Review: They Poured Fire On Us From the Sky

They Poured Fire On Us From the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys From Sudan by Alephonsion Deng, Benson Deng, Benjamin Ajak with Judy A. Bernstein @ 2005 Public Affairs Books/Perseus, NY

When I started writing my Emancipation Posse stories back in the early 2000s, it was with certain naïve expectations in mind that somehow, my writing could make a difference. Those stories were based on the premise that social change had to come from within; that education of the young would be a key to that change; that there had to be a better way than the continual violence that had been wracking Africa’s largest nation.

All that is only possible where a government actually gives a shit about its citizens. The attraction of America, up to the last couple of generation, has been the Jeffersonian principle that government is the servant of the people. The people of the Sudan, be it the original failed nation founded in 1956 or Southern Sudan, granted its independence only five years ago, have never had such a government.

This book is a heart-143819breaker. These three siblings, two brothers and their cousin, were driven from their home villages by the war against the Northern Sudan in the late nineties, and for the next several years they were forced to flee first to Ethiopia, and from there to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, where they were looked down on by the Kenyans. “Why don’t you go home to your own country?” they’d sneer—back to the same country where they’d driven out by militias and soldiers on horseback and Russian Antonov bombers. There are instances of kindness, but also frequent examples of callousness and selfishness.  These young men managed to come together and be broken apart again and again, before they were finally re-settled in the United States in 2001.

That is what shows how pathetically idiotic Trump’s Muslim Refugee Ban is, especially when applied to the Sudan(s). Each country, North or South, is either incapable or unwilling to taking care of their people; all they seem capable of is waging war on them. I have to wonder what the hell is wrong with a government—two of them, come to that—that cares nothing for its own people. There are no terrorists coming out of the Sudan(s); these are just people trying to escape a shitty situation. And I’m now sadly aware that change will only come when Omer Bashir leaves office, either through old age or assassination by his own army. With luck, Vladimir Putin will be mauled by a bear around that same time.