Who else can tell my story in a better way?
Before I begin confession in this piece of writing I would like to inform you that the hardest part of life is living itself. I am going to let you know a snapshot of my life and times that can be sadder and enjoyable to the future members of my own family as well as by anyone looking for my insights, aspirations or just an adventurous reader.
In writing about myself: Peter Mapuor Makur Malith, I am going to focus on my life before and after birth, Life in rural area, life at school, life at work and my future ambitions. Some major specific events of interest to me and most probably to the readers are what I love sharing even though they pull my readers in many different ways. Read to learn and enjoy reading for leisure and remembrance.
1) Life before and after birth
Do you mark your day of birth year on year? My birthday had been disfigured and you might wonder why I don’t celebrate one of the most important occasions in a human’s life.
Celebrating the anniversary of one’s birth is necessary than marking a death day. In fact, even in the first century, history tells that Herod Antipas celebrated his birthday. I learned that every birthday is a milestone in an individual’s life. It not only signifies a year of your life that has gone by, but also celebrates maturity, growth and all the achievements in the past year. I lost desire for it.
When I was aged 14 in 2001, a man who cared to count in keeping history by name Deng Hon approached and informed me that I was born to Makur Malith Ayen and Mary Ding Makoi Gueny at Yali village of the then greater Yirol on 23 August 1987. The information was a joy for historical record as I tell you today. I have never marked my birthday since then but I will be marking it after every 14 years.
Makur Malith Ayen, my dear father belongs to Wun-thou Boma of Yali Payam of Ajak section from Dinka tribe known as Jieng or Ciec people residing in Yirol East County of Lakes state in South Sudan and Mary Ding Makoi, my mother belongs to Kap Boma of Yali Payam of the same Ajak section from Jieng people of the same county. Don’t accuse my parents of having entered into an incestuous relationship for they are entirely unrelated. My father’s traditional oath of swearing is a leafless cactus tree that prevents them from committing abominable acts whereas my mother’s oath of swearing is a pumpkin with a bitter taste.
I am a boy and in the world’s population, boys naturally outnumber girls at birth. Even while some families seem to have a disproportionate share of boys, others have particularly high shares of baby girls. It is speculated that this is a way of countering the relatively high mortality rates of males, and creating more of a gender balance on earth. I don’t know how my parents created a “sex ratio at birth” of 4 by 4. May be it’s the secret reason as to why I do not get irritated when adequate attention is paid to any gender.
I don’t know how I made it but I was among the quickest sperms of 1980’s that penetrated and fertilized the ovum at the moment my male father interlocked with my female mother in an act of their authorized marriage in 1960. I am a seventh born child of four brothers and four sisters, three and three of whom are alive respectively. Meanwhile, a brother called Majier and a sister Ajak perished in situations blamed on war. May their souls rest in eternal peace!
My life history commenced before my birth and such a mystery is self-explanatory by my childhood name (Mawaat) that got replaced later by the present adulthood name Mapuor. My parents told me that I almost missed being born. My mother told me that circumstances surrounding my birth were more horrible than mere words could express and pointed out at least four things that threatened my coming to existence.
First, after mum gave birth to five children, her conception of other children became difficult. If hers wasn’t a Medical Condition, I would have immediately charged her at birth before the midwife for delaying me. This was sad news to both the born and the unborn children. There was no press inside my mother to break the news of temporary infertility otherwise we would have demonstrated on hearing the news. Some of us would have gotten out through the nose, ear or mouth. Dad, whom mum relied on, was hand-tied in the matter. Due to the civil war of second Liberation or Ananya two, there were no health facilities, no doctors, and no nothing. I also did not have the famous surgeon Dr. Ben Curson’s helpline so that he could direct me to operate any complication in my mother’s womb. Mum didn’t show any sign or symptom of sickness but she was at halt to pregnancy for years. I was not born yet.
Malith Ayen, my grandfather was sick at the time and his son my father could not return to Khartoum where he brought money to buy herds of cattle to marry his beloved wife Ding Makoi Gueny Adepuou. I cannot celebrate my grandfather’s demise but his death brought life to me. When he died, he told people that after his death, mum’s hair should be shaped and placed on his tomb till forty days elapse and she’ll be blessed with a child.
It was done as he said and a year later after 6 years of infertility my mother’s monthly period disappeared for 9 months and a sister called Nyinhiem, meaning, hair, the daughter of the hair, was born. Of course the pregnancy wasn’t by the power of the Holy Spirit because my father was involved in the process. May be it’s a possible magical reason the pastor during baptism chose for her the name of the Virgin Mary who conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.
People thought Nyinhiem was going to be the last born but Dad smiled again when mum could not see the last moons of 1986. I was fortunately delivered and named Mawaat which means, flowing, that more children were flowing. My parents became very productive and Malith Makur Malith, our last born was born and named so after grandpa to appreciate him for opening our way to existence.
My mother would have given birth to more than eight children but the culture demanded that she stopped production after her first born Ayor got forced into marriage in 1994 rendering her a grandmother with a duty to wean grandchildren. Thanks to Malith Ayen Lom. I wish he was mummified so that we could be dropping flowers at his tomb and see how the saviour looked it.
Could this be the reason why I almost missed being born? No, it was not me alone but I thought God was being unfair to me because my sister Nyinhiem and my brother Malith born before and after me didn’t go what I went through.
It brings me to my second obstacle to life. Just nine months after my birth, there was a gloom for me again, my mother fell sick and breasts, my only food, were swollen by an unknown infection.
Should I have eaten bread or spongy bread? Unimaginable! I couldn’t suck milk from mum and dad couldn’t help just because he’s got no breasts. It’s another natural unfair pairing of wives and husbands with limitedness of breasts in a family.
Being nine month-old-baby was too hard for handling by my grandmother Adol Lueth Mayen, the mother to my father, in case of weaning. It’s grandmothers in the Dinka culture that wean children. My survival was inestimable. My caring father decided to breastfeed me with the teats of his livestock. He had numerous milking cows in the Kraal. I escaped another death when the matter solved dissolved again. Just 7 days old in the cattle camp, seven milking cows died on spot from an infectious disease of South Sudan livestock. It was disastrous my dear reader. My dad took me to the village to feed with a goat’s milk and other soft foods. The only drink was water and lulu oil.
As if the devil was not satisfied, the frustrated ravenous SPLA soldiers (Anyanya) drove away the only goat that was milked for me. I could not afford to fight at the age of 2 otherwise I would have caught and squeezed their testis to death. I became emaciated or rather malnourished. I became Mawaat as Mawaat doesn’t only mean flowing but also refers to something slim or withered. I was withered. My sister Adut revealed to me that her girl-friends disowned and chase her away for not wanting to see me being carried around. They told her to throw me away with fear that I might resemble their unborn future children. I was too bad to be admired. Adut took care of me more than my mother and my dad. She told me that dad said one day in anger that why didn’t I recover or die once instead of giving them continuous worries.
Dear reader, this is my disgraced future before and after birth.
2) Life Rural Area
Had I not left Amethic village for Yirol town, my possible occupation would have been a soloist, an occultist or a designer for traditional theatre of gourds, mats and many more.
It was hardly heard of a boy to move with initiated young men and married women in our customs but my case was dissimilar. In the Dinka culture, clans-women compose songs called ‘Awan’ in praise of their husbands and other clan-members. By so doing, they invite young male artists around the villages to compose for them and left them with them subject to amendment by women themselves.
When I lived at Rabi-ngei village with my sister Adut Makur to pay her back as a baby-sitter, my good memory was discovered by her co-wife Rebecca Ajok Machiek. Ms Ajok told her group about my latent talent. The women acquaintances didn’t consider my age by 1990’s but my ability to capture newly composed songs dominated their view of me.
The young men also loved my boyish enthusiasm because on most occasions did I spent time with them in the hideaway bushes from Arab killers who rummaged people around villages during the day.
With the talent recognition of the two groups, they gave me numerous invitations to sit around wherever they went to compose songs. And later, I would remind women how it was sung and teach them again. No one hates being praised or appreciated.
I enjoyed being addressed by mothers as ‘Manh Puoth’ or nice boy, one of the most expensive titles at childhood.
On the other hand, I was a rising star in mimicking magical dances of ritualism. The village magicians admired my voice when I sing for them. I was an active participant in all their magical performances conducted in the nights. When I went for shepherding, I pretended to be the only magician in the forest among the boys.
I used to sing for them scaring songs in Dinka like;
Arop di qen wen kur aba guem bei, arop di qen wen Kur aba guem bei pan acung ce moth ca liap gol ee kuc rot. Which means…….I will have to repay myself from every good that I do to pagans especially from the fools I have surrounded unaware.
This forced boys to rely on me. Even when I said the forest was safe from Arabs or wild animals, the boys would begin to sleep under trees with a feeling of security. I did threat them of messing their lives up should they annoy my gods. When any boy fell sick, I would ask to be given a token in order to cure any abdominal disturbance or the likes.
In the onset of 1995, the protestant Christian believers overflowed our village with tradition of horns hooting and praised their God during days and nights. It was full of old men and women with white clothes every Wednesdays and Sundays. These groups interfered with my occult or magic vocation. I did love the sound of their drums and horns. I was attracted by that sound and learned beating and became an early riser to beat for them every Wednesdays and Sundays.
Having become a habitual member of the Episcopal Church of Sudan or ECS in August 1996, I was innocently baptised ‘Peter’ to relate to the ‘Peter’ of the bible. If the SPLA soldier that took my goat was named Paul and did that after baptism, I would have thought the army guerrilla soldiers had robbed Peter to pay Paul of his war benefits.
I later learned from a Catholic priest Fr. John Maweru nick named ‘Dut’ that the name Peter is derived via Latin from the Greek word petros meaning “rock or stone”.
To be call rock was good news but I wonder how ‘rock’ and ‘slim’ the other meaning of my name would have been combined if I wasn’t renamed from Mawaat to Mapuor which is just a plain colour of a bull given to my maternal uncle as a bride wealth. If Dad didn’t rename me Mapuor, I would have been called ‘Slim-stone’ than now ‘Bull-rock’ or ‘Rock-bull’.
In the village, I remained remembered for artistic designation of traditional gourds especially by my mother and sisters.
I left after having started how to interweave mats. Amethic, our village is along a river and I missed my daily swimming. I did play other interesting activities like;
• Adiir – a sporty game
• Kormuong – a Hide and seek play
• Alueth – A game for big boys played by two groups
• Kela – It’s Boys’ dance only
• Kabulo – Dance for both young and Adults
• Ayang – Wrestling competition
• Awan – Songs composed in praise of others such as in-laws
• Kobi – A play using a snail shell
• Magong or Guak – high Jump dance
• Ayak-yak – Slow running in line with pride
Dear reader, this is my life in rural area. How was it compared to your village adventure of your days?
3) Life at school
14th June 1997 was the year SPLA recaptured Yirol town from Khartoum occupants. It was a JOY to most villagers to take their children to schools in the town.
At different times in our lives, we are capable of differing over certain needs. No one stayed tuned to where my needs were during my childhood and nourished me accordingly. During that year, none of my needs was among school, air, water, sleep, exercise, and the most enjoyable activity, sex.
I only needed brand new clothes from the newly captured town. I went to Yirol with my dad and returned rich with a shirt and a pair of short after having urinated on myself of fear from a thundering sound of a machine gun shooting the war plane.
This pair of short brought with a lot of struggle made me never to miss classes in Yali Primary school at Kergop pool in Amethic village. I just wanted to be seen smart to remain a nice guy.
Even though I was in a foundation class, that school didn’t give written reports for passing to the next level but I was number one in class zero and promoted to primary one. By this time I wanted to be like my maternal uncle Lieutenant General Daniel Ayual Makoi, a Degree Holder in Physical Education.
From 1998 to 17th December 2004 amidst threatening war plane known as Antinov in the then liberated Yirol County, I migrated to Yirol Holy Cross Comboni Primary School and studied up to primary seven while residing in my uncle’s house.
I marched out from Yirol Holy Cross Comboni Primary School now in Yirol west county of Lakes state with the least position as four in a final exam.
I wish my parents were literate to see my report forms of getting number one up to primary five. While at Yirol Holy Cross Comboni Primary School, I served as a time Keeper, entertainment prefect and a deputy Head boy in classes 5, 6 and 7 respectively.
Worth to know about my service in Holy Cross School and Parish was my service as an evening class teacher of lower classes in 2004 and as a part time Catechist in Dinka lessons. By Protestant baptism, I was a protestant church member but that wasn’t that I protested against the Catholic Church like in the 16th century.
Surprising, I embraced the Catholic Teaching Principles to buy salvation through confirmation on 16 March 2000 by the Diocese of Rumbek late Bishop Caesar Mazzolario amidst threats that the world was ending in the same year.
That’s how I got to be a catholic till present.
3rd February 2005 was the 1st day I entered the Kenyan air-space at Logichogio airport of Turkana district in the Northern part of Kenya with an attempt to search for an environment conducive for learning after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Khartoum National Congress Party (NCP) on 9th January 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya.
I had heard of Kenya from those who lived in Nairobi but I didn’t see Kenya in the Kakuma of Kenya that I went to for the first time. For me, the type of lifestyle that I lived in the camp was something I had never witnessed before.
Amethic, my village, was better than there. I am not scary anyway but I have no option except narrating to you. I was welcomed with a terrible sting by a frog-sized wild poisonous scorpion to a point of losing consciousness.
What would I have done? I can’t stop asking this question. It’s too bad to live in fear in a foreign land, especially where one doesn’t know where South, North, West and East are in order to run to for safety in case of any pressing threat. I was alone. Mum and dad were enjoying farm produce in New Sudan while me their son can never be sure of living the next day.
I was living a life of queues and stroke of canes falling from ruthless police officers at the food and firewood distribution centers. The United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees or UNHCR did distribute food and firewood ration every two weeks. It was painful carrying sacks of maize and firewood on my back every 15 days.
Apart from that, Night was a curse in Kakuma Refugee Camp because the notorious Turkana people did attack families every night in search of food. There wasn’t calm sleep at all. Young strong men were killed at any slightest physical combat with the Turkana brutal men. It was like America fighting a village in Africa when we did protect ourselves with sticks and the Turkana people of Kenya with their British guns of 196o’s.
Malakal Primary School was the school I got registered in Primary Eight of Index 501714015 on 14 February 2005, in which I attained Certificate of Primary Examinations with mean grade of B- average results and a B in English Language with an eye on scholarship from Jesuit Refugee Service or JRS. I missed the target due to disorientation by the East African compulsory Kiswahili lugha standing at 28 marks as that was my first year studying it.
I was later enrolled to Kakuma Secondary school where I left with c+ in form two on 27th November 2007 following a call from Australia by my cousin David Adepuou Ayual inviting me to further my forms three and four in Nairobi.
Besides my class commitment in Kakuma Secondary, I did serve as Deputy Head Boy in the year 2007. As a Class monitor in the half of 2007 while still in form two before my class pushed me for deputy headship. I Held the position of a Drama Club chair from 2006-2007.
I was a school writer of plays acted every Fridays. This co-curricular activity earned me great popularity not only in my institution of learning but also across Turkana district as I did actively take part in inter-schools Drama Festivals to an extent of receiving Adjudicator’s Award on 10th March 2007.
Dear reader, thanks for reading to know how I lived in hardship as a refugee.
2008 up to 2009, I attended and completed Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) from Nairobi city and sat for it at Riruta Central School. I took the subjects’ combination of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography and Business studies plus the compulsory English and Kiswahili. Maths, the science of numbers was among them.
I was the only science student living a political life at Riruta Central School. I became the leading symbol of unity between Kenyans and about 200 foreign students from my then Southern Sudan region, presently South Sudan. Riruta was almost an international school.
I was unanimously recommended by teachers and students for appointment to School Captainship on 4th February 2008 while deputised by Charles Njojo, a Riruta old student from form one. In Riruta Central, the school head girl, my deputy and I resigned later when the School Management paid no attention over reports on cooking with dirty water from a contaminated dug well or Kasima in Kiswahili. My other personal reason for resignation was the drunken teachers’ entrance to girls’ dormitories and had the thing with them. It was exhibited later by the loitering condoms around the compound.
After completion with D+, I could not proceed to the college or university due to my humble background roofed by poverty. Poverty! Poverty is no doubt detrimental in life although it can be a camouflaged blessing. Poverty only denies me special opportunities in life but it’s never seen in my day to day life as I continue to hold my chest high with great hope for good in God.
It teaches people resistance from temptation of betraying ones nation like my running away from a West African money maker Joseph De Dieu who brought me from Nairobi to Juba in July of 2010 with an intention to employ me as an agent in an illegal business of money printing.
Though in such an impoverished state, I warned reporting him to the National security if he didn’t leave the country with his machines immediately.
3rd February 2005 to 3rd July 2010 was the time I lived in a peaceful Kenya without any Authority documents such as Passport or a National ID, but only with SPLM Membership Card.
4) Life at work
Lessons learned in an environment where one lives are knowledgeable than a developed curriculum of a Nation. Since my returned from Kenya on 3rd July 2010 to mid-February of 2011, I was irritated by every decision made around me by people in authority in different works of life. In the 2010 Lakes state government, my maternal uncle Lieutenant General Daniel Ayual Makoi was a deputy governor. He asked me in August to voluntarily help his supportive staffs in computer work which wasn’t known to many around at that time.
Had I been to hell before, I would be right to say that Working at the Lakes Secretariat General or state headquarters was more than hell. The main state office didn’t have a program. My mind continuously shifted back to Kenya where I lived for about 6 years. I became a critic but couldn’t have forums to talk. I could not take part in policy making to factor in how I wanted the systems look like.
I wanted to be a teacher but I dismissed and chose radio journalism and became a lecturer in the Public University where young and old could tune and learn. I was recruited on 29th April 2011 as a Reporter and a Presenter with an indoor training for 3 months at Radio Good News 89fm of the Catholic Radio Network in the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek in Lakes state.
On November 1, 2012, I was entrusted with a responsibility as Good News Radio Program Manager. At radio good news, I was appointed Radio Board member by Rumbek Diocesan Administrator Fr. Fernando Colombo on 1st April 2013 for the successful direction of the institution.
I did my job well. Having done my job well in the popular radio program I introduced known as “The Morning Basket Program” and also resisting government censorship as Program Manager, the state Minister for Information shutdown the radio on 28th June 2013 conditioning the radio management to dismiss me or else the radio remains shutdown. This immature decision by the minister was backed up by a xenophobic local Roman Catholic priest I disagreed with when he waged harsh war against the foreigners in the non-tribal Catholic Diocese of Rumbek. For my security purpose, an Italian national Fr. Colombo, the Diocesan Administrator, issued me with a suspension letter bearing no charges on 29th June 2013 as the lamb of Radio Good News to broadcast and Good News Radio Director Mr. Norbert Oduor Otieno on 19th July 2013 rushed me to Juba city via UNMIS helicopter escaping security threats organized by the government in the new holy tune of Fr. John Mathiang Machol of Malualbab Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Diocese of Rumbek. On 29th July 2013, I resigned from Radio Good News in Rumbek to open opportunity for Catholic Radio Network or CRN service in Juba. My job as reporter and producer for CRN started on August 1, 2013 and ended by December 31, 2013.
In the mercy of God, I was granted a scholarship by CRN in the tune of the CRN former Director Comboni sister Paola Moggi who is now in her homeland Italy. I returned to school and sat before a lecturer on 6 January 2014 to pursue a Diploma in Social Communication in Tangaza University College of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa in Nairobi, Kenya.
5) Future ambitions
Dear reader, you’ve heard about my past in this reading but it’s also important that I tell you my future that is only visible to the eyes of my heart and mind.
What kept me happy-going over the years is a Scottish novelist and dramatist J. M. Barrie’s quote, “The secret of being happy is not doing what one likes but liking what one does.”
Mother Teresa strengthens me more saying, “In this life we live you can never do great things but you can do small things with great love.” Wonderful! I pray daily that God opens doors for opportunities to further my education delayed from before and after birth and form a good family of my own.
I ask Him to increase my love to accommodate people of diverse cultures that He brings me to their contact. In this world on a run, I pray for wisdom from God so that I cheat death with images and scribbles of my work that I will live hereafter to deny malicious biographers who will write about me in the near future.
“And this, my dear reader, is where I continue to write my story.”