In loving memory of my fellow lost boys that we lost on our journey to Ethiopia – Part 1

Posted: December 25, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, History, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

This serialized article is a remembrance dedication to those former lost boys whom we lost on our journey to Ethiopia and beyond…narrated from my personal experience when I left Pawel, Kongor, to Ethiopia in 1987.

By Garang Yong Deng (Kede Miakduur), Alberta, Canada


December 25, 2017 (SSB) — Before leaving Pawel, Kongor, we had to go for the traditional blessing at Luangde Loor (Mayom Shrine) in Pakuor. In case you all don’t or didn’t know that MAYOM WAS JUST A DRUM idolized to a shrine, then know it that wasn’t for entire Kongor but Mïthke Ajääng! It didn’t include the entire Apiölöc. The rest of Környin and Palek ë Leek were excluded in this matter.

Those of Tungke Padool has their own like Dhiën Padool has Werawiër; Këbaar with Pathiong; Pawïïr with Amot/Pamor and Pareng with Werakiir or Akeknhiaan. Biöö’dït section: Anyang and Payaath have Atëdal and Wun ë Yong respectively. To cut it short, most of the other sections of Kongor had no chances of seeing Loor-e-Mayom. This was because everyone was busy with their own kinds of stuff and not everyone believed what others believed.

Fast forward: during our departure from Pawel for Paliau at around 3 pm, we ran on Pawel-Wangulei road and before reaching to Luangde Loor (Mayom Shrine), we were told to stop and visit Mayom to bless us. We were all jubilant but those who were baptized by then were instructed not to think about going there!

Most of us made it inside the shrine. We scrambled in a very crowding number to the point the interior became dark. I don’t recall much but it looked like the shrine was facing west to Pabieec and the long wooden drum was laid on wooden pillars, suspended off the ground. All I saw was a huge drum, about six or longer feet. It was decorated with copper and aluminium bangles, dazzling in the darkness. It was surrounded by bollards (buc)!

We weren’t allowed to gaze much by the guard (don’t know his name). And our guardians were rushing us off to proceed with our journey because we were racing with the sun before it set. We had to arrive at Paliau before it was too late.

If we didn’t leave our homes for that journey to the unknown destination, most of us wouldn’t have seen Mayom! Maybe in the slightest chances, I would’ve seen Mayom in my adult or oldest life because my great uncle, Deng-matei Duot Alääk Pageer, was Mayom’s custodian (tiët de Mayom)!

My grandmother Arok Duot Alääk Pageer had connections from that Mayom since her brother was a tiët de Mayom. Perhaps, that would’ve been the only way I would have seen it. I guess most of the other folks didn’t have a chance to see it.

For sure, I didn’t keep track of whom we’d lost on the way to Ethiopia, but upon our arrival at Gumuruk (Gumuruo) in the morning, I remember us parading and we were asked to sing. We had two boys from my side who used to be lead singers.

We were expecting them to move forward as they usually did but none of them moved forward. They were being called by their names (names withheld), when one of them braved it up, the song he gave out was a mixture of a crying from the exhaustion of Kääctong desert, between Alian and Pathuyith!

In the afternoon, we started our way going to fetch water and bathe at a small tributary. Before the water point was a giant tamarind tree that looked healthy and old enough like those in Pawel, Kongor. And between the giant tamarind tree lied ahead another tamarind tree that’s leaned forward and the water point. We saw a kid picking tamarind fruits on the high end of the tree.

Just before we’d approach the tree, the boy came down screaming; he was gasping to grab a branch to save him from falling but ended up grabbing emptiness. All we heard was a thud! Blood was sputtering via his ears, nose and mouth. He was gone on the spot! My first time to witness a human dying…perhaps, a premonition of what awaited us on our maiden journey to Ethiopia. I heard with rumours that the boy hailed from Duk…

Fast forward to the arrival at Pinyudu River (I don’t know its name). We’d arrived around the midday with extreme exhaustion. Everyone laid down in the sands waiting for a wooden raft to load our belongings and few kids to be crossed over to the other side of the river. We were many, hence it seemed to us that it would take forever to be towed across the river.

While we were waiting for our turns, kids from the first batch showed up from the other side and some of us started calling them by names and most of them who knew how to swim, swam over to and joined us. Everyone was scrawny due to weight loss. The river was flowing, of course, and very infested with fierce and hungry crocodiles. We would see the crocodiles basking in the sun on the sand a few meters away from us.

To the advantage of those who live along the Nile, especially Buor, they all put their belongings in the wooden raft and jumped into the river and swam to the other side! Now Twi and Duk watched them with amazement. Among us were few mothers and fathers who escorted their children to the unknown destination (agokkou).

Most children from Kongor and Duk were crossed over and went to the temporary patch of land under the trees behind the only structure in Pinyudo made of a corrugated zinc.

In the morning, the sad news was circulating about two boys who’d drowned when the raft capsized and they were never recovered. The person manning the raft was by the name Garang-göc from Dachuek.

The two mothers whose children drowned were crossed after their kids drowned and didn’t hear the sad news yet. They were told their children had made it out and were safe somewhere. But later they heard the unfortunate news of their sons’ demise!

The boys were said to be from Nyopiny, mostly from Pan Ageer Arok. The returns of those mothers were arranged by the authorities; the bereaved mothers plus few who would return were provided with transportation back to Baaidit and to their respective communities.

I guess Majok-maguek, the shortest guy from Kongor, went with them. That’s the first time I saw the guy, although I’ve been hearing a lot about him. \

Acute hunger kicked in since our meagre foods we had were diminishing rapidly. Clothes were sold in exchange for some bitter flour from Anyuak and cholera started taking lives away.

To make the matters worse, cold was unbearable (as Deng Diar Diing put it). While cuddling at night, some of us didn’t make it to the following morning. We would drag them to the burial sites and no digging tools to properly bury the dead.

Birds started preying on the dead and the whole situation became desolate and miserable.

This article is only a dedication to our lost souls on the arduous journey to Ethiopia. To be continued from a different story…

The author, Garang Yong Deng, popularly known as Kede Miakduur, is a former lost boy of South Sudan who currently resides in Alberta, Canada; he can be reached via his email at:

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, plus a concise biography of yourself.

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