Talent is Latent: Cultivate it and excavate it

Babby, Tabby Penny, my first born, has torn almost a quarter of the books in my home library. That she wants to ‘read’. This is how you should spot and support the talent at an early age. Who knows, she would one day be a writer bettter than her predecessor. So what is it that your child is yawning and yearning for? Crockery? (a gifted cook!) TV? (a photographer or even pornographer!), babbling (a politician), etc.

To give a true definition of a talent, I can first make you sing, speak, dance or even cry it. Or do you not know that even crying has talent in it? Or the professional mourners would not make money. Right now, I am inside the biggest and most modern theatre of Nyakuron Cultural Centre, in Juba. But before I enter into commentating what I am now seeing on the stage, this is how one of my projects’ conceptual or historical background of my talent spotting and supporting organization, USTASS, reads.

The marginalized people of South Sudan have just discovered that they are ranking high among the richest in the world in mineral deposits in their land; but there are even more potential riches not yet explored and exploited—the talent deposits in their youths and children. Fossilized over centuries of multi-national colonial succession, wars and ignorance, the variety of talents in the South Sudanese youths is now ripe but not fully prepared for tapping. 

In the pre-colonial and colonial periods, the Sudanese children and youths used to invest their talents in traditional recreational activities as passed on by their older generations.  Popular native talents such as wrestling, hunting, mock fighting, music and dance were solely communal and non-commercial. These experiences later translated into civil wars in the wake of slave trade trailed by foreign domination and exploitation from the Turks, the Egyptians, The British and the Arabs in that historical order.

For over half a century now, the Sudanese youths, especially in the South and the marginalized areas of the Sudan, have dedicated or wasted a great deal of their time and talents in the successive wars of liberation. Following the comprehensive peace agreement signed in 2005 between the warring parties in the south and north, there is an urgent need and demand to excavate the hibernating wealth in the surviving young generation of South Sudan in particular, and Sudan in general. The tools for exploiting this are the youths themselves through their talent scouting organizations such as USTASS.

However, the problem facing talent promotion in South Sudan remains lack of access to funding, especially at a small scale and grassroots levels.  Given sufficient support from donors and multinational companies in South Sudan, talent promotion individuals and organizations, in this case, South Sudan Artists Association, USTASS, and many other upcoming groups will easily achieve their goals of spotting and supporting talents in South Sudan (Talent by Talent Scouting). www.ustassgroup.wordpress.com

Nevertheless, even if there is no incentive to talent exploitation in South Sudan, (thanks to Vivacell for this year’s talent search), the youth are going ahead. The show was impressive. The young boys and girls who have been running neck-in-neck on this stage over the last three months for the first three prizes of 15,000 South Sudanese Pound (approx. USD 4,000), 8,000 and 5,000 in that order and other subsequent prizes of cash value, deserve a pat at the back, but with this Facebook comment from my observant friend and fellow attendant on July 4, August Mayai.

“The judgment wasn’t objective at all. How do you award somebody a lucrative price for making a whole lot of nonsensical noise? I didn’t hear jack from the two guys crowned as the best. Nate and Snoop Dog’s rhymes and you call that a talent? Give me a freaking break! As far as I am concerned, Rebecca who made sense and utterly creative, should have been the winner. A talent must be unique, educative, and above all, creative. The judges didn’t seem to have a framework of using these important items. Instead, they bought into a plain noise as a yardstick of coming about choosing the winner. I feel sorry for truly talented South Sudanese, for they may not find fair judgment for their skills.

Watch this space for the full commentary coming up after this Grand All Music extravaganza and talent bonanza at Nyakuron Cultural Centre tonight. As I exit for the stage commentary, hold on for full version tomorrow…..

But enjoy this poem (Talent is Latent) from my unpublished book: The Black Christs of Africa.

A Bor girl displays her bedsheet she embroidered as an artistic gift to her suitor. Such a talent, like wrestling, was just for free in our culture last time. Now, it’s time it’s monetized and commercialized.


Poem 153


Talent is Latent


Talent is a slippery sleeper.

Unless you wake him up,

He’ll less wake you up.


You’re thereby to ignore,

He is there but to snore.


Like your unfertilized son,

He is your one fossilized sun;

He can forever in you slumber.


To best discover your talent,

First uncover  what’s latent.


Reap thus your talent apple:

The industry is simple but ample;

By interchanging L with T in LaTent,

You end up harvesting T and L in TaLent.


Relevant Quote

…talent is like electricity. We don’t understand electricity. We use it.

Maya Angelou (1928 – )

U.S. writer.