I have a talent for segues?

@font-face { font-family: “Cambria”; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 10pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

Callie, leader of my BVS orientation group and veteran of a 3 year BVS project in Nigeria, happily provided me the link to a website called “Stuff Expat Workers Like.”  Thanks Callie!  I immediately clicked on the entry titled, “blogging for the folks back home.”  I’m not too proud to make fun of myself and I most certainly don’t consider myself to be too original:
The article is too true in some areas.  The motorcycles here are mostly called boda bodas, and I already shared the local word for foreigner.  Soon I should put up some pictures of me with the “locals” and someone actually took a photo of me on my first boda ride.
I’m proud to say that I defy the stereotype in at least a few minor areas.  I’m honestly not trying too hard to blend considering it’s a little bit difficult for me to even get a decent tan without first shriveling or dying of cancer. I also don’t have Chacos (my Rainbows work just fine, thank you).  I do write this with the knowledge that my co-workers may be reading and I hope this blog doesn’t destroy any of my future “field cred.”
I also enjoy the terms “moast” (apparently a child of moan and boast) and “anthropological richness” and I’ll try my best to insert it periodically into my daily observations for self-entertainment. 
I can reassure “worried parents” and others at home that I’m out of range of Somali pirates.  Still, Kenya is not too far away and it has definitely experienced the negative effects of the instability of its neighbor, especially since the more recent military ventures into Somalia by Kenyan troops.  I was subtly reminded of this the other day while learning a new but also familiar word in an Arabic lesson.  The word for “youth” in Arabic is shabab, as in Al Shabab, the terrorist organization in Somalia that has links to Al Qaeda.  Even during the time of writing, articles are coming out stating that Al Shabab militias just recently seized Kenyan officials in Wajir, a town in Kenya near the Somali border.
While these conflicts are still somewhat far from Yei, the ongoing internal conflict in South Sudan is much closer to home.    I’m sure many of you have seen South Sudan appear in the news in the last few days and weeks for all the wrong reasons.  Just this past week, there was a feature article in the New York Times.  I can reassure you that where I’m living is still far from the conflict in Jonglei state, but that hardly comforts and alleviates the displacement and suffering experienced by thousands in Pibor and surrounding areas.
For those who might be interested, I’m reluctant to do a more in depth writing on politics and current events here.  This is mostly because I’m still sorting out all the different counties, payams, groups, underlying issues, history, conflicts and the political institutions and authorities. I don’t think I’ll ever be a true authority on anything to do with South Sudan, especially not while still in the midst of a steep learning curving.  I haven’t yet learned how to cook the food here; much less can I properly explain why the Lou Nuer and Murle won’t stop murdering each other.  Don’t get me wrong though, I’m constantly reading and asking questions. 
In fact, every book that I’ve read thus far on the Sudan has started by explaining how complex its history and politics are and lamenting about the simplified solutions that are often advertised.  This has made me suspicious of different Western advocacy groups for Sudan (remember when Darfur was such a “sexy” cause and humanitarian crisis?) and reluctant to fall into a category of people who seek black and white explanations to problems.  Honestly, the more I read, the more I realize how much I don’t know and how much more grey area exists.
I once read an article that said that if anyone claims to understand the war(s) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he or she is “just bragging.”  I think that sentiment might apply somewhat to the Sudan as well.
Tagged , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: