Human rights activist John Bul Dau says wounds from the Second Sudanese Civil War in the 1980s have been reopened. South Sudan is now teetering on the edge of its own civil war following several weeks of violence that have claimed the lives of at least a thousand people and forced another 200,000 to flee their homes. (National Geographic News)
- Watch our remarkable video “Responsibility and Leadership,” in which a younger John Dau talks about his responsibilities as refugee who successfully immigrated to the United States. God Grew Tired of Us, the film from which the video is taken, was released in 2006. Compare the video and the Nat Geo News article. How has John Dau’s life changed in the eight years since the film premiered? What characteristics have remained the same?
- In the video, we see Dau delaying his education in order to work two or three blue-collar jobs. He sends money home to help support his friends and family in Sudan. Today, Dau is a National Geographic Explorer, entrepreneur, and human rights activist—president of both the John Dau Foundation and the South Sudan Institute.
- Dau, one of the older (or, at least, taller) “Lost Boys,” was put into a position of leadership at age 13. He was in charge of a group of 1,200 refugees. Today, Dau continues to display an exceptional capacity for, as the video’s title indicates, responsibility and leadership. He has extended outreach to the South Sudanese population beyond financial support for his family and friends. Most notably, he established a medical clinic to improve the health and social stability of the rural population of Duk county.
- In the video, Dau says he wants to bring his family to the U.S. In the recent Nat Geo News article, however, his “dad and mom and brothers” remain in South Sudan.
- Compare the video and the Nat Geo News article again. How has life in South Sudan changed? What elements have not changed?
- South Sudan remains plagued by political unrest, violence, and poverty. Dau addresses the violence as senseless: “This war has no meaning to it. It’s not a war about religion: 98 percent of South Sudanese are Christian. It’s not about race—all people in South Sudan are African. South Sudan fought together against the oppressions by the north [Sudan], and now they are splitting themselves and fighting against each other—there’s no sense and reason to fight.”