Grew Tired of Us
Before the war started, I remembered very well the rich tropical
and savannah climates we used to tend our cattle, goats, sheep with
friends and the beautiful dogs. The pastures of our livestock were
so good and available throughout the entire year around. I remembered
also when we took our livestock down onto the White Nile bank to drink
the fresh water of natural springs from the second world largest of
Lake Victory. With this amazing climates, southern Sudan was the great
home of millions of wildlife including my favor animal “white
and black monkey” called the flying monkey. I like it so much
because of its entertainable manners and fun of flying from branch
to branch without missing any single jump. Another favor one was Zebra
because of its colors and cool friendly behaviors. –Panther Bior
The documentary God Grew Tired of Us is the culmination of nearly five
years of work. Filming began in the summer of 2001 in Africa, on the
border of Sudan and Kenya, at a UN refugee camp called Kakuma. There
I met a group of orphaned young men known in the West as “Lost
Boys” from Sudan.
Fourteen years earlier, these boys fled their villages when their idyllic
life was, in a moment, brought to an end as Antanov planes rained bombs
down on their villages. Men on horses came to kill the men, round up
the young women and take them north into slavery. The boys were told
by their parents to run because otherwise they would be killed. They
fled. Most of them had little idea that they would never see their
families again. The most amazing part of their story, one that I can
never get over, is that they held together, opting for civility during
even the most horrific periods. At that time, there were an estimated
22,000 boys, ranging in age from three to fifteen. They didn’t
know William Golding’s pessimistic view of the world, as illustrated
in Lord of the Flies. They didn’t regress into savagery. Rather,
they took care of each other. A ten-year-old boy looked after a three
and a five-year-old boy. They formed families in order to survive,
and set a course through Sub-Saharan Africa in search of safety.
For the film, I found footage from an archive in London in which a
cameraman had captured the end of the boys’ dreadful journey
out of Sudan. They had finally crossed into Ethiopia. Thousands of
them had died. The footage shows skeletal figures standing silent,
most with their eyes closed, too tired to open them. An older boy,
still honoring his new family bond, clutched an emaciated younger boy.
They had passed through a world without food or water. They were the
ones who hadn’t been attacked or eaten by wild animals. They
had survived the bombing raids of the Northern Arab government who
wanted to see them finished off.
They are in America now, the 4,000 remaining boys from that first journey.
Early on it was odd to see them make their way through our modern world.
New things. A flight attendant’s message over the speaker heading
out of Nairobi alarmed one of the guys so much that he asked me, “What
place is the man speaking from?” Even more odd, having to explain
to them that, yes, in America we have an entire supermarket aisle dedicated
to food for dogs and that the freezer isn’t necessarily the place
to store oven mitts or towels.
Today it’s been over five years since we met. They have become
young Americans, transformed faces, vibrant and full from years living
in the “land of plenty.” They are busy working jobs and
going to school. They have gained and they have lost here in America. “It’s
lonely, we miss our culture. Now we say this is mine, this is yours.” But
they are also safe here and most look expectantly to their future.
I have learned so much from them. Mostly what it’s like to be
truly civil, but also that there is a line that should never be crossed—a
dark place where you can honestly say “life is useless.” I
want them to tell their story so others can hear and learn. I want,
in any way we can, to stop the systematic eradication, the genocide,
of these great people—the people of Sudan.
My Mother Cradle Homeland is gone for ever, I lost my rich soil,
I lost White Nile, I lost Blue Nile, I lost Bar el jebel Rivers that
hosting the millions of beautiful birds. The hope is gone for Sudan’s
land. The world is useless with out my Country, my Homeland, my Rivers
and livestocks. Sudan, the land used to flows with Honey, with Milk
and sweet water for both human and animals alike. –Panther Bior