Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Motorbike Taxi, known as Boda-Boda

Motorbike Taxi, known as Boda-Boda

So called because they were, (and probably still are), often used for smuggling goods across the border-border.
Note: Crash helmet on driver. Rarer than hens’ teeth.


Question of the Week.

Question of the Week.

What’s this then?



It’s a man digging a pit latrine.

Who’s Looking after these Cows?

Who's Looking after these Cows?

Who is Responsible for all this “Cow Capital”?

I am!

I am!

One of Life’s Greatest Pleasures

One of Life's Greatest Pleasures

… and one of the cheapest!

The Epicentre of our Social Life

The Epicentre of our Social Life

… until the fighting starts.

And You’ll Never Walk Alone…

Anyone who knows me will know that my interest in football is only surpassed by my knowledge of the sport. In pub quizzes or when playing Trivial Pursuits, my answer to the sport questions is always ‘Pele’!
I was not brought up in a footballing household. My secondary school was a boys’ Grammar School in Swansea, which considered itself the best school in Wales and played Rugby, and only Rugby. Football was considered a game for girls! As a result I regularly found myself being battered and bruised by hulking great oafs in striped shirts, for whom the scoring of goals, (or whatever they were called), was of secondary importance behind the inflicting of pain on weedy little swots like me.
It never ceases to amaze me that so many people feel undying loyalty to one football team or another, especially when most of the players in the team are not even from the same country let alone the same locality. I have heard my footballing friends talk about the qualities of “our boys”, when half of those “boys” don’t speak English and the other half wouldn’t know a Pearly Queen or a pint of Boddingtons if they fell over one.
To me, Manchester United is a massive commercial company with its sharp-suited executives its marketing department and its customers and shareholders, a bit like United Biscuits. And I find it difficult to get excited about the fortunes of United Biscuits, much as I like biscuits.
And then I came to Rumbek.
In Rumbek there is not a lot to do in your spare time. The security situation encourages us not to venture out at night and in any case there are not many places to go if you do. However, next door to our guest house is the Crocodile Bar, (see artwork). The Crocodile bar is a large enclosed barn-like room with a corrugated iron roof and bamboo walls. There are parallel rows of rough wooden benches, set into the earth, all facing two TV screens, where at the weekend they show Premier League football matches. So, all of a sudden, I’m interested in football.
Last week, Linda and I decided to brave the Crocodile Bar to watch a match between Manchester United and Liverpool. Me, 120 Dinka men, and Linda. We tucked ourselves in at the back, hoping to be inconspicuous. Ha!
Actually, joking apart, the pre-match part of the coverage was very moving for two people in the audience. 120 others must have wondered why the whole of one side of the Anfield stadium read “TRUTH” and the other side “JUSTICE.” The findings of the final enquiry into the Hillsborough disaster had just been made public.
As the sweat ran down our backs, the hairs on the back of our necks stood up as the crowd broke out in a chorus of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. We sang along in full voice, much to the consternation of our Dinka companions. “What are these crazy old people doing?”
The match started, and for the first 35 minutes, it was quite dull. Then a Liverpool player got sent off. Within seconds, one of the men sitting just a couple of rows in front of us tore off his shirt and starting laying into the person behind him. It was just like a playground fight, except that they were grown men intent on doing serious damage. Linda and I made our way towards the door to see if it would settle down. Then we saw the supporters of the different protagonists going outside, arming themselves with fence posts and coming back in. We decided that we weren’t that interested in which wet and windy northern town was going to win and we beat a hasty retreat. (Thinks: Why should a seven foot tall Dinka, who speaks no English and has no idea where or what Liverpool is, care that a red-shirted Liverpool player, who probably doesn’t speak English either and comes from Albania or somewhere, is sent off a field is sent off a field five thousand miles away. And the field doesn’t even have any cows on it. It just baffles me!)
Fighting seems to be the favoured way of solving any kind of disagreement here. The culture is still firmly rooted in the cattle camp where violence is very close to the surface at all times. In the first three weeks we have witnessed three fights. This weekend has been quiet so far, but it’s only Saturday.
The ultimate irony? I needed a new shirt with long sleeves to put on in the evening as a protection against mosquitoes. What was the only long-sleeved shirt in the market? See picture below.

Who would have thought it?

Who would have thought it?

Not me! Not in a million years!

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