This is the book that sparked off the discussion of Michelle in my house and on this blog.

I and family do not survive as refugees in Kenya on our very own. There is God, and there are persons closer to us than blood relatives.

The year 2016, and 2017 by continuity, has seen so many people in my (our) life. Of course, as the topic dictates, only one out of a plethora of our friends will feature in this personal annual feature on somebody who has eased my life as recorded in blog under the title that is newly re-branded as ‘The Eased Africa I Want‘.

And the Pens’ personality of the Year 2016/2017 is…MICHELLE D’ARCY!

And these are two of the many reasons leading us to this conclusion: First, Michelle’s recommendation comes from one minor but very influential member in my nuclear family of 6.

One evening in November (2016), I walked in with a book entitled: WHAT WILL YOU DO FOR OUR NEW NATION? Curious as usual with my literary materials, “Whose book is that?” Tabitha asked. Being a mere Standard 1 and a late beginner in 2016, she could hardly read the title and the name of the author correctly. So I read it out loud to her, now them. Wondering more on the name of the writer than on the title of the book, my kids began to ask if the author was a South Sudanese. “Why you say ‘she’ and the name looks like ‘Michael’?” inquired Emmanuel, a.k.a ‘Kako’.

“Michelle is not a South Sudanese,” I explained. “But she is more than any other South Sudanese. She is one Canadian who chose to fly to South Sudan by the time many South Sudanese chose to fly to Canada.” The children wondered what Michelle was up to. “To help us do something for our new nation,” I added.

Tabitha picked the children’s illustrated book, whose main question is rather addressed to the parents and other citizens, and isolated herself. She settled to read her simplified book containing a few lines as sentences and artist illustrations by Deng Majid. However, she could not comprehend, so she resorted to what she does best. Writing. She requested for a dictation but I gave her a cold shoulder because I was too immersed in a poetic idea that had just crossed my mind from the news on Kenyan screens. “My Tergat’s Targets”, goes the poem, now in ‘The Eased Africa I Want’ book of the ‘Politics In Poetics’ series.


By bedtime, Tabby came with a paper full of all the lines on most of the pages in the book, copied with a surprising handwriting, though with poor punctuation. I patted her on the back. But she pushed in her parting shot on the book, “Baba, you told us we could not go back to our country because of insecurity and lack of education. Since you are also a teacher, can you and your friend go home and teach us with this book?” I responded with a nod, and then, “Thanks. It’s my homework. But Michelle is in Juba already.”

So, a homework it still is. But Michelle has done and is doing her part for our country. I found her as an invitee like myself in a #DefyHateNow conference at 680 Hotel in Nairobi on July 23, 2016. After my presentation and on a lunch table, she talked to me about her mission from Juba. She was taking artists and other creatives of South Sudan for an arts-4-peace retreat in the Rift Valley. She chose this location in order to tap into the experience of Kenyan creatives and activists led by the renowned Boniface Mwangi and his team from PAWA254, aka Team Courage. I eagerly accepted her invitation and joined the 20 artistic collective comprising South Sudanese from South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda. At Lake Elementeita, ANA TABAN Arts Initiative, (originally intended to be a movement when the two-worded name from my presentation was voted YES by the conference).

To start winding up here, this is not an attempt to enumerate Michelle D’Arcy’s contributions for ‘her New Nation’ or to her new friends like myself and family that she has supported even at a personal level. This merely worded ‘award’ is a sincere appreciation of how Michelle has inspired me, my daughter and other children, besides many, many artists and youth of South Sudan through her sisterly service delivery approach, part of the half-a-century generosity from the Norwegian people to us, the then Sudanese and now South Sudanese people


(Ana Taban Members From Right to Left): Lual, Natty, Jon, Abul, Akut and Michelle in Mitchelle’s house, Nairobi

For this and other reasons, on a personal note, the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), which is next to the SPLM/A in the memory lines of the liberated peoples of the modern Republic of South Sudan, can always be credited with the foundation of our nation. NPA has put in our annals of humanitarian history, which was a major wing of the liberation struggle, selfless humanitarian zealots such as this lady (Michelle), Dan Eiffe, (who made me a journalist and this writer), Ken Miller, Dr. Temesgen (not always necessarily Norwegians by nationality), and a host of dedicated South Sudanese professionals, including Dr. Kameri who just passed away a few months ago.

In a nutshell, having hugely benefited as individuals and as citizens of the new country, ‘WHAT WILL SOUTH SUDANESE DO FOR THEIR HUMANITARIANS and other friends, like Michelle D’Arcy? I mean something more than the job offered to her by NPA or the new ‘assignment’ to her by that little reader, Tabitha Anyieth de Ngong. I am still wondering…!


Tabby studied ‘reading’ her father’s books right when she was ‘zero years old’ (6 months old in 2008).