The Final Rite of Burial for Big John: Nyajok Pööc: Our Mother, Our Carer

Posted: November 7, 2016 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, Editorials, Featured Articles, Kur Wël Kur, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers


By Kur Wël Kur, Adelaide, Australia

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

November 7, 2016 (SSB) — On 1st October 2016, Big John (Wuoi Athieu) left this violent, cruel world.  He died of a car accident. He wasn’t driving; he didn’t sit in the passenger seat; he sat in a seat behind the driver. The impact propelled him forward and with his forehead, he hit the driver’s seat. Internally, the crucial bones, the pillars (skull and neck bones) of the human body broke. John didn’t survive.

Painful enough, we waited for his mother, our mother, Nyajok Pööc. For 35 days, John’s body stayed in the mortuary.  Though the Australian government has made it easier for loved ones who live outside Australia to attend burials of their loved ones who died in Australia, the 35 days wait was unbearable. We muted the stereos in our cars; we laughed in a short way when our souls uploaded his funny moments; we played dominos to ease our pain.

However, the darkness of death moved in our hearts in a foggy way. In a big chunk of 35 days, many of us hibernated in the privacy of our houses.  Finally, the iron lady arrived.

Nyajok, our mother settled the doubts we had in our hearts. After we have submitted the application, we questioned our intelligence for doing this because of unknown fears. We thought we are killing our mother by bringing her up close to the face of death for her to stand close enough near the coffin and the grave. And with all these, she would die of grieve and heart attack.

However, on landing in Melbourne’s international airport, she released her blessings to those who picked her up. Hugging us in Adelaide where the burial took place, she said, “I can’t cry in your midst because it’s a bad omen to cry among the children.” It was a pure intelligence, a mother’s instincts from a pure-hearted mother. She cuddled all who met her even the oldest me. We huddled around her to listen to her intelligence and stories she told in her zenith voice of storytelling.


The final rite of burial for Big John (John Wuoi Athieu); His beloved mum, Nyajok Pooc who came from Africa to attend the burial rite, is the one in purple!

“My people, who knows where elephants mate?” “Can anyone tell me?”.

No one answered it. “It’s the hardest thing to come by.”  ”To come to the western countries like Australia is hard just like witnessing the mating elephants in the wild”, she concluded.

Indeed, before the wizards such as drones, cameras and radio tracking, elephants were hard for anyone to come close.

The burial day

My brother, you rested on the 5th of November. We viewed your body in the Church of the Holy Redeemer (Anglican) in Ingle Farm, Adelaide. Seeing your body in the white coffin, the reality of your death sent the chilling fears into the software of my being.  The fears of not seeing you in the years ahead of my life on this earth infected my brain. So, the GPS (Global Positioning System) of brain kept circling us around for one hour. Garang Mathiang Aduot (our uncle) and I missed the burial. I have stayed in Adelaide for 10 years, I have visited the same cemetery three times, driving. So if anyone says that I got lost for not knowing the place, then sorry.


The final rite of burial for Big John (John Wuoi Athieu); His beloved mum, Nyajok Pooc, came from Africa to attend the burial rite in Australia

Angrily, I drove to the John McVeity Centre (JMC) for condolences speeches to us, the family and farewell speeches to the late Big John. JMC is the big Playford community centre upgraded in 2014. We set up 350 chairs, however the numbers of those who came to pay their last respect for Big John, came pouring in beyond the accommodation capacity of the hall. There were no more chairs; there was no more room for extra chairs. Hundreds of those who came stood outside, leaning forward to grasp the encouraging words. Akoy Wut Lual, being the master of your farewell speeches invited Nyajok, our mother to encourage the multitudes. Our mother, the iron mother stood in the face of darkness, the darkness of death. The multitudes held their breaths, thinking that she would break down and collapse, but the true mother turned down their expectations. She defied the forces of all evil, she refused to allow the gravity of death to hold her down. She addressed the doubting and grieving multitudes.


The final rite of burial for Big John (John Wuoi Athieu); His beloved mum, Nyajok Pooc, came from Africa to attend the burial rite in Australia

“My people, I am destroyed (by death), but I can’t say be also destroyed”, she said.

The blinding fog of death faded away from the faces of the mourners.

“I am a mother of ten children among which seven of them are dead; John is the seventh child to die”, she added.

Nyajok, our mother is the best mother, an example of true motherhood. As she dived into the spirit of the living God, she edged away from her supporter, Philip Nyuon Nyantiel Pööc (well known as Philip Nyuon Anyieth Nyuon), she grabbed the microphone from Nyuon’s hand and breathed into it the words that electrified the mourning spirits of the mourners.

“Take care of yourselves because the world is a cruel place. Many fake people around so they cry fake cries into your face then turn their heads over their shoulders, laughing and mocking you about your loss”, she said.

This statement encapsulated her message to the mourning multitudes.


The final rite of burial for Big John (John Wuoi Athieu); His beloved mum, Nyajok Pooc who came from Africa to attend the burial rite, is the one standing here

Our dear my mother, we will remember you forever because you epitomise life. A mother is an incubator of all children’s lives. You have rescued us from despair. You have cleansed our souls, souls tarnished by death. You have encouraged us to face life without John Wuoi Athieu. Our mother, Nyajok Pööc, may God of our forefathers and mothers bless your soul, may He fill your life on this earth with abundant blessings.  Our mother, enjoy your three-month stay in Australia with your grandchildren: Mabior’s, Late John’s children and our children.

But remember, Big John is gone but not forgotten. He lives in our heart.


The final rite of burial for Big John (John Wuoi Athieu); His beloved mum, Nyajok Pooc, came from Africa to attend the burial rite in Australia

Dear Brother John Wuoi Athieu, R.I.P in Adelaide, the City of Churches

By Kur Wël Kur, Adelaide, Australia

Dear John,

October 21, 2016 (SSB) — Today, I am writing this letter to your living soul to inform you of your resting place. John, you’ll rest in Adelaide, the City of Churches. A city where you became a father; a city where your lovely and precious four children were born; a city where you spent most of your time, loving life in Australia.

Remember, your children are here. Your best friend, Anyieth Mabiei Yuol is here. Adelaide Cobra, the Dinka wrestling team you co-founded is here. Adelaide was a big part of you more than any other city in Australia. John, it’s taking so long (3 weeks already, since you passed away.) to bury your body because we’re waiting for your loving mother. Hopefully, she arrives from South Sudan soon.

John to remind you of the cause of our death! On 27 September 2016, you landed in Darwin (Northern Territory) to look for work. And in that fatal night, the night of 1st October, you were in the same car with Anyuat Kur Deng and Aguto Majhok was driving the car. As the city (Darwin’s) news reported, the car you were traveling in collided with a road train (with three carriages) head-on, hitting the last carriage of the road-train.


In remembrance of John Wuoi Athieu; The final rite of burial for Big John (John Wuoi Athieu); His mum, Nyajok Pooc, came from Africa to attend the burial rite in Australia

The impact of the crash uprooted the car seat you were sitting on, pushing you forward to hit the front passenger seat with your forehead. John, the injuries that robbed us of your life are on your forehead and in your neck. The impact broke your neck!

As a living soul, the soul of Anyuat Kur Deng is with you and The Living God. Anyuat sustained a head injury too. You left the cruel world together. As I write this letter, I know your smiles beam down from heaven.

Nothing that we could do,

If we were so powerful to handle the chances of life and death,

We would recall you back to life.

But perishables we are,

We cried aware,

Of our limitations.

Your death stupefied us.

But we can share the memory of you with the whole world. No other memories greater than the memories you gave us and your children are giving us.

John, when you were here, you were full of life. You were a sport enthusiast. You loved Australian Football League (AFL). You chose and followed the Mighty Hawthorn, a home team of your former city, Hobart, Tasmania. You proudly wore the Hawthorn vest and the scarf with these famous writings: HAWTHORN. ALWAYS.


In remembrance of John Wuoi Athieu; The final rite of burial for Big John (John Wuoi Athieu); His mum, Nyajok Pooc, came from Africa to attend the burial rite in Australia

 I am sure you remember the superstars of Hawthorn: Jordan Lewis, Sam Mitchell (the winner of Peter Crimmins’ medal), Shaun Burgoyne, Grant Birchall and Kaiden Brand, the best First Year Player.

These memories are from your Australian side. But if I go back to your roots, the roots of being a Dinka of South Sudan. You grew up loving the peaceful Dinka wrestling, the pride of Dinka (Chuei -to- Chuei Dinka).

You followed wrestling tournaments back on the Dinka land in South Sudan. You watched heaps of them on You Tube and on DVDS. You co-founded Cobra, the Adelaide wrestling team.

So, there came a time when the Melbourne wrestling team was to face the Cobra giants. The match was postponed several times, then forever. You and Achiek Nai (Mayoola) Mayen came to my house. You gave me a task of facing Malual-adol. I agreed on a condition that we must practice every Saturday, because after 25 years wrestling had faded from my life. We practiced on one Saturday and both my shoulders couldn’t handle your weight.

So, for three months the excruciating pain gnawed my shoulders. I will remember you my brother, not with pain in my shoulders but for your sportsmanship, and your enthusiasm in wrestling and dancing.

Your children are giving us unforgettable memories of you.

Your wonderful and beautiful children love you and they’re missing you so bad.


The final rite of burial for Big John (John Wuoi Athieu); His beloved mum, Nyajok Pooc who came from Africa to attend the burial rite, is the one in purple!

And this is how:

On 11th October at around six-thirty in the evening, our women readied the dinner on the dinner-table.  We served ourselves. Then Akol, your son initiated these dialogues between him and his uncle, Karakoon (Mabior Athieu Mach).

“I want to eat with you (on the same plate) and you’ll hand-feed me”, he said.

“Okay, sit here”, Karakoon said, pulling a white plastic chair beside him.

Akol, your son prattled for some minutes and then these lines streamed out of him:

“You look like my dad”, he said.

“Yes, because he’s my brother”, Karakoon said.

“Then you’re my dad”, he continued.

“No, your dad is your dad. I am your uncle”, Karakoon said.

Akol wanted to say why Karakoon resembles you (remember your ears are the same ears Karakoon has) but he got lost in his articulation so he grabbed Uncle Karakoon by the ear and said:

“I will bite off your ear”!

“Why?” his uncle asked.

I was wolfing the content of my plate because I was in a hurry. But these dialogues slowed me down. I was shocked. I thought your lovely brother would break down and burst into tears. However, Karakoon concealed the pain of your death and of your adorable son’s words in his heart. I was amazed by the resilience of the human soul.


The final rite of burial for Big John (John Wuoi Athieu); His beloved mum, Nyajok Pooc, came from Africa to attend the burial rite in Australia

Another memory: One day, I showed up at Nyiejok Nyok Anuan’s house where we mourned your death. No other man was present in the house. There were a handful of women consoling the mother of your children. Your children, Nyiejok’s and mine were playing in the backyard. So, instead of wallowing in pain and despair of your death, I volunteered to look after our precious children. I grabbed a chair and sat in the backyard, watching them play. Other children lost themselves in their play, but Nyajok and Ajah were not very much involved.

They stood behind me, leaning on the chair. I had my phone in my hand so Nyajok politely took it to play games. However, instead of pressing the games folder, she poked at the Facebook App (application) and viewed the newsfeeds on my Facebook wall. On hearing of your death, a lot of your relatives and friends jammed the Facebook with condolences and your photos. Nyajok saw one of your photos, and she started to cry while showing the photo to Akol. Akol twisted his mouth in a way to start crying.

“Don’t copy me”, Nyajok yelled at him.

“Mama, Nyajok is crying,” Ajah informed the mother of your children.

“Why?” their mother asked.

“She saw daddy’s photo,” Ajah replied.

Nyajok was called into the house to take her mind off the bitterness of your death. I was disappointed, blaming myself for causing that sadness.  However, my brother, every tear they (your children) drop is a thread of their connection and love to you.


In remembrance of John Wuoi Athieu; The final rite of burial for Big John (John Wuoi Athieu); His mum, Nyajok Pooc, came from Africa to attend the burial rite in Australia

John, you’re gone, but not forgotten.  Forever, you will live in our memories until we meet again!

Kur Wël Kur has a Bachelor Degree in Genetics and Zoology from Australian National University (ANU). He was the former the General Secretary of Greater Bor Community in Adelaide, Australia. He can be reached via his email contact: kurwelkur @

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing.

  1. Deng Ajak says:

    Brave Mother indeed, her present among her grand children and widow of her son mean a lot and will heal the broken hearts. Her present also wipe away sorrow and the tears from many eyes and particularly John Wuoi’s wife. I am proud of being SA resident, the way we attend things bad or Good is tremendous , May almighty God Rest his Soul in Peace. My Condolence also goes to family of man of people Mabior Athieu aka Karkon. Kur Wel Kur thanks for the update us, I am not around in Adelaide but in Juba right now, my heart felt is with you all, May God bless us and not to let go again through such loses. we all went through difficult time, whether you are far as I do or in Australia, we all felt the lost. My message goes to all South Sudanese Australian leadership, please lobby hard to Australia government to stay John’s mother in Australia so that she could fulfilled the gap Wuoi left to her wife.


  2. Panda Yentueng says:

    The tragedy is so sad! Kur Wel you have really mourned your brother both spiritually and academically by writing this piece. Continue to write a profile of Big John to encourage his four children for future achievement. There is no doubt that u people will firmly stand with John’s children in any support they might need. May almighty God rests his soul in peace! Amen!


    • Kurwelkur says:

      Thanks, Panda. Death is a painful thing so victims like us need assurances and encouragement from kind people like you. Thanks, my brother. I do appreciate your comments. Sure, John’s children have become our responsibility now. We will guide them all the way.

      So thanks once again.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s