Jungle Chronicles and Other Writings: Recollections of a South Sudanese
by Atem Yaak Atem
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A real journalist must serve the truth, even if that means becoming unpopular or inviting hatred from those related by blood, political or ideological bonds.
- ATEM YAAK ATEM, 2003
The Sudan, from which South Sudan split in 2011 has been known for its years of political and social upheaval since the end of British colonial rule. The two countries are intimately linked to one another by their history. Anyone writing about what has become known as the ‘Sudans’ cannot hope to provide any meaningful context without reference to that shared past.
This is what the author has done in this volume of his memoirs. Some of the writings appearing in this book examine other social and cultural aspects of South Sudan, either at times of conflict, or during interludes of tranquillity. Some of the stories are funny! For instance: “If rudeness were a commodity, we would be the biggest exporters in the world!”
Regarding his handling of “Sudan Time Syndrome”, he is as excoriating, as he is unforgiving, in his denunciation of the laxity towards punctuality some people show when expected to attend public functions.
Atem has covered – and commented on- the affairs of The Sudan and later, South Sudan, for four decades, in his role as a senior journalist. Some of those writings appear in this collection. They capture the essence of his non-chronological, four- volume memoir, of which The Jungle Chronicles is the first instalment.
He was an active participant in his country’s second civil war of 1983-2005- as the founding director of Radio SPLA, the rebel movement’s main mouthpiece. Atem was also a speechwriter for the SPLM/A. Dr John Garang- Atem recalls historic events of the time, and his interactions with prominent members of the insurgency, such as the moment’s former deputy leader, Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, and Yousif Kuwa Mekki, among others.
Atem’s close proximity to the SPLM/A top hierarchy often brought him into contacts with African heads of state, local and international journalists, and not surprisingly, spies posing as diplomats. This was the case with an Egyptian official who claimed he was a special envoy of the former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. The author ably narrates the account of that surreal encounter.
Strident, courageous and enlightening, Jungle Chronicles is a fascinating and ultimately uplifting read created by a highly-experienced, and skilled journalist. Atem has tremendous confidence in his country and its people to forge their own pathway towards being a cohesive and productive nation.
This book should be required reading for anyone interested in African politics, or societal South Sudan. It is a ‘must read’ for anyone following the rebirth of this vibrant nation, which, far from defeated and helpless, is going to rise like a phoenix from decades of turmoil.From the Preface by Rachel Kear.
Paperback: B&W 5.83 x 8.27 in or 210 x 148 mm (A5) Perfect Bound on Creme w/Gloss Lam
Publisher: Africa World Books Pty Ltd
Page Count: 392
ISBN Complete: 9780987614186
Weight: 1.131 lbs
Publication Date: 10/27/2017
On Sale Date: 10/31/2017
The information and views set out in this publication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publishers. Neither the publishers nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the nature, veracity or accuracy of the information contained herein or the use which may be made thereof.