English people proverbially say “one thing leads to another”, an idiom that means an event or activity results in another that you have usually not planned. Well, a story which was ran by Sudan Tribune website featuring a photo of a Bor child wearing an innocent face, intentionally stained with ash to keep off flies, published on March 26 under the name of “Jonglei citizens critical of lack of basic services” caused me to write out this article, not because it is the first story that reveals the political barrenness and questionability of the way the affairs of Bor people are being executed by those they elected to power, but because the photo, just the photo, touched the humanitarian me.
Yes I always speak my mind through writing but never before had I ever thought of publicizing what I feel about Bor and its leaders until I saw that face that seems to ask a million dollar question. The child’s face poses unspoken question, “do you really represent me, Honorable?” The question goes out to you, Bor Commissioner, Honorable Maker Lual, and all the members of parliament from Bor; Honorable Thon Nyok, Honorable June Maler, Honorable Makuei Lueth, Honorable Benjamin Malek Alier and Honorable Dengtiel Ayuen Kur. I’m going to leave Governor Kuol alone because he represents all of the six counties of Jonglei. All the incompetence and inefficiencies and failures witnessed by his commissioners and many other government officials knock at his door though. My targets are those directly managing Bor issues.
Before I register my protest fully, I would love you to know that there’s nothing personal about this opinion. I respect you as my parliamentarian and Bor political leader in general. You are a great man with amazing historical background. You have great children, some with whom I studied with in high school. Besides, I currently have no one on my mind; someone that can do better than you do.
I have been to Bor a couple of times and I managed to study it just by looking at the people and things. However, the following issues manifested through each age set are based on my observations and daily happenings. They point toward the road Bor as a society is headed…….a road leading to nowhere, I guess.
A Bor old man no longer stays in his Luak because a Luak that doesn’t house a few heads of cattle is useless; it’s like a body without soul. It’s worth vacating. His animals have been driven away by unidentified gunmen that he believes came from Pibor. He fears keeping the remaining three cows in his Luak for fear of being re-attacked and slaughtered by the unknown gunmen. So, where is he? He moved to his half-literate brother’s place in Bor town. The brother is a businessman. Life is still hard here. The old man eats once a day. A meal that does not comprise milk and meat weakens his bones. It fast-forwards his life span. He looks physically weak, with wasted muscles. He wears tattered clothes. He walks barefoot, with support of a staff. He can’t wear the boots his nephew abroad bought him in 2007 because they are not his size. Actually, they are his size but they just can’t fit him. Thanks to his toes. For some physiological conditions, the toes have grown apart, with the second toe pointing the sky and the fifth, freely relaxing at an angle of 180 degrees. He tries to keep himself happy and cheerful by drinking the infamous locally distilled alcohol known as “arege.” This helps him drink away all the worries of the new life, as he awaits the day he will exit to the new world.
The same with a grandmother; gone are days she used to grow groundnuts, sesame and tobacco at the backyard. Her old empty granaries are leaning. There’s nothing to store in it anyway. She can’t remember the last time she brewed beer for village men who helped cultivate her sorghum and maize plantations. Her only cows, the source of livelihood got attacked by Yellow Coast Fever and died. She doesn’t know what happened to her goats and sheep but something tells her that her goats got stolen by rogue villagers who capitalized on her conditions. They must have been butchered and sold to Bor city residents. As a result, she now stays in a small hut at her daughter’s home in Bor town.
An educated Bor gentleman lives and works in Bor. He is a teacher, married with three children. In addition to his immediate family members, his relatives; aunt, uncle, nieces, nephews and grandparents depend on him. Worst of all, the salary is such a joke, about a hundred dollars. It comes irregularly. It takes months, about three or so. One of the agendas he presents to God in his daily prayer is the salary, “God please let them pay us today”. When it finally comes, he does the Maths, long division to be specific. No savings; the salary goes from hand to mouth. He can’t think of furthering his studies because he is too pre-occupied with the lives of his dependents. Sadly, the dude is starving. His behind is so flat. You can’t locate where the buttocks used to be when he was a teenager!
A Bor boy of primary school-going age spends his day at the bus park in the city. He is a boda-boda. The motor cycle business he runs belongs to someone else, just a friend. He transports commuters within bor. In a successful business day, he makes about a hundred pounds. Out of that amount, the owner hands him twenty pounds which he takes home to his helpless ill mother. His younger brother is in the streets too, hustling. He sells newspapers that earn him a few pounds. Their friends are spoiled kids. They spend their day’s earnings on alcohol. I’m afraid, as time goes by and without any intervention, these little brothers will join their friends.
A Bor boy overseas, the one you believe undoubtedly emigrated with the sole aim of acquiring better education in foreign land has turned out to be something else. He is locally referred to as “niga”. He is chasing untold goals. One of the goals is called “swag”. I don’t know what it means but that’s what he daydreams about. He wears skinny jeans as if he is going to sing Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean track. He is in love with girls and clothes, expensive wears. He dresses to impress. He drinks too. If you, by whatever means, open up his head, you would find three words embedded in his brain, only three words. They are; girls, swag and alcohol. Nothing more! And his cousin seems to be on campus forever. He joined university six years ago but he still shows no sign of graduating. I can’t tell what exactly is going on.
A Bor girl abroad is the worst. She is in love with her body. She changes her tops more than she changes her underwear. Guess why? Just to spend hours in the toilet, taking pictures of herself! That’s what she does both at home and school, all day all night. The photos are usually pornographic, as her big balloon-like ass sticks out. Some images show her teats. At times, she cheats herself by pretending to be a super model. You should watch her walk. She goes to school to show off her beauty, just beauty. I hacked into her school account the other day. She performs poorly at school. In fact, she doesn’t go to school. She also drinks that poisonous European whiskey called Johnny Walker. What a missy!
And to be fair and true to myself and Bor society, I Tears Ayuen, the author of this piece, have to say one or two things about me. I am an alcoholic. You can just call me bar fly. I drink like a fish, every day. I am typing this sentence with difficulty. Alcohol has taken control over my fingers. They tremble. Never count on me!
The above descriptions paint a picture of what contemporary Bor society looks like. They also indicate what Bor will be like in few years to come should you, an MP, refuse to be guided by the oath you took during your swearing-in ceremony.
So, seven years after a strong government system was established, and a Bor baby is still smeared with cow dung to protect it from being bullyingly celebrated by houseflies, tsetse flies? OMG!
As you lie in your bed sometimes alone, do you cerebrate?
Does the word Bor ever cross your mind?
Considering life challenges each and every Bor is currently facing, in whose eyes do you see the future of Bor as a people? Ain’t it that baby’s? So, what’s up? What must you do to protect it? Do you need to google how to better his life?
For how long will Bor people drink water straight from frog ponds? Even when the other South Sudanese middle-aged men are proudly developing pot-bellies as a result of Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Bor men still have flat stomachs. In case you spot a Bor male adult with a big belly in Bor town, he must be suffering from bilharzia or tapeworm. The dude still drinks dirty water!!!
And by the way, why is Bor society being uprooted under your watch? Bor people are ever insecure. They are hunted by their neighbors for their livestock and you just watch, hoping that everything will be okay. Now that Bor is under attack; it’s being indirectly uprooted – the elderly folks are abandoning their villages due to preventable and avoidable insecurities, no one farms anymore and all the Luaks and huts have collapsed and no new huts are seen, isn’t it the beginning of the complete uprooting of the whole Bor civilization? No one sings or dances any more. Celebratory drum beats are rarely heard today because there is nothing to celebrate about. Cows are gone. A Bor dies in cold blood every day; either while traveling on Bor-Juba road or at his Luak. If women are not ululating with sorrow in Kolnyang or Anyidi today, others are ululating in Baidit or Makuach. Now that the culture is gone, do you now have the privileges to reprimand me for wearing my pants below the waist? What culture would you cite?
Why is it that only mere individuals like Mathiang Kuc and Kok Alat plus many more others I haven’t heard of, have Bor at heart? I guess you know what I am talking about. These dudes dig deep into their pockets and spend their hard-earned cash on things that they believe will elevate Bor community. Why only them?
I am not suggesting that you are not doing anything at all but the current Bor situation tells it all. The general situation is so pathetic. It nullifies any little effort that you make or might have made.
I will leave it there. My fingers are uncontrollably shaking now. They are indirectly telling me to take another dose of alcohol. And remember, he who rebukes you loves you. I am off to drink.