The second of MAI’s workshops in a three-year program to develop local writers and publishing in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, has been postponed due to fighting. We share this update after meeting last Friday in our office with Bishop Joseph Garang Atem of the Diocese of Renk of the Anglican Church of Sudan.
“Where are the writers, dead or alive? We don’t know,” Bishop Joseph told us after his State Department briefings in Washington DC. Since last December, more than a million people in South Sudan have fled their homes due to an outbreak of fighting between government and rebel forces. Due to the scattering of local writers and continuing instability in the northern Upper Nile region, MAI’s writer workshop has been temporarily postponed.
South Sudan received independence from Sudan in 2011, but the 21-year civil war took a toll on the nation’s infrastructure and the people’s psyche. Fighting continues over the oil-rich land in South Sudan.
Bishop Joseph sees locally authored books as a key to “nation building” and a means for planting Christian values in society. “Let us have a heart for forgiveness to bring life to our country, not to repay evil for evil,” he tells his countrymen today.
A year ago, 18 South Sudanese writers gathered for their first training with MAI-Africa trainers Lawrence Darmani and Barine Kirimi. They worked on four potential books with a powerful message of spiritual truth and hope to both Christian and general readers: Prayers for South Sudan, Letters to My Children, a study of Christian themes in the South Sudan National Anthem, and a children’s picture book that is nearly complete.
Our workshop and the writers’ continued work on these four manuscripts has tentatively been reschuled for this September or October.
Please pray for lasting peace in South Sudan.
>>Read “South Sudan: What is the fighting about?” a recent BBC News update
>>Watch the video of Pastor Moses sharing his vision for raising up local writers in South Sudan (filmed at LittWorld 2012 in Kenya)