I live in a concrete hut in Aweil, much like my one in Juba. It’s rare to find a concrete structure here, particularly in Maper, where I’m moving to in two weeks: Maper is a suburb of Aweil built since 2008, with continuing land demarcation and disputes, and a population getting back on its financial feet following – for most – a huge family relocation.
The limited (expensive) concrete there is in Maper is invested in small, generally one-room boxes, with tin roofing and options for expansion, thanks to exposed brickwork and straggling metal wires coming out of walls. But in the expanses of un-fenced land around Maper and Apada (another returned community), in the immediate surrounds of the small Aweil town, there are huge monuments to the joys of concrete and reflective glass windows.
These massive buildings – called palaces by some locals – are the holiday homes of Juba elites. Apparently, allegedly, one belongs to the bodyguard of President Salva Kiir, and another to the top man of the gravelling company mining at Jebel Kujur. I’ve taken quick snaps from buses as I’ve gone by. Outside of the ministries area of Aweil town, they are some of the few signs of the hakuma here.