My daily conversations with South Sudanese youth tell me that they are either so hopeless about life in general or they are highly ignorant about the future. This second guess cannot be further from the truth since most of them shy away from books.
You invite them for a book club, they say they are extremely busy. Busy doing what? It is either a football in Europe or betting online. Most times, they lose. When they gain, it is not enough because knowledge is more precious than gambling.
Most of them have no idea about life now and into the future. One confides that “you know Matai, sometime I wonder if what I am doing makes sense (finishing a degree). I am closing 30 in a shortwhile and as you know, life expectancy in South Sudan is 47.” I turned my head in shame. This is just disturbing remark out of a dozen every month.
Two things makes me worried about this comment:
1. The fact that this university-going student can wrongfully quote the life expectancy of his country makes me wonder what he reads at the university. Lack of reading culture is a disease. In 2016, the UNDP Human Development Index put South Sudan’s life expectancy at 56.81 and by 2019, that has moved to 57. That is a lot.
2. If you’re going to the university, the United Nations predicts that you have higher chances to live than your family cousin who didn’t make it to college. This is a research data, not mine. Even if S. Sudanese die at 47 (as my colleague believes), it doesn’t mean they all die at that age, literarily speaking. It is just an average for Heaven’s sake. Even old S. Sudanese from the Silent Generation to the Baby Boomers generation with absolutely zero education are still eating today. One example is my paternal grandfather, Mr. Kuol Nyantoat (aka Kuol Wang).
Today, a 30 years old S. Sudanese university going student has roughly the same life expectancy with his Indian colleague in New Dehli or Seoul in South Korea.
This is why:
A. He is most likely to be employed by a high paying company or an elite government department. That means their income bracket is high and thus, can afford to buy the basic necessities or even luxurious items such as Iphone 11 or a car!
B. They are more likely to get married to an educated wife who will be responsible nutritously speaking to make them live longer. If they are fed on a balanced diet with more veggies than meat that is. Otherwise, it will backfire. The same applies to a university going girl from my country today.
So there you go. And by the way, read and read. Your university education shall remain average unless you join the 95% club of extraordinary beings who sleep less and read more.