Collection of Stories: The Legends of Dinka “FROM THE NILE VALLEY” – Part 2

Posted: September 7, 2019 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

The Legends of Dinka: A double orphan who rose from the ashes of poverty

By Kur Wël Kur, Adelaide, Australia

Aesop’s Fables in Dinka, translated by Atem Yaak Atem

Saturday, September 7, 2019 (PW) — In a century, 10 years shy ago, a widow, the mother of four sons, suffered from a crippling sickness. She wallowed in a rheumatism, and she couldn’t care for her four sons. Her sons were 12, 10, 8 years and 6-months old. For several years, the degenerative disease deteriorated her health to the point that she couldn’t move by herself.

Her eldest son would help her move. A lot of her duties such as pounding and milling sorghum grains, farming and weeding, tidying and maintaining her homestead were passed on to her next two sons automatically. The two sons who were 10 and 8 years old were overwhelmed by the duties. So, some duties slipped out of their responsibilities. Their family’s hut in which their mother was immobilised on her sickbed was caving in. Her older son would prop up the falling side with logs.

However, the forces of darkness pushed the whole family into a vortex, a powerful whirling mass of suffering. The flimsy materials of a grass-thatched hut couldn’t hold it any longer. Every other supportive construction material broke loose. The foundation. The walls. The roof. Putrescent grass on the roof of which termites had wired with their mudded routes was raining down as if it was under the forces of an American tornado. The mother was being buried under the load of a hut that once provided protection to her and her four sons. With consciousness and caring of the mothers, consciousness and caring, which mothers take to their graves, compelled her to send her sons to their uncles for shelter. She refused to share her suffering, her death with her sons.

While all those forces of darkness were cascading, her first son who turned 14 years old, was being initiated. Among the Dinka people, young males who are being initiated are quarantined in “LUAK” (byre). They’re taught to stay away from girls, duties connected with women, and duties of young boys. For three months, the young men are trained or trained themselves for their new roles, the roles of men, and the values “Mony Jaang” [MEN OF THE MEN]. Among the initiated youth or youth being initiated, no one is allowed to touch utensils, pounding or milling sorghum grains. Or even serve themselves meals. All these are done for them by sisters, nieces and mothers.

But in extreme cases like sickness or disabilities of the mothers, sisters, or nieces, only the heavenly ‘anointed-initiated’ young men would do the unthinkable. These are a few chosen and blessed souls. Among these God chosen souls, the older son of the immobilised mother was a hero.

The elder son would sneak out of the byre at midnight when all his age mates, the initiates, were asleep. He would pound in a wooden mortar or mill sorghum paste on a milling-stone. For an initiated male or a male being initiated to strip himself of his dignity or privileges, one has to be sanguine about his future; one has to be a dreamer.

However, every time he sneaked out of the byre to help his bedridden mother and his siblings, his best friends would track him down and force him back to the byre. “What can we do to this boy; a boy who’s refusing to let go his boyish duties?” they would insult and mock him. But the older son would do it again every other day until they (the initiates) were graduated.

When he was released (graduated) as an initiated young man, his mother’s health was no good; her ashen face showed no life. He knew his mother wasn’t going to recover. But they had to wait and pray for her recovery anyway.

As the disease insidiously nibbled away her strength, she allowed her sister to adopt her fourth son. Her sister had, by then, a child of her own breastfeeding. So, the fourth son was seamlessly transitioned to breastfeed on one breast of his auntie.

Since his release, the first son had been shouldering the task of salvaging the hut to save his mother from being crushed. With his inexperienced young self, he couldn’t figure out what he needed to do with the crumbling hut. In those trying times, his uncles were at the sidelines, watching her looming death —not through the debilitating disease, not through starving in which their mother sometimes went for days without eating, and definitely not through suiciding — but through the preventable collapse of an old hut. On one fateful day, the mother was buried under the rumble of her own hut. The aching muscles, bones and arteries and veins were silent in a violent euthanasia.

After he had mourned his beloved mother, the first son asked his three uncles to adopt his three youngest brothers. Then, he borrowed a bullock. He drove that bullock to Juba, which was the second biggest city of the whole Sudan, now the capital city of South Sudan. He sold it, and started a business, but he was liked by one of the Arab merchants who owned a bakery, a butchery and a shop in Juba. The Arab merchant offered him a job as a shopkeeper.

For his industrious character and honesty, the Arab merchant entrusted him with the responsibility of managing the shop, bakery and butchery. He vanquished laziness and abject poverty that had reeled around him, his siblings and his parents. His hope in the face of death, his courage against all odds had expurgated despondency in his mind. The owner (the Arab merchant) would travel to Khartoum and other northern cities in search of business supplies. And whenever he came back, he would find the first son running the businesses like his own businesses; he would find him with unimaginable profits stashed away in the business safe-box.

Then one day – a blessing day or call it a payday – came in flying like a meteorite from another planet. His boss, the owner of three businesses, the Arab merchant, sailed to Khartoum. The first son diligently worked and managed the businesses at the same pace. He honestly ran the three businesses as if the glaring eyes of the owner were blazing down on his shoulders or at his innocent back. He was whizzing profits from three businesses into the safe-box of his boss. But his boss never returned.

His boss never returned, until the first son sent his second younger brother to the cattle camp to keep and herd the numerous cows he bought. His boss never returned, until he married three wives for himself and wives for his three brothers. His boss never returned, until he (the first son) left Juba when the war broke out.

His boss never returned, until he rose himself and his three brothers from the ashes of poverty. His boss never returned, until he died 55 years later as one of the wealthiest people in his clan. Hard work and honesty pays.

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 Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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