CREATIVITY101: South Sudanese Kids Model A ‘Clay Village’ To Evade The Biggest Flood In History
By Jon Pen de Ngong
They were born and grown up in the sudd (floating island). They are aspiring to manufacture one out of clay and float it on their ‘village ocean’ like the Dubai’s manmade Palm Island.
From this picture shared on Twitter by Makwei Achol Thiong, ‘baby engineers’ from one of the submerged villages of South Sudan have modeled a ‘clay village,’ also known as ‘sudd’ or floating island.
Symbolically, this picture attempts to provide a desperate solution to the disaster. Such floods, or even less thereof, occurred in early 60s, and was blamed on the construction of Aswan High Dam in Egypt. For this, fingers are tilted at the controversial GERD (Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam). Damn it!
Beneath this South Sudanese village ‘ocean’ is another but made up of biocarbon and hydrocarbon, the only magic wand to put this muddy dreams of our children t reality.
Unfortunately, who is there for them to harness this great resource (oil) and other resources to the realization of our ‘baby scientists’ of the 21s Century? Instead, our contemporary leaders only look up to these children in terms of soldiers for their wars of greed and self-attrition on tribal attribution.
WHY TALENT IS ABUNDANT BUT ABANDONED OR REDUNDANT IN SOUTH SUDAN
Regrettably, the writer is a ttalent scout, who is struuggle to develop his natuural abilities and nationl capabilities at the same time withhis children!
In fact, it is a fact to be noted not for granted that there is little knowledge enhancement and talent development in South Sudan today, even among the youth, whose greater population is still in schools. Talent is neither being discovered nor is knowledge being recovered in the aftermath of the war of liberation (1983 — 2011).
From my experience as a talent spotting and supporting activist, talent is neither being efficiently invested in nor being sufficiently harvested in South Sudan due to a number of factors and actors, one of which is diverse policies leading to lack of funding support and the other being an adverse historical legacy leading to lack of will to participate, or use of poor methods to harness the agilities and abilities in our youths, as detailed in a short story, entitled ‘The Youth of the South’, by this author.
This has historical background. It lies, I have realized, in the fact that the marginalized peoples 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 hand, especially among the youth and children. Fossilized over centuries of multinational colonial succession, wars and ignorance, some which are being aggravated by the postt-independence governments, the varieties of talents in the South Sudanese youths are now ripe but not fully prepared for tapping. Why not, and how not?
Following the independence in 2011, there is an urgent need and demand to excavate the hibernating wealth in the surviving postwar generation of South Sudan. This must be done through education, now that the said wars have provided enough raw materials for writing as a business. That is why this individual has been agitating for those who are less ‘uncled’ in the position of free oil money to join hands not in an opposition for money but in a creative hunt for an alternative run for one’s survival during these times of the austere economy in South Sudan.
And the best way out is not to riot but to write; to write pretty petty things for a living, the best way to access that money from any austerity authority in South Sudan.
However, there is need to fight that colonial legacy, which is still instilled in our minds. Of course, in the pre-colonial and colonial era of error, 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, mock fighting, hunting, chanting, dancing, etc. 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.
Now that we are an independent republic, why is our public still dependent on foreign hands for development? The answer is simple: relegation of education in favour of other myopic priorities. Our masses are made to resent knowledge acquisition. Of recent, we have seen mass graduations, one during which 1,000 soldiers and former ones were smuggled to the other side of the border (Uganda), paid 1,000 US Dollars each in the process of replacing their military berets with graduand ones. Simply, these cross graduation expeditions say from a non-existent Cavendish University in South Sudan to a fledgling Busoga University in Uganda.., I call ‘Degrees by Decrees’!
As if that is not yet enough, let us continue blaming it on our our scapegoats, the colonial legacies…
For over half a century, 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 talent in their successive wars of liberation and, alas, are now wasting their time in excessive woes of freedom libation. The worst part of this legacy is lack of documented records since our past was dominated by crude literature, in my literary concoction, ‘illiterature and orature’ (illiteracy and oral tradition).
Again, upon the declaration of the Southern Independence in 2011, which saw the South separate from the north of the Sudan, there, indeed, is a ‘biological gold’ (talent) rush to excavate the hibernating wealth in the surviving young generation of South Sudan. The tools for exploiting this are the youth themselves through their own efforts to search and research their historical backgrounds and literary foreground.
However, the problems facing talent programs in South Sudan remain lack of access to funding, especially at a small scale and grassroots levels. Well, there are funds, but they do not reach the roots of the grass down there. Given sufficient support from the government, donors through NGOs, multinational companies and national businesses in South Sudan, then the talent promotion individuals and organizations – in this case, the youth – would easily achieve their goals of spotting and supporting talents in South Sudan through their Yearn-Learn-Earn method and ‘Fun for Fund’ or’ Pun for Fun’ activities. This would only work if opportunities were availed on natural abilities and national capabilities. Alas, we only see opportunists availed!
Going by the current statistics of literacy rate of 27%, idleness and laziness in our ‘baby nation’, there is no money in writing, singing or sporting in South Sudan today. Both able-bodied and able-minded youth have been accustomed to the belief for relief that, after all, there is no need for taxing one’s brain when they can just do the taxiing on the flakes of fertile soil underneath their feet and the texting about the lakes of versatile oil beneath their fields: all these for minting cash on!
By the way, the oil being thousands of kilometers deep in the heart of the earth and the soil being the skin thereof, how do we extract cash out of them now, right now? We need knowledge. We must yearn and learn in order to earn.
Nevertheless, we know this country, for the last six years of the Interim Period of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) — which has indeed been graduated to the ongoing extreme period of the South Sudan’s post-independence conflict that is still a compressive peace argument — is now independent but predominantly dependent on a cash cow that grazes in the South but is still milked in the North.
In conclusion, therefore, we want to promote technical knowhow, not tactical know-who. We want to enhance talent, which is latent. We want to ignite this latent talent into gallant talent in order to develop our youngsters into young stars. To achieve this, we need to collect, correct and connect every individual energy into a very invaluable synergy. In this way, talent will no longer be abandoned or redundant, but will be abundant or redone. In short, we need you as badly as you need us in the process of our nation building.
Part of this article was published on another blog by the same author in 2012.