OSWEGO, NY – Nearly 27 years after Majok Marier began his odyssey at age 7 in 1987, the 34-year-old Atlanta resident tells his story as one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” a walk of nearly 1,000 miles to find safety and freedom.
His memoir, “Seed of South Sudan: Memoir of a ‘Lost Boy’ Refugee,” co-authored with former UPI reporter and author Estelle Ford-Williamson, is one of the most detailed books on the Lost Boys to be published since South Sudan became the world’s newest nation in 2011.
The authors will read and sign in both Syracuse and in Oswego.
Marier and Ford-Williamson will speak at 6:30 p.m, today (July 22), at the Oswego Public Library, and at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Syracuse.
The Oswego Public Library is located at 120 E. Second St.; St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church is located at 342 Vine St.
Both events are free and open to the public.
Syracuse has been a center of much activity for the former “Lost Boys,” with more than two hundred young men now living in Syracuse. Resident John Bol Dau is the subject of “God Grew Tired of Us,” a video and book seen and read been seen by thousands across the country. Dau, a professional speaker, now heads a foundation to create hospitals and other services in his home town in South Sudan. Gabriel Bol Deng, another Syracuse resident and professional speaker, raised funds for a school in his home community as well; he is the subject of an award-winning documentary, “Rebuilding Hope.”
Marier writes in chilling detail what he and so many others went through to make their way, first to Ethiopia, back to South Sudan, then to Kenya — and finally to the United States.
It is hard to imagine a child starting out at age 7, traveling hundred and hundreds of miles across bush country and desert, walking at night to avoid being seen by enemy soldiers – and occasional lions – before finally reaching Ethiopia, only to be forced to continue on because of a revolt in that nation.
Finally, after nine years in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, Marier is able to make, what was for him, an incredible journey halfway across the globe to America. Describing the many people he encounters on his journey in Africa as well as those individuals and organizations in Atlanta and across the U.S. who provided assistance and encouragement, Marier explains how he and others are working toward their dreams of ultimately returning to their homeland with the knowledge and skills to help South Sudan become a stable and self-sustaining nation.
Co-author Ford-Williamson offers insights into the many people who have helped the Lost Boys over the past few years, not only those in Atlanta, but across the U.S. and around the world, including celebrities like George Clooney, who have chosen to use their “celebrity” to bring attention to South Sudan. A brief account of the major role played by NBA player Manute Bol in South Sudan’s freedom is also included. She discusses the many issues facing this newest of African nations, including the need for accessible water, the continuing issue of the country’s rich oil resources, and the ongoing conflict over its control.
Marier is a plumber’s apprentice in Atlanta, supporting his family, and working for improvements in South Sudan villages.
Estelle Ford-Williamson, author of “Abbeville Farewell: A Novel of Early Atlanta and North Georgia,” and editor of “The Lou Walker Center Writers Anthology,” Vols. 1 and 2, writes and teaches in Atlanta.
The reading at the Oswego Public Library is funded in part by Poets & Writers, Inc., with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
“Seed of South Sudan: Memoir of a ‘Lost Boy’ Refugee” is available in bookstores, as an e-book on Amazon, or through McFarland & Co., Inc., Publishers, 1-800-253-2187; http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/. A percentage of sales goes toward building water wells in South Sudan. A non-profit corporation, Wells for Hope, Inc., has been created to build the wells, encourage literacy, and provide for a clinic in villages outside Rumbek, South Sudan: http://www.wellsforhope.org.