By Jon Pen

The picture here shows an analytically critical, self-evaluation App’s result. Wow, the damn thing is ‘sending me to hell’ raw! Yes, as I criticize, so must I be criticized in such a way that I can do it much better. I even ‘Kiiriticize’, that is why I can classify this App that is recommending me for hell (not in 2018) for being hyper-critical as having been designed by a Kiiristian.

In fact, and Biblically speaking, if my Judgment Day ever occurs while I am still a citizen, now dissident, of the present-day ‘Kiiristian Kingdom’ (Republic South Sudan during Salva Kiir’s era of error), I would surely rot in real hell as depicted in the daily sulphur and brimstone fire (hate attack) that emanates from the regime’s supporters.

The negative rating, entitled “Will you go to hell or heaven” by the App, is enjoyed by my hell wishers. O, yes, ‘Kiiristians’ (Kiir’s worshippers) believe critics, ‘Kiiritics’ in particular, are traitors fit for elimination by the in/famous ‘unknown gunmen’.


Secondly, look at my handling of the constructive (not constrictive) critics in my Preface To ‘THE BLACK CHRISTS OF AFRICA’ as follows:

“That coincidentally explains why my Christian friend, Diane Beltran of Texas, USA, wrote to me in 2006, “I think they are very good, only that they are very deep. I know that many of the things you have said needed to be said, but I worry a little about Satan attacking you through bitterness.” Continue with full excerpt below:



Dear Ready Reader,

Since it is my belief that a good reader is a good leader, I cordially welcome and encourage you to explore my literal mind and exploit my literary mine in this poetic ‘wordware’. I hope you are not that pessimistic critic – not a somber leader but a sober reader – who is ever ready to give me their unique critiques on my ‘Pennique techniques’; just as my previous readers had with me as their text collector (or corrector and connector) of news, views, interviews, reviews, overviews, previews, purviews, and all the free views expressed in the process of my rioting by writing when my nascent nation was trudging through her era of error.

I did sign and post my ‘Pennote’ or this author’s note, and then entitle it “The Signpost” as if I wanted to guide you in a detailed tour through my entailed detour in such a way that you read, in your literal manner, my literary manna. No, I just wanted to be unique in my Pennique critique in response to my funny fans and unique critics, the sampled readers, who examined my somewhat impolite approach with their polite reproach.

In other words, dear literal readers and literary leaders, by subjecting my instructive ‘Pennicism’ to your constructive criticism, I have not only been sensitized of my presumably contrary writing but also sanitized from my literary rioting.

Surely and purely, John Oryem Onguti, the man supposed to be the editor of The Black Christs of Africa if my introductory warning poem (Aluetluet Editors, Go to Hell!) had not been obstructively instructive, humbly put it that he just wanted to deal with me at my back; this way, on the back of my book— a typically South Sudanized definition of the phrase ‘back up’. Therefore, he e-mailed, “The poems carry your traits of Ngongism; a unique presentation that sets you apart. The titles are not only musical but also magical, and acquiring them (or inquiring them) demands a man’s brain.” Lo, we go…!

However, despite his highly motivating admiration to my shyly captivating administration of literature, I must apologize in advance for subjecting you, my reader, to languish in the anguish of this big and thick use, call it abuse, of language. I would not mind if my critics even classify it as ‘illiterature’, a crude and rude literature, and put it under their ‘literary penology’, an investigative study into possible ways of punishing by not furnishing, publishing or publicizing my work of art for being unconventional. To make it even more unconventional, I have to add another ‘n’ to penology so that it becomes ‘Pennology’, a synchronized penmanship that basically entails and details my (Penn’s) literary techniques in what I can call ‘Pennique Pellets’, showing ‘Pennique Terminology’ in prose, and ‘Younique Pennets’, that is, Unique Technology or Pennique Technique in poetry. This is a literary presentation more widespread in this maiden publication of my hard work in the handiwork of my artwork.

Well, there is one fact I have to admit from their cynicism, but omit from my Pennicism and commit to our criticism as we trudge along in this world of invention. The fact is, if my work is unconventional, then it is because I did not attend that ‘Literary Convention’ hosted by patrons and matrons of an ‘Art Convent’– in case of any – during those days when God created the World by the Word in the ‘Universe of Artitecture’. So spare me this deliberate circumvention for my own literary convention conducted in a series of serious conferences only within the circumference of my upper room, call it, Head Hall.
Lo, we go…!

So here is another exercise of excuse. As I put it in one of my blogs on our Independence Day: Too much culture of leading with too little culture of reading is eminently going to murder the ‘baby nation’ at its infancy. During the times of conflict of atrocious ethnic attrition as such, two features are wrongly prominent; rude war literature and crude war economy. Either of these always delays, and almost slays, The Black Christs of Africa— this book and its sequels.
Lo we go…!

In addition to Oryem’s rendition, I was not only compelled – I was also propelled – to comply with and amplify Victor Lugala’s cry for penmanship in South Sudan, “…so that we can have a variety of controversial, radical and even eccentric ideas on art, literature, culture. So, this e-mail is a cry for you (John Penn and others) to send me a poem, a short story, excerpts from a novel (if any), essays, creative non-fiction pieces, book reviews, epigrams, etc. Amplify the cry so that in the final analysis we can have a moving feast, to borrow from Hemingway. Create more!”, he emphasized. Look, Lugala, here you are. And more will be created as more calls pop up every day in my electronic box for my electromagnetic books, and in my daily choice for chores of a text collector (journalist), a text connector (writer) or a text corrector (editor).
Lo, we go…!

For the magical part of the titles hinted earlier on by a Rev. Father, a Rev. Sister in a bookshop in Juba during my hunt for a publisher in 2008 insinuated to me that no publisher of Catholic affiliation would ever accept such a blasphemous work unless endorsed by the Pope! One reason, not only have I used the words ‘Rosary’ and ‘Christ’ without spiritual permission and for no spiritually par mission, but also have used for my own objectives the adjectives and nouns like ‘Black’ to quantify Christ, and ‘Christ’ to qualify Black. Two, that the poem number 18 carries the title ‘St. (John Garang)’ without a sanction and sanctification of the Holy See under the Pope, the only body which confers the title of ‘Saint’ and confirms the status of Sainthood in this world. Although I had to believe her concerns, I had to relieve my conscience that she was speaking for herself or her bookshop, though she was at the workshop of worship.

In somewhat justification, any verse that may appear adverse to religion or any version that may appeal to a diversion towards a certain region in this book is but a curative lesion on a particularly negative legion whose main aim may maim the freedom of others. To be specific, The Black Christs of Africa is, therefore, reactive to the human philosophy of fanaticism and extremism, both based on theology and philosophy. I find solace in subscribing to either but both. From every nook, and in this book, I am twofold. I embrace philosophy for my foreground and theology from my background. That is why, if asked, the answer is I am neither a theologian nor a philosopher, I yearn to learn to be a ‘theolosopher’, and the main subject matter in The Black Christs of Africa is to be known as ‘Theolosophy’ (Chapter 17: My Theolosophy…). Therefore, the Reverend Sister was right not to allow her business for experimentation of a seemingly otherworldly exploitation. Maybe.

To her, not only was this a sacrilege but also a misnomer; calling a politician ‘Saint’ is more or less like a native ‘doctor’ crowning himself or herself ‘pastor’. My attempt was not fertile – but futile – enough to let her believe that the literature nomenclature (naming system) applied in and for this book, such as ‘Black Christs’, is poetic just as ‘St. John Garang’ or ‘Freedom Rosary’ is a connotative jargon, a political mumbo jumbo, which has a lot of nothing to do with the denotative meaning of the mother words. This, among others, being the case, I retorted no more on punishing myself with psychologies and resorted once more to publishing by self with apologies, but not without a little go-ahead-boy sort of back-patting from Prof. Taban Lo Liyong.
Lo, we go…!

Dear John Penn, he wrote in 2007, “One way of publishing is self-publishing. That is, if no publisher has accepted to publish your book as part of their publishing business. You prepare your manuscript by yourself and they print it as they receive it. In this case, you pay for the printing to a printer. And then please – he advised in the same e-mail – check what your manuscript looks like; and who your publishers or printers are. If they want you to pay, then you may not yet be ready to be received among writers. Then call it juvenilia. And write another with greater skill. Which comes out of reading, much reading. Young ‘nephew’, youth is on your side. When a real publisher of books has accepted your manuscript, then ask them to request me for a foreword.”

However, what I found out during my six years of a hide-and-seek game with a ‘real publisher of books’ was but a real publisher of names; of names of those who have already published books. Since I did not have any name, yet, to be published and sold, I just landed on an e-printer and a printer handy, to me, the real publisher of words. In the truest sense of these words, this (Master Text Collector Ltd.) is the real publisher of books; one who looks at the book of a writer and not the writer of a book. Therefore, if I were the president of some ‘Republic of Literatia’, I would make that a decree to publish not the literary pedigree but the literary degree in a very mannered script of every manuscript. Lo, we go…!

Let note not be taken for granted that printing bureaucracy is the only hindrance to writing democracy. There is the Side B of this injustice—funding. It took me nearly five years hunting for 5,000 dollars to produce this work in vain as it takes some of my fertile-ground colleagues merely five months to bag 500,000 dollars to buy a hummer and another hot car and fly to Palm Island in Dubai – and they also do buy there – for vacation with a girlfriend. One lunch time in a Juba restaurant, I eavesdropped one of such characters audibly broadcasting without self-restraint, “Ya zol, they want 5,000 dollaar por the tayarr (tyre) and refair of my hummer!” As I scanned through an invoice from a UK publisher, this new news in our economy before our autonomy poked me to jerk my head violently and mumble to my poor self silently, “Oh my God! That exactly is what they want for 3,333 copies of my poetry book, which in turn will earn me a proper profit of 33,333 dollars within 333 days of my aggressive sale, say, before my 33rd best day, according to my little literary consultant.”

In the process of building the nation, the Phase II of our liberation struggle, I compared the values, in terms of public consumption, of his rubber wheel in the vehicle with that of my ‘rubber will’ in the book and just bled in the heart. Where really do they get this money? With this question, I was poised by another question a friend posed to me, “Where really do you get all these words?” He wondered of about 77,000 words in this single-author anthology. Of course, there is no twofold gift, literal wealth and literary wealth cannot knock at one’s door hand-in-hand, one must usher in the other. Lo, we go…!

Following those inspirationally electric mails, like the Oryem, Lugala and Lo Liyong’s electronic mails, which became my stylistically tectonic nails, plus the Sister’s sinister complaint, I was tasked (as I was asked again and again) to ask Victor Lugala, Dan Eiffe, Taban lo Liyong, Atem Yaak Atem, or their likes, to forward me a foreword. Since writing a book is not a one man’s show, I appreciated the idea but pondered and wondered – before I pandered and wandered freehand into publishing – if it was ideal; say, if my work might not be too rude or too crude for such select men of intellect.

For this senile reason, and only in this juvenile season of my career, I hail Nhial, my comfortable boyhood playmate, now my compatible ‘literary manhood’ penman, to whom my juvenilia (amateur premature writing) may not matter for that matter. To be Pennically jealous and Penniquely zealous, just as I would not want Juba defined and designed with Sheik Zubeir’s architecture, I would not want my pages pasted and passages plastered with Shakespeare’s literature; and neither would I want my messages massaged with Achebe’s achievers flavours, nor my torturous tales tailored with Tutuola’s tutorials. For this will mark the real meaning of our upcoming national indedependence, which must begin within the mind of a nationalist as such. Yes, literature, like culture, is the colour of a nation. Yet again, if this is not understandable – lo, we go!—

The Message not Satanic but Satiric: The said chapters marking the altitudes of – and making – my attitudes, like most of the other chapters of my attributes, seem to have barred or marred Martin Luther King Jr.’s appeal to “let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

That coincidentally explains why my Christian friend, Diane Beltran of Texas, USA, wrote to me in 2006, “I think they are very good, only that they are very deep. I know that many of the things you have said needed to be said, but I worry a little about Satan attacking you through bitterness.” Dead right, she is! They are very deep, deep but in the sense that they do not necessarily call for the intervention of a reactionary, save of a dictionary. And, of course, there is bitterness; bitterness for the better-ness of my writing, if not of my fighting, and for the betterment of my countrymen. By the way, that is not through Satan; it is through Satire, satire from the sad times of my bitterly battered background. Therefore, it is noteworthy that my literary Satanism in this case can also be my literal sarcasm or liberal cynicism in another case. Let note not be taken in a wrong way.

For “doth a fountain send forth both bitter and sweet water at the same place the same time?” wonders The Holy Bible (James 3: 11). Supposing the now-defunct industries, like the Upper Talanga tea factory on the slopes of Imatong Ranges of South Sudan, were to rejuvenate today, imagine the first waste they would cough out through their rusty chimneys after more than two decades of decay. That said, for our mouth to ingest and upload fresh meals, our stomach must digest and offload its old filth first. Having, therefore, acknowledged the fact that when I am writing, I am rioting, why then would Mr. X or Mrs. Somebody not allow me to write bitter this time in order to write better next time? Lo, we go…!

Un/fortunately, I may not have the right adjective but I have the right objective, I may not have the right verb but I have the right verve, I may not have the right grammar but I have the right drama, or I may not have the right synergy, but I have the right energy to exploit in the quest, as in the request, for my eventual ride to intellectual rite; the right to write. For this and other reasons, I beg not to be accused but excused in the process of cyclically eating myself or psychologically easing myself into this book of my mental debris accumulated undistracted during the Sudanese protracted war of more than two decades of decadence.

Verify this fact in my feeling towards Aluetluet, our local solitary winter bird, familiar with its familial weaverbird, that pecks at every peg or anything standing erect, pointing with its beak as if commenting (in Bor proverb), “If I were here, this one would not be here; if I were there that one would not be there.” Symbolically, it refers to that prejudiced critic, that victim of what I can call ‘bibliophobia’, that wannabe editor that pecks every fact into fiction, and every fiction into fact. Though these poems were and are not edited, I am not referring to genuine editors, fault-finders; my constructive critics, I am referring to my constrictive critics, my ‘general auditors’, fact-peckers; not fact-finders but fake finders, when I protest and warn in advance in ‘Aluetluet Editors, Go to Hell!’:

Behold, and beware!
My words are but bullets,
And my soft spot a target of a boy-scorpion,
But it isn’t you, and if you, be it you, then.
Bully, reading my bullets from my bulletins,
Thou shall sniff into thy mind enough snuff,
Yet to thy soul sniff the stuff, enough’s enough.
And hate me for it – for nothing,
And hit me for it – with nothing.

…truncated to be continued in the book coming out soon…