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I have just finished reading "Invisible Bridge" by Dr Francis Mading Deng

I have just finished reading "Invisible Bridge" by Dr Francis Mading Deng, a week and half after it came into my possession.


Dr Francis Mading's writings are some of the most intellectually engaging and stimulating. For all the works of Mading Deng I've read, his autobiographical account in the Invisible Bridge is one of the most intimate and inspiring accounts I have ever read. Intimate because Mading Deng gives a reader a glimpse of his development from his innocent childhood in Noong, Abyei to how his relationship with those closest to him - his father Paramount Chief Deng Majok, his mother, his maternal grandfather Mijok, and maternal uncle Ngor defined and anchored his roots, to his heights of his educational journeys from Tonj, Rumbek, and Khor Taqqat schools to Khartoum, London, and Yale Universities, and ultimately his pioneering work at the United Nations. Inspiring because of the ways he triumphed against adversity: from family tragedies (deaths of his beloved father, and that of his closest friend and dear uncle, Bona Bulabek), his problems with the government of Sudan, which accused him of organised political opposition in London that led to his recall and termination of his scholarship, to his health crisis, a diagnosis of an eye disease, glaucoma, which threatened blindness. His ambivalent relationship with his famous father, Deng Majok is a recurring theme. A detached father, typical of a Dinka father who is cautious of an outward display of affection or love troubled Mading a great deal as he sought to find his place in the "family of multitudes". Mading Deng is of course one of the favoured sons of Chief Deng Majok. He was later assured of his father's love in the greatest praise he received when his father described him as "the High Dam of the Dinka", and his people high regards of him as a true son of his father - full of leadership and oratorical qualities inherited from his father. For those of us who attended boarding schools in Kenya or Sudan, you will relate to his stories about his experiences at Tonj Intermediate, or Khor Taqqat Secondary schools. The military-like discipline of his school years had its origins in the styles applied to running of boarding public schools in England in the last century. His story of stringent military-like discipline at Tonj Intermediate has striking similarities to our schools in Pinyudo, Kakuma or Kenyan boarding schools: the military styled drills, parades, inter- dormitory competitions in cleanliness or sports, rigorous academic competitions... I think my former colleagues of St Leo Boys would easily relate to this. For those wishing to write a memoir or autobiography, Dr Francis Mading Deng's is an incredible template. I recommend the book to anyone who wishes to be inspired. Note, if you're a reader of anthropological literature on Dinka and/or Nuer, you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that Mading Deng's invaluable contributions to classics such as Dr Godfrey Lienhardt's "Dinka Religion" and by extension Professor Evans-Pritchard's works on the Nuer. By Garang Kuir Ayiik




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