Reflections in Juba – “Good Neighbors.”

This is what war brings instead of development. This picture is from back home in Uganda from a previously war affected area.

This is what war brings instead of development. This picture is from back home in Uganda from a previously war affected area.

Today I dared have a long walk from Juba town center back to office through a route I often trod before the events of 15th December 2013 and before a group of “locals” sat me down in the bush while on an evening jog in the neighborhood of our Juba office.

It is obviously more than a half-year since I walked past this once bustling neighborhood in which this afternoon I saw a signpost I had never seen before by the roadside that read, “Good Neighbors Head Office.” As I walked along the road I was struck by the absence of any form of human activity or the music that used to come from the many shacks scattered along the road, let alone the absence of people and the many abandoned homes with bushes growing in the once bare ground compounds.

I wondered where all the people had gone and what had happened to the various metal & wood workshops and the brick-making sites in this area? The haphazard electric cables which once criss-cross the road from one end to another from this generator or another where nowhere to be seen. An eerie feeling came over me as I trod along and I even became afraid that I might have made a grave mistake in taking this route which brought the unpleasant memory of that evening near Korok Guest House.

My situation was not helped when just ahead of me I saw several soldiers lying down on mattresses in an unfinished building that obviously before the war was meant to be a warehouse or factory building. Thank God, I went past this huge building without anybody stopping and I quickly changed course to a neighborhood that seemed to have more life by virtue one of the few institutions which seems to have been less affected by the December 15 crisis – a beer factory.

If I have never believed or got a glimpse of the effects of the civil war which South Sudan got itself into by the fallout between the senior leaders of the ruling SPLM party, there was no doubt that I saw it first hand this afternoon.

Somehow, I have been skeptical of the numbers of the internally displaced people, especially those who fled to the UN camps in Juba. But if this neighborhood is representative of the many once sprawling neighborhoods and slums, then there are really thousands of internally displaced people sheltering in the UN camps in Juba.

With this kind of situation, I wonder what some of my colleagues, some of whom have fled the country make of the jokes they used to have at lunch time in the dining hut about an imminent civil war. They used to say that they had fought the Arabs but they are yet to fight among themselves and being one who had seen effects of years strife back home in Uganda, I used to tell them that, “You guys are talking as if war is just like some football match where the loser walks home quietly or worse still as if you never lived in refugee camps”. Well, this year’s independence anniversary was like no other at our office. I remember being alone with my laptop at the dining room which in the past two anniversaries would be full of life – eating, drinking and loud arguments by our journalists.

Surely, like that song which is often heard on Juba airwaves says, “There is no good war and neither is there any bad peace.”

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About mosrubn

Aged 50, married with two kids aged 9 and 7. In the past fifteen years worked in the newspaper industry; first with the government owned New Vision of Uganda for twelve year, then three in South Sudan with The New Nation,a weekly newspaper published by Sudan Advocacy for Development, as distribution manger. Now back home in Tororo, Eastern Uganda as a small scale farmer. Likes reading, writing/blogging, photography, travel, gardening, farming and hiking.
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2 Responses to Reflections in Juba – “Good Neighbors.”

  1. Arvind says:

    Dear Sirs, I was quite interested in the dilapidated building that is shown above in your article- Reflections in Juba. would you happen to recall where- location and when it was taken.
    I am Ugandan Asian having lived my first 15-16 years of my childhood in Aloi – near Lira, Lango district. We were forced to leave in November 1972 under the orders of Amin Dada. The building looks familiar and hence my curiosity. Thanks in advance.

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