There’s always a story behind every story.
1993, that was the beginning of my story. We fled from my country of birth walking for 2 weeks bare feet across the savanna grassland of Eastern Africa, from South Sudan to Uganda. I was barely 6 or 7.

I remembered seeing both young and old people with blisters all over their feet. Mosquitos and other wildlife tormented people during the nights and dehydration afflicted them during the day. As we walked, we could hear the sound of heavy guns echoing from a distance, as if it was coming our way forcing us to walk even faster, with a heavy load on top of everyone heads. I was given 5 liters of salt to carry. If you didn’t know, salt is crazy heavy: that shit made me stumble painfully as I moved along .

Anyway, we crossed about 7 dangerous rivers and I almost fell victim of one. I somehow decided it was a good idea to jump into the river to attempt to cross it on my own. I was helped across by one good samaritan lady who saw me going down stream. At one point, we were hit by a severe storm in the middle of nowhere: there was no shelter and people where afraid to hide under big trees in fear of being hit by lighting. A terrible 2-weeks experience.
If I thought this was bad, the worst was still to come in the form of life in refugee camps. If there was one thing I hated the most, it would be life in refugee camps. After only 2 weeks into the first camp we arrived too, a crisis almost took my life.

The UNHCH, WFP or whoever was responsible provided the refugees with poisonous beans covered in toxic pesticide. The result was hundreds of dead bodies. I was nearly died, but I was miraculously saved by my mom, who had been already in the contry for several months before we arrived. She was staying approximately 8 hours drive away from where our camp was. Apparently the war hit them first and they left several months before us.

My older brother and I were staying with my grandparents at the time. When my mum heard that we were in the country, she came as fast as a bullet. It was a complete miracle not only that she came, but that she received the news that we were in the country. Those days, 100% of the refugees didn’t have access to the telephone. And there was no freedom of movement. Refugees were restricted only to move within the camp. You cannot just get up, pack and go. It was like a prison in the jungle.

So, it was a complete miracle that she came in time. There was no access to any medical center in the camp. When you got sick, you had to pray to God that your immune system would be strong enough to fight whatever you got; or just die. Man, I was sick like a dog. I remember my entire body was swelling up. You could press any part of my body with your fingers and it would go right in. I was seriously more dead than alive.

When my mom saw me, tears rolled down her eyes. I remembered hearing my mom praying. I wasn’t really sure whether she was talking to me or to God. “You will not die, my son, she proclaimed. My heart is pure. I never had any conflict with anyone. And as long as am alive, nothing will happen to you”. At that instance my mom didn’t want to stay another second in that refugee camp.
She just wanted to pick me up and make a U-turn, but her mom and some of her sibling who she hasn’t seen for over a year were also in the camp. To make the matter worst, her mom had leg infection and it was eating itself up. She was in so much pain that she couldn’t sleep at night. On the other hand, her younger sister’s child was sick for a few days and just passed away the same day my mum got there. It was a complete nightmare that you just wish you could wake up from.

But there was no waking up and there was no escaping. We were trapped. Anyway, my mum did whatever she had to do and within 24 hours, we were ready to leave. As we were set to go, suddenly, we couldn’t find any car that could take us. There was no vehicle coming or going from the camp. The only option we had was to pay someone with a bike who could take us on a painful 3 hours ride along a narrow, busy, bumpy and rocky road to a small town where we could possibly find a car.

When we got there, there was no mean of transportation. We waited for more than 10 hours before some old truck showed up and agreed to take us. By the time we got to our destination, I was already so weak that I wasn’t able to walk anymore. I presume that I was a day or two away from death.

My mom threw her bag on the floor, picked me up and put me on her back to carry me to a mission hospital, where they saved my little black ass. I owe everything to my mom and those doctors: After that experience, I wanted nothing more than becoming a doctor myself, but that’s another story. When I got better, we moved back to a refugee camp where I spent the next 10 years of my life, moving from refugee camps to refugee camp in conditions I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

I can describe life in a refugee camps in 5 words: “ A daily fight to survive “. I remembered my entire grade 1 to 3 classroom was under a tree, sitting on rocks that we carried ourselves. You either bring something to sit on, or sit on a dusty floor. There was no other option. They didn’t have enough classrooms or desks to accommodate everyone; I used to share everything with my friends. Pens, books even clothes.
Coming to Australia was a dream until we landed. I felt lonely and stranded. I only spoke basic English with an accent that no one could understand it. In most cases, I had to spell what I mean on a piece of paper because no one understand me.

Right until that time, I didn't know anything about computer. In my computer class, I was the slowest kid. I remembered one white kid from my computer class asked me one time "man, why are you so slow?" I was so slow that, I always had to missed break time just to catch up on my typing. I was not having fun at all. I felt stupid, empty and alone.

The first 5 years in Australia, I was basically living my past. I was looking back on every incident of my life as being a terrible experience. My school days, my relationship with people, my self-esteem, the picture of the future, all were thoughts of negativity. I was creating my secret museum of mental horror daily.

That was when Music came into the picture. My biggest therapy of all time. The only tool that gave me the platform to express what was inside me. For 7 years, I’ve devoted my life and everything I am to creating music and performing. During that time I was writing new lyrics every single day of the week, for 7 years straight. I was always with pen & paper wherever I went. I still do.
It was an obsession. Sometime I would jump out of the shower with soap in my eyes searching for pen and paper because an idea just pop in my head. I’ve written over 8 books of rhymes.

Performed in every most celebrated Festival in Brisbane. Every opening mic, clubs, pubs, you name it. You will find Mantist there performing, paid or not, I didn’t care. For years, I didn’t give a shit about the financial side of things.

I was doing everything to prepare myself for someone to discover me and make me a star. As the years passed, I was growing more and more anxious that I was way behind financially from where I really wanted to be.
When I arrived in Australia, I came with zero sellable and marketable skills. I could barely speak any English. I did not place my hand on a computer not even one time. So, I was completely new with those tech stuffs. I was basically right at the bottom of all citizens.

My very first job was at MacDonald working for $7 an hour. It was a horrible experience. My supervisor, was a hack of a fella. His favourite words were, "come on! come on! people, hurry up! hurry up! customers are waiting." I was feeling so overwhelmed and basically having a horrible time.

One day, he came to me with his hurry up! hurry up! talk and I got fed up and yell out - "HEY MAN, I'M WORKING AS FAST AS I CAN. I'M NOT A MACHINE." Next thing I know, I was being called into the office and receiving, "sorry, we have to let you go" talk.

My second job was at a car wash working for $8 an hour cleaning rich people cars. You always find business cards inside the cars and most of them were driving those $80,000 to $100,000 plus thousand dollars cars. I would some time sit inside and ran my hand over the new leather seats and breath in the new car smell.
I was working so, so hard and they were there chilling and drinking coffee. I would stare through the windows as my boss and the customers shared jokes and laughing. Basically having a good time. I kept thinking to myself, "man, why can't I live like that?"

When I was in college, I got a part-time job as a cleaner. I was cleaning offices after school late into the night. My so call boss did not appreciate anything I did. He would always come back and find mistake in what I did. "The desk is not clean properly. I am taking too slow."

When I finished school, I got myself a so called nice and secure job with a government firm. working in a clean office and earning about $50,000 a year.

At first, I gotta admit, it felt good. As I reflect back on my journey up to that point of time. Here is Mantist. Born in a war torn. Raise in a refugee camps. Came to Australia. barely speak any English and within just 8 years, he is already rubbing shoulders with all this middle class people. I was proud of how far I came.

Suddenly, I notice that, I was putting on weight. Sitting 8 hours, Monday to Friday behind a computer started putting it toll on me. I was always been known as Mr fit guy and never before did I felt like, I was losing control of my own body until around that time. I started to see beer belly popping out. I was over eating. Mostly eating out of boredom.
Deep down, all I ever wanted was the freedom to wake up every morning and spend my days playing my piano, write my songs and do those things I love and enjoy without worrying about money. But I was a starving artist with no money and I was stuck at jobs I hated just for the sake of money. I kept changing jobs hopping I could land on something less depressing. That never happened. I seriously felt like I was living in a free country but not really free. And in a sense, I was not free. I hated the feeling but I had no way out. I didn’t know how to get out of it.

In 2014, I met a very successful guy who became my coach and mentor. When we met, I share with him my story and frustration. He listen attentively. Then he said, “Listen, Mantist, the key to your personal freedom to do all those things you mentioned, is first to learn how to generate passive income for some of your effort put forward daily.” He then went on to explained what a passive income is which I didn’t know at the time. He said, passive income is when you invest your time and money to create asset and those asset makes you money. In other words, you make money without you physically being there. He emphasises

From that moment forward, the idea of passive income became very appealing to me. I had heard of many people quitting and replacing their full-time job with passive income, which made me even more excited. This pursuit led me to some exciting journey that has since totally change and transform my entire life. The rest is history as they would say.

  • Founder of Mantistic Productions
  • Founder of Get Paid Living Your Passion
  • Music Producer and spoken word poet – Mantistmusic.com
  • Performed in many Brisbane festivals such as the Brisbane Festival and the Zillmere Multicultural Festival
  • Headlined for World Refugee Community Day Festival with a turnout of 13,000 plus people
  • Performed in many small festivals such as Youth Day Festival and World Aids Day Festival, and many clubs, pubs, birthday parties, schools, and more
  • Been featured in many magazines and newspaper articles: such as The Courier Mail, MX, City News, Scene Magazine, The Chronicle, and more
  • Appeared on many radio stations (where his music was played or he was interviewed) such as ABC Coast FM, ABC Radio, SBS Radio radio, 4ZZZ and more
  • Released 3 original music albums and 1 spoken word album
  • Sold 25,000 hard and digital copies of his albums
  • Facilitated dozen of music and spoken words workshops
  • Finalist in Australian Poetry Slam 2011
  • Winner of Griffith University short film most outstanding male performance
  • Qmusic song Award finalist 2008 and 2009
  • Major in Audio and Film productions with SAE qantm
  • Diploma in Community Development
  • Early careers in sales and IT Engineering
  • Over 150,000 plus followers on his online platforms

Thanks For Taking Your Time To Read My Story. Please Feel Free To Leave Your Thoughts On The Comments Section Below


  1. John Newman says:

    Hey Mantist Oryem,
    I am impressed with your life story and your determination to be a success in life ..
    You have had your share of dangers pain and suffering and without doubt you have suffered your share of abuse and abusive people.
    I’m impressed with your determination as I believe only people who have had serious challenges from early life and reasons why they could be a no hoper – that have the necessary spirit and courage to act out in life as a businessman.

  2. Masepah Banu says:

    Hi Mantist,

    Thank you for sharing your life journey. Amazing how you pull thru, your life is a testimony that no matter how hard life can be, we can always pull thru by making our minds being positive of what can happen if we choose wisely and stay away from bad stuff. Your journey is inspiring and let it shine upon those who come in contact with you.

  3. Te Peina says:

    You have a pretty wild story, very inspirational

  4. Mary Kasongo says:

    Awesome story, as said behind every mountain there’s a resting place of blessings. I am interested to join your group.

  5. Aanaleah Maheno says:

    Mantist, your story was incredible and powerful to anyone who reads it….i was so inspired as well as incredibly impressed on your strength, courage and your determination to succeed. I also love and admire the love and strength of your beautiful mother. You are the perfect example of circumstances do not dictate your outcome.
    Congratulations on your success Mantist,you desrve it…hard work does pay off in the end.
    God bless my friend.

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