The following short story was written by Linda Kavuka, African Programs Manager, SFL
Seeing John Mustapha Kutiyote on the Why Liberty activism panel at the 2018 Students For Liberty East African Regional Conference, share his story of advocating for a free society in South Sudan – a country with a history of civil war and conflict and very limited opportunities for youth – it’s hard to have thought that he had been on a grueling 3-day road-trip to be at the event. The ‘Why Liberty’ activism panel consisted of some of SFL’s bright student leaders who shared inspiring stories of how SFL has changed their lives and why they’re dedicating their energies in fighting #ForAFreerFuture.
John left his birth home, Yambio in Southern Sudan on 18 July and first travelled to Kampala, Uganda, before finally making his way to Nairobi, Kenya for the East African Regional Conference held on July 21 at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.
I met John in 2014, a year after we launched SFL in Kenya. At that time, he was an undergraduate student at the African International University in Nairobi and had completed the ASFL Local Coordinators Program, the premiere program for actively advancing the ideas of free markets and individual liberty on college & campuses in Africa. He has been active since then.
During 2015 Eastern African Regional Conference hosted at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, John was on the team of leaders who assisted with logistics and ensured the 2-day conference was successful.
However, John’s stay in Nairobi was cut short after his graduation from college, where he had to return to South Sudan, but his departure did not extinguish the passion he has for the ideas of a free society. He sought for ways he would share his knowledge on these ideas, despite being a war-torn state and currently under political instability.
For John, young people in Sudan are desperate for hope for a better, peaceful and prosperous living. This fuelled John to establish Students’ Organization For Liberty and Entrepreneurship, a think-tank aimed at promoting the ideas of freedom, peace, prosperity and opportunities to young people in South Sudan.
Seeing John voice out passionately, before an audience of over 200 attendees, about the difficulties he faces in hosting events amid strict government will bring tears to your eyes, but it is inspiring that he has been able to rise above the challenges to make a positive difference in his home town.
Travelling by road in Africa is synonymous to a trip to hell. It’s a journey fraught with immigration troubles, ridiculous charges, harassment, unnecessary checkpoints – which many a time causes hour-long delays. John defied all of these difficulties to be at #EARC2018.
We at African Students For Liberty are very proud of John’s strides, and for launching his think tank. His presence at the #EARC2018 was heart-warming to all of us, as we reconnected and made plans for future engagements.