From childhood abuse to peace-building | Juleus Ghunta launching book

The physical and verbal abuse Juleus Ghunta endured as a child has forced him to become a compelling writer with a burning desire to study conflict and create stamping grounds for peace.

“I cried daily as a child; I was always angry,” said Ghunta, who is now pursuing a Master’s Degree in Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, United Kingdom.

He explained that most of the abuse happened because his mother was struggling to raise four children without assistance from their fathers.

Juleus Ghunta representing Jamaica at Nkabom Peacebuilding Workshop, Rwanda, 2010

Ghunta, at an early age, started to develop revulsion for injustice.

“I spoke out and was kicked out of my family home in Kendal, Hanover, at age 14. I then moved to Pell River and lived there for three years,” he told The Jamaica Beacon.

To escape the emotional strain, Ghunta made friendships with people like Mike Broome, a veteran of the Vietnam War who moved to Pell River from Texas in 1999.

“I spent many weekends at his feet, listening to stories about the graveyards that war erects in its survivors; about the military industrial complex; and what I could do to make a difference. Since then, my life journey has been a search for a deeper understanding of conflict, trauma, and peace-building.”

The author, who learned to read when he was 12 years old, started writing in a ‘serious’ way four years ago, when he began to concentrate mainly on poetry.

Ghunta’s poems about trauma and child abuse have appeared in more than 20 international journals across 13 countries.

First published in Chiron Review, 2017

The 30-year-old poet, who was born Craig Dixon, said: “I write to understand my past, the consequences of the traumatic experiences I endured; and to heal.”

Ghunta is now on the cusp of releasing a children’s book, Tata and the Big Bad Bull, illustrated by Swedish artist Ann-Cathrine Loo.

“This book reminds readers of the importance of compassion and forgiveness,” Ghunta posited.

Tata and the Big Bad Bull, which already received high praises from reviewers, will be published by CaribbeanReads on May 31 this year.

“It is a gift to children whose courage, resilience and leadership are needed in this troubled world,” said Ghunta who calls himself a ‘dreamrighter’.

He told The Jamaica Beacon that he intends to continue contributing towards peace-building efforts through his writing and other avenues.

Tata and the Big Bad Bull will be published by CaribbeanReads on May 31 this year

Ghunta already gained membership in peace-building organisations around the world, and has taken his advocacy to countries in the Eastern Caribbean and Africa.

One of his most memorable trips was to a peace-building workshop in Rwanda in 2010.

“There, I saw first-hand the pernicious consequences of war, as well as the immense cost of indifference. I walked through vast tombs and touched the bones of Rwandans who were killed in the genocide,” the Rusea’s High School past-student explained.

He, in 2013, received the Prime Minister’s National Youth Award (Jamaica) for outstanding contribution to regional peace advocacy.

Ghunta, in the meantime, intends to return to his homeland this year when he completes his Master’s Degree in Peace Studies.

“I hope to raise awareness around issues such as adverse childhood experiences, trauma, and toxic masculinity,” said the Chevening scholar and motivational speaker, who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Media and Communications from the University of the West Indies, Mona.

By Horace Mills

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