John Garang Memorialized by Sudan’s Top Novelist

See also: Kola Boof talks about John Garang, Bin Laden and More

Calling on her fellow Sudanese to “honor” the memory of John Garang by remaining peaceful in the face of their leader John Garang’s untimely death, and voicing her complete trust in his replacement, Salva Kiir Mayardit, Sudan’s controversial novelist-poet Kola Boof, an SPLA member living in exile in the United States, appeared on several radio programs to debut the poem “Choll Apieth” in honor of Garang’s legacy and said that the poem is to represent a hope for peace in Sudan as well as the spirit of John Garang. When asked to describe Garang, Boof told Voice America Radio, “John Garang was a Dinka, a man of enormous kindness, honor and intelligence. He believed devoutly in the potential for all Sudanese people to rise and join as one. None of the Arab leaders in Khartoum have ever had the vision and integrity that John Garang had. He was Sudan’s best son.”

Boof, who was instrumental in securing guns and ammunition for the South Rebel in 2004 by appealing to Israel, said that she gave up her duties as a member of Garang’s SPLA earlier this year to focus on raising her sons and her writing career – Boof is the author of six books published in eight countries, including the current American release “Flesh and the Devil” and the classic 1997 poetry collection, “Nile River Woman” – but also said that she will continue to support both the SPLA and Doctors Without Borders through financial contributions and public speaking.

Kola Boof first met John Garang in 1978, when at the age of five years old, her Arab Egyptian father, the late archeologist Harith Bin Farouk, took her to Garang’s home where the two men discussed the formation of what would much later become the SPLA. When asked to explain what her poem about Garang means, Boof told Voice America, “I want the Arabs in my country to stop seeing the black skin and focus on the common spirit of brotherhood. One of my heroes is Garang’s wife, Rebecca, and she is right – we have no reason to be at each other’s throats. We need peace in Sudan.”

Earlier this summer, Kola Boof debuted a poem in honor of her friend, slain Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, which she said was the most painful thing she’d ever written – until now.

“Choll Apieth”

(black is beautiful)

a Poem by Kola Boof

In the river crossing and coming through us

The egg has not drowned/Our mother’s long war

– hand of Nhialic, The blood

In the river crossing and coming through us

Behold today/ that cattle have no tongues

And that the earth is cold where Macardit tangles

in the raid of horses/ charging in our wake.

– we have lost our best son

– we, who bring the morning her spears

– we who are like birds/tired of the Crashing

And have seen the Sky itself

fall against our dreams

Choll Apeith, warriors!

In all my conversations:

the ones who are victorious … the ones who are praying

Knowing that Papa Garang shall rise again

In the eye of our fists – the chant of our shouting

The Yoke of New Site/golden as sun and birth

This victory of the everborn’s heartbeat … steadily rising

Be it on one foot – Garang

(be it on one foot)

Our hero of the landscape

In the river crossing and coming through us.

In all my conversations –

Come through here … river

Bloody Cross and our father rising from it

to deliver this Everborn;

bring us your cattle and your courage –

bloody womb; our mother, the Goddess Sudan.

Enchant us this victory.

His place with God/And no more flesh.

Everborn the victory … and no more flesh.

Garang … Garang

our best son!

And no more flesh.

Bird of the Sky – black as all black put together.

And no more flesh.

We who give birth to you again – and no more flesh.

By Bruce Dunne, New York

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