S.Sudanese musician John Kudusay performs at a gig in Australia.[© Deng Koch]
By Deng M Koch
MELBOURNE, Australia 16 September 2010 (Gurtong) – He is in Australia upon invitation by the Sudanese community in Australia.
Accompanied by another South Sudanese musician and a naturalist, Australian citizen, James Akec Nhial of Akutkuei, Kudusay and his team jetted into Melbourne’s Toulmarine International Airport on Sunday September 5, 2010 at around 11pm Au
A section of the massive crowd in Australia that attended one of John Kudusay's electrifying performances. [© Deng Koch]
stralian Eastern Standard Time.
They received a rapturous welcome by a big group of community members who turned up at the Airport to receive them. The reception crowd was led by the former County Commissioner of Aweil East, the sitting member of Parliament of Northern Bahr El Ghazi Madam Nyibol Aleu and the leader of Tonj community in Victoria Arop Wol, among others.
Born in Northern Bahr El Ghazal’s Aweil, Kudusay joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) at a very young age during the more than two decades of ferocious Sudanese civil war, which fitted the largely Christian and African Southern Sudanese and other marginalised Sudanese in the peripheries of the country, against the successive Muslim and Arabised governments of Sudan.
Since then, Kudusay has been sensitising people, through the sequence of songs in his albums and the masses of South Sudan dearly love him as a practical liberator and musician.
He is a rising star who has won a large following and support across the vast region. His enthusiasts and supporters include a very big number of people in the influential South Sudanese Diaspora across the globe.
His enthusiasts and supporters in Australia and Oceania have been exerting efforts to see into it that the young and energetic musician is invited into the continental country for a visit to meet with his supporters; that has now materialised and the sort of reception Kudusay and his team received here has left them speechless and this is reflected in his comment during an introductory interview with Gurtong:
“I was very well-received; initially I thought one or two people would just receive me and my team, but to our joyful surprise, a large number of community members have turned up at the airport to welcome us”, he said.
Asked to express his feelings about his coming to Australia, Kudusay said that he was very happy to be here for three reasons, first Australia was very far from Sudan and people who come here only do so by chance, therefore he is happy to be part of the history of those who visited Australia by chance.
His second feeling is that Australia is among the well-developed countries of the world with cultural and religious diversity which is even more than that in Sudan; thus his visit here could be an eye opener in all areas of nation building; and finally, to be able to meet with South Sudanese Diaspora, interact with them and provide them an opportunity to enjoy his music.
“I was looking forward to being in Australia for the obvious reason that Australia is very far away in terms of geographical distances. It is not easy to be allowed into Australia and therefore it is a rare privilege that I have been accorded the honour of visiting this developed and great country. My being here will enable me see first hand, the state of development, which can give me some ideas that I can take back with me. I can also meet with our people here and know some of them, so that when I meet them back in Sudan in future, I can converse with them with the background knowledge of where they were coming from”, he said.
The softly spoken musician further said: “My joint visit with Brother James Akec Nhial is to help create awareness among our people in Australia, about the forthcoming South Sudan referendum. We would like to encourage our people to know that nothing will help us if Sudan remains one and the country’s history is a living testimony. People should write it in their hearts the determination of struggle for our people’s dignity and freedom”, he continued.
Kudusay said that South Sudanese in the Diaspora were like seeds, that in the traditional sense of a farmer, “seeds of any particular crop were far more important than the general crops meant for consumption”.
“Our people here and elsewhere in the Diaspora need to know the important mission of development awaiting them back home; they are like seeds which a farmer always separate from the rest in the first instance,” he said.
He further stressed that they should make better use of the available opportunities and in the process of doing so, also work on their unity (Unity among southerners). He therefore urged South Sudanese in Australia to unite in purpose, souls, minds and objectives in order to advance the cause of their people.
“A musician is merely a humble and peace loving person. I am here to boost the morale of our people here, young and old alike. I want them to reconcile whatever little differences there are among them and unite in joy and happiness. If you have any misunderstanding with your brother or sister, I would love to see you forgiving one another and enjoy my music in peace and harmony”, Kudusay appealed.
Asked to elaborate the motivation behind the composition of his popular hit song Ce rienyda puou reec e wet riang e Sudanda, ce yen kewar luel ater aa ye dhieth mith wek riny e panda (our generation is angry about the destruction in our Sudan, was it not said enmity/struggle is inherited by children), Kudusay said the idea came about as a consequence of him witnessing a kind of marriages or romantic liaisons in many different areas of South Sudan during the war. “Older SPLA soldiers or men married or partnered up with women they knew nothing or little about; children were often involved and an unfortunate trend of dysfunctional families emerged; men may be transferred or disconnected from their partners for various reasons and often these women would disappear or vanish with children into their ethnic communities and none would trace the other”, he said.
Kudusay said that he therefore composed the song as a way to educate the general public.
On his part, James Akec Nhial of Akutkuei expressed his appreciation and thanks to the entire South Sudanese community in Australia for their good will and support. Like his colleague John Kudusay, Akec appealed for unity, harmony and peace among the South Sudanese communities both in the Diaspora and at home.
Being a member of Sudanese Australians, Akec was asked by Gurtong to enlighten the community members here about the treatment and reception he received back home for the last two years he has been there; and he responded by saying that he was well received and that he is grateful to the leaders of South Sudan and the populace for that.
On the forthcoming referendum, the two expressed the concern that there are slightly just over a hundred days left for the exercise to take place in accordance with the protocols of the CPA. They said that the Diaspora needs to know that they are allowed to vote, but the question of who will organise people here is still hanging in the air. The message is that there is need for the Diaspora to organise themselves.
James Akec Nhial who is a renowned Southern nationalist wanting nothing short of absolute independence for the South thinks that absence of a huge Diaspora voting block has the potential to undermine the outcome of the referendum. He, however, acknowledged at the same time, the difficulty that the government is facing in ensuring that every son and daughter of the region in the Diaspora make it to vote.
“The SPLM and the Government of Southern Sudan have no financial capacity to cover every citizen abroad to travel home. As you know, the money is allocated from Khartoum and you can therefore understand the barriers faced”, he said. “However, I am optimistic the SPLM can well receive and look after people who go there for the purpose of voting during the referendum, provided they organise themselves and go in groups of good numbers. What is not possible are return tickets for everyone who goes there. But security and other necessities can be ensured by the GOSS and SPLM”, he added.
John Kudusay and James Akec Nhial already engaged in their first concert last Friday and it went well as indicated by the feedback from funs. Plans are now underway for the duo to embark on their music tour of Australia in other states and territories; they will then have a second round for Melbourne later in October in order to conclude their tour in the country. John Kudusay’s visit was organised by the Lost Boys Association of Australia in partnership with the greater Tonj Community.
Previous attempts were made by Kudusay’ home community of Aweil and this visit may just be the first of a series of visits to Australia that the well-liked musician may organise in future as the community hopes.