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.
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!
I got to see my old friends and colleagues, who were most welcoming and made me feel at home again.
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…
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!
Maja Sky Papaya
(now looking more “healthy” in the eyes of most South Sudanese who like women with more meat on them)