At around 2 AM, a noise woke me up from sleep. Outside my room, I saw a throng of people lighting torches around a man. I opened the gate, went to them and inquired what the matter could be. They told me they were begging a man to return home. Where is he going to, I asked. He said he was going to transfer a song from MARKO ATEM he listened to yesterday, and they answered me.
I shook my head vertically in agreement with him. Everybody around was surprised why it looked like I would give him his right. I stooped to request him to sing a segment, what they call a lyric, of Marko Atem’s song which makes him wake up at night and walk to where he got the music being played. The man did not hide at all because I sounded friendly to him.
He told me he loves the part that goes, “Jana Junub Jihan, wusul be lel u ma akulu wele fatur”. This translates that “a son of South Sudan is hungry; the sun sets even without taking lunch”. When he was singing the song, tears were flowing down his cheeks. I almost shed tears myself, but I held my breath because if I did so, it would trouble people to beg two crying men to return home.
I inquired whether or not the man had eaten something since morning, but he told me that was his “third day sleeping hungry”. A few drops of tears escaped down my cheeks, but I pretended as if wiping away sweat on my face and I cleared them without him noticing it. I put myself in his shoes to make sure I comforted him completely. I told him I have the song you are going to transfer to the market, do you have a smartphone to transfer it to you?
He answered me with a question. If I had a smartphone, why would I sleep hungry for three days? I would have sold it and bought it for myself food, he said. I do not even have a keyboard phone, let alone a smartphone, he concluded. I inquired from the crowd whether or not there was one or two people who shared a house with him and fortunately, I found one. To my dismay, the one I found sharing a house with him has no phone as well.
I then resorted to playing the song for him so that he quenched his thirst for the song. He listened to it and when the part he loves came, he stood up and crazily danced to it. The throng divided into two; one part laughed at the man, and another felt sad about the scenario.
Finally, he told me he had eaten his dinner, and when I asked for what he had eaten at that short moment, he told me that the song of MARKO ATEM gave me strength. I now feel like I have eaten, he said. He asked the crowd to disperse as he was entering his house. We dispersed as he asked.
At home, I did not sleep anymore, even a wink. I broke into thinking about what could be done to make South Sudan stable. What could be done to revive the decayed economy of South Sudan so that the citizens can afford at least one meal a day and one tablet of paracetamol? The citizens do not know why they are suffering. They do not completely understand the war because it is being explained to them in a political language. “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”.
Two elephants fought and the grass, I mean the citizens, suffered a great deal. It is five years now after the agreement was inked and the grass is still suffering. One sign of having peace is satisfaction! Where is the food? How can a peace agreement be embraced? With satisfaction, even the compromise between the warring parties would be reached within zero minutes.
The presence of hunger means the presence of war. People fight over the limited resources and this fight would promote itself to the rank of “war”. This would wipe away even the little resources and things may go worse than they are. Elections are set for next year and the electorates sleep with rattling stomachs, is this thing of elections a joke or comedy? If it is real, then this is the time to feed the citizens.
The author is a medical student, University of Juba.