At the Archives

history

A notice, a digital notice on social media was visible to them all. The time, venue and date were readable, including some rules, and the entry fee, not an entry exam; nobody was to give them any written exam.

He could not wait to see his friends, the other writers from another country; if at all he belongs to a certain country in this temporary life.

At exactly 20 minutes to 2:00pm, there he was standing at the gate after taking a round walk around Kenya National Archives building, next to Uncle Tom Mboya’s stature, looking for the gate that leads into the rather international archives as you are soon going to discover.

Finally, he went round, coming back to the entrance, the gate to the ancient world, the historical world of Kenya, Africa, and the world.

On the right, he saw three young men, other nationals leaning on a clay plate, a bowl or basin, with flowers, different flowers planted on its centre. He then stood next to them, trying to text one of their team members in charge of the program.

While enjoying the chat, another team member arrived, stood a hundred metres away from him and texted.

In the process, the texting process, he ended up leaning on the same plate, the bowl, the mudded decorated flower basin like the ones described in his Bible at the time of King Solomon when he built the temple, the first temple in Israel.

3 minutes later after leaning, a man, tall and well built, but much shorter than himself, show up from the archives, asking him and the other men, the nationals to move away from the flower basin.

However, because of the language barriers, he did not get him at first. As the result, he remained leaning, texting his friends both far and near. The programmer seemed to have given his contacts to others, looking for the meeting place. Time was not on the wait, it does not always wait.

Again, he told him to move away, but he only sensed the signals, not the words behind those handsome hands, sending strong warning signals in the air.

At last, he moved away, standing some metres from the small garden of beautiful flowers, but the man followed after him, telling him something in a language he did not quite understand. The only thing he understood was, “Wewe Sudanese!” The rest, he could only guess from the gestures, his facial expression and the way he threw up his hands into the cold Nairobi air.

Soon enough, one of those texting him realized he was the one, the only Sudanese writer among brothers and sisters, the family of Writers Guild Kenya.

Looking at the man, thinking about his actions, the perceived insults and harassments, he thought of his country. Good enough he was no longer a Sudanese national, rather, he was a South Sudanese, politically and geographically.

Since 9th July 2011, South Sudan was no longer southern Sudan or Sudan, but the Republic of South Sudan, written as RSS, a supreme state with laws, government and people.

He thought about when peace will return to his war-torn country, when to go back and start a company like that of his cousin, Gabriel Dinda.

He then thought of what it really means to live in a foreign country. He then reflected on his other experiences on his way to Nairobi by road from Turkana County, when the national police mistreated him, just because he was not a national.

He thought about how it may be like to live in South Sudan as a Kenyan, Ethiopian or Ugandan national. He cannot blame it all on the authorities.

Because the law was written in his heart, his inner being, he knew he did wrong by leaning on the basin, the flower basin, made of pure clay, even though he was not alone. He was singled out because he was the tallest, or it was language issues, making him a true alien.

If he was to get aggravated, he must fault his own actions, not the man executing his own errands in his own country, his homeland.

He had to blame the always failing peace talks in Ethiopia between his leaders, fighting over a wooden seat, not over the services that were desperately needed by citizens like himself.

Because of the lack of electricity in his home country, where the only source of electricity was diesel-fuelled generators, he left for Kenya. His writing demands electric power, he no longer writers with a pen and ink, but with an inkless machine, a laptop computer.

Besides electricity issues, insecurity was the second threat, a threat to his dear life, future and productivity. His writing, the kind of opinion writing was deadly. He did not want to be executed like other opinion writers, Abraham, and John. He did not want to be exported like Luka Biong, for writing his opinions. He did not want to end up behind bars like Gatdet, Alfred and Emmanuel for writing his thoughts.

When waiting at the gate, meeting those old and new faces, others were texting him in Swahili, the language of the land.

Before long, their number multiplied before they headed into the building. At the entrance, they had to provide their IDs; he gave them his valid passport.

Because he reads as he writes, he noticed a board, not on his social media account, neither a text message nor an email, but something fixed on the wall above everyone else, right on his chin. It read something like, “50 for adult nationals, 100 for non-national adult children and 200 for non-national adults.”

Because his online account with Payoneer was not active for various reasons, he had 210 Kenyan Shillings, including his transport money for his going back home to Saika on the Kangundo road, which always costs 80 from five in the evening to late night; it keeps increasing.

He was about to panic after seeing the notice, but the organizer took care of his fares, reminding him of how God took away his burdens, sins, and worries through Christ’s death on the cross.

“Hey, where are you from, which institution?” asked the same security man, the one who chased him away like a suspected thief.

“We are from different places, sir,” he responded immediately.

He stood tall on the ground floor, tall above whoever was inside at the time.

“My name is Terra,” she finally opened her mouth, a beautiful coloured mouth like none other.

Tella?” he asked, looking down on her shining eyes, eyes sharpened by the words she read, edited or wrote.

“Which school or institution are you from?” he asked again, still looking down on her face. She then gave him the correct answers. They were truly from different places, but one big institution, the Writers Guild Kenya, founded four years ago at the time, by Gabriel Dinda, its CEO.

From their right, the left side of the ground floor, they moved around anticlockwise. Someone took them through every item kept in the national building. They were given two commandments; do not touch, do not take pictures on the first floor above the ground floor. His bag taken away from him, leaving him armed with a writing notebook and a biro.

They saw different masquerades from Congo and Kenya, plus different weaponry from different Kenyan and African communities, the ancient representation in the modern world. They saw many different tools used for different tasks in the past. They then came across a chart, telling the story of the Queen and King Solomon.

They saw different home items used by the Swahili people in the past, the mystical history of the nine girls and the nine men, represented by a nice artistry work, a believed history of the Gikuyu. There were different items collected by Joseph Murindi.

There were big shields collected from the Luo Community. There were shields collected from Turkana, Gikuyu and the Luya communities as well. There were Bushmen arrows, bows and quivers. A single history student, guiding them through the national archives, could not answer their rhetorical questions.

On the first floor, they were able to see everything about Kenya, from the colonial rule, the Mau-Mau Movement through independence. From the first president to his son, there were four presidents in Kenya, for the last fifty-four years. The US had 45 presidents since its independence from British.

He could see that his new country has a long way to go, despite modern technology. That Luo man, kneeling with his shield in his left hand reminded him of his people, his late father in particular. Maybe that was his great, great, great grandfather. Luo, Turkana, Pokot and other Kalenjin tribes came to Kenya from the old Sudan.

He knew that all the seven Kalenjin tribes came from Sudan many years back in history. Some of the earrings he saw, and other jewellery resembled the ones his late mother used to wear in those days, when he was a kid; now he is a father, a husband, an uncle and soon a grandfather.

When done, they had come together, took a group photo and then walked down stairs to go back to their various places. He was so amazed on how a man saw him, rushed to the nearby locked room, pick up his bag and gave it to him. There were many people in the building; many of them left their bags there in the same room.

This reminded him of his mobile phone, which remembers every phone number or photo he saved on it each time he takes new photos, even the ones he may later delete. From his bag, he pulled out some copies of his first book, recently printed in Arua, Uganda; send to him through EasyCoach. A co-publisher, SLC or Sudan Literature Centre, founded before he was born by an Australian family, printed it.

He wrote this book a year after his country got its independence from Sudan, only to plunge into a civil war, a tribal war that killed hundreds of thousands, soldiers, civilians, women and children alike.

It was a political difference that needed a political remedy, but instead turned tribal in a matter of hours and then into a genocide, worse than that of Rwanda. He evidenced the brutal killings, when his national government soldiers arrest him, only to ask which tribe he hails from.

He was lucky enough or his days were not yet numbered, he would have not seen Kenya a second time. He first entered Kenya by air in 2005; a month after his first president, the liberator, the first vice president of Sudan was assassinated in a helicopter crash, blamed on both the Khartoum government and the Ugandan government.

Development would have been swift in his country, since the peace agreement signed in Naivasha, Kenya, more than ten years back into the historical archives, if war did not broke out in his country on the 15th December, 2013, two years after the independence.

As an artist, an opinion writer, self-publisher and an entrepreneur, he wrote many opinion articles about development, technology and self-employment, even though he was not yet a well-known millionaire in his part of the world.

Like Joseph, he thought about how to build an archive, a historical archive in his beloved country or even a museum, to tell the history.

As an actor, he thought of how to recollect the lost, even the forgotten African education system through life and its values. He was reminded of the African history.

For sure, Africa has history, a history of life, education, ethics, worldviews, religions and valuable values, now either lost or forgotten by modern men and women. Many have already forgotten African religious systems, calling it evil and even demonic, but clinging to the Western and Eastern religions of the same mystical beliefs.

African values governing life, marriage and other important things are long forgotten. The current education system operating in Africa is not practical, rather, it’s a report-based system, where learners try their best to crime whatever is written, report it back to the teachers, get marks and grades and then finally get their certificates, not education. Education is to gain practical knowledge beyond the textbooks, the current discovered scientific discoveries, subjected to change and modification.

He thought of African technology, the one forgotten by the current African students; technology on wood, clay, stone and metal works. Stone works, clay moulding and iron melting were African artistic technology, only found in museums and national archives, mostly influenced by the Wazungus in the past.

Africa has tools for preparing herbal medicines, tools for making other tools. There were tools for working the land, and for hunting. There were weaponries, as well as tools for celebrations, the glory of the African people. There were tools made for trade, used as currencies; belts, bells, spears and hoes.

Some new friends took his contacts, to call him back when ready to have a copy of his book. It was a historical booklet, based on one of the main events in his life. It was cultural as well as an ethical guide on the Nuer and Dinka values, the facial scarification.

He then thought of how clear was his descriptions of the tools used to create the marks on young people’s foreheads including his own his face. He wondered if those tools would one day be in a museum or in a national archive building like that in Nairobi, and in other major towns in Kenya.

He then thought of spearheading these initiatives, but except there is peace and harmony in his country, he cannot initiate such projects. Even though the world was in the 21st century, his country was still in the 16th century. About 90% of his people thought and acted as such.

To him, the way people think and act is the root cause of all evil, not the other way round. He also knew that telling the truth, the wrong truth that betrays him and his country, was deadly to men and women living in his part of the world. He reflected on why most members in the team, including him were quiet, and only a handful of them were asking questions. The rest listened, taking notes with their minds, not with pen and ink. He had a pen and a notebook at hand, but he wrote down nothing. Even though his exercise book says, “put it down on paper,” he did not put it down on paper.

He thought of oil companies destroyed the land, birds, insects, fish, trees, plants, animals and the environment, including humans, since the country was land-locked. The oil production leaves deadly chemicals on the surface, destroying everything it touched.

He thought of the tools he used to make things out of wood, clay and iron. He used to build grass-thatched houses in his village many years ago. He used to make wooden stools, chairs and beds, deep in the village. He made mortars and pestles for pounding herbal medicines, tobacco leaves and others.

He was once a medicine man like the man he saw in one of the ancient pictures at the Kenya National Archives, but he did it with a difference, there was no chanting. He mixed different herbs to create stronger medicines.

Before he said goodbye to his friends, he put back f his books, back into his bag, after giving one copy to the programmer, to read and give him some constructive criticism, some book review.

At the archives, he was reminded of the African technology like the one he saw in Turkana County, where he learned his lessons. There he saw men carrying their hand-made mobile chairs. He also saw women with rings on their legs, ears and even a metallic pin on their lips like what his mother had.

On his way home, he thought of the newly signed peace deal, known as the Khartoum Peace Agreement, with a complete security and power sharing agreements signed. There was a 21 states proposal, which may ignite another war, instead of bringing peace, the final peace to the nation.

His country is always rich in oil, best agricultural land and other natural resources, only peace was lacking. When peace comes home, his country will be the business hub for East Africa, Africa and the whole world.

Before long, he slumbered, finding himself in a park, a national park in his country, not found anywhere in Kenya. The animals in his country were much taller and darker, just like him. The soil, the environment, seems to play a big role in how humans, birds, insects, plants and other animals look like, the way they behave.

Animals in his country, dogs and chickens are taller and slimmer compared to their cousins in other countries. Most of the landscape in his country was flat, mostly savannah grassland, especially in the northern regions. The east, south and southwest of his country was mountainous, tropical rainforest, like Uganda, Ethiopia, Congo and northwestern Kenya near Uganda.

He then thought of how to improve his digital services, the online training materials for himself and other serious writers from South Sudan, Kenya, East Africa and the world at large. He then thought of different writing tactics and methods, his artistic skills.

His mission was to help change the world for the best, making it a better place to live in, not by the power of bullets or ballots, but by the mightiest power of the pen, the most powerful sword.

First, he wanted to reach out to other writers, to help them on how to write, self-edit, self-publish and self-market their books as he had been doing for years on Amazon, CreateSpace and on Smashwords.com. He teaches freelance writing courses on his personal website.

With those suspected harassments of which he had already experienced, he then thought about his expiring visa, how to leave for his beloved country, despite the ever-fragile peace agreements between the government and rebels.

He was not sure if all rebels would ever unite under one umbrella, one leadership, or there will always be new rebel movements every year, fighting for the same seat, the political presidential seat for the national government.

He had been wondering for years if his leasers will ever start the always-needed developmental projects after the war, the same projects suggested and preferred by President Trump over the 4,000 strong Regional Protection Forces.

He needed peace, he had nothing to fight for; he had everything to give to other nationals in his country. He had ideas, and talents. His wars were always mental, rational wars.