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November 04, 2004 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-04

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4B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, November 4. 2004

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POETRY SLAM
NIGHTS OF MUSIC AND VERSE FILL THE U CLUB

REFUGEES
continued from page 5B
didn't know where I was going. I
just kept following people. A man
and his wife came up and started
helping me," Sisimayo said. "I
don't even know how much weight
I lost. I just knew I was hungry. I
felt tired from walking. If you sat
down, nobody was going to wait
for you," he said. "Everyone was
tired."
Surviving the entire journey
across Sudan into Ethiopia and
Kenya on a feeble diet of wild
fruits and leaves, Sisimayo felt the
echoing pangs of hunger and pain
as he trekked what seemed like
an endless walk in search of help.
"I was always hungry; there was
never enough food" he said.
The impending dangers of hun-
gry wild animals loomed before
him and his group as they tirelessly
walked into Ethiopia in search of
help. Starvation, dehydration and
exhaustion were a constant threat.
"During this

lawns, Sisimayo spent the majority
of his preadolescence and young
adulthood in Kakuma Refugee
Camp in Kenya from 1992 to 2001.
He experienced the heartaches of a
war-torn nation, assisted in medi-
cal camps and grew up fast.
In 2001, he was identified offi-
cially by the United Nations as part
of a group called "The Lost Boys,"
boys who had been orphaned as a
result of the civil war in Sudan.
Sisimayo was part of a group of
more than 3,000 boys who were
permanently relocated to the Unit-
ed States.
Sisimayo was relocated to Lan-
sing in 2001, and currently lives
with five other "Lost Boys." "Com-
ing to the U.S. at least gave us the
hope of what we wanted to be"
Sisimayo commented. Back home,
when we are approved to come
here, you'll find yourself buying
a T-shirt with an American flag
on it. We buy doo-rags too, you
know those things you wear on
your head" he said with a slight

How could a person who had seen
such atrocities say that with such
honesty and confidence?
"God has a plan for me," he
answered simply-almost as if he
had read my mind.
He spoke with deep conviction
as the passion in his eyes contin-
ued to testify to his firm faith.
"God is always there," he said.
"When I was going from town to
town, there were people who were
dying around me. I think in the
presence of God, he guides you.
We can't see him in our own naked
eyes, but you can feel his presence
by his protection. One day, I found
myself with nothing to eat, and the
next morning, there was food for
me. Now that is a miracle."
When asked about his thoughts
and feelings on the current atroci-
ties in Darfur, Sisimayo answered

slowly as his past pain rekindled.
"Southern Sudan has been crying
for equality. It's not right what
the government has been doing in
Darfur. I believe that humans have
God-given rights that people can't
just take away. They are killing
every human - child, grown-up,
old men and women. It's important
that humanitarians and superpow-
ers of the world get involved," he
attested.
"Right now there are prob-
ably four to five million people
who have died. The people in the
U.S. can't see us crying for help."
Knowing the cries well since they
once came from his very mouth,
Sisimayo's heart is to return to
help his people.
"My hope is to go back home,"
he said.
Again, he smiled - but this

MIKE HULSEBUS/[wily
Clockwise from top:
LSA senior Brandon
Rawls DJs during a
poetry slam at the U
Club in the Michigan
Union last week.
RC sophomore
Adam Falkner
was a member of
last year's slam
team, which won
second place out
of 20 teams in a
national college
slam competition.
Emcee Invincible
and Blair of Urban
Folk Collective per-
form on Oct. 21.
A judge holds up
her score during a
U Club poetry slam.
LSA junior Gabriel
Peoples performs.

I

By Steve Cotner
Daily Arts Writer

month that I was
running, if you
looked at a young
boy running with
me, you would
have thought that
he was an old
man" he said.

"Southern Sudan has been crying for equality.
It's not right ... I believe that humans have God-
given rights that people can't just take away."
- Sisimayo Henry, Sudanese refugee

s historical markers line our
streets, telling us that art, activ-
ism, and Ann Arbor are dead,
we long for the fresh and vital.
After an election that never spoke
to us, we search for the place where
we can hear ourselves. Our own words
seem to mean less and less, so we look
for the people who can still say some-
thing. The academy has severed our
heads from our bodies, our buildings
from our streets, and our lives from our
loves. But we still know what we want.
We want rooms full of people, stand-
ing, dancing, yelling, singing, clapping,
calling our names.
We want to make our own awe, inspi-
ration, commiseration, seduction.
We want words to leave their coffins,
hit us once, and fly away like ghosts.
We want our samizdat, our under-
ground railroad, our Filmore East, and

yes, our Six Gallery.
We want our Pound, Williams, Bara-
ka. Our man on the street and our man
upstairs. Our eyes, debauched. Our
ears, de-waxed. Our everything all at
once.
Tonight, we'll settle for a poetry
slam.
Upcoming Poetry Slams at the U
Club in the Michigan Union:
Tonight - Special guest poet Nikki
Patin takes the stage as well as many
others.
Nov. 18 - Speaker Omekongo Dib-
inga participates in this Environmental
Justice themed slam.
Dec. 2 - Poet TBA
8 p.m. - Doors open
8:30 p.m. - Open mic
9 p.m. - Poetry Slam
10 p.m. - Guest poet

Once they reached the neighbor-
ing country, he was again chased
out by a separate civil war between
the government and rebels in Ethi-
opia. "All I had were the clothes
on my back" he lamented. Yet even
in his story of despair, there were
traces of a redeeming rock-steady
hope that shone brighter the more
intimately we conversed.
From Ethiopia, Sisimayo
returned to Sudan after receiving
an education through various refu-
gee camps that took him in. Help-
ing with the medical clinics at the
age of 12, Sisimayo had learned
how to read and write in English.
When the majority of young
American boys spend their middle
school years playing baseball on
a Little League team and mowing

smirk, gesturing to his head. "At
that point, we consider ourselves
Americans."
As we talked, I was taken aback
by the unshaken tone in his voice.
"My hope is to work with the
humanitarian agencies," Sisimayo
said. "I want to speak on behalf
of those who don't have their own
voices. I have a lot to do here before
I go back. In the past, God came
down to help others. These days,
God uses people to help people. I
believe there are people who need
my help" he said.
His passion was evident in his
solid, glistening brown eyes. "I
think it was a really great experi-
ence" he proclaimed.
I shuffled in my chair as I strug-
gled to grasp what he had just said.

University of Michigan
IT Security Services
Presents
Location: Michigan Theater
Date: Friday, November 5,2004
Admission: Free with U-M ID
(Bring a friend!)
Time: 8:00 PM. & 11:00 PM.
Co-sponsored by
Michigan Student Assembly,
IT Central Services,
MATS,
ResComp,
Department of Public Safety
qWARNER BROS

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