brain, “killing me softly with his song”, reminiscing that wondrous afternoon in Khartoum. It was the first time he’d ever been in Sudan, back then the CPA had was in its forth year and he was going to a party with his brother and a couple of friends. Teasingly they’d asked the only girl in the group to sing any song she could, a fitting choice she’d made considering how beautiful that rendition was, now etched in his memory.

Zack dressed and went to prepare tea; it was almost customary in these tumultuous days to end the day sipping and chatting away about better days. His father waited patiently under the darkening sky, cars and motorcycles rushing by outside the high stonewall separating them from the road. “Back in the day when we were in the SPLA we had a case,” the old man begins, “one of the soldiers had committed adultery in Chukudum with one of the villagers wife, the husband had found out and started a case with the local chief. As a military Justice I was put in charge of the case, I was to decide on a way to amicably decide the case to suit both side. Since the soldier came from far away, he could not be told to pay the settlement of 10 cows as was customary in their traditions, I managed to convince the chief to reduce the number to about four cows and 6 goats paid by the army officers and to transfer of the soldier to another station so that he could not continue the affair. How do you think you would have handled this case?”

He listened attentively as his father narrated war stories, feigning agitation at the suggestion of being conscripted into military service himself. The old man reminisced of the old SPLA he was a part of, complaining that their ranks had been decimated since the signing of the CPA. “ When the war started in ’83 we lost a lot of young men crossing through unity state to go to Ethiopia where the SPLA was training. The SPLA had to send a battalion to secure the route; they went all the way fighting to where the young recruits were stranded and back. The soldiers were mostly from Bahr el Ghazal, nobody knows how many died there. After the CPA was signed a lot of the people I was with went into business and the militias were incorporated into the SPLA, now look at how bad things are.”

The subtle ironies of Juba life seemed to be lost in the gloom, in the news government officials laboured to reassure everyone that the situation was “normal” after an outbreak of violence. “What’s normal about all this?” he thought. It was only months ago he was in Kenya missing Juba, it seemed like a distant past. Still bitter about losing his phone, Zack thought back to the thrill of the open road travelling from Juba to Nimule, through Uganda and finally to Kenya. The trip had been stalled for a day when the car he was travelling in got mechanical issues, having overheated on the deserted road. Walking with Deng down the road, they convinced one of the villagers to let them use the water she collected from the borehole. The water was too dirty to pour into the radiator, but helped cool off the steaming engine, eventually the car was returned to the garage. On Sunday, thankful for the car’s mechanical failure had been fixed, the long journey started.

It was barely a week after Zack’s arrival in Kenya when the reports of road ambushes along Nimule- Juba highway started. The tribal tensions escalating with every report, rumours spread like wildfire on the Internet about targeted killings. All the way in Nairobi, Zack felt the rising tensions slowly engulfing the already tense climate. The July violence had left a scar in his memory; sleepless nights spent pondering the endless war that seemed to be inflamed while he was away. The days before violence broke out in Juba were tense, the palpitating fear and anxiety rising with every report of clashes within Juba, first it was assassinations then road ambushes and days before the independence day there was an attack on a checkpoint. The escalation was quick and on Independence Day Eve gunships ruled the air, gunshots could be heard for miles and everybody waited with bated breaths to know what was happening.

“We’ll be trading war stories with our children if things keep going this way,” joked Zack to his friends. Having briefly met for casual drinks, it became evident from the curious gazes from his colleagues that they wanted to know what was going on. Trying to summarise the political situation and the events leading up to the violence in July, he watched the shocked expressions on his friends’ faces. “Be happy you don’t have to worry about such happening in your country,” he said, trailing off into thought about what he had missed most in Kenya. “I’ve still not gotten used to the matatus hooting at 4 am,” he muttered, “ they shock me awake everyday and deny me a chance to rest my tired eyes. It’s the only time I think about Juba and miss the silent nights, before I fall asleep I listen for at least three gunshots and I know we are far from the poor soul in its crosshairs.”

“I’ll be going back to Juba soon, it’s been fun seeing you guys and catching up,” he begun, “it’ll be a while before I come back now that I’ve collected all my documents.” Exchanging promises to visit once things settle down, he looks back to admire the optimism he’d lost, hoping one day it would be rewarded. The journey back to Juba seemed shorter than he remembered, reading novels on the plane to take his mind off from what awaited, he got out of the stuffy airport hoping to catch a ride straight home. The first time he got off the plane at Juba International Airport, he had to be ushered to the small terminal building from where he’d collect the luggage, now it was routine getting past the unruly crowd without any hassle, ignoring the black market dealers with money in hand, each touting for attention for anyone passing in their midst with a luggage in tow, “this is the Juba I know!”

The ride out of the airport took him back to those of a united Sudan, when Juba was just another town barely developed; without any sky scrappers. In hindsight, there was barely anything notable on airport road except for the UN compound a couple of kilometres up the road surrounded by trees and shrubs, the stench of fresh faeces stewed in the midday heat had made him want to gag. The green spaces were used as open air toilets, every morning someone ducked behind a shrub to take a load off and late in the evening, as the shadows started creeping in you could hear chattering behind the same bushes. Zack’s father said that with the gradual development in Juba, the old residents complained that their traditions had become eroded, “now they were expected to defecate in the vicinity of their wives. The wives casually passed near the fields where their husbands went, the size of the stool showed who was being well fed.”

A cloud of dust clings to the hot Juba air, the humidity traps sweat on the skin, the heat simmering on the car seat could give a sun burn all on their own. The sweet aroma of indigenous dishes being cooked in the clustered restaurants is wafted by a passing breeze, trailing behind the hazardous smoke of an honey sucker struggling to pick up pace before the traffic officer again halts the lane. Chatting away with the driver, Zack asks how much it would cost to get home and back to town. Shocked by the estimate, he decides to take a rest for the evening. There was a heavy traffic as they crossed the last round about driving slowly towards the sunset whose glow was dulled by the rising dust.

The petrol stations on the side of the road had become graveyards for broken down cars. A dusty water tankers branching off into the feeder road without indicating infuriates the driver to curse under his breath, “biliit!” The traffic slowed as they reached a queue to the only petrol station, the chaotic scene of motorcycles, rakshas and vehicles jostling for positions on the line, a soldier and a policeman clutching their guns close as they watch the protesting motorcyclist demanding to be let through with their jericans to fill up. Nostalgic about being on the queue, he recalled the numerous mechanical failures he had to endure with his father’s Pajero.

The evening talk with his father had long since ended as he stared blankly into the starlit sky, he could glimpse at more stars in the Juba sky than in Nairobi, as the generators’ distant hums died down and darkness fell. There were no more cars passing by their fence, from the numerous times he had gone to the clubs in town, Zack knew that the Security checkpoints had started. Getting into his room, he reads a chapter from a new novel in his collection, briefly pausing to listen to the car driving hastily through the neighbourhood. For the first time in a while, he dozed off with the lights on, waking up an hour later to switch off the light. A distant gunshot rings out in the distance, “that’s a pistol”, followed by two in rapid succession, AK47’s. Learning how each gun sounded had become a sport in his bout with insomnia, stuck between lying still and trying to fall asleep or taking his laptop to try watch a movie. He was overcome with sleep before he could make up his mind.

NUDE

I remember the laugh like an echo,

Haunting as I rushed for the door.

I pause, thought about the awkward pose

Moments before I gave her a rose.

In my mind she was the flame,

Convincing me to forget my name,

Maybe I’m still the same,

Stuck in a neurotic blame game.

I worshiped her like the sun,

Now I run from her barred gun,

Spouting hate at things I regret,

From her library that never forgets.

I’m an open book, stuck on a page,

Unable to mask my rage.

Crude in the way I find her rude,

When she sees through me, nude.

Gone

Why does it hurt so,

Having to know,

The sad echoes,

Of stomping toes.

I’d imagine it gets easier,

To reach the freezer,

Before the memories tease,

Drifting in with the breeze.

How could I ever sigh,

To lose such a high,

Having you in my view,

How time flew!

Nyankiir

 

Like a storm,

yearns for calm,

I want you in my arms,

To shelter you from harm.

Daughter of the Nile,

Bless me with your smile,

I want to see your glow,

Like watching sunsets ashore.

You draw me in like an undertow,

And I adore you more.

You will always have my ears,

If that allayed your fears,

To listen to you flow,

In the gentle whispers you know.

Take me away,

with every word you say,

making me dream in the day,

Thinking of a way,

Back to your heart,

You had mine from the start.

 

Nyankiir is a dinka name for girls. Its a combination of Nyan- girl and Kiir (a name given to boys). Kiir is also a reference to a river or stream. Nyankiir literally translates to “Daughter of the River”

Locks.

I drag along

History of warsongs

Dancing to drum beats

While I stomp my feet.

Can you feel the craze,

The hate in my eyes ablaze,

Raising my arms in praise,

Of the old ways.

I mock my enemy’s defeat,

Kicking dust at my feet,

Dancing wildly to the beat,

In the mid summer heat.

Mocking his retreat,

Shaming his fear,

Because he is not here.

Inside a UNMISS protest

While Diplomats at the United Nation’s Security Council discuss how best to reinforce the UN Mission in South Sudan, the dissident voices of South Sudanese citizens seems to be muzzled. The coverage on the Protests held in Juba on 20th July against the proposals for an intervention force in South Sudan, stated that it was organised by the SPLM and little else was said about their messages. The Government of South Sudan rejected a proposal made by USA for the deployment of 4000 more peace keepers on the grounds that it had accepted the deployment of regional forces as stated in the IGAD communique forwarded to the Security Council.

Amidst all this politics, one things remains certain, the interest of ordinary South Sudanese has been misrepresented. Media reports have been more concerned with the atrocities of the war, who bears the blame for war crimes and what can the international community do. The protests against UNMISS comes days after heavy fighting occurring at it’s doorsteps, the peace keeper’s being helpless in the face of the brutal fighting from the first day to the last. Earlier reports stated that UNMISS had destroyed two SPLA tanks which had been used in the Sunday attack, reports which UNMISS refuted saying that the Opposition soldiers would hide under fences and resume firing on the soldiers. A search by the UNPOL and UNAMID produced weapons hidden within the UNMISS compound.

The organisers of the protests against UNMISS had indeed been misrepresented as SPLM. I attended the protests where I met Mr. Valentino Mathew Deng, a member of the Civil Society Alliance. At 10 AM as the protesters were being mobilised I arrived at the Garang Mausoleum which had been the designated congregation point. Several buses had been lined up as Protesters wrote their messages on placards and were ushered into the busses. The busses themselves had be adorned with messages of their own as they cruised down airport road towards the UNMISS in Tongpiny.

 

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Although many businesses and offices along the airport road had not yet been opened following the fighting on 7-11 July, the streets were lined with people watching as the procession moved. A UN car heading towards Tongpiny turned around and drove away as the protesters inside the bus jeered at its hasty retreat. The youth had organised for speakers and microphones blasting South Sudanese music, while the MC called on the “Junubin” to support the President in the implementation of the Peace Agreement. A marching band was also present playing “Surrender we shall never… never never never, Surrender we shall never…”

Women, the youth and even old women carried placards. Some advocating for peace, others outrightly denouncing the proposal for more peacekeepers and foreign intervention, and calls for UNMISS to go. A young man shouted over the loud speaker to the advancing audience, “As the Youth and a citizen of this country, we don’t want intervention from America, Canada, Australia. All of us we can solve our problems.” It was a message being echoed around by many of the protesters either written down or shouted as the procession went to the UNMISS gate.

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Chiefs, women groups and church groups also attended the protest, calling for support for the implementation of the Peace Agreement. The chiefs, with red ribbons tied around their torso stood in the crowd. The message was overwhelming support for the Government in the Implementation of the Peace Agreement signed in August 2015. It was a remarkable scene outside the UNMISS compound, the young and old had congregated in fanfare to protest against a proposal that only a month later was presented to the UN Security Council.

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