Francis Deng was in his second year in 1958-9, one of only four or five Southern law students. He was one of the favoured sons of Deng Majok, the well-known Paramount Chief of the Ngok Dinka, the only Nilotic people to live in Northern Sudan. Francis was quite short for a Dinka, only about six-foot, but he was recognizably Nilotic and, without putting on airs, had a dignified aristocratic bearing. He spoke very good English and Arabic and, in some respects, became a leader of the whole class, not just the few Southerners, for instance, leading an expedition to Germany during a long vacation.
Oliver Farran and I encouraged him to gather information about Dinka custom and this turned out to be the beginning of his life-long involvement with writing about Dinka culture.
In 1965 in New Haven, I helped to record his memories of his childhood and education from his father’s compound, through village, primary, and secondary school, to universities in Khartoum, London and Yale.
This became an intimate memoir, the publication of which awaits his retirement from public life. Francis later followed a very distinguished academic, political and diplomatic career as well as publishing about forty books. After sixty years, we are still close friends.
Prof William Twining.
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