God Grew Tired of Us: A Memoir

By Mohamed, Amna | Ahfad Journal, December 2017 | Go to article overview

God Grew Tired of Us: A Memoir


Mohamed, Amna, Ahfad Journal


John Bul Dau and Michael S. Sweeney, 2008. God grew tired of us: A Memoir. Published by National Geographic.

ISBN-13: 978-1426202124

This book tells the story of escape and survival of thousands of boys, now known as the "Lost Boys of Sudan," who fled their home in Southern Sudan, narrowly escaping government troops crossing sub-Saharan Africa on foot for more than a 1,000 miles pursued by armed soldiers, wild animals, starvation, dehydration, and disease. "We chewed tall grasses and ate mud to stay alive," Dau remembers. "I was barefoot and wearing no clothes; at night the desert was so cold. We thought about our parents all the time."

John wrote in English which he learnt while living in a refugee camp in Kenya unlike many writers like Francis Deng and Taban lo Liyong who had proper education in English and have used it widely ever since. It is an African autobiography with a difference; many African writers in the first half of the twentieth century witnessed the arrival of colonialism into Africa and the transformation that it caused in the continent. They wanted to register the last scene of pure African life without the interference of the "Whites" and how things fell apart afterwards. The novel of John Paul Dau portrays a different kind of confrontation and the ensuing struggle and suffering; it was internal, of course it is sometimes linked to historical root causes which may take a much larger space than this modest article to discuss. What we are interested in though is the way Dau was able to tell his story from first-hand experience and with it the story of a whole generation of Southern Sudanese children who were named "the Lost Boys". In fact hundreds of these children were actually lost forever but there are those who survived like John Paul Dau himself, at the end of the book he concludes; "So many times I feared I would never live to see my first child. God, who has blessed me so many times, has outdone himself (Dau, 2007:287). This gratitude for the many blessings he received from God reflects the choice of title for the book.

God Grew Tired of Us is divided into two parts; part one follows the children from the time when they left their families' villages to escape perils of the war in South Sudan through the harsh and dangerous path to a safer temporary shelter. The second part portrayed the second chance that boys like John Bui Dau were lucky enough to have, when they travelled to the United States of America to start a new life there, what the book calls "a miracle".

One of the uprooted youngsters known as the Lost Boys of Sudan, John Bui Dau

was 12 years old when civil war ravaged his village and shattered its age-old society

... John's memoir of his Dinka childhood shows African life and values at its best,

while his searing account of hardship ,famine and war also testifies to human

resilience and kindness. (from the blurb of the book)

The book is divided into chapters which are preceded by a summary of events told therein. Also to help the readers there are maps of Sudan and photos that illustrate the different stages of John's life story and that of the Lost Boys. There are also excerpts embedded in the chapters which include quotes by one of the people related to John and whom we read about in the book.

The writer spoke with a voice of an innocent child who was forced to run away from the loving bosom of his family without understanding the reasons. As is the custom with children they tend to blame themselves for any misfortune that they face in life and Dau was no exception but he chose to turn to God for support, he says; " As darkness fell and my mind grew quiet, I thought about my family and I prayed to God. "Where are you?" I asked God. In my village they say you are everywhere. If you can hear me please let me find something to eat. And please let me find my mother and father". In fact throughout the book and up to the end Dau shows great faith in God and his mercy and benevolence to man. …

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