It’s a really bad weekend. First, Internet is on and off, flashing like the cheap jewelry on a prostitute to drive me crazy—okay, why exactly am I using the prostitute as a symbol? Maybe it just shows how anoyed I am this weekend.
No Internet and now we are in a kind of house arrest. We can’t leave the compound until Tuesday, not even peek outside the gate. Security has been tightened around Bor Town, not because of the ongoing cattle raids and tribal clashes, but because of a major celebration on Monday to commemorate the day the SPLA started the war against the north. And as with such celebrations, there is bound to be some shooting. The locals told us not to worry because people shoot towards the sky anyway—maybe they haven’t heard about gravity yet.
During the referendum in January, the shooting lasted for 3 hours! I wasn’t here yet that time, but my Kenyan colleague had recorded the “shooting symphony” on his mobile phone and now he’s using it as his ringtone.
Actually, a few days ago, stray bullets fell into our compound! The thing is that we have SPLA (they call themselves “police”) for neighbors. There is a camp just next door to us, and maybe they had some of kind of internal fighting and as is often with these people, they just started shooting wherever and stray bullets fell into our compound.
Luckily, no one got hurt. But next time, maybe someone will. Shouldn’t we be looking for a safer position, somewhere a little bit far away from military camps? But the government gave us this land, and I am not sure how much say we can have on where we pitch up our camp! For the moment, we have to pray, and hope that nothing goes wrong. At least for all the years that HI has been in this compound, with the military camp right next door, there haven’t been any incident. So that’s a good sign, and it means that probably nothing will happen.
Well, maybe the way we can make sure that these SPLA men don’t create accidents is to supply them with a whole trailer load of girls from the neighboring countries. Prostitutes, I mean. Oh, that’s probably why I mentioned it up there.
Well, the Sudanese women are so far very traditional, and they won’t sell themselves for money. They do get bought off during their wedding day, for the husband has to pay scores of cows to take the bride home. But that is different. That is not prostitution exactly. It’s bride price, and it means you become the property of one man for the rest of your life. With prostitution, you become the property of one man for a few hours, maybe a night.
With the large number of expatriates in this land, they say there is one expatriate for every five Dinka! That’s really a lot more than in reality, but it’s a joke, just to stress the fact that this place is flooded with expatriates of all sorts. Humanitarian workers, relief workers, development workers, engineers, well-drillers, farmers, construction workers—name the job and you’ll have someone doing it here from somewhere.
And because of the conflict situation, you can’t bring your partner along. Which means a lot of the expatriates are lonely men. And women. There have been cases, actually lots of cases, where the expatriates (even the married ones) pair off. In fact, aid workers have this joke going around that “aid workers do it for relief.” But the number of foreign women here is far less than that of foreign men. For example, there are two (and sometimes three) men in our compound, and I’m the only woman. So people are now wondering which one of the three I should help in his times of need. Fortunately, I am still traditional when it comes to these things, so they can go on wondering.
Anyway, what I was saying is that because of the large number of lonely expatriate men, there are some “expatriate” women who come specifically to give them comfort in the loneliest of their times. These women mostly come from Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia. There’s a flood of them in Juba, and I hear there’s a “community” of them here in Bor as well. And they do make a pretty big sum!
What was I talking about before I got distracted with these “expatriate” women? Oh yes, the SPLA. They have a major celebration on Monday, and it’s all happening here in Bor. All the SPLA commanders and high-ranking government officials—including the president himself—from all over the country will come to Bor to feel good about the fact that they started the way, and are on the verge of victory, so there will be pretty high moods, drinking, dancing, and shooting.
Which means we have to stay indoors all weekend! House arrest! Not cool! And especially not cool when there is no Internet to kill off the boredom! Someone shoots whoever provides us with Internet!