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Emma McCune hailed from Britain and worked as a volunteer in Sudan. She met her death in a tragic road accident in Kenya back in 1993 while expectant (Deborah). When she was barely twenty five years of age, she involved herself with war in Sudan working with a certain British organization to cater for the less fortunate (Deborah). She later worked with a branch of the United Nations which took part in putting up educational centers in Southern part of Sudan. Emma held a belief that, by putting kids in school, they will be saving them from war. She stayed in Southern Sudan for quite sometime even when the country was hit by battle and drought (Deborah).

The affair between Riek Machar and Emma McCune began while she was working for her charitable organization in Southern Sudan. This happened when a top political movement headed by Riek stood on her way when she was on her community work of establishing educational centers in Riek’s region (Deborah). Determined to stop at nothing, she met with him one on one and the two started falling for each. Blinded by love, Riek gives in to her request and thus, as Scroggins observes, Riek had decided to help the determined Emma to realize her dream of seeing the Southern Sudan kids go to school (Lucy, 9).

Emma would later relocate the organization’s offices to Riek’s town. Near that place, there resided so many starving refugees who lived in dilapidated camps. Some of them had already died and their corpses had interfered with the neighboring river Sobat. This had as result made most of them contact deadly diseases (Deborah). The condition had even been made worse by the fact that, when it rained, some of them were laying on their own feces. This to Emma was a temporary challenge which she was ready to overcome. This is a research paper on Emma’s war which was written by Deborah Scroggins (Lucy, 19).

Charles George Gordon hailed from Britain and was a soldier. He later became a governor in 1870 and he did so many campaigns against slave trade back in those days. Having said that, this paper will argue on whether the intentions of Emma and Charles Gordon were good when they were in Sudan.



Emma’s war is narrated as an interesting encounter keeping the reader’s mind from the tragic war in Sudan. The war in that part of the world is deemed as among the longest battles to have ever taken place in Africa; when the battalions of the south of that country took on the people living in the north (Lucy, 20). Although it is believed that war in Sudan began in 80s, most journals maintain that it began in 50s. The war caused among other things lack of food, displaced people beside many being turned to slaves.

Emma’s war is written by Deborah Scroggins who uses her experience of staying in Sudan while on a different task to collect data. Her written work on McCune is amazing as it shows the importance of reporters and their experience on the field. Emma’s war covers a wide range of questions being asked by many (Cynthia, 6). The author makes the reader know why Emma knows a wide range of issues in regard to dealing with problems facing humanity (Deborah). When she got hooked up with Riek, an army commander, many raised questions an it led to her sacking from the charitable organization. Her husband would later part ways with John Garang to start his own political party which he claimed was not biased in any way.

Although Emma is dead, she not only got married to Riek but also to the country of Sudan. At one time, she admits that although she was of British origin, she was a Sudanese by nature. Scroggins, when writing the book, initially takes the reader through Sudan in 80s when it was faced by hunger. The book is artistically written with combination of western culture and Sudanese culture (Deborah). Her explanation of Emma McCune’s encounters and her involvement with the war commander opens up a wide range of sources ranging from documentary evidences and interviews.

Many evil things such as exploitation on human beings, people living in camps, religious conflicts are found in the book Emma’s war as well as ethnicity and tribal clashes; which are still there in southern part of Sudan. In most cases, when reading the book, it is the life history of Riek that catches the eyes of the reader the most (Deborah). It has been observed that, for all the books that have ever existed about Sudan, it is only in Emma’s war that Riek is closely and well covered. Riek’s personal life is seen more so when he turns down the request by the Neurs to be carrying out circumcision (Cynthia, 7). He is portrayed as a leader who was not good in making informed decisions and very weak with no vision in regard to politics. Scroggins, in the book Emma’s war, focuses on Riek’s behavior where she portrays him as self center political beast with no end for his egoist skills fully determined to get into war with no well outlined plans (Deborah).

In the Emma’s war, Riek is well introduced to the reader when he engages in war back in 1991. Accompanied by his cohorts the likes of Lam and Gordon, he intends to fight to gain control of the political movement well known in Sudan which is being headed by John Garang a warlord who maimed, exploited and looked down upon the people of Sudan (Deborah). Riek was demanding for another political movement which will cater for human rights and allow democracy in Sudan (Cynthia, 8). Things however, took a different turn of events. Although being backed up by the Sudan central authority, Riek channeled his intention against the groups in the south causing a line of massacres that went further in causing divisions along ethnic lines for the southern region of Sudan. The war that came at that time was referred to as Emma’s war since Riek had just married Emma McCune (Cynthia, 9).

Throughout the divisions which are witnessed in the south, Emma McCune and Riek remain stuck together and the focus shifts on them. The affair of these two develops the plot and this affects Scroggins’s capability to give the reader a more complex approach of the divisions in the main political movement in Sudan. Emma was always in the forefront to help although Scroggins does not give her much attention (Deborah). She had a greater impact on the reporters and her fellow workers but at no given time did she have impact on war in Sudan. In the book, although Scroggins admits that Sudan is a beautiful nation, she does not comprehend just how much Emma loves Sudan (Deborah). She seemed to spot it back in 80s when she became the first reporter to highlight issues on a starved Sudan where a few thousands of people succumbed. She completely shows her sympathy when she uses some moving terms to describe the case in Sudan. As for Scroggins, Sudan seemed an alienated nation but Emma had fallen in love with it (Cynthia, 11).

Emma’s war text is firmly based on a thematic concern of Emma’s efforts trying to save Sudan and how the international organization dealing with human issues failed. The text comes into existence when many things highlighted in it are still taking place. Scroggins uses Emma’s husband to highlight those issues (Deborah). Riek is being regarded as the former president of the United States. At first, he fights Muslim authorities who are residing in the north and are followers of Osama bin Laden who are looking forward towards getting a back up from foreign powers to extract petroleum products (Cynthia, 13). Although Emma perceives her husband as a styled leader, he starts war of tribes in the southern part of Sudan where he controls those camping there as refugees to his own personal gain. By doing this, he gets support from organizations abroad that contributes to his struggle for power (Deborah).

Emma’s war does not shed light on whether the volunteer workers are working for some warlords but deems those questions as useless and with no base. When she begins serving Sudan, it is hard for her to gain access to some places with her car but she does not stop there rather she decides to walk around on foot (Deborah). This act of her walking around from place to place gains her a lot of fame and respect. Scroggins observes that, she was being referred to as the tall lady from United Kingdom. They adored her so much that, they drew her picture on the walls of their houses.

In the Emma’s war, there is a close confidant of Emma who is a doctor; she is portrayed by Scroggin as a very strong character. She always accepts taking up challenges any time they come her way. She is always there to assist Emma in carrying out her duties of helping people of Southern Sudan (Deborah). In fact, she falls in love with Riek she was the first one to know. She tells the doctor that she had finally decided to walk down the aisle in Nasir with the commander. This is after a series of dating. She requests the doctor to be her flower lady during her wedding (Lucy, 92).

The wedding comes later in the book almost towards the end but the author does this intentionally to show the reader than indeed Emma is undergoing some changes in that, she is growing socially. It is also at this time that she realizes that, Rieks’ workers were also having problems with food as they end up stealing food that was meant for the less fortunate. This they did indirectly by use of some hungry boys’ in order to solicit for mercy from food distributors (Lucy, 99).

Scroggins writes that, in hunger stricken places, when the news is highlighted on the television, one sees starving women and children surrounded by soldiers who pretend to share grieve with the starving people (Deborah). She says that, just like Riek’s men, this is not the case in most situations. These soldiers pretend to be starving while in actual sense they have already eaten. When the foreigners donate food and trust the soldiers to distribute it, they end up carrying the lion’s share to their homes. In the same way, this was denting the image of Emma because many wondered whether she was taking part in Riek’s dealing with his men (Deborah).


General Charles George Gordon had, just like Emma, had good intentions towards Sudan. He arrived there around 1870 with an intention to engage in peace talks in a bid to sustain some normalcy in Darfur region. He was determined to achieve this through application of diplomacy. His braveness bore fruits and was recommended by many. This is the same way Emma did when she went to Sudan. She arrived there when the country had been torn by war but she did not there in accomplishing her mission. In the same breath, Gordon went there determined to counter those people who were selling others to slavery. Records have it that, although he partly succeeded his efforts were later frustrated when on a task of keeping peace in another region where he was arrested and was taken back to Massawa. He later went to Cairo where he hinted on giving up his responsibilities in Sudan. Although with good intentions just like Emma when she wanted to put up schools in southern part of Sudan, Gordon was well intentioned but unfortunately for him he was paid by being put behind bars.


To conclude, Scroggins categorically states that as the title of the text suggests, “Emma’s war”, it is Emma McCune who sees the raw between Riek and John Garang unravel. The author does not indeed cover in details what was exactly happening in southern Sudan for reasons better known to her (Deborah). Riek, although portrayed as an intelligent leader is seen as somebody who likes to engage in war and fully dominated by politics. The book is indeed an interesting collection by Deborah Scroggins although not many, including Emma would agree (Cynthia, 53). Unlike Emma, Charles Gordon intentions in southern Sudan were not very successful as much of what he achieved is no where in records.

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