Lost Children of Cush

a novel of South Sudan


“‘I am the descendant of a chief. I repent of the sins of my ancestors, who sold our people into slavery.’ I make no sound but inwardly gasp. It is a matter of historic record that African chiefs sold their people into slavery but to hear it spoken of openly is as shocking as if the bushes destroyed by the hippo had sprung upright again. We stand as still as the wooden posts of the jetty while currents of unspoken thoughts swirl and settle.”

“The lobby of the renovated depository contains an overloaded bike rack. Inside there is a heavy traffic of pushchairs, wheelchairs, and family parties visiting the ‘Create Centre’ display. […] I turn my back, pass down a slight ramp and continue through a hallway to the Search Room, a panelled room with massive concrete pillars down the centre. A poster showing ‘Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge’ hangs between two arched windows. The skeletal branches of sycamore tress dance and shiver outside, deflecting the sight and sound of traffic streaming past on the dual carriageway. In this towering depository, twenty-first century life dare not intrude on the quiet atmosphere of accumulated knowledge.”

“I know she is irritated with me. She has worked hard to get in touch with Pamela and explain what happened to my family. But I cannot help it. My head is numb, and my feelings are tattered banana leaves slapping about in a storm. Of course I am relieved that Ma, Deborah, and Peter have survived. After all these years, I will be able to speak with them again, but I am afraid. What will they say when they find out that I have slept as a ‘wife’ with men that I was not married to? And that I pretended I was a Muslim. Will they think I have betrayed the beliefs my father and brother were fighting for and disgraced my family and community?” 19 Nov 2018



School children celebrate while the army marches in for a conference on peace and reconciliation.