Film documents South Sudan post-independence, Garang’s family

By Jean-Pierre Afadhali

Photo after film screening

The documentary ‘No, Simple Way Home’ features the life of South Sudan’s father of nation, late John Garang de Mabiol, his family with emphasis on struggle for independence, the country’s post-independence challenges and nation building efforts in the youngest nation in the world.

The documentary that premiered on Monday 5 December at Alliance Francaise in Nairobi, Kenya plunges the viewer in Soudan’s past, relations between Muslim-majority North, mainly Arabic and Christian-majority south that is mainly black, but it focuses on the life of freedom fighter John Garang de Mabior who died just 21 days after becoming vice-president of the Republic of Sudan and documents his wife Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior’s life as a politician and a mother. The movie shows how in 2011 South Sudan became independent amid huge celebrations across the country.

‘No, simple way home’ premiered at the Berlinale in February this year for the world. The documentary was directed by Akuol de Mabior one of the daughters of late Dr. Garang and produced by IBX Africa, a Nairobi based production company.

The movie also was produced as part of African film documentaries project was directed by the Ms. Akuol de Mabior who was allowed by her mum Ms. Nyandeng who become one of four country’s vice presidents in charge of humanitarian affairs in the Unity government to film her life as a government official and their family.

Ms. Nyandeng narrates about the challenges the young country faced including divisions and suspiciousness among the young nation’s leadership that led to the civil war in December 2013. Ms. Nyandeng noted in the documentary she was then accused of plotting a coup against President Salva Kiir.

The documentary shows the struggles for independence in which Dr. Garang played a leading role on military and political fronts participating in various talks.

The film delves into the life of Ms. Nyandeng and South Sudan until 2021. It documents her life as a politician and as a mother. Nyandeng said in one of scenes in an interview with her daughter that she would never remarry, because the late Garang is the only man she knows.

Despite liberation from Sudan’s regime, ‘No, simple way home” depicts daily life hustles in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan. It portrays how ordinary citizens working hard to make ends meet. Some sell tea which appears to be one of favorite drinks. It also touches a bit on rural life with herds of cows as South Sudan and Dinka tribes from the father of national are cattle farmers.

The documentary relates the challenges the country faces such as inflation. Speaking during the question and answer session after the film screening one of Garang’s daughter Ms. Nyankuir De Mabior who was present said that inflation was not only country’s problem but also a global issue caused by various factors.

The country also appears to have faced the consequences of climate changes such as floods hit one the city portrayed in the documentary looked horrible. Nearly all houses were submerged.

The country is relatively stable after the transition period has been extended but challenges such as poverty remain. “Can one eat freedom?” asked Ms. Nyandeng commenting on poverty the people face after the independence they fought for a long period.

The documentary is now being screened at Unseen cinema theatre in Kenya from 8th – 22nd December 2022. It was premiered in South Sudan recently.

The film crew answered various questions on South Sudan and encouraged Kenyans and others to visit the youngest nation. They also touched on fact that Ms. Nyandeng allowed them film her life including private life such as at her home and revealed the majority of the crew were women. Filmmaker, producer Sam noted the documentary was a true African film, unlike some that chose to portrays stereotypes and only negative aspects of Africa.

The doc would appeal to anyone who wants to know South Sudan’s post-independence period that is a mixture of conflicts, civil war, and people’s resilience to make their life better and the role its other African countries and international partners play in moving forward the youngest Nation in Africa.

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