Folks, there are times when you feel that no one is watching or acknowledging your contribution to the community. Still, with the technological advancement, every little act of goodwill you offer is likely being appreciated in silence. But most importantly, the system that regulates the functioning and operation of the structures of the society is watching everything you do. On the 22nd of April 2021, John Akuot Aciek, the president of South Sudanese Community Association in WA, Peter Lual Reech Deng, the Founder and CEO of the Africa World Books, and I appeared before the Australia Appeal Tribunal in Perth to argue against an unfair decision-directed towards a member of my family by the immigration department. I was the applicant while John and Peter were witnesses. The honourable member of the tribunal took time questioning me for a couple of hours as I justify and continually asking for the decision to be overturned. After he finished with me, he turned his attention to the two witnesses.
Throughout the hearing, the Honourable Member of the tribunal was silently matching what each of us was saying with the information he already knew about each of us. We were unaware of the ongoing corroboration of the information as we speak throughout the hearing. There was no indication that our statements were being matched with the information collected by ‘the Big Brother’ and kept in a large white binder underneath the desk of the Presiding Member.
After 3 hours, we were asked to leave the hearing room for a couple of minutes as the Presiding Member went into his chambers for a break.
Upon the resumption of the hearing in readiness for the tribunal decision, which is usually immediate when the facts are clear, we were all surprised and equally shocked at the same time when the Presiding Member pulled out a white folder under his desk. Then came that assertive voice of authority,
“Gentlemen, I would like to let you know that I had a fair idea about each of you before the commencement of this hearing. I was looking for any misleading information, but I can say that you people have been very truthful”.
Then he went through our profiles, ranging from our digital presence to the positive contributions which each of us has made towards the community, as well as mentioning our credentials. Friends, it was pleasing and soothing to hear the affirmation from the Honourable Member of the tribunal that we were people of integrity, but at the same token, it could have been disastrous and detrimental if any of us had talked himself up in pride that may result in exaggerating one’s achievement which could have been treated as a lie.
Considering my Christian values and my faith in God that I worship, I knew that the two gentlemen I invited as witnesses would be bluntly truthful about themselves and their contributions to the community, and folks they did not disappoint me, nor the system and God. Secondly, it is critical to mention that your online activities matters. Be very careful about what you do online, on social media or on any digital platform. The day may come when it may be used to judge you. Remember, causes have effects. Thus, you may never see an immediate impact of your little act of kindness or goodwill towards others, but the day will eventually come when its positive effects will be felt by either you or others. So, continue to do good in your family, your community or your nation.
Finally, I am very grateful to the two gentlemen, John Akuot and Peter Lual, who gave their time and energy to stand with me in a fight against unfair decisions directed at us. Above all, I am thankful to my God as the tribunal ruled in our favour. This case may set a precedent that can be used to fight any future injustices directed at our people, similar to other precedents set by the Lebanese immigrants I had heavily relied upon.
PS: With Globalisation, any good work in one part of the world draws the attention of the appreciative people in the other part of the world. I did not know about this article which I was interviewed for by a South African Journalist interested in writing about the Africa World Book. It was brought to attention by the Appeal Tribunal on 22 April 2021.