In Writers’ Die-lemma: ‘STOP WRITING!’ say leaders; “START WRITING!” say readers.


Write, you, cowards, or who will?

“Write, you, cowards, or who will?” Taban lo Liyong

Since the assassination of Isaiah Abraham on Decembe 5, 2012, I have been locked up in a Confucius sort of confusion by my leaders and my readders. The former want me to ‘Stop Writing’, the later want me to ‘Start Writing’. So whom should I dis/obey? Simply, the answer, like their opinion, is divided into two; but was tackled in my previous articles published elsewhere and now reblogged here to give my best answer. The strategy of answering these questions (call them cautions) in ‘the past tense’ is in such a way that I am not influenced by ‘the present tense’, the current situation I am in!

(You know things are wrong, you want to set them right; but when you speak, they say your tongue is loose; if on the other hand you join in cheering the naked king, they will reward you for your produce; thus multiplies the enemies of the people by complicity and duplicity: why was this curse ever inflicted on us? And by whom?)

Taban Lo Liyong, Rite of Entry: 17 Curses for Modern Jubans, Culture is Rutan, Juba (1981).

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a) STOP WRITING:

March 17, 2009 (newsudanvision.com)

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JOURNALISTS, SAVE YOUR NECKS!

“The serious writers of South Sudan, the journalists, the musicians, have to address the issues the politicians don’t care about. It is now our time to tell the world what it is that we want.” Taban lo Liyong, Interview, The New Nation, Oct. 2012.

“The serious writers of South Sudan, the journalists, the musicians, have to address the issues the politicians don’t care about. It is now our time to tell the world what it is that we want.” Taban lo Liyong, Interview, The New Nation, Oct. 2012.

March 17, 2009: Kampala (www.newsudanvision.com): In the United States’ ‘demo-crazy’, local newspapers ask an army general to shut up, but in the Sudanese ‘demon-crazy’, the army general orders the local newspapers to shut down. For instance, Donald Rumsfeld, US general Secretary of Defence, stepped down due to Media noises based on Iraq, while Jan Pronk, UN Under-secretary General was sent off from Sudan due to army noises based on Darfur.

A Sudanese well-seasoned and long serving journalist, Mohammed Taha (different from our peacemaker), has mysteriously lost his head. He no longer uses it now! The head that has been one of the critically sharp instruments used for trimming the overlapping edges of the Sudanese autocracy and aristocracy is missing now. Only the head is missing, the body is there, rotting independently from the head of Mr. Tah. They have cut it and carried it away, not for witchcraft or cannibalism, but for quenching the fiery fury of the Islamic theocracy or the furious fire of the theocratic Islam in Khartoum. It is still a puzzle who is keeping his head, Islamic loyalists or autocratic royalists. For in his attempt to put the nation right in one of his articles in his Daily, the nation put him left, instead. Well, that one head is gone, gone and no longer in service now. It was cut so that the similar carelessly courageous heads in Sudan are taken to have their hot holes (lips) sewed up or super-glued, so that they are not chopped off likewise, otherwise!

If not that, then the Sudanese scribes have one other option for survival: to save their necks from the knife, to mind their words to avoid sword. It is upon you to choose where to save your head from being slashed off. For me, I have already decided to save mind behind the blackboard somehow, somewhere in Southern Sudan. My idea of dropping journalism has not gone down well with my mentors, rectors, readers and friends but they did nothing to save my head from the hands of kidnappers in Mabira Forest just a few days before I called it off with newspapers. So my friends in the Media, allow me not to pass onto you the contagious virus of intimidation if you are comfortable in or with your career, but the recurring message in my mind is that you save your heads. Save it wisely, even if it means keeping it where you save you money, the better, only that you may have hardship in dealing with figures on calculators as a born-again accountant who is just shifting from dealing with words on daily pages. You can even bury it still but safely in the same newspapers. It is all up to you, Mr. John the Baptist, to devise some ways of dodging King Herod’s pendulous sword.

They say silence is the best solution, especially in circumstances where one is to save one’s neck. That is why this writer is retiring before his 30s from active journalism to passive one and sooner into casual penning, chalking and preaching. This follows an attempt in April 2006 by unknown dealers in humans to remove his head somewhere in an impenetrable forest outside Kampala, where he has been, for the last 2 years, mouthing and penning much ado about the status quo of the Sudanese socio-political chameleonism.

In the same year, thousands lost their heads in the game of Journalism-versus-Islamism. In this game, thousands lost their heads when Allah’s Messenger el Kharim appeared in cartoon with an AK.47 in one hand and the Holy Koran in the other in one of the papers in Europe, a result of liberal western ‘demo-crazy’. Even those who just herd but did not see the blasphemous cartoon had to kill or be killed in an infectious rioting around the world. In this case, there is no surprise in the beheading of Mr. Tah, who, though inherited his Islamic name from Prophet Mohammed, turned to question the legacy of Islam founder in his newspaper.

Taban lo Liyong!

Taban lo Liyong!

The late Mr. Tah should have learned a lesson from the Nigerian journalist who blasphemously criticized Islamic opposition to the hosting of the world beauty contest in Nigeria in 2002. The daily writer had to smuggle his head out of the country or risk having it removed by Islamic vigilantes. This followed the declaration of fatwa by some governor of a certain Nigerian state. Fatwa is a Moslem ritual authorizing any Muslim to volunteer in stephening (stoning) or john-baptisting (beheading) the kaffir or enemy of Islam. And that allegedly is the same fate for late Mohammed Tah. Failure to get the Nigerian blasphemer ended up in the loss of more than 2000 heads being panga-ed and several churches and mosques torched by the mu-jihadeens and the crusaders respectively.

I have every reason to cut short this piece because the more I ride around the world on my pen on this page; the more I face the music of it. True, by the time I am drafting this story, Pope Benedict XIV is being forced to swallow his vomit, that is, being cornered by Muslims around the world to apologise for letting his tongue stray into the superglue sort of relationship between Islam and terrorism. From now on, I think, the holy mzee has learned how to tether himself around the grazing areas of his Christian flock.

The riddle that I have to leave for the reader here is why Moslem scribes and clergy write, draw or speak not provocatively against Christ, or if at all they do, then; why do Christian vigilantes keep mum or just curse behind close doors and do not pour into the streets to burn flags in foreign embassies or hew down spinnerets from mosques. There is one Dane called Kristian Hornsleth. The guy uses his art to draw Jesus with blood in his hand and some nasty slogans such as ‘rape and kill’. The same chap came to Uganda and forced some poor villagers to drop their Christian names and replace them with his Kristian name “Hornsleth”. The price for taking up his names in place of the villagers’ surnames is a piglet or a kid, young one of a pig or goat. As a leader of the Christian youth here in Kampala, I almost mobilized my mob and storm the streets, especially on one eve of Good Friday of 2007, when Muamar Gadhafi, Libyan Leader, said that Jesus Christ, my savior, faked crucifixion and resurrection. (Let John Kufuor of Ghana say the same about Mohammed and you will see!). Why didn’t I do that? Jesus himself prescribed forgiveness and forbids revenge, say, “The revenge is the Lord’s”. Mohammed, I believe, must have said the same.

An extra riddle to undo here is: But why do journalists write, draw or report such things while knowing their backfire in our bipolar co-existence? Having been a journalist myself, I could not just keep quiet seeing things going wrong. If I force myself to become an eye watchman of events in the society, I feel the guilt of not fulfilling even the Bible or Quran. That is why we get tempted to watch things not with our eyes but with our tongues or pens. In so doing, I find myself committing the very crime Jesus and Pope committed, and everybody is licensed but refuses to commit: telling the truth or condemning the evil in our daily living.

However, not all writers, reporters, preachers do it in good faith. Sectarian partisanship and partnership, tribalism and nationalism, fanaticism and fascism are unseen biases that will make a Muslim or Christian hate reading my articles because they are written to their bad taste and preferences. A gospel truth announced on the other side of the border or river saves and serves less on this side. Visit the parliament during the debating session and you will see for yourself the opposition chamber shouting down with their rude notion a good motion moved by the ruling party members, and vice versa.

The role of this article, however, is not to flatter or condemn but to put the reader in the crossroad to decide and debate within self. It is not my intention to justify journalism or detail the merits thereof. They are obvious, or else we would not be spending much on buying newspapers, radios or TVs. Finally, should this piece or the entire collection of my ‘Essays of my Say’ be another Mohammed’s cartoon in Khartoum, so that it is banned or burned, I stand to admit that it was not written for fire consumption, but for journalists to save or serve their lives.

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Poem 19

Painfully but gainfully, these poems reported themselves to me while I was in hibernation, that is, by the time personalized insecurity and synchronized poverty put me under house arrest. For a project to stop gainfully, it must start painfully. Lo, we go!

Painfully but gainfully, these poems reported themselves to me while I was in hibernation, that is, by the time personalized insecurity and synchronized poverty put me under house arrest. For a project to stop gainfully, it must start painfully. Lo, we go!

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Poor Inno-sent Killers

Once sent,

They’re spent,

In a multitude,

Without gratitude.

Their senders,

Fear the thunders,

Of the fiery hurricane,

That engulfs every hurrying cane.

Pure innocent killers,

Kill and are killed without healers.

Bitterly in this mandatory motion, I dispute this predatory notion in the name of Poetry, which is automatic, not mathematic— it has no formulae; like the war-time roads of southern Sudan, seemingly impassable to drive on but not impossible to deliver on. Of course, as from my mental computer through my metal computer onto these pages, poesy is supposed to flow, to flow from the conscience of the transcendent paths of the poemusicians of the present day; it is not supposed to follow, to follow the transient paths of the poemagicians of the ancient past.

Bitterly in this mandatory motion, I dispute this predatory notion in the name of Poetry, which is automatic, not mathematic— it has no formulae; like the war-time roads of southern Sudan, seemingly impassable to drive on but not impossible to deliver on. Of course, as from my mental computer through my metal computer onto these pages, poesy is supposed to flow, to flow from the conscience of the transcendent paths of the poemusicians of the present day; it is not supposed to follow, to follow the transient paths of the poemagicians of the ancient past.

Panic, misery and loss all the seasons,

But only to their masters are known the reasons.

The world is running amok,

With them there to cheer, jeer or mock

At both the murdered and murderers in legions,

For no obvious reasons other than regions and religions.

God,

forgive your soldiers.

Allah,

forget your souldiers.

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b): START WRITING

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 Good Readers are Good Leaders: Congratulations, You are my 10,000th Weekly Weakleaker!

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(This excerpt was cut from the main article written on 27/11/11)and posted on this blog: www.weakleak.wordpress.com)

banned-books-1color-2-low-res1

This is what I told my sponsor when he warned me against indiscipline in Gulu High School in 1999, “Dear Dan, the only crime I promise to commit is smuggling, smuggling books onto the other side of the border, not on but in my brain.” I am trying my best to fulfill this, but will the criticism-allergic people not interfere with my vision? SO HELP ME GOD!

….. And should we, at all, at least and at last, lose our patience and choose to become patients to their political marasmus and literature anaemia, then let us do it through reading and writing. As I mentioned it online the other time, we should dedicate our energies to rioting but by writing. This is the most constructive critcism that can impact not only a positive change but possible education to those who are allergic to criticism; I mean, those who mistake criticism for antagonism. When we tell them to put themselves in the right position, they tend to put us in the wrong opposition. That is why I have been rioting by writing. That is why I am calling upon our youths who know how not only to read but also to write to come out and riot by writing. That is why I warned (or moaned or mourned) in another piece of thought last week that it really causes me ulcers to find myself on the ‘wrong side’ of the government that is already on the wrong side of its own law. Real readers, not surreal leaders, may mis/understand me on this statement, but I mean it. That is why Jesus was crucified on the wrong cross, to justify Machiaveli’s belief that ‘the ultimate truth is penultimately a falsehood’. This means what is initially seen as wrong is eventually proved right; and that is by means of belated confirmation at the end of the bloated condemnation. If I am wrong, ask Hosni Mubarak, and those still struggling to put on his shoes.

So if we cow away and leave it to the few sorts of sods in the name of Penn de Ngong, Dengdit Ayok and the like, the cross will be too heavy to carry to the calvary of freedom. Even Jesus was helped to carry his cross by a north African man from the town of Arimothea (don’t check this on modern maps). So dear Josephs, given the political atmosphere of utmost fear being undergone by literary rioters (writers) today, I urge you to follow me and others closely like soldiers who are marching to the calvary by cavalry. Since I am not yet at the age and sage of being quoted, let me quote myself again but on an Easter piece I wrote in The Southern Eye newspaper a week before I was kidnapped in Kampala in 2006, “The one and only crime that I have committed, and am committing, and will be committing hereafter and thereafter is what Jesus Christ committed, telling the truth, and telling it as it is.”

Therefore, if you share in my belief that ‘non-violent writers are none but silent rioters’ and that ‘it is our right to write’, meaning to riot silently and not violently, then join me in this eventual fight for our intellectual right; support me on the ride to write. Back to myself again, my poetry book preface has this to say about burying your anger in the book, if you want an African dictator not to find it while he is still in power:

“Thence, should one in accordance with stanza 1 of Poem VIII misguidedly think I am being critical and cynical of my mentors mentioned, one would not find any direct expression of impression or knowledge of acknowledgement for them elsewhere in this volume. Both my cattle camp and bush school experiences taught me that, for boys, appreciation is cocooned in bullying just as teaching in teasing for girls. Prove it herein. All my attitudes; including both gratitude and ingratitude, aptitude and fortitude, rectitude and certitude, solitude and solicitude, and the rest of -titude attributes, are sporadically but economically, politically but poetically, socially but emotionally sprinkled throughout the book, especially on chapters like The Horror of Terror in the Era of Error, The Leftovers, Acknowledged-men, My Selfography, My Selfistory, My Theolosophy, Tender Addenda in Gender Agenda, and everything of that kind.  Lo, we go…!

“However, on the one hand, I owe a sincere apology that a great number of the poems, plus their introduction which you are now reading, may not make sense to a great number of readers, not to mention of leaders, especially those Sudanese brothers; those browsers who turn their pages very fast: either – of course – they have not got used, or because they want not to get used to today’s world standard of reading culture, especially this written Afro-culture. On the other hand, they owe us an apology that they are unwilling to resort to reading agro-culture, whose economically returning toil is in turning the soil very fast by burning the oil very fast. Disguised idleness, be it in digging with metal tools or rigging with mental tools, is as sinful as an adulatory act of adultery, if not idolatry. Just this, Apostle Paul seconds in his epistle to Corinthians and Christians that greed and idleness are forms of idolatry, and to Thessalonians, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Similarly, to the ‘salonians’ (salon or saloon idlers), if anyone will not read, neither shall they reap. Lo, we go…!

Therefore, if I were a president of the Republic of Literature, I would make that a decree to publish not the literary pedigree but the literary degree in every manuscript. Lo, we go…!”

And do not forget, good readers are good leaders, just as good writers are good rioters. So from today… (COMPLETE THE REST OF THE STORY BY CLICKING AND CLINGING ON THIS LINK: https://weakleak.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/good-readers-are-good-leaders-congratulations-you-are-my-10000th-follower-on-nov-26/

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In the same vein, my recent outbursts, which were illustrated with an excerpt from the Preface to the poem book mentioned above, calls for a literary residence to the kind of ‘educide’ (murdering of education) in South Sudan.

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There you are. I mean if you want to stop us, writers from writing just because some lesser stock of citizens wants to exterminate us in their attempt to terminate our knowledge, which they fear to be their threat, then you are their naïve agent. In other words, I would not stop. And if I stop writing, I will not be a writer. If I write what the leaders like and not what my readers like, I would not be their writer. And, worse still, if I write what I like, I will not be a writer. They would put an end to my penmanship like they have done to my fellow penman, Isaiah Abraham Chan. So what should we do?

Well, to those who want me to quit writing with commotions and sit writhing with emotions, I leave you with the following excerpt from the preface of my poetry book, ‘The Black Christs of Africa’:

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Dear Ready Reader,

In 2006, I got kidnapped and kept for almost a week at Mabira Forest in Uganda, and in 2007, I was attacked and stabbed severally on my arms and neck by unknown assailants that drove me out of the university to date. However, the problem was not the trauma from the attackers, it was the drama from my own people, especially those who think if a neighbour has broken a leg, they would walk better, themselves. Over all the days of my physical healing and all the years of my psychological healing, I am still scared by the self-proclaimed mind-readers that make themselves analysts during such personal ordeals. Beware of those ‘omnicient psychologists’ who gather personal assumptions for public consumptions.

In 2006, I got kidnapped and kept for almost a week at Mabira Forest in Uganda, and in 2007, I was attacked and stabbed severally on my arms and neck by unknown assailants that drove me out of the university to date. However, the problem was not the trauma from the attackers, it was the drama from my own colleagues, especially those who think if a coursemate has broken a hand, they would write better, themselves. Over all the days of my physical healing and all the years of my psychological healing, I am still scared by the self-proclaimed mind-readers that make themselves analysts during such personal ordeals. Beware of those ‘omniscient psychologists’ who gather personal assumptions for public consumptions.

From words of war to war of words: Having gone through bitter experience upon my mysterious disappearance and reappearance, my wife, Elizabeth Nyiel, and my brother, Job Anyang and cousin, Michael Alith Ngong, teamed up and directly modified my friends’ concerns and pastor’s cautions into questions and condemnations. “John, are you aware of the mentality of our criticism-allergic folks?” she asked, and he reinforced, “Do you know why most African writers publish their books abroad or while abroad?” To me, the answer is this question: come on, guys! During your times as liberation commandos in the bushes of Southern Sudan, had John Garang de Mabior or any of your frontline commanders ever commanded you while sitting in Boston or Bolton?” Of course, no. And if so, then, it needs a series of serious gallant Garangs of various capacities, home-based and hope-based sacrificial lambs, not scapegoats, to convince the whole world to understand what is wrong in and with this southern half of our Sudan. Of course, to my varied worried readers, if you sense villainy, call me a rebel, not a rare devil; but if heroism, call me a daredevil, not a hero, in this book.  Lo, we go…!

However, their questions stung and stunned me like the bees that dispersed the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army’s Jej Ahmr (Red Army) battalion in their ambush between Torit and Juba in 1993, and like I was asked, back in Omere Minors’ Camp in 1994, how safe I would be on my way to and from the reconnaissance. Such reactions towards the advancement of my career pose a great deal of conflicts in me in one way, and repose a great ideal of confidence in me in the other. So should I buy into their family motion to quit writing with commotion, and sit writhing with emotions till I grow up and grow old? If so done, this will make me ‘grow down’ and grow odd. And not me alone but along with my budding daredevils of this unique generation. Like a firefly that flickers on and off in the dead of the dark, I don’t just want to glow and go, I want to glow and grow.  Lo, we go…!

In order not to execute those cautions, excuse me to dispute those questions. I have discovered, therefore to conclude, and, wherefore to include, that though the (not yet South) Sudanese political and intellectual renaissance is a nonsense to our successively autocratic cliques, a nuisance to our excessively aristocratic colleagues, it is a nuance of sense to our obsessively artistic colleagues. However, there is one vile virus to this revolutionary rebirth: it is dread, cowardice, fear, phobia, or any relative to those terms traumatically instilled in the minds and dramatically inscribed on the souls of our people by atrocious wars that have raged on under brutal regimes that have reined in, and under dictatorial leaders that have reigned over them time immemorial. To cure this ghostly malady, call it ghastly malaise, it would save a lot more to desist from asking a warrior, a daredevil patriotically critical and superficially sacrificial as such, how secure he or she is in the forthcoming head-on collision, for which some political whores and economic Judases, the ‘crostitutes’ according to Poem 57, are sweating flood and blood to turn into our national coalition through their personal collusion. Those questions or cautions, to me and my likes, are not only utterly demoralizing but also entirely demobilizing. For the same point, from the same poem quoted earlier on, remember…

(Complete the whole story from this link: https://weakleak.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/tearz-ayuen-penn-de-ngong-maal-maker-are-next-on-the-hit-list-say-prophets-of-doom/

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They shit and cheat and force us to serve it to our naive people to eat it!

They cheat us, and shit it, and force us to serve it to our naive natives to eat it!

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