Saturday January 10, 2016
David Eggers, in his powerful and gripping biography/autobiography of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, describes the 4 year journey on foot of 8 year old Valentino Achak Deng from a small village in Sudan to Kakuma. During his walk, Deng survives a massacre of his village by marauders on horseback, strafing and bombing by the Sudanese air force, attacks by lions, near death from starvation and thirst, being hunted down by the Ethiopian army, and of course many windstorms of utter hopelessness. Finally, in 1992, Deng arrives with thousands of Lost Boys to the newly opened Kakuma Refugee Camp. Nevertheless, Deng’s closest brush with death comes in 2001 on the drive from the Kakuma Refugee Camp to the County capital of Lodwar, where he is accompanying a youth basketball team from the Camp to a tournament, an exciting foray out of the Camp for all. The truck rolls, the much loved driver/fianced Japanese NGO worker is killed, Deng is unconscious and, along with others, badly injured and near death. Not only is this 123 kilometer stretch of highway (yes,this is part of the national highway system) noted for being the worst road in Kenya, but it has deteriorated significantly since Achak Deng drove the road in 2001. After 2 ½ days of flying to Nairobi, and then Lodwar, the geophysics crew departed Lodwar in three 4 X4’s at 5:30 PM. We survived the drive, largely by staying OFF the road and driving along parallel ditches, though we did get two flat tires, and arrived in Kakuma 3 hours after darkness at 9:30 PM. Our driver, John, who was in Kakuma in 2001, pointed out where Achak Deng’s truck rolled in 2001.