Tribute to Ustaz Aquila Kelei Madol: The veteran teacher who led and mentored Jesh-Amer in Kakuma, Kenya

Posted: September 8, 2019 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Atem Yaak Atem, Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Obituary, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, People

Young people who lived in Kakuma Refugee Camp will remember uncle Aquila as a senior teacher, leader, mentor and a wise elder who was supportive of their educational needs even in bad times. The cause of death was a motorcycle’s accident in Uganda while he was processing a visa to Australia to attend the wedding of his son. He was hit by a motorcycle, and was admitted to the hospital with serious injuries that later claimed his life.” South Sudanese Australian Radio journalist, Ajak Deng Chiengkou

By Atem Yaak Atem, Gosford, Australia

Ustaz Aquila Kelei Madol
Ustaz Aquila Kelei Madol

Sunday, September 8, 2019 (PW) — I have been saddened by the news of the passing of Aquila Kelei Madol. The veteran school teacher lost his life through a road accident this week. Aquila Kelei was my contemporary at Malek Elementary, Atar Intermediate and Rumbek Secondary School, respectively.

In those schools, he was one class ahead of me. A kind and friendly student, Aquila condemned and refrained from bullying, which was a common phenomenon in schools those days.

For example, at Malek, older and stronger students terrorised the younger boys among entrants from what were known as bush schools. The arrivals were dubbed as “New Boys”, and in Atar as “Blue Boys”.

The victims of bullying were sometimes subjected to silly pranks or forced to do chores such as sweeping the school compound.

In Malek in particular younger boys who happened to be known to be more “clever” than the rest of the students, were bound to be vulnerable to varying forms of bullying by students from senior class (mostly class four).

Aquila was a student of staggering height, a fact that some students and even some of the teachers – perhaps out of envy-found as a reason to disparage him. More often than not, Aquila would laugh off such taunts.

As a student at Atar, Aquila Kelei did what his former colleagues still remember him for for: industry.

The school administration allowed students to grow their own vegetables, especially tomatoes, on patches of land at the outskirts of the dormitories.

The produce would be either consumed or sold by their owners to the passengers and crews of passengers of paddle boats cruising twice a week between Kosti and Juba.

While a second year student at Atar, Aquila’s labours earned him a whopping 7 Sudanese pounds. That was the time when a minimum wage was about a half of that sum, and a shirt, for example, would sell for an average of 25 piasters or a quarter of a pound.

After obtaining his Sudan School Certificate (SSC), one would expect Aquila Kelei to join the private sector, where he could be a successful businessperson making millions from the sweat of his brows, but instead he chose teaching.

There is no doubt that in making that decision, Aquila was motivated by a desire to serve his nation. And he had done that. Hundreds of students have over the years received education from him; with some whom are now highly qualified professionals in different fields such as medicine, engineering or agriculture.

Adieu, Ustaz Aquila Kelei! I still remember you as a good and an uncomplicated person.

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