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‘The Last Train’

Davis Mugume
A writer is using poetry to promote peace in his home-country South Sudan, which has been ravaged by more than two years of fighting, killing tens of thousands.
9.05.2016  |  Juba, South Sudan
A photo of the cover of Akol Miyen Kuol’s book ‘The Last Train’. (photo: The Niles | Mugume Davis)
A photo of the cover of Akol Miyen Kuol’s book ‘The Last Train’. (photo: The Niles | Mugume Davis)

Akol Miyen Kuol’s collection is entitled ‘The Last Train’, referring to the August 2015 peace agreement signed by President Salva Kiir and now First Vice President Riek Machar. He calls on both men to ensure that South Sudanese citizens do not miss that last train.

The last train, let us check the last train before it leaves this station, let’s check what is wrong with it.

It killed a number of people on the way, let us find its problem today.

Let us listen who were on board, let us listen to those still on board.

Oh let us repair our last train, for it’s the only hope for the whole nation.

In his collection of 28 poems, Kuol says the South Sudanese population has suffered enough and calls on South Sudanese of all walks of life to embrace peace – led by their leaders.

“This last train is theirs,” Kuol said in an interview with The Niles, just shortly after he launched his book in Juba, referring to the leaders who have led opposing factions in an extended civil war. “They are the ones who are supposed to be leading or driving this last train. They are the leadership of this country and any decision from them can make a difference.”

“If they decide today […] to embark on healing and national reconciliation, tomorrow or the day after, the rest will follow.”

Kuol also plans to host radio talk shows and open air performances to promote peaceful co-existence across the country. He also plans to work with musicians to sensitise the population about peace.

He says all citizens must embrace the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU). “Each and every South Sudanese citizen needs to get on board, they should not miss the opportunity.”

After the launch, 27-year-old Varna Joseph says she was inspired by reading Kuol’s collection of poems. “It tells us how we can solve our own situation, we don’t have to depend and wait for the government to do something for us. We need to come up with our own solutions and propose to elders,” she says.

Veteran writer and poet Kidi Samuel, agreed, adding that poems have a lasting impact on society. “There are people who have died long time ago, they left ideas […] and we are benefiting from their ideas although they are no longer with us.”

Born in the oil-rich region of Abyei, Kuol, also known as Akoldit, was born in 1974 and studied in Khartoum. He says he was inspired to write poems by his love for his country and Africa in general. He dedicated this collection of poems to former South African President Nelson Mandela.

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