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K-Denk: Why I surrendered the gun for the mic

Koang Deng Kuon, alias K-Denk, has undoubtedly seen and done more than many of his agemates.

Perhaps his name doesn’t ring a bell to many Kenyan music lovers, but he is the tall, dark slim lad who represented Southern Sudan in the Tusker Project Fame Season 4 competition, and who seemed to rub Judge Ian Mbugua the wrong way.

But it is neither his perceived war with Judge Ian nor his music that sets him apart from those who have had a chance to exhibit their music skills in the competition.

Three years after the event, K-Denk was left with the hard choice of whether to continue holding the microphone or pick up the gun and head to the battlefield, with his story painting a grim picture of just how the war in Africa’s newest nation has spared no one in its path.

“It all began in December 15, 2013, at about 9.15 pm. My family was enjoying a cool night breeze in our hometown of Jebel, back in Southern Sudan,” he says. “Suddenly, a group of young men dressed in military combat gear stormed our compound shooting indiscriminately. By the time it was over, my two brothers lay dead.”

A few weeks later, he lost seven relatives in a similar attack in the town of Malakal. That is when he decided to take up arms.

Koang Deng Kuon, alias K-Denk, during the interview.
Koang Deng Kuon, alias K-Denk, during the interview.

K-Denk, who is from the Nuer ethnic group found in the greater Upper Nile region of Southern Sudan, says taking up arms didn’t seem to be a problem since he had lost so many family members in the war.

He joined forces with a group of other young men from his community, and that marked the beginning of a nearly two-year war against those he perceived as enemies.

With time, he says, this lifestyle became an addiction and seemed almost normal as they were considered heroes, a fact that saw him take photos with his fellow rebels, which he later posted on social media.

“But at some point things changed and it became psychological torture as there was no communication, food or water. Basically, we had survive on the resources we got after capturing a locality,” he explains.

Gradually, he tired of the war and really wanted to peace. That seems to be what prompted his decision early this year to return to music and use it to mend the hearts of those torn by the war in his country.

“Also, as a musician, I didn’t see that lifestyle favouring my career, so I changed my mind,” he says.

It is then that he embarked on his musical journey that has seen him complete two albums, an addition to the two he had released before participating in the competition.

Read the full story here.

SOURCE: Daily Nation