Life in South Sudan is pyramidal, those at the top don’t want to come down and it is equally hard for those at the bottom to climb. In this country, most people are rich because others are poor. The country presents its brightest part to many; it also presents its darkest side to millions of others.
For us, the story is different because all odds will be against you. It is always a journey towards nothing. You can’t really tell if you will ever live to see another day. Each day, you wake up to count your loses. Sometimes it is the beginning when you think it is the end. For most people, it works, for others; it is a struggle that ends at nothing.
There is an invisible race here. Sometimes it ends at nothing. The chase never stops. It starts from birth and ends at death. From the time you are born, it begins. You don’t even know if you will come out of it in a coffin or in celebration.
Not everyone makes it to the end. Most of the people are cut off from the queue even at birth. It could be a doctor or midwife failing to perform the right procedure and then you lose the battle. Some can make it at birth and live there but went on to discover that there is something wrong; there is poverty that they must fight.
Then the idea of school sneaks in. For you to change the story, you have to sit in class and maintain good grades. It is primary level; of course, you know nothing because you are a child. Your parents would come in and tell you to work hard, and that too would encourage them to struggle with your school fees.
Sometimes you wonder why some of your chickens are not showing up in the morning. Your mom has been selling them to cover your tuition fees. Your dad too sold his cattle to treat you when you were sick. You wonder where all this is coming from when your parents are unemployed. It is now exam time; the good news is that you have studied enough.
Lest I forget, you also have friends but they are from rich families. They are not hard working but they know their way out. You graced your class with first grade and an innocent chicken got killed for celebration. That is what your parents can afford. Your other friends did well but not impressively, they have also been allowed to drive family cars and presents.
As you struggle home during the holiday washing plates and getting some strokes of the cane for wasting soap, they are already in Dubai enjoying the beautiful scenes with their parents.
I don’t want to be wayward but some of their parents are politicians who amaze public funds and impoverish the poor. The reality begins to hit. You now know the gap between the rich and the poor and who pays the price. There is this story that your future is in the classroom.
This is now not real, maybe there must be a different way but high school is waiting for you to accomplish. Here, there is no excitement, you begin to lose weight and the future will slowly start to distance itself. Your parents on the other hand are getting old and won’t be able to support you in the process.
You want to get a job, to support yourself but school needs all the 10 hours every day. You begin to question God and if he truly exists and unanswered questions. Some of your friends will fall off the wagon. Maybe you will continue to the end and then University comes in.
You are almost there; they will tell you but things are getting darker daily. Your sister’s husband comes along and says we are in this together. You breathe a sigh of relief. This time you have to double your efforts not to disappoint him. If asked where your high school colleagues have gone, you couldn’t tell.
The last time you heard from them was when they were traveling to the United States for studies. You have to study hard to outcompete them. This time you are graduating with a bachelor’s degree. This is a wild celebration and tears of joy. Your sister breaks down and cries bitterly. She got married before primary 8 because of the condition she was in. It wasn’t her choice. She wanted you to study. Her husband is old and may soon die.
At this time, you can’t pay her back. For you to land a good job, it doesn’t need papers. You need somebody who is politically connected. Your uncle came in and asked you to bring your CV to his office, don’t blame him later, it was alcohol talking. You waited for him and finally made up your mind to see him in the office, this time you don’t need a job because that is not going to happen. You need some money to start a business, but he has only money for your coffin when you die.
You try this and it doesn’t work. You cry and a friend will tell you to go back to school to do masters. At least that will make a difference. But this friend is a school dropout. He is now happily married and owns a house and a nice car.
The highest score he had when in primary school was 07 out of 100. But do you know what happened? His uncle is a minister, so he got himself a ticket to his dream life without having to struggle for it. You see, your success here is sometimes determined by the kind of family you come from.
You can fight all your way to the top and you still lose in the battle two steps closer to your dream. Sometimes it is your heart that keeps you going. You can be strong but when you get tired of being strong, the story ends.
I am sorry to say this but not all the runners will reach the finishing line. I have learned that luck does not exist here. You can be the loudest person in the world but you cannot do two minutes of public speaking. Do you know why some people are thin? Sometimes it is not about the kind of food you eat; it is when some of your little efforts are producing results.
What about being judgmental, sometimes God is that person who begs you on your way to work or school. One mistake can take your life and can change your life forever. I don’t believe in second chances; you never know if you will live tomorrow. Don’t live with perpetual expectations. If you want to give, do it without expectation and when you love, don’t expect to be loved back, that is true humanity.