“I remember the day when the news came of children being conscripted into the army,” Adut says. “My half-brother, he was a policeman before the war broke out. After he left the police and joined the rebellion. He gave me a khaki shirt and told me ‘If you go to Ethiopia you will have more shirts, more clothes. It was the first shirt I’d ever worn in my life. He said if you go you’ll be educated. That was a deception. I wasn’t there for that purpose. I was there to get ready to fight the next war.”
It’s a Long Story is a new podcast from the Sydney Opera House which uncovers the formative moments from the childhoods and early careers of some of the world’s leading thinkers and culture creators. Adut features in the podcast’s third episode, and follows activist and broadcaster Henry Rollins and co-creator of the Black Lives Matter network Alicia Garza. It’s a Long Story is one of several podcasts made by the Sydney Opera House but is its first exclusively for the medium
In the episode Adut recounts his early unhappy experiences of life in Australia that made him want to return to South Sudan: not knowing he needed to unwrap his McDonald’s burger before eating it, attempting to heat a can of Coke in a microwave and almost electrocuting himself with an electric blanket.
He learnt English by reading the King James version of the bible as well as watching The Wiggles with his nephew. As one of Australia’s most prominent refugees from Sudan he believes it is vital that refugees be given assistance to join the workforce as soon as possible so as to avoid welfare dependence. Adut also argues that getting children out of detention is more important that the size of Australia’s refugee intake.
“The welfare of the child should be the primary idea or thinking of any civilised society,” he says.