Twic East leaders in Australia encourage children to learn the Dinka language, and help Mangalla IDPs return home.
A session during the TECAA general annual meeting in Canberra in April 2023 | Credit | Anyieth Duom
Canberra, Wednesday (May 17, 2023) – The third annual general meeting of the Twic East Community Association of Australia (TECAA) has concluded, with several resolutions, including calls for the need to teach children in the Dinka language.
Held in Canberra on 8-9 April, the two-day event brought together high-level officials of the association, prominent Twic East community leaders from Africa, and guests representing Twic East neighbors in South Sudan.
Among the officials were TECAA President Mamer Yaak Dut, His Deputy Mabior Mabil Atem, Secretary General Makuach Mabior Deng, the entire executive body, advisors, Council of Elders, Youth and Women leaders, formers leaders, state/territory leaders, Payam leaders, local Twi organizations, and neighbors from Duk, Bor, and other Dinka guests representing their communities in Canberra.
The Annual General Meeting resolved around three main issues, namely: A need to teach children in the Dinka language, help settle the displaced residents of Twic East who are currently in Mangalla in Central Equatoria, and a review of the association’s constitution.
The Dinka language concern
Reports show that drought, famine, and war resulted in large numbers of Sudan-born and South Sudan-born refugees leaving for neighboring countries like Kenya and Egypt, and many were later resettled in Australia.
Australia is a vibrant, multicultural country. It is home to the world’s oldest continuous cultures, as well as Australians who identify with more than 270 ancestries, according to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
“Learning the Dinka language will contribute some important means of understanding the cultural aspects and history to participate in multilingual societies at home and here in Australia,” Anyieth Duom, TECAA’s information secretary, told Ramciel Magazine.
Since 1945, it says almost seven million people have migrated to Australia. This rich, cultural diversity is one of our greatest strengths.
The 2021 Australian census recorded 8,255 people born in South Sudan. 14,273 people, however, indicated that they had South Sudanese ancestry.
The Twic community statistics and population stands at 5,548. Out of this number, 3,066 are below the age of 18.
“This interaction develops the disposition to explore the perspectives behind the Dinka traditional heritage and practices of cultures in order to value such intercultural experiences,” Duom continued.
Duom’s argument is backed up by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) research, which indicates that education in the mother tongue is a key factor for inclusion and quality learning, and it also improves learning outcomes and academic performance.
It argues that this is crucial, especially in primary school, to avoid knowledge gaps and increase the speed of learning and comprehension.
Resettlement of IDPs
In 2020, thousands of people fled their homes with few or no belongings when floods submerged parts of South Sudan, especially in Jonglei State in Twic East, Bor, and Duk counties.
Many sought refuge at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Mangalla, Central Equatoria state.
In May 2022, the most recent statistics available, 38,658 IDPs were living in this area that was established in June 2020, including 2,466 children below the age of five.
After flood waters subsided, those from Bor County returned to their respective homes, leaving IDPs from Twic East since they had nothing to back home to after the flooding destroyed homes.
With support from humanitarian groups, UN agencies, and the national and state governments, the vulnerable people are expected to be repatriated to Twic East sometime later this year or so.
“Twi East Community Association of Australia (TECAA) is a member of the Twic East Global Table that includes Twi East Community Association-USA and Twi East Community Association of Canada,” Duom explained.
“These groups are prepared to help with health care and education when the repatriation process takes place.”
TECAA Constitutional review
Established in 2008, TECAA has been the umbrella leadership of every Twic East indegene in Australia, dealing with matters that concern its members.
However, the association has been led by males since its inception. Its first president was Yaak Deng Akoy, followed by Mangar Ayuel Malual, Kuer Dau Apai in 2016, Deng Chol Riak in December 2018 and now Mamer Yaak Dut, the incumbent.
In the April annual general assembly, some members raised concern over male dominance, with some suggesting a sister association for women.
“The only striking issue was whether the Twic East Community Association of Australia (TECAA) needed to have a separate independent women’s association to run concurrently with the existing organization,” Duom recalled.
This, he said, prompted the association to agree to review the constitution to accommodate new ideas that could help solve new problems.
“TECAA’s constitution is a progressive document that is regularly reviewed or checked to meet the demands and needs. The review process is triggered when there are emerging concerns that threaten or undermine the progress of the organization,” Duom explained.
He added that the meeting transferred the matter to the state assemblies to conduct a referendum on whether to “uphold the current article or to change it”.
Also, in attendance were 10 prominent Twic leaders from Africa, including Hon.Biar Mading Biar, Deputy Chair of TECA-Juba, the former State Minister of Land and Housing (Jonglei State) and guest of honor of the event, Hon. Deng Mabeny Kuot, Commissioner of Twic East County Hon. Dau Akoi Jurkuch, former commissioner of Twic East County, and the Chairperson of Mangala IDPs, Bishop Dr. Isaiah Majok Dau.
Others were, Dr Bishop Isaiah Majok Dau, the former General Oversee of Sudan Pentecostal Churches and the current peace advocate and facilitator and invited speaker on peace and harmony; Rt Rev. Abraham Duot Kuer, the Diocesan Bishop of Jonglei Province – Anglican Church of South Sudan; Rev. Canon Mary Achol Deng-Nuer, Rev. Canon Jacob Deng Manyang, Jacob Manyuon Deng, Abraham Chol Riak, Atem Akuoch Miot, Sultan Atem Maguong Ayii Kuol, and Joseph Garang Deng.
By Tearz Ayuen/Africa World Books