Betting ruining us silently
By Ngor Khot Garang
Years ago, betting was not considered as of any value or benefit. It was a taboo according to African value and culture. Not of now, if you check trouser pockets of 10 youth, you will not remove your hand without pulling out a long teller papers from the pockets of 9 out of 10 young South Sudanese.
Sport betting crept into the country through football and it has become a trending issue among young people, especially the unemployed youth.
Every week, young people forecast the outcomes of football matches and stake some money on odds with hope of making fortune.
It is sad to say that betting companies are flourishing and opening new branches one after the other than banking or learning centers in the country.
This activity engages young people and keeps them busy since they have nothing to do but most challenging is the fact that their future hangs on the balance.
Young school going children have joined the gambling and they don’t think of school as vital as they crave for money to survive.
The high unemployment rate in the country has made many young South Sudanese to find hope in the game that would later put a knife between them and their future.
Wani Sebit, a school dropout who has been in the business for nearly two years says it is a very dirty game.
“Since I started betting in 2017, I have always been unlucky in the betting jungle but I did not want to give up on trying because if I did, I will have nothing to do but to just remain at home” he said.
Sebit is one of the South Sudanese that has been adversely affected and robbed of dear ones by the 5 years civil war.
“I wasn’t a kind of a guy who loath school, I love school and I still love it more even now but unfortunately I am not as lucky as any other South Sudanese.
My father was doing a small scale business and it was that little money he earned from selling soap and other small items that he used to feed us and also pay my school fees but when he died and there was no one paying my school fees, I quit school to hustle for the family”. He narrated.
However, the number of young people doing betting is on the rise and their chance of performing in the real world is being hampered.
Juma Alex is another gambler who sees no hope ahead of him and his dreaming of going to school are blurred.
“As a young person, we have a lot to offer in life when we are still fresh but the situation of South Sudan will make someone who has poor parents to do betting with hope of winning thousands of money to change the family status quo”.
He says getting a job in Juba or any other part of South Sudan is like looking for a lost needle in the muddy water.
“I finished my senior four in 2015 and tried to look for something to do to get by but all in vain. Then luckily a neighbor who I thought was going to treat me like his son bought me a motorbike and asked me to pay him 1,000 everyday with petrol and servicing of the bike under my care.
Thing were normal until the owner of the bike started suspecting me of making more money out of his bike and threatened to put me behind bars if I do not increase the money we had agreed on to 3, 000 SSP per day.
I gave up and handed back to him his motorcycle and jumped with my two legs into betting business “.
Juma warn that the betting business is for people who are hopeless and discourages those who have people who are serious on them to be focused in whatever they are doing for them to be better people tomorrow.
“If you have your dad or uncle and he is clothing, feeding and paying your school fees, why should you go for betting instead of working on yourself to be someone tomorrow?” He asked.
Despite the country battle with economic stagnation and civil war, Juma believes that there will come a day when South Sudan will recover from its woes.
“Although the country seems to be like in an absolute mess right now, some other countries in the world have been like that and there is still high hope that our country will one day change for the better and every South Sudanese will feel at home with any fear of being attacked or killed “. He added.
Young people are the building blocks of this country and it is the role of the government to create jobs that will keep them busy and also engage them in the peace process for the betterment of South Sudan.