Reuben Garang, Winnipeg, Manitoba*
"Being fluent in both the Jieeng and Nuer languages, Rev. Monybuny’s homilies are deeply full of reflections and sometimes hysterical. Love it when he is preaching in Jieeng."
|Rev. Monybuny and his family|
Allow me to fly in the face of the Jieeng’s (Dinka’s) beliefthat Raan ace leec ke pïïr ka raan ace leec ke tɔ̈ nyinthïn. Jieeng has some sayings that if taken out of context, makes the least amount of sense. Raan ace leec ke pïïr ka raan ace leec ke tɔ̈ nyinthïn word for word it means a person cannot be appreciated when alive or while you stand in their presence.
However, figuratively, it means a good deed done for the community is everyone’s responsibility and that individuals who outperform others are only appreciated in their absence. To encourage others to do the same or more importantly to make the appreciation more authentic and freer from being perceived as flattery, the Jieeng believes that a genuine appreciation or thanking is one done when the person receiving the thanks is not around.
In the olden days, appreciations and positive feedback was provided in the absence of a person. When an individual was criticised directly, it restricted chances for community gossip. Community being sharp-eyed and sharp-eared does a great service to the person who do good to others in many ways, including respecting the individual on a greater scale, but as well as their families.
The point of this letter is to go against our older traditions of appreciation by publicly commending Reverend Abraham Monybuny for all the great work he has done and continues to do for the Jieeng and the South Sudanese community in Winnipeg.
Rev. Monybuny runs a non-stipend ministry while at the same times doing a full-time job to support his family. For more than a decade he has voluntarily run the successful, cultural youth summer program many youths within our community attend annually. The program produces young leaders equipped with professional and life skills, aiding them in the work they would be doing for the larger City of Winnipeg.
This is where Rev. Monybuny is exceptional. People call him night and day for help or assistance, whether its transportation, a visit to the hospital, or grocery shopping. And day and night, he is there to help. He is a handyman, so he provides any assistance he is asked to do.
Rev. Monybuny is trusted amongst so many people within the community.
However, with all the good deeds he provides, he still is blamed and sometimes disrespected. Really? It is far-fetched, but this speaks to the universal fact that human being is a very complicated being. The thing about him though, he does not show it. Rev. Monybuny is a resilient man.
See his name is longer than most names, could be deemed “difficult” to remember. Nevertheless, everyone, even little children in the community, remember him. They know how to pronounce his name because the man connects to most families in a cordial way. This is the person, that when you see him standing at your home’s front doorsteps, you feel at ease and blessed.
Being fluent in both the Jieeng and Nuer languages, Rev. Monybuny’s homilies are deeply full of reflections and sometimes hysterical. Love it when he is preaching in Jieeng. His command of the Jieeng language is powerful and artistic.
For a few years now, whenever there is a community gathering or there is something concerning him or his role in the community being discussed, I tend to acknowledge his good deeds even when he is around.
A genuine acknowledgment of good deeds is not flattery. Some people do more than others for their community, but a few are exceptional like the Rev. Monybuny.