May 4, 2012
I apologize if you were deceived by the title of this blog and are expecting shocking revelations that your Converse are fuelling war and corruption in Africa.
But wait! There’s a link.
We also need a new economics of fractured societies. Accepted economic theories work well enough in western societies; these theories are usually painted on one large canvas. But when the canvas is rent into pieces, as it is in many African states, the theories fail or work strangely.
From Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil by Nicholas Shaxson
I made these two wonderfully different purhases in Juba on Saturday last week.
That’s right. All SRAGs.
What does srag even mean?!!
Without really looking at the shoes, I gasped in wonder when a vendor at Juba City (Customs) Market told me I could get a brand new pair of All Stars at SSP35 ($7). I believed him and bought them.
Yes, I am that stupid.
Juba feels much like Kampala, but with networks and norms far more complex than anything I have experienced in an eastern African city. Everything is acceptable, but little is permissible. So bring in your fake Chinese shoes, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and chocolate. Import everything, anything, you can gather from the streets of Kampala and Nairobi (South Sudan has no real industry), but be ready to pay. On time. In full. To pay not the tax man, not the government. To pay to a system so obscure, so illegal, but so open and acceptable.
Import everything! Sell everything! But books …
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April 29, 2012
And ye will hear of war and rumors of war …
Talks that are not talks at all. The fear about a conflict so far from my reality, but so near. The military ever present on the sidelines; always present in our presence.
Rumor City, South Sudan:
- The coup attempt on was Kiir really real; wasn’t it?
- The SPLA violently conscripting young impressionable men in the countryside.
- Sudan isn’t acting alone, but with the help of greedy oil companies in Asia.
- Kiir’s visit to China a negotiation of a new arms deal.
- Has the AU been bought to distance itself from South Sudan’s cause?
- Is the road to the airport arbitrarily closed off throughout the day to prevent the public from seeing the return of dozens of dead soldiers from the border?
- Did the town officials in Malakal turn a blind eye to the invasion of their territory by SAF on Friday night?
- The cabinet too sharply divided over the “withdrawal” from Heglig to come to a meaningful resolution … that’s what I heard …
Hail Juba, Rumor City!
April 25, 2012
“Learn from my mistakes!”
How many times I was told that as a child! How many times I ignored it and still do.
Force-feeding the wisdom of the ages to toddlers just makes them resentful.
It’s like this sculpture I saw yesterday at the Nyakuron Cultural Center in Juba: help is offense; passion is power; love is trial.
It’s easy for me to be frustrated by South Sudan. Angered even. Then I remember: the folly of youth is youth.
Ah, the endless possibilities! The world is for your taking, but it’s just out of your reach. It’s all exciting and new.
There’s so much you can learn …
… but you won’t.
There’s so much you can take …
… but you don’t.
There’s so much you can do …
… but …
Their mistakes are your mistakes and yours for your children’s children to inherit. Even when you have the upper hand. Even when you are growing backwards.
So the politics are as dry as the taps. The streets are filled with garbage. The city is an unplanned mess. The politics is as dry as the taps. The disillusionment of a nation so new is palpable.
Maybe there’s hope.
If only South Sudan can stop making our mistakes.