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On the Horn

Page 3

The exchange, though, had been enough to encourage the man to take a seat at the table second time round. He was Majak Dinka, like the Kangaroos’ footballer; there were seven or eight families from the tribe in Melbourne, numbering perhaps fifty people altogether. He was studying for a diploma in digital media, clearly a good deal of extracurricular reading added. Perhaps forty or mid, divorced with three grown children. Freedom in the new country was the common complaint from the men separated from their wives. Questioning Majak’s Christianity brought firm disavowals – Majak had been baptized; there was no animism in his case. (Bol had owned the two spiritual elements in the case of his family and tribe.)

A stuttering conversation with Majak. The man would be denied one of the name cards that had been prepared for travel. Not for a Dinka Carnegie, sorry my man. Majak’s laugh suggested he had gotten the point; the co-opted Somali was bad enough without Dale on top. On the table between us had sat a small, shriveled and browned lemon that took his attention. The fruit from the studio tree had been carried in the bike bag for a couple of months for fragrance. In its barely recognisable state Majak surprised with his identification. Not an impossible task, but not altogether straightforward, either, one would have thought for a central African. In fact, Majak declared, South Sudan had plentiful lemon trees. Orange trees and mango too, the latter especially sprung up everywhere. Citrus and mango together in the one locale?... Evidently yes in the case of Southern Sudan. It was because of the Nile, Majak agreed. At the time it seemed Majak had claimed both Niles, the Blue and the White, for Southern Sudan. Perhaps it had been a political point. The two rivers certainly met in Khartoum in Northern Sudan, a couple of hundred kilometres from the new border.

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