Politricks 2.0

*This was actually going to be published in Clamor Mag but there were complications…


The genocide in Darfur, Sudan has been one of the most devastating genocides in Africa’s history. Thousands died, if not by the mass killings of the Arab military then by starvation and disease. Few were able to escape the misery of the constant escaping from military forces and come to America. Isaac Majak was part of the lucky group of children granted U.S. sponsorship and wishes to share his story with the world in hope that others will join the humanitarian effort to rebuild Sudan and save the people.


Lost Boys Of Sudan: Isaac Majak Interview

How did the people of your village find food, fresh water and other resources?

Before the war, it was really good because people used to cultivate, they had their own homes, and they had wells and all these water taps. The life was really terrible and it’s hard for people to live but they just keep living because there is no other way that they can really improve it. Yet, it was definitely better before the war. But now if some people come and help life will be a lot better.

What was life like when you were younger?

My life was really good because my father was working in the government and he was an agriculture man. He was an architect, building and constructing. He was like a person that was always making peace. Also, I have older brothers and sisters, I am the second to last, and I am number 7 of eight in my family.

How did the tensions between the Arabs and the Non-Arabs begin and escalate?

The war, it was really bad. The government was fighting over the resources of Sudan. The northern people think that they are born to rule, the Arabs say that they want to rule over the world. During the war, the southern military would defend the area but they did not have weapons. They did not know about modern weapons so civilians just stayed in bushes and would leave at night and get water and come back to the bushes.

How did the quality of life in terms of access to fresh food, water and resources change when tensions and between Arabs and Non-Arabs escalated?

Actually everyone is like a new person in the country because people are coming back, inheriting new homes and new places because it was a long time, 21 years war, and people were living away and had skipped to other countries. It was really hard for people to get water because there are no water fountains and rivers are very far away from villages.


Now there is no rain, it is drought season and people are really having a hard time. It takes a woman and a young girl 6 hours to go to the river to fetch water and to come back. Also, food was very hard. They especially get food through people who have fled to other countries and bring back food. This is really how they get food in Sudan and they are suffering because right now the government is not at a time where they can employ people. No jobs, no nothing. They are concentrating on peace and how they can work together with the northern government.

What happened to your family? How were all of you separated?

My older sisters and brothers were sent to Arabic school but my father saw that Arabic school was not that good so he took them to Kimbori school where British missionaries taught them English and Arabic. In 1983 the war broke out and all the young kids and students from the south were captured by the north and put in a building. They were captured by the North Arab Military; they put them in a building and burned them. My father was killed in 1986 but I did not know at the time because I was really young. Most of my family was killed so I had to escape with the rest.

Who are the Lost Boys of Sudan?

I am one of them. The Lost Boys of southern Sudan are the kids in 1987 that escaped during the big killings. The young kids and women who escaped all came together so when the Arabs saw us they sent soldiers to kill us, so we had to keep running like 100,000 miles from the south, across the Sahara desert to Ethiopia. During the traveling or escaping, thousands of kids were left behind because they were dying from hunger and diseases. Most of the time we stayed in the jungle, no father, no nothing. There were few adults. The adults put 500, 700 children in a confined place and teach us how to build huts so we could live in them. They were not that good but we needed to go from place to place in order to escape the killing. We stayed in Ethiopia for four years. In 1991 we had to leave because the civil war in Ethiopia broke out. That led us to come to Sudan again and when the northern Arab government heard we came back they attacked us, so we were just running until we got to northern Kenya. It was there that we were chosen by Americans to come to the U.S. as the Lost Boys of Sudan.

What did people do stay optimistic during your travels?

Some of the elders would come and tell us “today we are suffering and don’t know what to do, we don’t know if this will be are end of our night here we die tonight to maybe tomorrow we will go somewhere and we’ll live to be good people. So lets all stay in hope. Don’t worry about being killed, worry about where you can go to be safe.” We just listened to each other to keep hope.

How long did it take to reach Ethiopia?

It took about 3 months walking.

Did the Arabs ever come close to finding you?

Yes, they were always killing us. They would find us and they would come with airplanes and bomb us. In the desert you can see everyone walking so it was easy for them.

What was the scariest moment you experienced during your journey?

When they came and attacked us in the desert. I was talking to one person that night and when I woke up they died. You just kept worrying that maybe tomorrow you would die like that. Even today I always dream about it and I will never forget it. It’s something that shows life is not guaranteed. I didn’t know I would come to U.S.; maybe the help of god helped me to come here.

Was there ever a point where you felt like giving up?

My whole life was full of worry. I worried about where my father was. What made me to be in the jungle and what can I do to escape this and look for my people again. Because my father was killed I was like “why should I live, I have no father” and my mom was not around.

How were you chosen for sponsorship to the US?

In 1997, the U.S. government officials came and interviewed us about our main goal or hope. “If we give you a chance to come to the US, go to school and give you a better life. What do you think about that?” We said we don’t know but we want to go home and find our fathers. Everyone said the same thing, “We want to go home.” Then they said, “Where are you going to find your father?” We said we don’t know we’ll just go back to our village and they said no one lives there anymore.


In 1998 they said they wanted to make a process where we could come to America for schooling. They said we can learn, get a diploma, degrees, a good job, a home and maybe get married and have families like our fathers did so that made us want to come to America. We had interviews and medical exams and if we passed the tests we were sent to the U.S. 4800 boys and 500 girls passed and the rest could not come.

What economic forces contribute to the war in Sudan and famine in other parts of Africa?

I think that people in Africa, they are not focusing on economy; they are focusing on power over other people in order to declare or destroy sub-clans or tribes. Tribalism is a big problem in Africa and they don’t really use an economy. Right now I think the government is working on gold and oil but I don’t know if it will help.

Has international trade and global free trade policies helped or hurt Sudan?

When we have connections with other countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda you can get companies to ship donated goods to Sudan faster. Like Australia will send to Kenya and from there to Sudan. Australians are helping a lot more than Americans. Most of what the Americans are doing is at a government level but not with people who are suffering, not with the civilians.

A lot of Americans are under the impression that hunger and famine in Africa are a result of natural phenomena like drought, is drought really a major cause?

Drought causes starvation because people depend on cultivating crops. We do not have other ways of business to get money. Drought is the major one so irrigation is key. They need purified water. It costs a lot of money to make 1 lb of water and many misuse it. Other than that, diseases. We need a health clinic. There are many curable diseases, small diseases that are killing people due to lack of medicines.


What do you foresee happening in Sudan’s future?

They said the war will start again. People are really scared because Arabs are not really deciding on peace. They don’t want what happened to Iraq to happen to Sudan so they just want to do a secret way of killing people again. They just make a picture of peace in Sudan but there really is no peace. Now that there is no more United Nations in Darfur, they won’t know if anything is happening in Sudan. I think for life in Sudan, there will be no improvement. Although the United Nations, U.S. and other countries like Australia and Britain can work together and solve the problem the African Union cannot do anything. It is powerless they cannot do peace. Somalia, Rwanda, all these countries they have problems and they can’t do anything. They are not strong; they cannot settle the problem and make peace. There is no hope for Black people in Sudan, not even just Black people. Now Black people are treated poorly in their own country, like slaves. It’s not fair for human beings in this world, but I cannot do anything, I try.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

After living in the US for 5 years I noticed a lot of things, especially when I was in high school. The way young girls and boys go to school is good but the way they react to school and the environment needs correction. They take it for granted, they don’t care. They all say “I have to do what I have to do, I am who I am” when they really do need to care and they need to do stuff to get along with people. Freedom in America allows kids to grow up and do whatever he or she wants to do which is good, but they don’t want guidance, they are more interested in fun.

It makes me cry to think of why countries like U.S., Canada, and the U.K., powerful countries, aren’t helping the poor countries. It makes me go crazy. There will be hope if industrialized countries come and help. If they are aware I think they can do something because we’ve waited too long, it’s been too long.


~ by neorealist on August 8, 2007.

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