Professor Taban Lo Liyong is Africa’s most revered poet and writer. Often named in the same category of other literary greats that defined African Literature in the world like this of Wole Soyinka, Ngugi-wa-Thiongo, Okot P’Bitek. Prof. Taban Lo Liyong has published books some are: Another Nigger Dead, Showhat and Sowhat, Carrying Knowledge Up a Palm Tree, Franz Fanon’s Uneven Ribs and many more.
At a loss for the youth, most of his books are no longer in print. While a majority of Africa’s population are illiterate, Prof. Taban Lo Liyong laments the lack of reading comprehension among the learnt. They fail to comprehend the complexity of his writing, deemed too difficult, too dense, thus prompting publishers to stop printing his books.
As a child, asking my father a question was a feat one did not take lightly. The answers often meandered into the why and how and the philosophy, and one was afraid to be imprisoned from the important duties of child play. Now as an adult I want to hear him meander. It is a treat to find what page in the book did we land on and how long of a chapter in his vast repository of a brain.
Writing Series Interview
This time though, I was not to be intimidated. Armed with my notes and my cameraman, we were on a mission to hear from the Professor. My reasons for interviewing him were threefold. One, in my self-assigned role of custodian of South Sudan’s traditions and culture, I was not going to pass the opportunity to talk to Taban Lo Liyong who looms large in South Sudan’s literary scene. The second and main motivation was for the Dr. Noela Mogga mentor series, where we interview professionals to illuminate our youth on how to succeed. The third reason was personal, I had some gaps in my family history that I wanted answered. For example, solitude in writing; was it something that bothered the Prof? There are those who cherish solitude, and then others who seek company. His answers may surprise you.
I had 10 questions, and our interview lasted 2 hours. I have decided to post all of it, unabridged, in a series of three YouTube videos on Taste of South Sudan channel. You will learn about his early education, school experience, and interspersed here and there are wisdom. And plenty of advice for the young writer.
Here is an excerpt from Part I: What Inspires You to Write?
“I did not start by writing. In the village we started by telling stories in the evening. After dinner, by the fireplace, we would tell stories. In 1945, when I went to school, every Friday we would take turns telling stories. If you did not have a story to tell, you stood in front of the class in shame,” Prof Taban Lo Liyong.
All the Interviews can be found following this link on Youtube:
The day the ground Swallowed Me – Taste of South Sudan
I showed up to class
I was late
It was not my fault
My journey to school that day
Running a few miles
Waiting for the bus, delayed
Jostling, squeezing my lithe body through
To get to Unity High School
The beep beep beep
The seething eyes of my classmates
They did not like my hairstyle
Braided meticulously so
In a different setting
A beauty to behold I was
But that day
In that classroom
I was a Junubi
And my northern classmates
Made sure I knew the difference
I squeezed between the chairs to my seat
The lesson was English
And my teacher, Mr Treagust
He was white
He was British
Understanding, I thought
I raised my hand and answered a question
And the students
Laughter broke out
Jeering they were
At the moment
And the ground swallowed me up
Or so I wished!
Was it my presence?
Was it my boldness?
The fact I showed up
And showed out?
Did they envy my intellect
How could I, a Junubi
Dare join their school
The token white students
Ah they were expatriates
The Asian foreign students
Oh they were loaded
Bereft of wealth and long hair
How dare I
Show up and show out!
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Mike Classic Events, wedding and conferences in Juba South Sudan – Taste of South Sudan
Today Taste of South Sudan is highlighting an exemplary young man who has started an event management company called Mike Classic Events. Michael Lado is a young entrepreneur who is busy building his business empire one brick at a time. At a time when most college graduates line the halls of government offices searching for employment, Michael decided that starting his own business was the way to go.
TOSS: Thank you Michael Lado for doing this interview. As you know Taste of South Sudan strives to encourage young South Sudanese youth all over the world to be successful in their careers. Today, our spotlight is on entrepreneurship.
Mike: you are most welcome Taste of South Sudan.
TOSS: Tell us about your company?
Mike: Mike classic Events is a service company that provides events planning and management services for weddings, meetings, conferences and other events.
TOSS: When did you start? And what is the vision?
Mike: I started my business last year in September 15/2018. The goal is to create local opportunity, growth and impact in every community and country around the world.
TOSS: What is it that you actually do?
Mike: I offer services ranging from providing tents, chairs, tables, sound systems and services like decorations, so forth as need arises. I do offer event planning services that include event management, for weddings, receptions, anniversary consultations, birthday parties and funeral service.
TOSS: If I hire you today to set up my venue for a naming ceremony in my home; what type of service can I expect from you?
Mike: It is our pleasure that we will give our clients our undivided attention. We will listen to your needs and work with you to create the event of your dreams. Our clients’ wishes become our commands. So whatever our client wants for the event, we can offer.
TOSS: Tell us about your educational background and how does it relate – help you run Mike Classic Events?
Mike: I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and management studies, specialized in Bank and Finance, from St.Lawrence University – Kampala Uganda (2014 – 2017). I strongly believe that with the kind of knowledge, skills and learning that I have attained through my studies, I will be able to effectively run and manage this kind of business and lead it to a remarkable level of success.
TOSS: What limitations do you encounter as an entrepreneur in Juba, South Sudan?
Mike: I would create an opportunity for the client to accompany me to test or view things for themselves to give them a better first-hand experience that allows me to better explain my recommendations.
TOSS: Let us fast forward 5 years. Where do you see Mike Classic Events?
Mike: Mike Classic Events will offer its services mostly to all events clients. The company will position itself as an experienced provider of all sorts of events management inclusive of corporate events, cultural events, leisure events, and personal events. Unlike most of its competitors, Mike Classic Events will be offering a full range of services and thus provide the convenience of one-stop shopping for its clients. This will significantly reduce the customers’ time and efforts preparing for such an important event as a wedding, an anniversary, a graduation ceremony etc. Moreover, by utilizing numerous supplier contacts that the company owners have established and economies of scale, Mike Classic Events will be able to pass on to its customers sizable cost savings.
TOSS: How can potential customers reach you?
Mike Classic Events: Tel +211-922997751,
Our location is : Atla-bara (B) Facebook road . Juba- South Sudan.
TOSS: There you have it folks. Mike Classic Events is open for business. Thank you Michael Lado. May you continue to be an encouragement for other young entrepreneurs. We wish you success.
Mike: Thank you Taste of South Sudan (TOSS).
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No More Betrayals, by Apuk Ayuel Mayen: A review. – Taste of South Sudan
I first met Apuk years ago in Dallas, Texas. Recently we caught up again in Juba, South Sudan at De Havana House, chatting, as old friends do. I congratulated her on the publication of two books, Kindred, and No More Betrayals. It is a feeling like no other, Apuk says, to be published, to have recognition of oneself as an author. Apuk has been writing a long time. So it was only a matter of time that her work would be published. But when you hold South Sudanese nationality, nothing feels like it should happen. Every accomplishment is one against insurmountable odds.
South Sudan literary scene has stood bare. For many years, the only known novelist and poet, my father Prof. Taban Lo Liyong, stood alone, holding that mantle. We are blessed to welcome the new generation of South Sudanese published authors. There are Nyabuoy Gatbel: The fire Within: Poetry in Thok Nath and English; Sabath De Yecouba: Betrayed: for love; Victor Lugala: White House; Kuir e Garang has authored multiple books including The Pipers: and the First Phase. And now we welcome Apuk Ayuel Mayen to the handful of published young authors from South Sudan.
Apuk’s book is poignantly titled No More Betrayals. It is the collective voice of the Sudanese child, a voice of our experiences. Apuk’s own experience is that she was born in Juba, and spent her childhood in Khartoum, Sudan. Her home was a revolving door of comings and goings of relatives, as they escaped war in Juba, Twic, or the many places besieged by conflict. Even as they weaved around from neighborhoods of Khartoum’s oppressive housing status for displaced people, or as they traveled to neighboring countries looking for permanency. Each relative carried with them stories of their war experience, their crushed hopes and dreams, and their pains. Apuk’s family, like many South Sudanese’, traveled to Cairo, Egypt, where they lived as undocumented migrants and were later resettled in the United States, as refugees. And that was how she came to complete high school and college in Texas, USA.
She returned for the first time to South Sudan in 2009, and countless times ever since. In December 2013 she travelled to Juba, South Sudan, for the first time with her two sisters: they found themselves in the crosshairs of the December 2013 South Sudan conflict, and once again, had to flee to take cover in Nairobi.
No more betrayals, is our story. The hopes and dreams of a nation. The individual betrayals we each experienced. That with each new peace agreement comes hope, short lived, often followed by crushing disappointment as renewed conflict follows.
The betrayals of our leaders. The broken promises. Tomorrow I will bring you peace. Tomorrow your family shall be made whole. The lies told to our refugees, Come back to your village; peace has come! Only to find that 3 months later they are yet again fleeing the killings, burning of the homes, raping of their women and abductions of their sons.
The betrayals of husbands. As they assured their wives, only for a little while I will come back, my love. Only for a little while, the war will end. Peace will come. Our family shall be whole again. The broken families, as fathers sought work elsewhere to partake in the liberation struggle, never to return. As mothers sold their bodies to feed their children.
The betrayals felt by our children. Robbed of an education. Robbed of a place to call home. Orphaned. Made to grow too soon.
And on and on it goes. We run, we flee, we come back, we run again. We weep, we pray, we laugh. We are a people without a home. We are perpetual refugees. We are the “I-will-come-back-generation.” We are the “I-will-build-my-home-tomorrow, in my village.”
Apuk’s book captures all these sentiments. Written with love, it is a gentle rebuke of us. Of our failures. She implores us to do better as a nation in serving our people.
What really captured me was how eloquently the book is. Well written. The flow of poetry, words weaved together. Each poem can be enjoyed as a standalone, or collectively together.
No More Betrayals can be purchased on Amazon. If you are in Juba, South Sudan, you may pick a copy at YO’ Books Limited, on Airport Road.
Happy Father’s Day Salute to Victor Tong – Taste of South Sudan
Victor Tong and his son Tong, celebrating on his son’s birthday
Taste of South Sudan salutes all fathers on this important day where we reflect on the vital role that fathers play in raising boys and girls. Our fathers deserve recognition for their roles as providers, protectors, teachers, mentors, and leaders. Today we salute one deserving father Victor Tong who has warmed our hearts sharing his journey throughout the birth of his son, through his first year and first birthday on social media. Victor, you are an exemplary father and we pray for God’s protection over you as you take care of your family.
“Well when I was young in South Sudan my father was killed in the Civil war by Arabs. So I never seen my dad and I was raised by my beautiful mother. She ingrained in us the value of family. So having a son now mean a lot to me. I want to be there for him and give him all the fatherly love that I missed during the absent of my father. There is nothing important in this world than a family.”
Dear Daddy, A Letter from Your Loving Daughter – Taste of South Sudan
Father and daughter dance
This is a poem by Census Kabang Lo Liyong in honor of Father’s day. Census talks of her loving relationship with her father, Professor Taban Lo Liyong.
I think of you, I pray for you and I believe in you
Most of all, I miss being in your midst
You exist in all that I am,
When I was born, you named me based on the first census of Sudan,
I’m now tied to history because of that.
I remember from a young age,
You always had dreams for me.
You travelled and never forgot to write me a letter.
You told me I was made for greatness,
I am now driven by this philosophy.
Your love is different, strict with rules
But through the years we have molded it with tenderness.
Many a times, I was in harm’s way,
And you became protective like a male ostrich.
You spent sleepless nights when I was out late,
I was oblivious until I saw the toll on you.
How dare I kept you awake, when instead it was my turn
To watch over you.
I then regressed, returned into my cocoon
And remembered the dreams you had for me.
Dreams to venture into the world,
through the valleys, rivers, mountains and deserts.
One where I had the power to create my own story,
To write my own story,
To stretch the limits of my ability,
And to live a life worthy of my nature.
Still working on these, for they too, are important to me.
Times, I have been asked
Does your father allow you to do that?
My answer has always been,
My father has pushed me to break barriers,
Never has he uttered, “because you are a woman”,
And for a daughter, that is enough.
It propels me to explore the world and my mind,
To always try and try harder,
To never give up,
To block all critics,
Because my father says I can.
While discussing corruption in South Sudan,
You pronounced the ethical rule
“Always be righteous, even at night with eyes closed”
Whenever I am in a difficult situation, your words come to live.
How do I ignore it, what will you say, will I be happy with myself?
While conversing cultures and people,
You once said that I couldn’t get married to certain people,
I curiously asked why?
you said because my personality is very strong
This personality, a merger of your genes and mummy’s,
Both strong in their own manner.
At times I am caught trying to reconcile the two,
And not overpowering the other.
As I look at this beautiful union you have built with mummy,
I’m at peace, you have found ways to rise above the challenges,
To remain silent and speak when needed,
To laugh at each other.
I love that you are growing old together, I pray to build such a union in my own union.
When you gave my hand in marriage,
A part of me held on,
One part saying goodbye; the other saying go on.
What have we not conversed about?
Yet I can’t wait to sit with you, over a glass of chardonnay
And chat like we used to,
Before marriage and distance, flung me far
I feel I have only accessed the tip of your brilliance.
Dear daddy, in this moment
I think about how I can enrich your life and your health,
I want to see you.
I’m grown but you always hold a special place in my heart,
One that can never be replaced.
I miss your letters and how you always end with the words
With love, your dad.
I know it is written out of love,
each word melodiously crafted with care to express the right tone.
Please write some more, I long to read.
I feel privileged that you are my dad,
I pray for you to have many more years with mummy, with us
I can’t wait for you to meet our son, he loves to read just like you.
Daddy, thank you
I am because you are.
Your loving daughter,
June 6th, 2018.
My dad, Taban Lo Liyong
Best Aloe Vera Pre Poo II 4C Natural Hair – Taste of South Sudan
Hello once again and welcome to Taste of South Sudan beauty section.
Aloe Vera is a plant with many medicinal uses and incorporated into multitude of skin and hair regimens. I am going to highlight it’s use as a pre poo treatment for natural hair.
Pre Poo is short for a pre shampoo treatment. Why apply aloe vera pre poo?
Well, hair of African origin, the majority classifies as type 4C hair, is brittle and prone to breakage when under stress. This type of hair sheds easily as well. The sulfur present in commercial shampoos tend to cause additional breakage of hair. Other causes of stress for natural hair can be excessive dryness, cold weather, braids that are too tight pulling the hair from the roots, or even added hair that prevents the scalp from breathing especially when kept for too long. This hair type needs a lot of moisture.
To reduce the shedding during washing, apply a pre poo treatment. Aloe vera is hands down the best pre poo treatment.
- reduces shedding
- infuses nutrients
Aloe Vera Stalk, cut into chunks, then flesh out the pulp
Aloe vera juice, 1 tablespoon
Food processor, to pulse the aloe vera pulp
2 applicator bottles
Pour mix avocado and olive oil in 1 applicator bottle
Knee high stockings
I will direct you to watch the youtube video below on Taste of South Sudan channel on the particulars of using Aloe Vera Pre Poo.
Here is my crown.
Mama, a poem – Taste of South Sudan
a poem, By Noela Mogga.
Khartoum, a poem – Taste of South Sudan
I cannot remove from my memory
Khartoum, the city of my puberty
The barren streets
The houses of zabala
The call of the adzhan
Mula weka, mula kudra
The Haboob, Oh burning sand!
The thobe, and the jalabiya
The Arabic I learned to read
Insha’allah, wallahi, ta’ali bukra
Being called a Junubiya!
Do not tell me, I was not
Yes, I drank water from the Nile
Though you did not see me
For non-Arabic speakers, I will offer a translation of Arabic words used in this poem.
Zabala: large mud bricks made from mud mixed with cow dung. Houses made of zabala are dwellings where poor people live, they are cool shelters, however they emit a bad smell when it rains as some of the mud melts.
Adzhan: the Muslim call to prayer. In Sudan it happens 5 times a day, broadcasted over loudspeakers from minarets of every mosque. If you lived in Khartoum one was always an earshot away from a mosque. There is not a child growing up in Khartoum that has not memorized the sentences used in the call to prayer. Also; a form of noise pollution and insidious religious and cultural brainwashing. Anyone living in Khartoum was subject to this prayer whether or not they were Muslim, whether or not they wanted to be reminded to pray.
Mula weka: a stew of dried shredded/ground beef, dried crushed okra, in an onion tomato base.
Mula kudra: kudra or kudar is the Arabic word for greens, but specifically South Sudanese use it to refer to Molokhiya meal.
Haboob: Sandstorm, prevalent in Northern Sudan, and throughout the Sahara dessert.
Thobe: Sudanese female dress
Jalabiya: Sudanese male dress
Insha’allah: If God wills. Used in context, look at the following examples.
Question: “Will it rain tomorrow?” Answer “Insha’allah.”
Question: “Will you repay your debt tomorrow?” Answer “Insha’allah.” Translation: maybe, maybe never.
Wallahi: I swear, in God’s name. A phrase used so often in conversation among Arabic speakers.
Ta’ali bukra: Come tomorrow: a common response from government servants who wish to push the ball ahead. Question: “Can I meet the boss today?” Answer: “Come tomorrow.” Tomorrow the answer would be the same, as tomorrow never comes.
Junubiya: The word “junub” is a neutral word that means South. Junubi: male person from the South, Junubiya, female person from the South, in this context: Northern Sudanese people used the term Junubi and Junubiya as a derogatory insult to refer to people from South Sudan when the Sudans were one country.
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