I really felt that “God Grew Tired Of Us,” a National Geographic production, was an excellent, educational and thought-evoking film. It focuses on three Sudanese males who were transplanted to different cities in America in 2005, after living in a refugee camp in Kenya for the previous ten years.
The transplants, named John Bul Dau, Panther Bior and Daniel Abul Pach, were part of a group of about 27,000 young Sudanese boys, known as the “Lost Boys,” that left their homes on foot in the 1980s to avoid being killed or sterilized during the vicious civil war that has been going on in Sudan for the past several decades. Thousands of children, some just babies, left or were sent away from their homes and families and forced to walk through the desert for up to five years, until they found shelter in United Nations refugee camps in neighboring countries Ethiopia or Kenya.
The particular camp this movie acquaints viewers with is in Kakuma, Kenya. Here thousands of boys live together, work together and support each other on a daily basis. They are best friends. They are family. They have been through hardships that I don’t believe any god or supreme being would ever intend for. They are malnourished, uneducated, almost pre-historic people. Children in the camps do receive some education, but there is nowhere to go once their lessons are done. There’s not even a single store in sight, let alone places to work. They would probably praise the high heavens every single day to have such a blessed opportunity to have a paying job flipping burgers at McDonald’s.
I have been to Africa…and the main ideas I took from this movie were very similar to what I took out of my actual two-week excursion in Namibia. Africa is a trip. It is a place out of time…a place where “time” itself is almost irrelevant. It’s a beautiful, amazing, mind-blowing land…but their standard of living, or even knowledge of westernized “standard of living” is much, much different than what we here are exposed to. I took this photo in Namibia. I like to call it “African school bus.”
I loved how in this film the creators captured the culture shock of the three chosen immigrants moving to America. Here is a great picture. This shows the boys sitting in JFK Airport in New York, having just arrived in America, waiting for a connecting flight. It’s so ironic because New York City is just as much of a trip as Africa is because there are about 649 different cultures visible with a single head rotation.
As the three transplants are exposed to America their thoughts on our customs amuse me in a sense that they are so right on, and I wondered if one day after the glory wears off they will think that America sucks and is stupid and they miss Africa. I like how the guys comment on Santa Claus and Christmas trees. They wonder what those two figurations have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ. They ask, “Is it in the Bible?”
The newcomers also find that Americans are “unfriendly.” They said nobody helped to show them around town, nor did they feel any sense of communion with their neighbors. Also, our American sense of employment and “family time” is very bizarre to them. Coming from backgrounds of mostly cattle farmers, the migrants are surprised and saddened to find that people in the same family work different types of jobs, and that people in the same family work different hours, resulting in much less time spent together.
I think most of the Sudanese American transplants are very grateful for this unimaginable opportunity to live and work in the United States, so far removed from the horrendous accounts they witnessed as children, though it is apparant they struggle with loneliness.
According to Wikipedia, several thousand “Lost Boys” have been uprooted to America, with the largest percentage of them living in Omaha, Nebraska. At the end of “God Grew Tired of Us” they showed a Lost Boys convention where many of them were reunited for the first time since moving to America. It was funny and kind of sad to see a majority of the Lost Boys so sucked into our culture; wearing trendy, name-brand clothing, do-rags, flat-brimmed hats and American sports teams apparel…though others still seemed to be holding on to their traditional customs.
I really enjoyed this movie and I am interested in learning more about the situation. Good job, Nat Geo!