Reflections in Juba – Ignorance, Rebellion or Style?

The afternoon rain back home in Tororo that could easily get many a village kid stripping and running around without shame or fear. Not so common these days with the rampant incidences of lightening.

The afternoon rain back home in Tororo that could easily get many a village kid stripping and running around without shame or fear. Not so common these days with the rampant incidences of lightning.

Nearly thirty years ago there was a young baby-sitter where I lived in Entebbe who would often run around the house naked before she would have a bath. There were several attempts to get her to stop the habit but she would always protest, saying that she had no shame doing and it was none of her concern if the onlookers felt embarrassed by her actions. Being a girl from the village, she probably thought that it was okay to run around the house naked like the rural often did back home in the village in the afternoon rains which are characteristic of Eastern Uganda. Having ran in the rain too when I was a primary school kid, I could somehow understand why this little girl did as she did; she was probably missing the village fun – like it said that you can take an African out of the village but you may never take the village out him or her. Anyway, this was town and it was very strange for her to what was normal in the village here. Thus the neighbors always referred to her as that mad girl. She however, stooped the practice as she came of age.
Today, as we were returning to our guest house back from town, we passed by a young boy defecating at a bus-stop with his hands crossed in relaxing fashion. He was in no way perturbed by passersby or the people at the shops on the opposite side of the road.
When I got back home the image of that boy poo-pooing kept flashing through my mind as I sat reading the newspapers and in one of them was a news story about another outbreak of cholera in Juba, just like last year when a number of people lost their lives to cholera. I wondered if anybody on looking bothered whether what that young man was doing was wrong and it is the kind of thing which contributes to outbreaks of cholera in communities. Well, the one riding with me in the car just said, “Who cares?”
I was reminded of a “strange” but very common habit here in Juba that nobody seems to care about which I have to put with nearly every morning when we go out for newspaper distribution – taxi drivers and boda-boda riders driving or riding with toothbrushes in their mouths while carrying passengers.
One early morning last week I saw something that really made me shudder. A young man was riding a motorbike at a very high-speed with a toothbrush in his mouth past traffic lights which he obviously violated. Besides, being at high-speed, he was seated on the bike in the typical Juba boys’ way of bending a little bit of the saddle and not looking fully in-front because he has to listen to the sound of the exhaust pipe which thrills them. I wondered as he sped past us if it ever occurred to this young man, that the toothbrush in his mouth could turn-out to be a very dangerous object to his life in case it went down his throat in the event of an accident? On the other hand I also wondered whether brushing in public is a really hygienically acceptable thing or is it some young men’s style or is it shear rebellion of young hearts like the dangling trousers?


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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