From all corners of our beautiful South Sudan, we come, we Nilotic women. Perhaps we draw our strength from Mother Nile. Perhaps it is from the soil of our native Africa. We march with pride and resilience. We strive for the greater causes of freedom and equality while carrying our children in search of shelter and safe haven. We, the women of South Sudan, epitomize the strength of the black woman.
During the years of war, while men were often absent, our mothers raised us, the millennials who are now raising our own children. Not only did our mothers raise us, but they instilled in us the audacity of hope, the freedom of spirit, and the capacity to dream big. They taught us the values of hard work and dedication.
With hope, our mothers endured the worst days of the civil war. With hope, they struggled to get us safely to refugee camps. Typically, they made that arduous journey without their husbands. It was their capacity for hope and their belief in the power of humanity to come to the aid of those in need that sustained them during the worst of times.
“In adversity, our mothers discovered their strength and resiliency.”
Even when they had brought us to the safety of humanitarian camps in other countries, they did not stop their efforts to teach us a sense of energy and urgency, a determination to make our lives and the future of our nation count. They pushed us to obtain educations and to learn what the modern world had to offer. When I arrived in Australia sixteen years ago, one of my goals was to graduate from university, a goal I proudly achieved. At the same time, our mothers reminded us of our traditions and of the dignity of our past.
Sadly, for some of us, their mothers were left behind. It was a testimony to our mothers’ generation that those who were lonely so often found support and love from other women whom they met along the way. Our traditional values of caring for others, of welcoming and sharing with strangers were never forgotten. Now, we millennial women, many of us flung around the world in a great diaspora, have become mothers. We face the tasks of adapting to life in the twenty-first century and doing so in new lands while raising our children to remember and honor our homeland and our culture left behind.
As my mother raised me, I now raise my four children. In my efforts to bring them up as proud South Sudanese, I speak our tribal language at home, I prepare traditional food such as combo and Asida. I play records of our music and encourage them to sing and dance along.
It is important that they should grow up proud of our heritage. I know that we the women of South Sudan are up to the challenge. We were raised to be strong, strong like our mothers. We-are an embodiment of the heritage of strong South Sudanese women who have cared for their children and their children’s children since time began.
Adol Makeny Dhieu is a South Sudanese – Australian Lawyer. She was recently admitted to the Supreme Court of New South Wales as a lawyer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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