By Alier Kingdom
I am not of the opinion that I write well. But because I keep being asked how I developed my writing skills. Let me tell you a short story.
Back in the days when I was in my last years of Secondary School. My father was a known businessman and owned a kiosk within Malakia main Market in Nimule, inside the kiosk I used to sell mixed goods including paraffin. Just so that you know, I used to help my father in that kiosk. But that’s besides the point. I am not talking about how much we used to make as a profit but I was a card-carrying subscriber of Daily monitor and Sudan Mirror newspapers during my time in that kiosk. Every morning, before I opened that kiosk, I would informed the newspapers supplier, to reserve for me that day’s daily monitor and Sudan Mirror. Those days I was never really interested in political news.
I bought the Daily monitor because of that page inside the newspaper that had the Crossword and the Codeword puzzles. My cousin actually joked that if the Codeword puzzle was to be sold separately I would be the only guy buying that paper in Nimule. The guy who introduced me to Crossword and Codeword is Deng Simon Garang Tor. He is my childhood friend. If you see Deng Simon tell him I owe him a lot. He is the only reasin you will see me writing here.
I loved those two puzzles, the Crossword and the Codeword. They introduced me to jargon, sharpened my comprehension skills, kept me at par with the rest of the world. I would solve them in record time it was unbelievable. Later on I bought a scrabble Board – the only board game I can win a medal in if I was to pit my wits with the best in the business. Nimule town those years had no bookshop, so those puzzles was the closest I came to catching up in English grammar.
Also. A big shoutout to my Fulla classmates. Deng Simon, Nhial Daniel, Malith Johns, Makwei Achol Thiong, Mabior Philip Mach, Kur Aleu Deng, Duot Atemde Juach Mabiong, Malek Mayen, our English language teacher Ustaz Mayom Nyok Deng. Before I could make it to the kiosk to help my father, it was at motoyo netwball playing ground under the then mango tree where I often went to read the Daily Newspapers. Deng would smuggle his father’s or cousin’s newspaper out of his reach whenever he came home with it, and he would invite me over to read it with them at the playing ground. We would fill the puzzles under the mango tree.
I also loved Jon Pen columns (Master tale teller), Victor Lugala (shoes shinner) and Atem Yak Atem (Far away from war) from the Sudan Mirror. You wouldn’t miss it for the world. Whispers was still alive and writing hilarious pieces in there too. There’s a generation who did not read Sudan Mirror. they don’t know what they missed. If you see Jon Penn, Victor Lugala or Atem Yak, big them up, big time!
The point I am making here is that writing does not come by chance. You have to take initiative. You have to spare time to discover new knowledge. You have to read. You have to write. You have to have a circle of friends to keep you on toes. That circle has to share in your interest. When I came to Juba, I developed a small circle of friends who like reading and writing like I do. I will not mention them here all. They know themselves. Raan Paan-Jieng, Wenne Madyt Dengs, Mony Adau Në Kuduum, Yak Jacob Maluak and Biar Amotchiir top the list.
These people have been extremely resourceful to me. They’re book hunters. They spend more time in bookshops than any other social place. They hunt for book bargains. They hunt for fresh titles on the book shelves. They speed read books before they buy them. They advise on which book is best for which study area. If you want to know about the Rwanda Genocide, they have a recommendation. If you want to know more about the Obama White House, they have a recommendation. If you want to know why grasshoppers have green blood while cockroaches have white blood, they have a recommendation. These guys belong to what we are now calling a Book Club. If you want to write well, you have to read well. And for you to read well, you need a Book Club of your own.
Try it. It works magic all the time