Monthly Archives: September 2013

Free milk is running like water in Denmark! (and a link to some secret pictures, shh)…

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Sounds weird and unrealistic? Well some days ago I had this really strange and long discussion with my colleagues about our perceptions of people from other nationalities. Among them were that the majority of the American population are stupid (sorry, no names will be mentioned here; also there might have been some misunderstandings); that someone working with mentally ill people will eventually become mentally ill him-/herself and not least these guys had been taught in school that we Danes had an abundance of milk that we would drink just as water and not least for free 🙂 Maybe we have a few (failed) agricultural projects and Danish dairy (or diarrhea if you have South Sudanese humour) cooperatives from the 60s to blame for this myth. But a funny one it is. And of course all Scandinavians are always very friendly – except from the mentally ill Swedish lady-psychologist!

Generally it was really weird having this discussion because I as an anthropologist or at least as someone with a great love of most of the African continent, and thus the people who inhabit it, have often found myself in situations where I felt like I had to defend the people of less developed countries (not to generalise but I have to be broad as I’ve been in quite a few countries around the world by now) ways of doing things as rational in terms of for instance the specific cultural traditions and livelihood circumstances, compared to the ‘Western’ ways of thinking and doing things. But of course I see irrational and ignorant people all over the world including where I come from, and indeed my South Sudanese colleague had met a few of these in the US!

Anyways this was just a small chatter from me and mainly to tell you that I finally managed to upload a few photos, YAY – they are of a really low quality, but perhaps they can give you an idea of where I am! Check them out here 🙂

 

Today’s Fun Fact:

– 3/4 of the South Sudanese population have their birthday on January 1st.

 

Also if you have ten minutes to spare check out this YouTube clip showing the (utopian?) dream of building a free and fair democracy in the World’s Newest nation – it is somewhat ironic and far far far far far away from people’s current realities.

 

One love!
Maja Sky Papaya

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Bored, shot, xenophobic, fine!

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Heya dear readers!

I have a lot on my mind, but not much is an actual result of any exciting experiences I’ve had while living here in South Sudan. I’ll ty to make up some news 🙂 I was told to say a bit about my work, so here comes: Currently, my life is basically Monday to Friday office from 8.30-18.00 (or later) still doing some random, rather boring things. Of course all background on South Sudan, Sudan, conflicts, state building etc. are always interesting and important to work with, but currently I’m into analyzing a lot of (not very good) quantitative data – which definitely assures me that my anthropology and with that qualitative methodology is my thang. But at least I’ll learn something about quantitative methods and analysis to come in handy for any future reference, and then it’s for sure more groovy to do it in South Sudan than Denmark… I will luckily also get to do my qualitative data collection on the very secret project I’m to work on. It is indeed a confidential project, so it will also be limited what I can write about it here, but some experiences I’ll try to share perhaps in an encoded language, so you’ll just get the basic idea. We’ll see when the time comes for me to run around in ‘the field’… On weekends I relax, watch series, read books, go to the market (last time however we were drowned in heavy rains), plunder the supermarkets, go to pools, go out for drinks and mingling and dancing – with a curfew at 1am and a usually sweaty night hangovers is almost impossible, which is nice.

Random street picture

Random street picture

People seeking refuge from very heavy rains

People seeking refuge from very heavy rains

Benny - didn't want to stay in the back, so he just jumped over the seats

Benny – didn’t want to stay in the back, so he just jumped over the seats

And in spite of being semi-bored with the work for the moment I feel fine – tamam! Exceeding all expectations I get great food to eat, I can buy real coffee, they even have HARIBO candy incl. liquorice with Danish slogans on, and not least I’ve find bacon spice in the supermarket! – this is a result of mainly Eritrean, Ethiopian and Indian peoples making business in Juba, where expats and corrupt officials make up much of the economy. At least I won’t miss home too much (just feta cheese), also the prices are pretty much the same as home… I even went to a swimming pool on Sunday! But I do miss my family and friends. And some silence once in awhile… Here you either have construction workers starting at 7 every morning (incl. Sundays damnit) all over the city, which is basically just one huge construction site, or you have noisy generators powering  up the city – at least for those who don’t live in the mudhuts scattered all over.

Norwegian ambassador's swimmingpool - open for Scandinavians on Sundays

Norwegian ambassador’s swimmingpool – open for Scandinavians on Sundays

HARIBO

Imitation Bacon SpiceImitation Bacon Spice

The place is (obviously perhaps?) not the most secure place in the world. For instance we were woken up by shots at three in the morning the other day that literally sounded as if they were just outside the window. Apparently some burglar had tried to break into a compound with an armed guard that then fired his arms a lot of time. We don’t know if they catched the guy, but it was definitely a reminder of where we are and a bit difficult to fall asleep afterwards. This was a guard, but more often people hear shots at night from locals who still have their AK-47’s from the time of ongoing civil war. That’s a bit scary, but somehow you understand why they don’t want to let go – not because of some wonderful memories, but because of the gloomy peace in the country…

Another issue in the city – actually the whole country – is a growing xenophobia (intense and somehow irrational dislike (also known as racism or whatever’s worse (indeed!) than Pia Kjærsgaard)) against people from Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other surrounding countries, who come to work and live in South Sudan. There is a new ban on people riding boda boda’s (motorcycle taxis) for commercial use – only non-nationals of course, which has resulted in Ugandan boda drivers being killed on the streets by angry South Sudanese boda drivers; or they are being targeted by police and military, who do not exactly use gentle methods either. This is just one business gone wrong and there are many more areas where foreigners from these countries are targeted. The irony in all of this is that the foreigners often take jobs that South Sudanese do not want or they bring business, which is not in place within the country. For instance a recent flooding on the border point where all trade from Uganda comes into South Sudan caused an extreme surge in the price of vegetables and fruits because there wasn’t anything coming from within the country. So however big the xenophobia they are still dependent on all these people coming from outside to ‘steal their jobs and money’!

Now don’t misunderstand me, the South Sudanese are also very gentle and sweet people – I still enjoy walking in the streets, being screamed ‘Kawacha’ (white person) at by all the kids – you have to wave and say ‘good morning’ to ALL of them and they don’t stop until you’re out of sight, I love driving through and watching people where they live and work and wander, and we have some great colleges that are very good at complimenting our looks and matching clothes 🙂

Sunset by the River NileSunset by the River Nile

Sorry for the very serious and perhaps long and boring blog (you could just have stopped reading)… I’ve thought about writing some more about the South Sudanese independence and the state of things in general – but is this something you really want to read?

You get a stamp inside the hand here - guess you can't see it on these very black people otherwise :)

You get a stamp inside the hand here – guess you can’t see it on these very black people otherwise 🙂

Xoxo and a lot of looove

MajaSkyPapaya