OpEd, Politics

When home is not what it is supposed to be

Whatever I thought I knew about myself and the past of my country, or where I live is soon made redundant once I think about my future and that of the country.

I have always wanted to know why home has been unkind. Why the suffering and pain? Why there is a struggle without success? I am so eager to ask home why she is running away and why there has never been happiness here. There is always another aspect, another veil to be lifted, and this must be done with diligence and care.

The disorientation of the place which came with moving homes, schools and tears, started me wondering about many things.

Who am I? Where did I come from? What am I? Where would I settle or end up? These questions were already pushing me to ultimate questions, some of which had no answers and for which some kind of spirituality would be required or maybe not.

I have known two South Sudan(s) and one is very painful. A prison in the fullness of that word. This second South Sudan is inhabited by poor and educated youth without jobs. This is where the struggle never ends.

You die before you are even born. That is a manmade rule. When lucky, you pay the prize for being alive. I am even sorry if you are a young person because you deserve a better place than this.

The other South Sudan is made up of people who are rich at the expense of the poor. They are wealthy with small brains, big stomachs, and dirty hearts. In case I forget, they have blood on their hands.

For them, it doesn’t matter what you have, if you have that privilege you are entitled to everything. You can even kill a human being and go away with it. I even wonder who brought this division of classes.

I thought Mama South Sudan loved us. She is young but she is now frail and would soon die. Maybe this is the reason why she is not working for all of us. “Mama I beg you in the name of God”. I said this when I sat under a barren mango tree.

The tree was cursing the first day when somebody was killed under. It was not only that but a lot of people hanged themselves on the branches of that tree. It was the source of my school fees. “Why me?”

As a young man, I had been born in one South Sudan, maybe when it was still one, came to awareness in another place, and continued to grow up in this impoverished South Sudan.

All those experiences must be integrated, not necessarily seamlessly, but as sanely as possible.

One undivided South Sudan was supposed to be my real home, but part of me did not accept this for several years when I was a child. I always felt that other places I had lived in, the second South Sudan had a claim on me.

Similarly, when I was at school, at whichever school I was I could never really fit into what everyone else was doing and being. A part of me was screaming to be ‘other’ whether because of my background or because of something more innate.

About the first South Sudan, I have never been there. It is a place for the chosen few. But I went there in a dream. I thought it was real and never wanted to come back.

Before I returned to our normal home where it hurt, I had severe nostalgia. I never want to leave “I want to be here”.

It was a place where everything was in order. In first South Sudan, you found everything we lacked in second South Sudan, whether that was certain foods, houses, or whether it was happiness, nice sleep at night, or cars. Everything was in order.

There was nothing like a daily struggle to survive. You can even tramp on people if you are heartless and still go away with it.

In my first home in a dream, I remembered enjoying going to school and to the bank with my own car. A nice paying job. I longed to go back the two-up, two-down there and play in the street with childhood friends who sometimes called us the lucky few.

But it was just a dream. Maybe that was the end of my dream.

About my impoverished home where I now live, I was (and remain) conflicted, loving it and not loving it.

Living in a second home is at once blissful and painful. You live by hope, hoping against hope that it will all get better one day, even when the signs are often not there. You plan as a young man and it just doesn’t work.

For most people, it is a crime when you work on your dreams. The government is against it. They reward idleness and it is not just something good, when you plunge into alcoholism, that is a goal on the net.

If it is you alone in the struggle, you just need prayers. Maybe God will intervene but for how long? Maybe there is no need to be alive. Maybe we are here by accident. Maybe not.

Who knows what tomorrow holds? It may never come. Home is never coming back like it used to be. It is getting old and may soon die out. I will cry when I still can but how is that going to help me?

I am sorry but finding home and country would be like trying to find the Holy Grail. It would be a life-long perilous adventure sometimes filled with joy, sometimes not. I learned that first and second homes, though desirable, were not definite things, like a table or a chair.

Indeed, why should they be? If one’s own body itself is changing all the time from youth to old age, why should other things stay the same? Home would be better or even worse unless we remove social classes.

I found I could identify with the sometimes peaceful, sometimes troubled South Sudan, by imagining that I and the now divided home are about the same weight, and have been going through similar growing trauma.

Like me, crazy South Sudan was born somewhere else, inside the belly of the colonial empire. I was born at its center in a place called Sudan.

Like me, South Sudan had to travel home, to be one and treat people the same regardless of who they are or where they come from. To appreciate those who try their best and reward those who work hard.

I want South Sudan to find itself from the dreams of a ravaged state to the reality of nationhood after independence. The journey would be fraught with the unexpected, problems, difficulties, setbacks.

Would South Sudan ever find its way home? Would I make it to one South Sudan that works for everyone? I think not or maybe not.

South Sudan kept moving back and forth from stability to instability, from dearth to death, from wars to peace and to wars again, from collapse to rejuvenation and then collapse. From two steps forward and ten steps backward, from poverty to extreme poverty. And from tears to blood. From stealing to killing.

I too kept shifting back and forth between the first South Sudan of the elites and the other one of the poor where I belong, between seeing South Sudan as an enchanted land of promise and living there, and as an infuriating chaotic place from which one must flee. But where will I go when our youths are perishing in the Mediterranean Sea?

I can’t afford that. I don’t want my long bones to be shattered by the shark. I want them to be buried here. Of course, this soil has taken so many of us but it is not paying us back.

I don’t want to be physically abused abroad. Let me waste this youthfulness here because South Sudan does not have room for useful young South Sudanese.

Maybe home will resurrect and remember those who have been long forgotten. Maybe home will rise and get those on their knees back on their feet.

Maybe home will not cry so that we drown in her tears. Home must rise, maybe not. What if it comes back with war and spills our blood again? What if she runs faster than us and leaves the weak behind? Who knows maybe home will disappoint for the second time?

This restlessness became thematic in my life and thoughts. Naturally, I would find myself questioning ‘fixed ideas’, whether about religion, politics, identity, morality, or culture.

Fluidity and being dynamic was going to be more important than standing still.

Restlessness can make you a thinker if you can handle it. Without needing to believe in any particular idea of God, you might begin to sense that there is more than what you see, what you know, and what is given, and you want to track it down.

This time, I don’t want to conclude that home will be okay. I want to make a point that everything is still in place. What we just need are the right people to instill in us the lost spirit of nationalism and show us where we truly belong.

We want to unveil the curtain and see the future through those falling tears. Maybe home will be more forgiving. She must be really tired. Who knows she might be pregnant with a child. What if the child was hopeless and was slaughtered before it was even born? That is all we have may it remember and bless the struggling majority.

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