Monthly Archives: October 2013

Die, move or find a way to survive?

Standard

A small blogpost (or just watch the videos) about things happening North from where I currently am (that is Juba, South Sudan)…

Blue Nile and South Kordofan in pictures and sound

Here’s a few documentaries, which tells the stories of Blue Nile and South Kordofan in an understandable, horrific and somehow beautiful way:

The Bombing Campaign; about Nuba Mountains (also South Kordofan) – ONLY 5 min’s and worth it: http://nubareports.org/sudans-bombing-campaign/

Blue Denial; about Blue Nile (15 min’s): https://vimeo.com/75141981

Eyes and Ears of God; about South Kordofan (95 min’s): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ds8wlgwsmhM&list=PL61773FC2FF46F738
(I watched this one before travelling to South Sudan and actually had to turn it off a couple of times, because it is relatively tough to watch! Puts life in perspective I guess…)

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 08.54.32

The hidden genocides of Sudan…

I won’t write much in this post as someone else in many ways have found better ways to tell the stories of the insecurities causing deaths and displacements over vast areas along the border between Sudan and South Sudan… (also refer to my own blogpost: It’s a hard knock life…)

The border areas of Blue Nile, South Kordofan, Abyei and South Darfur are all areas of conflict, aerial bombardments and starvation – did you know? ‘Cause not a lot of people do!
Especially Blue Nile and South Kordofan are passed over for other conflicts in the media, while people suffering through their second hidden war jostle to understand where the international community are…

Those who live as refugees here in South Sudan likewise struggle to survive as their status as refugees doesn’t allow them to work and many people live in camps with very few opportunities to live a dignified life…
The people from within the areas are all looking for peace, but I’m not sure if I believe it to happen in any near future – I hope and will keep up hope just like they do!

XoXo

(a concerned)
MajaSkyPapaya

Advertisements

Yei Yay Yeah

Standard

Ongo-Bongo Land and people in Africa live in mudhuts!

In 2009 I spent 3 months living in a mudhut, taking cold bucket showers, squatting when using the toilet (or the big hole in the ground that is), eating only carbs and oil (aka gaining a lot of weight), having my bananas stolen by screaming, horny goats, waiting hours for meetings to happen and speaking two new languages.

Kids playing

Kids playing

Beautiful scenery on the way to Rubeke

Beautiful scenery on the way to Rubeke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This weekend it was time to go back to all that, so I went to Yei to see my old friends and visit my family in the village of Rubeke.

The road to Yei from Juba was actually okay – a dirt road still, but in many places “straightened”, so our driver could drive up to 80-100 km/h – which feels extremely fast on a dirt road no matter how smooth it is. In many other places he could only drive 10-20 km/h, so it still takes 4-5 hours (+ the time you wait for the public landcruiser to be full) to drive the mere 150 km between Juba and Yei!

Yei is absolutely wonderful – it’s cooler, it’s quiet – because of an actual public power system you don’t hear the constant noise from thousands of generators as in Juba, it’s cheaper – way cheaper!, it’s safer, it’s pretty and very idyllic. The city has grown extensively since I was there and now there are people from all tribes of South Sudan (and some from Sudan) living peacefully in the area. The city has attracted many people because of it’s schools, which are said to be some of the best in the country. Shops are blooming. Roads have been straightened.

But all in all, Yei is basically just a ginormous village still made up of mudhuts and dirt roads and millions of kids screaming KAWAAACHAAA (white person) everywhere you go. It made me feel famous for 4 days, except that most of them of course don’t know me!

Pretty girl!

Pretty girl!

Kids playing

Kids playing

Reunion

I got to see my old friends and colleagues, who were most welcoming and made me feel at home again.

The road to Rubeke !!!

The road to Rubeke !!!

Look at these two bad boys! Noel and Kevin (barely 2 years and drives around like this - with me on the back of course!)

Look at these two bad boys! Noel and Kevin (barely 2 years and drives around like this – with me on the back of course!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not least I went to Rubeke – a mere 20 km from Yei = 1 hour on a boda boda/motorbike – to see my family and all the other people in the village. I went to church – well a grown mud hut with thatched roof that is – where I got to sit 3 hours at the front for everyone to stare at me, while I didn’t understand a word. But it was just as I remembered with the singing, jumping and dancing. Also there were dogs walking in and out during the priests prayers, then the dogs started fighting and were kicked out and one of them peed on a drum. Made me laugh, inside of course. Then came a chicken along and stayed around for a while.

Shook hands, greeted many, discovered my old “room” had been knocked down and that they now had an actual bathroom – squatting still but no longer open air or high risks of falling into the “toilet”. Hugged my African mom. Waved and smiled 🙂 Except from that nothing seemed to have changed in the village for the past almost 5 years. That’s somehow sad…

The mobile phone companies are advertising in even the most remote areas...

The mobile phone companies are advertising in even the most remote areas…

My South Sudanese mom - she looked the same, I look a bit silly! :)

My South Sudanese mom – she looked the same, I look a bit silly! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well lovely days, lovely time!
Bucket showers are still nice and the local diet of carbs and some veggies soaked in oil is still very tasty, though after being fed full by my colleagues wife Grace for 4 days, I already feel I’ve gained a couple of kg’s. You just can never eat enough here and the African mamas will make sure that you NEVER go to bed hungry!

KAWAAACHAAA

KAWAAACHAAA

XoXo

Maja Sky Papaya
(now looking more “healthy” in the eyes of most South Sudanese who like women with more meat on them)

It’s a hard knock life… (for them!)

Standard

Storytelling, story story, just a story
from #blondieinafrica

Some weeks ago I met with Amma (not her real name of course) – a Sudanese lady who told me her story; one of many horrible and sad stories around here, though hers is not the worst or toughest of the stories I’ve heard…

The proud, fertile, bombed and starved Nuba Mountains

Amma used to live in the Nuba Mountains just North of the border between Sudan and South Sudan; a very fertile and reportedly very beautiful area. The story of the area is long and absolutely gruesome as it has been a place of a war tending to genocide for decades now, and yet unknown to the wider international community. For years the Government of Sudan has supported militias to kill, rape, burn and bomb people, who during the war of the 80s and 90s were regarded as primitive, uneducated, second-class citizens.

The proud Nubans are a mix of Muslim, Christian and traditional believers, but not even the Muslim Nubans were seen to fit into the Islamist Northern regime that attempted to assimilate the people of the mountains and eradicate their identity. Furthermore most Nubans were at default thought to support the rebel forces (supposedly still supported by the South Sudanese government although they of course refuse this) and thus all licit targets for execution.

Today, the militias mostly consisting of Arab-pastoralist groups, have realised that they were just being used by the Sudanese government and that they have seen about as little development as the people, who used to be a target of their violence. But then the government just put in their own soldiers to fight the battle…

There’s a long long story to be told, but a lot of people told this before me – so this was just a brief background to the story of Amma!

The so-called second war, 2011-now:

After a short period of relative peace in the mountains a new war broke out in Nuba in June 2011. On the day where this hell broke loose Amma and her family fled their home never to return just like many of their fellow tribesmen and ladies. As the military swarmed the streets they took only the basics from the house – a couple of blankets and their registration cards (ID) as the most important, then fled through the bush for 5 hours to reach their safe place. However, a lot of people had arrived before them and thus they were rejected at the door and told to stay in the camp outside. Meanwhile the military killed many a young man for – well basically for being a young man who could potentially be recruited by the rebel forces! When Amma saw her husbands best friend killed in the camp right in front of their eyes, she decided to “smuggle” her husband and brothers into the ‘safe place’, so she went in and borrowed ID cards from some young men she knew and who worked there and by that saved her family. Herself, her sisters and mother remained outside the camp for 3 days before they found means of fleeing the area.

Since that day the family of Amma have been split; her husband went to Juba and she and her sisters + mother followed after 7 months. Her brothers live respectively in Khartoum and the Nuba Mountains. Amma struggles everyday to find a way to gather the family again, but coming from Nuba this is not an easy task, since the government of Sudan believes that all Nubans travelling to South Sudan are gathering to come back as a rebel group. So if you come from Nuba and try to fly to Juba from Khartoum … well you don’t because you won’t be allowed to…! Of all places in the world Amma is dreaming of bringing her whole family together in Cairo – which is kind of ironic as the day of my interview reported several deaths from the unrest in Egypt. Since fleeing her home Amma has never been back, but she’s been told that a soldier from the government army lives in her house and holds the deed to her land. Like many other Nubans, who have fled and left everything behind she wants to go back – but not until peace comes, because now at least “we are living and our lives are more important”, said with a smile on her lips 🙂 !

Well apparently not everyone thinks lives are important, as bombing continues in the Nuba mountains – with civilians, fields, houses and markets as the particular popular targets. The story of the people, who are still in Nuba (and Blue Nile, Abyei and Darfur) I will safe for another day, another time. While Amma’s whole family survived (so far) many more people have lost their lives to bombs, hunger and diseases and continue to do so. Not only in the Nuba mountains, but in many areas of both Sudan and South Sudan conflict continues to rage and kill for various reasons. Imagine that you lived in a place where wars and conflict had been raging for more than half a Century and continues to do so, and that your greatest effort in life will always be ‘just to be alive’… I can’t even imagine how that feels in spite of living in the midst of it!

A bit about me

I’m fine, thank you, how are you?! I say that a lot, because that’s usually the reply when people say ‘hello’ and they often do! And I mean to know – how are you? Please bring me news dear readers!
Not many news from here – office life, doing many interviews, bored in the office, busy in the office. Had someone declare his love for me yesterday; apparently love never dies (5 years without seeing me, then one hour of dinner, and bam! (sorry if you’re reading this)) – naaah not then not now!
Are now driving by myself in this crazy traffic and all the mudholes of the rainy season. Have met old friends from Yei (where I volunteered in 2009) – and am going to Yei this weekend – YAY – to visit more old friends and not least my family. I eat well, do my yoga, showers are still cold, power and internet unreliable. Happy days 🙂

XoXo – stay blessed – peace out! (inappropriate as that is)
MajaSkyPapaya

(remember you can sign up for more blablabla from my blog on the top right 😉 )