Since ethnic violence exploded in South Sudan in December 2013, it has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions.
Among the almost two million South Sudanese refugees to cross into Uganda is Harriet Kuyang Logo Mulukwat, who hopes to wake up from the bad dream, writes Baker Batte Lule.
“I didn’t think my children would go through the same experience I went through,” Kuyang tells me in a phone call from Douala Cameroon, where she is staying with her two children.
In Cameroon, Kuyang is not a refugee – the status she was for 14 years when she lived in Uganda from 1990 up to 2005. She is married to Cyrill Tenjeck II, a traditional chief in Douala. But still, it is war that pushed her to Cameroon.
REFUGEE IN UGANDA
Kuyang was born in South Sudan to Leonard Logo Mulukwat and Christine Ropani on August 3, 1979, the first born of her mother’s five children. When war broke out, her family moved to Yei, a border town near Uganda, which was relatively peaceful.
However, by 1990 the rebels of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement [SPLM] had expanded their reach to Yei, forcing families to flee. Kuyang’s father relocated his family to Jinja, in eastern Uganda.
Kuyang and her siblings did not enroll in school until 1991 when she joined Magwa primary school. She later joined Trinity College Nabbingo for O-level, St Maria Gorretti Katende for A-level and Makerere University for a law degree.
In 2012, she got a fully funded scholarship from the Ohio Northern University in the United States of America, where she pursued a master’s degree in the rule of law and transitional justice.
Currently, she is with support from Switzerland, doing her PhD in Law, majoring in transitional justice and knowledge production at Juba University, where she is also a lecturer.
Kuyang says in the time she stayed in Uganda, she learnt the Kiganda culture, thanks to Nabbingo’s youth grooming project dubbed, ‘Muvubuka Agunjuse’.
HOME SWEET HOME
After completing her law degree at Makerere, she decided to return to South Sudan in 2004.
She had got a job with the South Sudan Law Society to run a legal aid clinic in Yei. “I also wanted to go back to the place where I grew up from, seeing that my grandmother was still alive,” she says.
She worked with the law society for a year before joining UNDP as an access to justice and rule of law analyst where she worked for five years until she got another offer to do the same work in East Timor in 2011.
Kuyang believes South Sudan should have been given UN protective status for a while before full independence. Unlike many South Sudanese women, she is not afraid to speak out.
Until very recently when The Nation Mirror, the most popular newspaper publishing in Juba was closed, she was a no-holds-barred columnist.
South Sudanese are generally known for their dark complexion. However, Kuyang is so light-skinned that many, including her countrymen, think she is not South Sudanese.
In Juba, those who don’t know her call her ‘Wewe’ a derogatory term for Ugandans.
Regardless of her skin complexion, Kuyang only dated South Sudanese men until she met her current Cameroonian husband.