Being the newest addition to countries at just five years old, South Sudan is made up of the 10 southern-most states of Sudan and is one of the most diverse countries in Africa.
It is home to over 60 different major ethnic groups. The majority of its people follow traditional religions. Its people are very easy to spot because they are blessed vertically and so is our guest for this week.
When I met Deng Malek Agei at a meeting, the first thing I noticed was how tall he was and of course his sense of humor. Deng is the founder of The Time Foundation and an alumnus of YALI RLC.
He was born in Tonj state, Jang Payam village, South Sudan to a polygamous family. His dad who was the chief at the time had five wives. Deng is the second last born of five siblings. Growing up was not very easy after he lost his mother at three years and his dad three years later.
Deng began herding livestock at the age of five, loved his life and the rich traditional food consisting of milk, kada kombo(okra) with sorghum cake, Miok Weng (fried cheese) and meat. I have to admit I love me some Kenyan traditional food, I should try this Sudanese cuisine.
I was 10 years old when my young brother and I were taken to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya because my brother saw it as an opportunity for me to join school. I hated it. The weather was horrible. It was humiliating mostly because I was older and very tall, taller than most of my age mates.
Deng completed two diplomas in Business Administration, Entrepreneurship and IT and is currently pursuing his degree at Moi University in Kenya.
As the chairman of Warrap Community, an association of South Sudanese community living in Kenya, this fearless leader created a great manifesto for the group in education, sports and cohesion.
He managed to get funds from the South Sudan government and was able to enroll over 80 association members to college. Many lives continue to be changed through this program.
My organization, The Time Foundation has a vision of developing and equipping the South Sudanese youth through education, culture & sports, economic empowerment and community leadership.
The youth need to believe in themselves. They need to come out of their comfort zones and provide solutions for Africa.
Deng’s vision in the next ten years is to transform the young generation of South Sudan and Africa through his organization.