My Name is Sud was a community engagement script about Sudanese migrants in Australia, written for the Blacktown Arts Centre. I was responsible for project management, mentoring young writers, facilitation, oral history interviews, writing, directign and presentation.
Light on a small model of an African hut, or small village (traditional Southern Sudanese style)
We hear voices in Dinka.
Those are the voices I remember from home, the voices of your grandfather and grandmother and your father, warning me about leaving Africa. Light on Akoi’s note book. She writes as Kuei speaks.
Your grandfather said: ‘My dear daughter, take care of the lives of your children if you are going to a western country. If I was a rich man I would encourage you to stay here in Africa, I would keep you and your children here with me, but it seems that is not God’s will. I cannot promise you anything for your futures here and so I say – go’.
And your Grandma said: ‘My dear children, I wish you could stay here because once you get there your children will not help you in family issues that need the help of everyone, they will go their own ways. That is the way of the western children’.
And your father said: “My brother is already in Sydney, all alone, he needs his family. Machar and Akoi can get a good education, grow up in peace and come home one day to help their people. It is a good thing. Go’.
Light on a miniature aeroplane. Sound of plane taking off/landing. Music.
The small model of a modern Blacktown unit block is lit.
Full stage lights up.
The stage is primarily the family lounge room/dining room but can become any space – the family home, train, mall, abattoir – wherever the scene takes place.
They didn’t know how clever their grandchildren would be one day, reading and writing, not like their poor, stupid mother.
Ma, you are not stupid. I wish you would get out of the house more and got to your English classes at the migrant resource centre, you would learn quickly, you’re clever.
I love listening to my mother talk because I am writing a story about my family. I’ll start with our past. We are from Bor, we are Dinka speaking, but I grew up mostly in Kenya because we fled the war when I was very young. No. (She crosses out). No, no.
Welcome to my African home. You’ve seen us on your trains and in your streets, we are the tall, beautiful ones who bring Africa to your cities. If I could tell the world about us I would to tell them, we are not all the same, we speak many different languages, we are not all from the same place, we are not all here for the same reasons, we are not all that different to you. No, no. (Crosses out what she’s written)
Put your book down now and help me prepare the supper.
When are you going to teach Machar to cook, he should be helping tonight.
Things don’t change so quickly. Where is your brother?
He is getting ready, just let me finish this quickly and I will come help.
My story starts one Thursday evening, home work done, supper finished, late night shopping. It is about my dear mother Kuei - who is here in Blacktown but her mind is still in Africa, she keeps it alive with her memories and her food. As usual she is trying to get me interested in cooking instead of writing.