Bruises of the civil war: Tears of Self-pity (Part 8)

Posted: March 26, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Kur Wël Kur, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

 By Kur Wël Kur, Adelaide, Australia  

Prof Majok Kelei stands next to UNMISS chief at Council of ministers in Bor picture by Mach Samuel

Prof Majok Kelei of Dr. John Garang University stands next to UNMISS chief at Council of ministers in Bor, picture by Mach Samuel

March 26, 2017 (SSB) — Since her birth in the winter of 1938, Nyankoot Bolek had never seen even a hill. Just anthills she enjoyed luring the termites out of them with flames in April every year. But it had never happened to see a giant mountain up close. They had managed with her second daughter- in- law to ride on the back of the heavy trucks that UN hired in Kenya to transport food relief (sacks of sorghum and cartons of oil) to hunger-stricken places in liberated areas.

Their clothes were modest if one takes into the consideration the number of women and teenage girls with nothing more than a traditional sewn skirt in South Sudan by that time. Ajah was wearing a new traditional skirt and a Malaya, a linen sheet made of polyester. And no shoes. In fact, shoes were unthinkable. Her mother in law was wearing an African dress that resembled a night gown. All of their clothes were in bright colours.

They were exhausted from their journey from Aliab to Terekeka, then with a canoe, another kind- hearted mundri man rowed them across the Nile to Gameza where Nyankoot Bolek kissed the driver’s palm for a lift.

Begging for a lift with no any connecting language between them and a Kenyan driver was hard than paying 60 cows and 40 goats as the bride price. For these two women, all from cattle camp, Arabic, English and Kiswahili were aliens’ languages. “Ngalangala… Ngalangala,” tainted with Aliab’s accent, kept spiralling out of their mouths. With the purest form of his sympathy, the driver allowed Nyankoot and her daughter-in-law to ride with them.

The driver and his co- driver cooked themselves ughali and a red rooster for soup. That night, Ajah and her mother in law, Nyankoot Bolek didn’t worry sleeping empty stomach(s) because their nightmare was trekking to Ngalangala through that enemy infested forests.

They had a new traditional made mat, a mat made of dried papyrus stems. So, they spread it at arm- length from the truck. Just within half an hour, Ajah sank into a deep sleep. But her mother-in-law stayed awake until she witnessed the rising of Venus.

Three hours later, the driver asked them to board the truck. The urge to reach Ngalangala safely in the small hours of the day, made the drivers to roll onto the road at 6 am. They had a bumpy ride because the six years old war had affected everything inside and in borders of South Sudan.

“Are you thirsty,” Nyankoot asked her daughter in law.

“Not yet”, Ajah said.

 ”Okay, let me know when you need to drink.”

Nyankoot had fetched water from the Nile with a gourd. The gourd was the second container they owned. The first was a cooking container, nicknamed by Northerners (Arabs) as ciirika junub, translated as made from South (Sudan). The blacksmiths from South Sudan forged it from aluminium.

That made it an ideal for cooking because of its heat conductivity. With their simple life and with simple materials, their survival on that journey depended on flour made from pounding millet in a wooden mortar with a wooden pestle.

Nyankoot Bolek initiated a monologue conversation that was met with couple of Mmmms, and Hehee-eees from Ajah Majhok Kweer. Both sounds used for affirmation.

“My daughter, my baby’s wife, life’s unique; because in it, you find three types of tears: of joy, of sadness, and of shame; you need to read each tear with different understanding to discover, which situation it (each tear) represents; my daughter, it’s on this same planet trees shed their leaves in different seasons; some trees shed their leaves in winters and some shed their in summers.

Whichever season you would flourish, you’re my gift from my god. My ancestral spirits would make you a spring in which my blood would flow out. As we step into the wilderness where no one of our ancestors had set foot, be brave to be a mother of my grandchildren.”

“You understand?” She asked.

“Mmmm, mum,” Ajah said.

Nyankoot Bolek cast a look at her daughter in law to examine how her words had sunk in her soul. And she loved how Ajah was looking at the back of her hand, and toying with the hem of her malayah. Ajah had nothing to add or detract. The words she heard that day were powerful.

Nyankoot Bolek craved cold water. Talking had evaporated moisture in her throat. Hundred-word speech seemed like nothing to bother anyone, but when Nyankoot laced every word with ancestral spirits, the energy oozed out of her.

So, before drinking, she gave the water to her daughter-in-law. Ajah, without a word, sized the gourd by cupping its sides with her hands. It seemed listening to her mother-in-law saying those spirit-filled words had also absorbed the traces of water in her body, leaving her throat dry. She drank.

She gave her mother the water. Only then she realised how bumpy the road was. Evidences of war everywhere. Unlevelled road with elephants’ feet prints. Potholes dotted the road. “They’re bruises of the civil war”, Nyankoot reminded Ajah. The moving truck sent them up and down, and side to side. “Heavy vehicles such as this truck are worse when they’re carrying no loads,” Ajah guessed.

In five hours, the Ngalangala Mountain craned its neck to peer into their truck. Their eyes remained glued to the peeping sheered-side of Ngalangala Mountain. Then in some minutes of driving, the driver and his co-driver stopped the truck in the station, which was a piece of plot surrounded by six mango trees. The station was also accentuated by the military police station and Ngalangala Mountain. They tilted their heads all the way back, trying to view the top of the mountain, but they almost lost their balance.

“Ee nhialic tiit koc piny! It’s a towering god!” Nyankoot exclaimed.

To obtain her son’s address was a matter of asking one soldier. A young soldier volunteered to walk Nyankoot Bolek and her daughter-in-law to Nhials’ compound. It was eleven-thirty.

When they trickled into the compound, the girls were finishing, preparing lunch; Akuol Manguak propped herself up under a mango tree. Elizabeth Aliet abandoned her position and raced to hug her grandmother.

Kokdien de yaac (the grandmother of my belly), otherwise known as my beloved or dear grandmother in other languages. You’re here!” She hugged and cried in the arms of Nyankoot Bolek, her grandmother.

Akuol Manguak froze, she couldn’t believe that her mother in law had sidelined her with a co-wife. Akuol’s mind was exploding with thoughts, evil versus good. She attempted not to get up; she remained seated; she didn’t welcome her mother-in-law, Nyankoot Bolek.

When the evening crawled in, Akuol had already let the anger robbed her all of things that made her beautiful and lively. Her smile. Her makeup. Her administrative manners. The girls were just doing what they thought fit, but she withdrew her niece, Martha. She signalled her to her side and showed her where to sit.

That night, she cried herself into sleep. Her brain was tired. Finally, when the power of the human’s weakness forced her to sleep, she dreamed. Her dreams came in series of bubbles. First bubble: a double knotted-rope swayed in the bubble, hitting its sides. The devil told her to end the suffering.

The second bubble: a broken neck, twitching toes and spiralling body. The third bubble: was carrying two words: Survive. Struggle. The fourth bubble saved her life; “you’re not barren; your womb is capable of conceiving;” these golden and precious words armoured her life. She stirred herself awake. And she was happy for the fourth bubble in her dream…

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 is 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 from.

  1. Awuol Gabriel Arok says:

    Waaw! What a great historical facts, I felt the journey myself. Great piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anyar Jamus 1 says:

    I am sorry to miss the 7 PART of this article, and let me wait 9, 10 to read

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kur Wel Kur says:

      Jamus, thanks brother for stopping by and for dropping a word of encouragement. Part 7 is below this article(part 8); and part 9 is coming soon. thanks for waiting.


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