Majok Tulba, MSW, ’09
Young Alumni Achievement
Majok Tulba is a joint winner of the Young Alumni Award for Achievement for his internationally recognised achievements as an author and his efforts to contribute to global peace.
When Majok was nine years old, Sudanese armed forces burnt down his village in what is now South Sudan, killing some of his close family members. Boys who were taller than an AK-47 gun were kidnapped to become child soldiers, but Majok was spared because he was too short. Escaping on foot, he spent the next seven years moving between refugee camps, before making contact with an uncle living in Australia. It paved the way for Majok to fly to Australia, where was granted asylum in 2001 at the age of 16.
Upon his arrival in Sydney, Majok had no knowledge of English and could not read or write in his own native tongue, Dinka. After a long struggle to educate himself, he was rewarded with enrolment in the University’s Faculty of Education and Social Work, where he graduated with a Master of Social Work in 2009. “The degree has opened up many doors for me,” he says. “It showed me the way to work and share with others what I have learned.”
Meanwhile, Majok had begun writing stories, partly as a way of dealing with the brutal violence he had witnessed in his country of birth. Over the course of a year and a half, he wrote a novel on the experiences of child soldiers during the Sudanese civil war. While fictional, the story is based on his own observations and the testimony of his family, friends and community members.
The manuscript for his novel won Majok a $7000 CAL NSW Premier’s Western Sydney Writers’ Fellowship and sparked intense interest in publishing circles. In July 2012, Penguin published his book, [[iBeneath the Darkening Sky]], and he quickly garnered national acclaim for his powerful depiction of the horrors of war.
Majok’s novel was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, UK. It has since gone on to capture significant attention overseas and was recently published in the UK, to rave reviews.
In addition to his literary accomplishments, Majok is also a talented filmmaker and a graduate of the International Film School Sydney. His short film, Burst, was a finalist at Tropfest in 2006.
Majok has also been a vigorous campaigner on behalf of the people of South Sudan. He is the founder and CEO of the charity LifeCare South Sudan, which is raising funds to build a medical clinic in his home village to address the needs of women and children. “I made a decision to stand up and stop South Sudan mums from dying in childbirth,” he explains.
Majok is also currently working on his second novel.