The sun was hanging low in the sky over the village of Rumbek in south-east Sudan when the sounds of crying came, voices calling louder and louder for help. Mum shouted “bak hout”, meaning come inside, and hid us under our late grandfather’s bed. “May he protect you all”, she said and went outside looking for our father, who had left our house earlier to find food for my family. We didn’t know food shortage, lack of shelters and education was caused by the civil war. We didn’t know of the human rights violations that happened all across the country.
After hours we got tired of hiding under the bed. The space was so small. Where was mother? She had promised to be back in time. We were all worried, and afraid as grasshoppers, hiding in the grass. Our eldest brother went to peep through the window to see what was happening. Time was moving slow and fast as a horse at the same time, and the sounds of fear and worry continued coming at us from every direction.
Then our tall, strong uncle Mading took us from our hiding place, and brought us to the house of a well known family in the village, who helped most people reach safety. Others were there too, children, the elderly and the disabled. When Mading was certain we were safe, he left again, to look for our parents. They were still nowhere to be found.
Fighters broke into houses, bring out whoever was hiding, kill them right there, and carry on to the next house as if it meant nothing. Others robbed, raped, and some even chopped heads off using pangas and other dangerous weapon.
In our time waiting there, we were so worried about Mum we couldn’t sleep. We missed her singing, worshipping and praying. We had lost hope around midnight, but then came a harsh, promising knock on the door, and our fathers’ voice calling our names, from eldest to youngest. Wasting no time, our eldest brother opened the door, and we all ran to our father happily.
We drove off in a white lorry, surrounded by guards it as the President was sitting inside. Passing through the country was so difficult. There were dead bodies everywhere, smoke rising from burned houses, blood flowing over the land we call our home as if it was the river Nile. The war continued. Different tribes fought each other over land, food, cattle and oil, while Arabs kept attacking us.
After hours of driving the sun rose, revealing promised lands where we’d have a better tomorrow. Still, in these unknown places, we were without father, uncle or older brothers. We felt hopeless, and alone, and tired of the long journey, the days without eating or drinking.
We passed by many places, saw cars, houses, roads, environments organized different ways. Every step of our journey was difficult, but we finally smelled the peace, unity, and love of a foreign land, but we wished our parents were there.
Life was changing slowly in Kenya, our new home. We lived in a well built estate, surrounded by clean areas.
We didn’t need to worry about war, hunger, becoming enslaved by Arabs, violence, or even forced child marriages. We were as happy as kings, we wore the best, colorful clothes, shiny shoes, and slept in soft beds. We felt as if we lived in heaven.
We had come in search of safety, and we found freedom of education, more rights and peace.
As the white say “age waits for no man” we hated home because of the fighting, because we heared, because there were no schools, and we had no clothes, because there was no food. Every day, we just battled for life.
Tribalism and power had rooted greedy politicians, but for us, this was the beginning of a new star shining in the darkness of sorrow. We settled. When school started, a new era began. It was difficult too, the language were different, but adaptation was our new mother, and we followed and soon caught up with the rest.
They say when one door closes, another opens. A house help was provided for us. It was exciting to meet her. Her name was Rita. She was humble, caring and honest. She helped us prepare for school. After she dressed us in gray trousers and a white t-shirt with a red tie, black shoes on our feet and a blue sweater, we set out to the school nearby the estate.
Time moved with the sun. Soon we were done with pre-primary and on to the next level of secondary. As always, adaption was the key. We made friends around the estate, at schools we attended and we even learned their language.
Secondary was on its way for us. We were so excited to join new school in a different area, farther away from home. We realized life was moving so fast, it felt as if not a day had passed since we were kids, and now grown up.
Goshen Boys was the new name on labeled on the maroon sweater in Nakuru.
Andrew, Thomas and I took off for our new beginning. The first day was always best for us, foreign languages were now as cheap as second handed clothes.
We could speak it well without doubt and could be called citizens by those who didn’t know we were foreigners.
Goshen was our new home full of talents.
Andrew was good at academic activities.
Thomas was the best soccer player at his school, and I was good at writing.
Second year was already there. We knew now that time wasn’t on our side and so we had to get serious.
After a smooth third year, we heared we had passed the examination in Goshen Boys. There was no better news than that.
It’s God whom we have thank. On a Tuesday in December we had to take our secondary exams. We were excited, and prayed for succes.
On Tuesday morning, we had Mathematics. It was the first subject on the title for country national examinational council. We were ready.
Weeks had gone by since we completed our examinations. The educational minister announced that the national national examination would be released on February 14th.
Andrew suggested we should go home to help our parents. Thomas and I were there still thinking of everything that happened, we didn’t want to forget how far we had come.
We went to eat lunch as we waited for the afternoon announcement. Now it was finally the day and our favorite food, cooked by none other than Rita, was served. The national anthem began. Of course, the ministry of education was the main character here, since he was going to announce the results. We did our best and passed. Back to the table, we discussed what to do next.
Andrew wanted to be University director, of course. Thomas wanted to go to Europe for soccer trials. And I was thinking of new writing projects, as usual. Days went by without changes, but then our the driver over the white lorry that brought us here for education came. He had come from the land we left. We were excited to see him, although he hadn’t brought dad, mum or even our uncle. The air was silent. We asked why he came without telling us he was coming. He didn’t say anything, so we just brought his belongings inside, feeling nervous.
Inside, he told us we’d be leaving tomorrow. There wasn’t even any time to ask where we’d be going to.
And then he said “your parents are dead. You all have to be there for the burial…”
23 November, 2022