'If we are not educated the whole race will be lost'

9th August 1996 at 01:00
(Photograph) - Edwin Alexis (left), a 47-year-old French teacher at Nyangilia, is a palimpsest of the troubled history of this region.

Born before Independence, in the southern Sudanese province of Bahr el Ghazal, (Gazelle River) he began his primary education in the provincial capital of Wau.

After Independence, whencivil war broke out, the family fled to Uganda.

"I completed junior school in Uganda. Then there was trouble here. My father was a politician. He collected us and we fled to Zaire. I was about 14. I had to learn French, and continue my studies . I did A-level in Zaire."

Unable to get higher education as a refugee in Zaire, Mr Alexis then returned to his native Sudan, where he trained as a teacher and taught in secondary schools. In 1993, during a massive government onslaught on the south, he fled again, now with his wife and four children.

Today, while the rest of his family lives in Imvipi Camp, 30 miles away, he works as a volunteer teacher at Nyangilia.

Sitting on a chair in the head's office, Edwin Alexis also seems tired, like his headmaster. He lapses into silence, then rouses himself.

"We are proud of our profession," he says. "We have lost most of our educated people in the south with the war, so in case peace comes, we the teachers must help the children. If we are not educated, the whole race will be lost. "

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