#21booksin2021 #2021ReadNonfic Book Review: Father of the Lost Boys by Yuot A. Alaak

I was first told about this book when chatting to a couple at Holden Sheppard’s talk at Koorliny Art Centre. It sounded like a book I needed to read. Learning that Yout A. Alaak was part of our Perth community made me even more interested in reading it. When I saw he was speaking at my local library as part of the Perth Literature Festival, I immediately booked in and borrowed the book from the library.

Yuot A Alaak.jpgAs part of the Perth Literature Festival, I was just lucky enough to go and listen to Yuot A. Alaak the author of the memoir Father of the Lost Boys. Even luckier, his father, Mecak Ajang Alaak, the man the book is about, and his mother were there too. This is one book that should be read widely, one that can open up people’s minds and understandings about the trials refugees face.

Yuot’s father led 20,000 lost boys between the ages of 8-12 1000’s of km through the most dangerous of places to safety and stopped them also becoming child soldiers. More than 20 years on and unfortunately the refugee camp on the border of South Sudan and Kenya is the largest in the world with 180,000 refugees living there because it is still unsafe for them to return home.

His father was asked how he managed to logistically move that many boys. He made it sound so simple, but given the circumstances, it would have been anything but.

Review

As I sit with my feelings about the journey I have just taken, with all that Yout and his family and the 20,000 Lost Boys and thousands more refugees and South Sudanese people went through and continue to go through, I find it so hard to comprehend. To have survived what they survived is remarkable, to keep fighting (not with weapons) for the people of their country is a powerful insight into the strength and courage of these people.

Yout’s father, Mecak Ajang Alaak is an amazing role model, not just for the South Sudanese, but for everyone. The love he has for his fellow countryman regardless of which tribe or area they come from is wonderful. How he kept things together and organised keeping 20,000 boys safe on their perilous journey from one refugee camp to the next is incredible.

I feel honoured to have read Yout and his father’s story, and that of the thousands of people who shared that journey.

The brief history notes at the end of the book were an eye-opener. I truly had no idea of the way the British and the Arabs played their political games with the lives of these people. I had no idea how long they had been fighting to be independent. Another war wages now, it is hard to imagine there will ever be a time of peace, but I truly hope for the people of South Sudan, that they do get there.

 

This is part of the #2021ReadNonfic hosted by Book’d Out to encourage people to read more nonfiction.

nonfiction readers challenge 2021

Nonfiction Readers Challenge: Bowraville by Dan Box

Nonfictionchallenge2020

Screenshot_20200130_091042Since signing up to the Nonfiction Readers Challenge I’m inspired to read a few more nonfiction books this year. I chose to do the Nonfiction Nipper, which was to read 3 books from any category. I’ve got quite a few nonfiction books lined up to read this year, so I’m positive I’ll be able to move up to the next level.

My first book is something very different for me. Bowraville by Dan Box is a true crime novel, that is also, in my opinion part memoir.

I listened to the audiobook of this which is read by Dan Box, something I prefer when listening to a memoir as I think they can really get across the emotions and messages they are trying to convey.

This is just one terrible story of injustice that has happened in Australia and to the Aboriginal people. Three children murdered in a space of 5 months and now 29 years later their families have never had justice.

We hear about the officers who were first approached when each child went missing and how the families were told, “They’ve probably gone walkabout”. One of these children was 4 years old! I was disgusted by the behaviour of the police at the beginning of these events and then completely disbelieving of the way the cases were handled once they were deemed something more sinister. The local police, who were in no way up to handling a missing person case let alone a murder case, or serial murders, were given very little help from the authorities in the city.

Dan tells an interesting story that made me angry at the way aboriginal people were and are treated in the event of a crime. The racism in the town was just as disappointing and I’m baffled how people think the way they do.

Sometimes the story felt a bit repetitive, but I think that was Dan Box’s way of reiterating the injustice of these cases and the injustices of the law.

A worthwhile read if you are interested in true crime and the way the law doesn’t always work.