Only Twelve Years, But Doing Business To Support Family

At the age of 12 I was a school boy who did not think of having any responsibility. My job, to ensure i go to school and passed every exam.

By Mabor Riak Magok

RUMBEK, 08 November 2017 [Gurtong] -
As for my school fees it was taken care of, I did not have to worry of being chased from school due to lack of fees. Everything seemed like a bed of roses.

But for 12 year old Makoi Yek in a village called Maleng-agok in Rumbek the case is different. Yek goes to school in Maleng Agok primary. At his age he is already seeking for income to help support his family in whichever way he can.

With the turn of events in South Sudan, many are feeling the pinch of the economic crisis.
“It is hard this year, one has to decide to do something to relieve the burden on my mother and father” says Yek.

“Some time back my mother or father would pay my school fees which was 300 SSP in Maleng-agok primary school and new clothes for Christmas plus my food. However, this year has been the toughest so i decided to begin a small business. I travel on foot from Maleng-agok to Rumbek to come and sell palm tree tubers so that I can at least get myself clothes to wear and next years’ school fees when I will be proceeding to Primary three.”

Makoi brings about  200-300 Palm tree tubers  for sale in Rumbek market every Saturday and Sunday because those are the only days he can get time as he must attend his classes during the week in school.

Each Palm tree tuber is sold at 10 South Sudanese Pounds.

“My customers know me and they look for me around the market, sometimes they ask me to visit their shops and houses with Palm tree tubers.” explained Makoi.

“When I began this small business, I had to market myself and make friendship with people in the market by giving them one Palm tree tuber for free, just to create that good relationship. And that’s when they began to know me in the market. Some would even hang around every Saturday and Sunday, waiting for my Palm tree tubers.”

Yek explains to how this palm tree is a delicacy. “ “It is chewable like Cassava, you remove the peel and you begin to eat it immediately, nothing else, the only things is that it’s a bit sour in testing, reason why expectant mothers love it” he laughs.

The process of getting the palm tree tubers according to Yek is not an easy one. One must dig the ground to get the roots. Thereafter you must boil in water before taking it for sale.

“Such is life and it needs hard work. One has to do something to support the family”. He says.

He is determined to expand his business and bring on board other goods to sell. He says during his long holiday that begun in November till next year March he will add more commodities including biscuits and sweets.

“When the dry season comes, this is not the end of my business of Palm tree tubers. I will immediately shift to another business which will attract some of my customers in the villages and I will still maintain my business up to the time when the season of palm tree tubers comes to an end” said Yek.

“It is better to get yourself hard earned money than living on the streets to steal other people’s properties in the town or in the villages like those who practice cattle raiding. Stealing somebody’s property or cow is like paying for your death price so to speak, because you can be killed by the owner.”

He is now urging his fellow age mates who are ready to support their families to start up a small business and shun cattle raiding.


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