Lukudu William, a dear friend, democracy advocate, and fellow Atlas Corps Fellow, flew off this morning heading back to Juba, South Sudan with a brief stop in Addis Ababa and a longer one in Kampala that might last a few days, leaving behind memories, stories, pictures and a lasting bond. During his six month stay/fellowship in Washington DC he made friends, reconnected with family and old colleagues and-together we- had a lot of fun.
I met Lukudu the first day we arrived in DC (August 26, 2013) and he was soon to become the big brother who would watch over me. With little in common, we bonded in ways neither of us can clearly explain which were left to friends to wonder about. We travelled, developed private jokes, laughed, teased each other, bickered and, of course, partied. He faithfully confided in me his secrets and often complained that I did not satisfactorily reciprocate his trust.
Incorrigibly political Lukudu could hardly have a conversation without mentioning political and current affairs in Africa, specially his home country of South Sudan. I always enjoyed those conversations and appreciated his intimate knowledge and keen observation of the politics of South Sudan. His sincere passion and devotion knew no bounds. And while he would agree with me that his fellowship was, in part, a cultural learning experience that allowed him to expand his horizons and have a new outlook on life, a comrade like Lukudu stays true to his bona fide African way of doing things. After all “we are African” to copy his often repeated mantra that he used to decisively end our occasional cultural arguments. The only food he could really enjoy is what he prepared in our kitchen with groceries purchased from Farmer’s Market as he prided himself in being a “military cook”, and a cook he was.
Many will miss Lukudu; while some will miss an astute colleague; others will miss a loyal friend. I will miss a roommate, friend, colleague and indeed brother. Whether in our house or in our travels across the United States (New York, Texas, Philadelphia, Minnesota), Lukudu was a partner in my every experience over the last six months.
Safe travels my friend!