The story of the Lost Boys of Sudan is one that provides the world with many examples of social interaction, some being violent and others being inspirational. Their journey from Sudan to Ethiopia and Kenya, then on to the United States for a better life for themselves and their families gives an insight into how certain cultures deal with and overcome adversity. Culture is the complex system of meaning and behavior that defines the way of life for a given group or society, in the case of the Lost Boys, the culture of the people of Sudan and the American society are analyzed.
How the boys were able to continue on without their families to show them the way is almost a miracle. Over outstanding odds, the boys were able to prevail and withstand the hard times that occurred over their many years searching for peace. In 1983, civil war broke out in Sudan between the Arab north and Christian, Animist south that engulfed the entire country causing thousands to flee.
Of the thousands that fled were over 86,000 boys between the ages of 5-10 years old. Majority of these boys no longer had any family of any sort.
The boys walked thousands of miles from Sudan to Ethiopia and on to Kenya to escape their government’s slaughter of the people. The goal of the civil war was to punish the half of the country that was not of Muslim faith. In 1987, the Sudanese government announced that all men of the south should be killed or sterilized in order to end the spread of their so called treacherous ideals of Christianity and freedom. By the time the “Lost Boys” had fled over a thousand miles to Ethiopia, their numbers had been reduced to nearly 27,000 boys due to the extreme conditions of their traveling.
With little food and even less water, their trek to escape the Sudanese crisis alive seemed hopeless. The camp in Ethiopia provided food, shelter, and security for the boys in Ethiopia for nearly 3 years. In this time, the boys began to form new bonds that would help them survive this horrible time in their lives. New families were formed by the young boys that helped them to maintain some sort normal behavior in such a bizarre time. Because the boys were often completely severed from all family ties, they had to learn to build new trust with boys they had barely known in order to take care of each other. The camp was aintained until the government collapsed and the boys were forced to flee again, but this time to Kenya. Another journey of hundreds and even thousands of miles had just begun. By the time the Lost Boys had reached Kenya, their numbers had been cut to 12,000. In such times, the people had to find ways to keep their minds occupied and to discuss issues such as returning home to a safe and unified Sudan. Slowly, the culture of the Sudan boys had been adapting and changing. Because there were few adults to raise these children as would their parents in Sudan, the boys developed their own semblance of their culture.
Other societies take for granted that their culture is passed down by their family and other surrounding sociological forces, so for thousands of young boys to have to figure it out for themselves in an astonishing thought. Many other cultures do not understand the genocide that occurs in Africa, more specifically Sudan. This is not a cultural norm that exists in Western society where people are more accepting of other cultural ideals. This ethnocentrism raises concern by many other regions of the world, but because they are not actually a party of this seemingly strange culture, not much is done in order to end such crisis as in Sudan.
Some western cultures found this as an opportunity to help bring their society and ways and impose it upon the African people. The Lost Boys were gathered together and those who agreed were sent to America to start a new life and possibly better their old lives. For some, the cultural shock would be too much for them causing their crossover to western culture to be unsuccessful. For others, the cultural diversity and rare opportunity that was in their new homeland was extremely beneficial.
Lost Boys were scattered throughout the United States and were given the opportunity to seek happiness for themselves, and for some, their families which they had not seen since fleeing Sudan. Many of the boys, which have now grown up to be men, searched for and received jobs and some even gained high school and college degrees while in the United States. Much of the money earned by the lost boys went to finding their families, or even straight back to Africa for the families themselves. It is a sense of pride amongst the Lost Boys to work hard and better their situation and that of their country.
Groups of the boys attempted to raise awareness of the situation in Sudan. The government recognized the Lost Boys of Sudan as a distinct group which gave them certain political opportunities. Although the lost boys were spread throughout the country, they were still able to come together and discuss many issues that they needed to deal with to better their situation in America, and the situation of their family and home in Sudan. Many of the Sudanese men began to lose sight of their own culture and customs and adapt to the western culture of America.
Some elder men saw this as the end of the Sudanese culture and hoped that it would end. But no matter how hard anyone could have tried, being in America gave all the Sudan boys a new outlook on culture and life. Some were not able to cope with the change while others made the best of their situation and some even expanded greatly on the ability to inflict change on others involving the civil war. From the crisis of the Sudan civil, many things happened, some good, some bad. The death of thousands of men, women, and children over the issue of religion and raise is a terrible things for any culture to experience.
But its not the way that they suffered, but the way in which they adapted which makes their experience truly remarkable. Adapting to a new culture is very hard for people to deal with, but often it can lead a better life. The ability to develop as a person without adults present in childhood is hard for people to understand because the idea of culture and how it is acquired is taken for granted by most. The Lost Boys show us how one can experience hardship in life, adapt, and even make their situation better than it has ever been by bringing new thoughts, ideas, and ways of life to their families and country.
Cite this The Lost Boys of Sudan
The Lost Boys of Sudan. (2018, Jan 25). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-lost-boys-of-sudan/