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.
- No fear – attack like a lion
- Serving my customer is my pleasure
- Big man
- Rich also cry
- Get little keep going
- No appeal
- Time keeper
- Gentel man
- Injury time
- No pain no gain (also see: “no gain no pain”, and “no gain without pain”).
My last few days in Aweil felt quite sad – as I did some last chats with ladies in Apada, said formal goodbyes to people in ministries, and tried to take photos around the town for memories. Oh, and broke down on the bike a few times.
It’s been pretty wet here. Continue reading
- 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.)
Alternative title: I bought a melon for the house, and other research adventures.
Earl Grey tea, in Mile 14.
And on the road to Wanjok from Aweil town, these lovely local schools.
Pithy comment on current state of privatisation of public health services in the UK? No, it’s Nelson’s Hides and Skins LTD.
A hat made of a plastic football, in Juba.
I’m re-starting my PhD properly on Thursday, after six months of working on my Arabic, which is still only shweya, and on the South Sudan National Archives, which is also shweya, although a little less of a mushkila than when I arrived. I’m leaving Juba for Aweil – after my previous trip, I think it’s a good enough place to start work – on Thursday, with no real fixed plan after that.
- Ever since the very worrying announcement of Machar’s (constitutionally, legally) curtailed powers last week, there have been dozens of SPLA, heavily armed, stationed at each roundabout in the centre of Juba, and posted along the roads to the airport. Ominous or precautionary? Taxi drivers are advising staying in after 10pm, and I am.
- I am wrapping up my work with the Rift Valley Institute, and at the South Sudan National Archives, this coming Friday. I panicked, at 2am last night, that I hadn’t arranged for the handover of the RVI office in Wau; then I remembered, RVI in South Sudan is just me at the moment, and I don’t have an office in Wau.
I watched three football matches in three days: the first games of the South Sudan national cup. That’s officially more football than I’ve seen in months.