Lugala At large: Young South Sudanese Are Reading Junk

"Innocently and ignorantly some of them have dated the devil on Facebook and they are agonizingly paying the wages."

By Victor Lugala
 
Who says young South Sudanese who went to school or university don’t read? Better check your facts. And I can tell you with certainty that the poor fellows are reading every day and night as if they were preparing to sit for an exam.
As to whether they read and write English very well is another story to consider, but reading, the young guys read. And why not?  But what do they read?
The young urban fellows or townies know that for one to access some services – including public toilets -one must know how to read where it is labeled Men Women.
If you want to access money in an automated teller machine (ATM) you must know how to read. As far as money is concerned you cannot entrust your Personal Identification Number to a stranger to help you access your money, can you?
If you want to manipulate your computer, you must know how to read the applications and instructions.
Facebook. Facebook. Facebook ya jamaa. Who is not on Facebook these days? Even the vegetable seller at Soukh Custom is on Facebook to connect with clients. For you to be on Facebook it means you are connected globally. Friendship and marriages are consummated via Facebook. So which young people would want to miss out on such mouth-watering opportunities?
The art of (love) letter writing is dead. It died long time ago with the parents and grandparents of these modern techies who can walk and chew gum at the same time. They know that it is cheaper to text a message on phone than to make a call. So they text to say, “Hi ”“I love you”, “Can we do lunch today?” “Please call me”, Or “credit me”.
Innocently and ignorantly some of them have dated the devil on Facebook and they are agonizingly paying the wages.
If you live in Juba and entered a public transport Bonga bus, you would think it was a mobile temple. All the young commuters would have bowed their heads as if praying to God.
What are they doing if they are not praying with their heads bowed? Isn’t it also a Buddhist practice for one to bow to show respect or reverence to a deity?
Well, these fellows are worshipping a mobile phone, if you care to know.
For today’s young people of Juba a mobile phone is more than a mother and father, or even girl-boy-friend. They keep the mobile phone close to their chests 24/7 unless the battery is low. It is a toy that they grew with, are obsessed and addicted to it. Without it, it is as if they are missing a member from their bodies.
 
Times have changed. Teenagers are allowed to carry mobile phones to school. Some of the students have expensive smartphones while their teachers who have not received salaries in six months can make do with a battered old phone with a blurry screen.
During exams some of them will sneak in with their mobile phones so they can pass with flying colours. Others call it smart cheating.
Mobile phones, smartphones are encouraging young people to read and write.  They flout conventions and set their own rules of communication.
Even if they have enough space to send a long text message, they would rather use contracted language. Most of them use abbreviated text messages which they think is cool, when actually some or most of them hide their proficiency in spelling and grammar. When you read some of the text messages you would think they are writing in an extinct vernacular. Who cares? Who can claim to be a grammar prefect without being pelted with cyber stones?
Facebook and WhatsApp are the coolest things that have happened to humanity since sliced bread – ooops! in Juba we have round traditional bread which cannot be sliced.
So the text messages which are composed by the young techies go like a poor imitation of the American poet e.e cummings: hi, a u gd? am hm chlng in bed bored cnt wait 4 wkend clbing cu later - luv u.
The techies write the way they dress, in tight shirts, sagging jeans, or micro-mini skirts. Staccato sentences.

Who will be surprised when a techie writes an essay or a class project in that style? Isn’t it cool?   

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