Category Archives: Africa

Last week in Juba: photo diary

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Juba style: nail art update

I’ve had a bit too much of politics at close hand this week, so here’s an update on my ongoing beautification in Juba.  Now I’m back in the capital, there’s no excuse not to go to my favourite nail artist, Joseph, in Souk Libya (next to the pharmacy in the centre).  Joseph has upgraded his stool-and-basket to a full on nail bar!

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Favourite bus slogans in Juba: 2013 edition

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For a while, I’ve kept a running note on my phone of my favourite bus slogans, which are cut-out decals on the back of “taxis”, the private mini-van bus services in Juba.  These are my favourites so far this year – more to come.  Obviously the all-time favourite is the bus labelled “Where does Abyei belong?”, which has been in service since at least 2011.

  1. No fear – attack like a lion
  2. Serving my customer is my pleasure
  3. Big man
  4. Rich also cry
  5. Get little keep going
  6. No appeal
  7. Time keeper
  8. Gentel man
  9. Injury time
  10. No pain no gain (also see: “no gain no pain”, and “no gain without pain”).

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Dr Peter Adwok Nyaba’s new book: notes from the launch

At the launch of Dr Nyaba’s new book, ‘South Sudan: the state we aspire to’, today at the New Sudan Palace hotel in Juba, the panel quite strangely didn’t opt to take questions from the relatively large audience. Instead, we were presented with three speakers: Dr Cirino Ofufo Hiteng, the previous Minister for Culture, Youth and Sports; Professor George Bureng Nyombe, eminent scholar of Bari history; and the Hon. Canon Clement Janda, SPLM member, ECS priest and previous SPLM Envoy for Darfur.

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I’ll admit that panels speaking about a book that the audience hasn’t read, in Juba, tend to be paeans rather than solid recommendations, notes or criticisms on the author’s arguments, and I wasn’t expecting to be overawed – although I was keen to get my hands on a copy. I was enjoyably wrong.

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Geography, and re-learning Juba

I’ve just moved back to Juba, after a few weeks’ break in the UK, and I’m realising I know very little about this town other than that I can get a $4 sticky toffee pudding for breakfast.

That’s maybe an exaggeration. But in the process of starting up interviews again with returned Khartoum residents around Juba, I’m finding whole new neighbourhoods (and local names) I’ve never heard of before. So now I’m working on building a map of Juba that’s becoming similar to my now-ragged map of Khartoum – complete with arrows, notes and scribbled lines.

my huge Khartoum map being pored over in Apada, Aweil

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Small joys of research in Aweil

  • Carrying water from the borehole, putting it in the bucket in the sun to warm up, and then showering at sunset outside in the grass open-air cubicle.
  • Managing to work out how to use the choke on my motorbike to make it start in the rain.
  • Waking up to tea and bread being brought to me by the toddler in the compound.  Make ’em work.
  • The moments where someone starts discussing something in an interview that I’ve been desperate for more details on, and my interpreter and I share a look of “jackpot”.
  • Roasting coffee beans in a skillet in a green, green village, on Sunday afternoons.
  • Being given a chunky-assed baby to hold for a bit.
  • Heavy rain on my tin roof.
  • People being genuinely happy and surprised when I say, I’ve heard that you were an activist for community language classes in Khartoum, ten years ago.  And then them looking mildly terrified about how I’ve tracked them down.
  • People giving me their “spy names” from secret work they did in Khartoum.
  • Finding Nutella in a local shop.  Bought three jars immediately.
  • Film nights in my compound, and the joy of small boys seeing orcs and hobbits.  (Ayak said she had nightmares about dinosaurs after we watched Jurassic Park, though.)

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Research: photo diary

Earl Grey tea, in Mile 14.

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And on the road to Wanjok from Aweil town, these lovely local schools.

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