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  • Nyibol Gatluak

CLASH OF IDENTITIES

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

A poem by Nyibol Gatluak.


In the beginning, she was a Kenyan girl, born on the grounds of Kakuma in Kenya’s soil. Although, everyone told her she was a Sudanese girl. She did have Sudanese skin, Sudanese eyes and Sudanese lips. But she did know not which one she was. Was she a Kenyan girl? The flags did look similar.. but so long as she could remember that she was an Australian girl. But she was often asked, "are you not a Sudanese girl?" But she never lived in Sudan or could speak any Sudanese languages. Yet still, she could not remember anything from Kenya and could not speak Swahili. All she knew was Australia. Despite this, the news and the people on the street told her she was not an Australian girl. She did not have Australian skin, Australian eyes, Australian lips or an Australian voice. She then became a confused girl. A confused girl who concluded she was just a girl. An undefined, peculiar girl.

WRITERS NOTE: What inspired me to write ‘Clash of Identities’ was when I read Deng Thiak Adut’s biography ‘Songs of a War Boy’. I remember him expressing that because of his experiences fleeing war, he began to adapt to multiple cultures and languages. Due to this, he could not blur the lines on whether someone was speaking Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, English and various other languages. These comments truly made me reflect about the identity crises many of us South Sudanese people go through coming from a war-torn background.


At least three generations of South Sudanese families have experienced a civil war in their lifetime which has caused several families to become displaced from their homes and forced to flee to refugee camps throughout neighbouring countries. The refugee camps in Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt and Uganda hold a significantly large amount of South Sudanese refugees due to the constant political unrest. Some of these families (like my own) who are fortunate enough to migrate to developed countries have to then adapt to a new unfamiliar language, attempt to assimilate, understand social mores and ultimately attempt to navigate a new home. This then causes many of us to lose an understanding of who we are as people which I attempt to illustrate in this poem. I am illustrating that despite our various experiences we are an amalgamation of different cultures and it is something that should be embraced.

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