Tag Archives: Boda boda

A picture of my everyday life…

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Rainy Nights

3 am: I have to pee but don’t want to leave my mosquito-net-covered bed. I have to. It’s raining outside again. For once there’s light in the toilet because logically we mainly have power in the middle of the night and not so much at day – some people sleep with aircon on, for me this time at night means I cuddle up under a blanket and sheet. Benny (the dog) thinks it’s morning when I walk out and jumps around. I pat him on the head. Pee. On the way in I bang my forehead against the doorframe because I’m kinda stupid and save the light in spite of the generator not using more or less fuel depending on the number of lights on. Aw. I have some trouble falling asleep again because I’m thinking of bugs. I often have nightmares about bugs. Here it’s the fear of killing a nairobi fly in my sleep and waking up with 3rd degree burns on my skin or the occasional nightmares about cockroaches or crickets invading my room. I sleep.

Slow Mornings

7 am: I wake up. Partly from my alarm, partly from the construction workers starting work outside my window and all over Juba. Sometimes they play Christmas songs on Sundays, where they start equally early. That pisses me off. I’m used to the normal noise of construction and generators now and don’t notice until I leave Juba, how noisy this city actually is. It is! Very noisy!

8.15: We leave the house in our white Toyota Landcruiser. That’s the most common cars here I think. Toyota definitely has a good business in South Sudan. I call the small cars babycars and don’t understand why someone wants to drive a babycar in Juba, where half the roads are still dirt roads. Bumping up the long dirt road from our house we pass construction, hotels, NGO-compounds, nice houses, small shops, piles of trash; some of it burning, local eating places (sheds with plastic chairs) and a lot of tukuls – small mud houses. Juba kinda hides many of the people who live like this, which is probably still most of the population in the city. Most of them risk to be evicted because of the rapid growth of the city. Someone with more money wants to build a hotel for business. They are usually Lebanese, Eritreans or Ethiopians. Some South Sudanese call Juba for Djubai referring to Dubai of course – that is a very distant and unrealistic utopia I think… But it’s difficult to tell them!

At the roads there are dogs, goats and people everywhere. And boda boda’s (motorcycles) and bad drivers in general. If you run over even the most surreal looking, almost-starved-to-death street dog, someone will for sure come and claim it and ask you for a lot of money. Same for goats. If you have an accident you’ll probably be blamed. You can recognise the cars on their plates – government, police, army etc. – that’s nice, then you know when to respect the others more. But only then. If you generally respect other people in traffic too much you’ll never get anywhere. There’s no traffic lights (there’s no electricity except for generators), just chaotic roundabouts and traffic police who gesticulate madly with no one understanding what it means. Sometimes we pass ‘random-naked guy’. Homeless people who’s gone a bit mad and don’t wear any clothes. Ever.  They were in Ghana too I remember. There’s surprisingly few of them here.

9.30: At the office. It’s in a nice hotel. Some of their staffs are a little bit in love with me. Aircondition. Work. Colleagues. Coffee. Snack.

Local Lunch

13.00-14.00: Lunch. Most days in the local place at the street. I eat Kizra and Addis – that’s like a huge white pancake, kinda spongy, non-explainable, with lentils cooked in a delicious way. Because I don’t eat meat (or goat or chicken or fish I have to remember to say here as meat only = beef). I’m quite happy I don’t! Sometimes I bring lunch. My colleagues laugh at me and my carrots. Sometimes I spend my lunchbreak at the market buying overpriced vegetables/fruit and getting muddy, disgusting feet that I then have to wash with the ass-washer at the hotel toilet when I get back (like a small shower in the toilet instead of using paper?). You never know when they try to trick you in the market just because you’re Kawacha (white). I make sure people remember me. I hope that’s a good trick!

Wonderful nights

18.00: We go home from the office. Project who’s going where-when-how starts as we’re 4 people sharing one car.  Maybe I go to do yoga on a rooftop. Maybe I just chill at home; currently watching The Wire. Maybe I cook. Maybe we go out for dinner. Sometimes dinner becomes drinks.

23.00: Curfew if you’re out by yourself.

1:00am: Curfew if we’re more people in the car.

Sleep. Cycle.

The rest

Weekends are different. Days off. Swimmingpools. Friends. Parties. Another story, another time.

In a week all the above will change. A lot. Off to the field. Can’t wait!

XoXo

MajaSkyPapaya

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Yei Yay Yeah

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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)

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