10. 2000: Munduri cattle camp: There’s nothing celebratory to remember about this Christmas which I spent in the bush rearing cattle in Munduri. This was a necessity to win the hearts of men in the cattle camp to release a cow to the market to cover my tuition fees and join secondary school in 2001.
11. 2001 and 2002 Magalatoria IDP camp: In IDP camps those days, being secondary school student was a daunting task. A penny like $1 was not easy to earn. So instead of marching on the streets on December 24 and spending the overnight singing from the Dinka Bor hymn book in the church, I divided my time carefully and made good use it. But honestly, I was still a very good Christian and made sure that whatever I do during Christmas does not increase my chances of being a spoil child. I became a commercial camera man and took a lot of photos during Christmas and earned incomes. (One photo of my younger brother Kur Aleu Deng and his peers taken in 2001 is attached).
12. 2003: Yei Town: Every single year has it won challenges and I would scarify my Christmas to prepare for the following year. I arrived Yei on December 22, 2003 on transit to Bor. Without success to continue my journey, I spent this unceremonious Christmas in Yei town and together dodged antipope bombing with residents of Yei.
13. 2004: Makuach, Bor: For the first time in 13 years, I celebrated Christmas in Bor. much had changed. Men, girls, women and boys were well dressed and I did not see anyone using blanket to his/her nakedness during the December 24 Masira. I watched, marched from the roadside and prayed in a church built a few meters from the spot I was born over two decades ago. Unlike 1990 where churches were found in main town centers, in December 2004, synagogues were built in every village because spread like wild fire in Bor from 1992 onwards. Right so, the survivors of “Ca-poth” famine did not dare to be tied down in darkness by the demanding African gods.
14. 2005 and 2006: Magalatoria IDP camp: I kept my ties with MDC and would travel to the camp during holidays and Christmas seasons to spend times with friends, relatives and fellow churchgoers. Now a senior, I took backseat and merely attended night and early morning prayers. Because I mastered nearly all the songs in the Bor hymn book, I was a resourceful person to attend church series. There were no guitars and people with powerful voices were vital. I was one.
15: 2007-2017: Over the last decade, I had not attended an overnight prayer, something I should redeem. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed Christmas season in my own way and gave the best I could to people, including my children, to have a colorful celebration.
With this, I have discovered through my own experience how I missed a lot in my childhood, early adulthood and my fledgling family. However, I have no regret for scarifying some of my Christmas holidays to try to address issues in life over the last 27 years.
And with this, I wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2018.