Utne Blogs > Literature

After the War

 by Steve Thorngate

Tags: Personal narrative, Sudan, Civil war, Naivasha Agreement,

Parkiela JohnAlmost 2 million civilians were killed in southern Sudan's 20-plus-year civil war, and more than 4 million were displaced. Since the Naivasha Agreement of 2005, more than a million people have returned to the region.

The May-June issue of A Common Place, a bimonthly magazine published by the Mennonite Central Committee, features a cover story on the Sudanese who have returned to the South and others who plan to follow. The issue also includes a short first-person piece by Parkiela John, who recently went back to her village after 22 years in Khartoum. John speaks with startling clarity to the difficulties of re-establishing community in the face of great hardship:

When the war came and people scattered, people lost their love for each other. That is what is different. It is because of poverty. If we had what we needed, we would gather together to eat in each other’s houses. But neighbors can’t share food now because there is too little. The lack of food, the poverty, means there is a lack of love.

Photo by Melissa Engle, Mennonite Central Committee. Used by permission.