They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky
"Later my father asked 'what colour was that hyena?'
'It wasn't really yellow and it wasn't really red.'
'What did his neck look like?'
'Big neck with lots of hair and on the head.'
'You got a lion this time so we have to go and take care of it.'"
"'Fetch my spears,' my father said.
'Dad', said Dingmakuan, his eldest son by his first wife, 'I don't think only two of us can fight a lion.'
'Son, the covenant has been broken. I have to kill this lion.'"
"Since the cockcrow of Dinka culture, any girl who still had her lower six front teeth was not allowed to marry a man who owned a lot of cattle. 'She is not from a rich family,' people would say. 'Or maybe she is from the city and this is why she has not removed her teeth.' City girls are not respectful of their husbands family.
Young men were allowed to keep their lower teeth, but they struggled to attract the pretty girl that breaks every man's heart. Girls told those with teeth, 'You aren't a man, you haven't endured the pain of manhood.'"
"'It's happening once more,' she had said. 'The sun is dying. This is bad luck. The sun is one of God's driving forces that shines on the world to see what good or bad people are doing. It's light alerts God that mankind has failed to attend to evils. If the sun sees many evils, it stops looking and takes the message and reports to God.
'You see,' she said, looking at me seriously. 'Long ago the sun and moon fought over that duty. The sun defeated the moon in wrestling and the moon was thrown on the hot ashes. His face was burned and that's why you see some dark scars on it. The moon is blind now and cannot see the many evils that happen at night. Only the sun does this and that is why it has disappeared and now we are left in darkness during the day."
"She wanted to get rid of Kuot and killed a salamander that was clinging to the wall by hitting it with a stone. Then she threw it into our soup while it was still bleeding. The slamander's blood is poisonous."
"South of Yirol we passed through a place where people believed there were cannibals. Boys disappeared, especially little ones. Maybe wild animals devoured them. There was a type of small lion in that area called nyuanjuan that I had never seen in my village back home. If you were big, over ten years, this lion could only gash your eyes, but if you were five or seven, it would take you and eat you. That small lion ate many of us boys.
One night that lion, nyanjuan, came while we were sleeping. It picked up a boy sleeping near me. 'Help, help,' I cried.
All I saw was a blur of his body and heard his last cry echoing as he disappeared into the darkness. In the morning we found the blood and some remnants, his hand, legs and head. His eyes had been gashed all out. When the nyanjuan eats you, it gashes out the eyes, eats the guts and stomach, and only leaves legs and hands so that you cannot be recognized. When you don't have eyes, it is terrible."
"The elders told us that some men and women, highly trained by the government to disguise themselves among us, were planting land mines at night in the crowded public places and by the doors of homes and buildings."
"We watched for mountain gangs: meeting them would be worse than the soldiers. Hyenas screamed in the bushes but we didn't care about them because our number was enough to scare them. When we reached a place where we suspected others has been caught, we abandoned the road. The thing that frightened us most was being caught by the Taposa tribesmen who grazed their cattle in the area. They were friendly with the government and had a reputation for capturing escaping boys and taking them to the government troops in Kapotea, where they were paid with sweet sesame butter cookies. The Taposa men loved those cookies and they were as good as dead if they caught you."
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