Oral History Interview - Monica Wol-Ayom & Aluk Wol-Thiep

image w2018-1a_monica_and_aluk_supporting_copyright_emma_davies
image w2018-1a_monica_and_aluk_supporting_copyright_emma_davies
image w2018-1b_monica_and_aluk_supporting_copyright_emma_davies_b
image w2018-1c_monica_and_aluk_supporting_copyright_emma_davies


Audio file


Oral History Interview - Monica Wol-Ayom & Aluk Wol-Thiep

Production date



Compact Disc
Digital file (.mp3)


Audio recording of a oral history interview with Monica Wol-Ayom (born in 1977, Wau South Sudan) and Aluk Wol-Thiep (born 1969, Tonj, Bahr el Ghazal Sudan). Length - 46 mins.

Credit line

Photographs - Copyright Emma Davies.



"Sudanese culture is very important to me. It’s what guides me, it’s my route map. I see myself as South Sudanese but I take from other cultures and add to what I have and that’s what we teach our children. I’ve lived in Europe and Canada but I’ve never lost my identity.

In South Sudan everybody wants to have girls because they bring in cows. They are our pride and joy. A dowry for a Dinka girl is a hundred cows or more. In some families girls are given no choice, marriages are arranged for them at a very young age and they have no education. Although it’s changing for women now in Sudan, it still happens; it’s heart breaking. None of that happened to us. My Mum got pulled out of school as she was an only child; my great grandmother made her get married very young. She faced a very hard time, she left home as somebody’s daughter and became somebody’s wife, just there to have babies.

My Mum didn’t want that to happen to us, she wanted her children to go to university and to become financially independent. She raised us completely differently to the way she was brought up. If we didn’t have a strong Mum we might have been forced to marry against our wishes."



"I can remember my childhood growing up in my homeland. It was beautiful, tropical rain forest, very green. When it rained it was warm and we used to run around and play in the rain. After the rain it was always sunshine. We lived not far away from the Nile and we used to go fishing there, washing clothes and playing there. I remember my country as though it were paradise. I used to be so happy there.

We couldn’t stay there because of war. I came to Hackney in 1993. It was so cold; I’d never seen snow before.

I have to write that I’m British on forms but when it comes to real life I always keep my culture and my Sudanese values. One day I want to go back to my homeland. I’ve been thinking so long about South Sudan becoming an independent country and now we have that peace agreement it means I can go back and visit my family. The war has prevented us from doing that.

I want to go back there when I’m old. I know we need hospitals, good schools, good roads, healthy drinking water and sanitation. It’s difficult when you have become used to living in Europe. Life is easy here although sometimes you feel alone and you have to deal with everything by yourself, but if you are not well there are doctors and hospitals. But I’d rather not be old here. I want to be a Granny back home, to live in a hot climate, grow my own vegetables and find a place where I can be happy. In our country we don’t look upon old people as a burden; we still go to them for advice, listen to their stories. They still have a role to play. I want to die and be buried at home."

Associated place


Object number


On display?


Back to top