I’ve made it home and although family and friends are very glad to I am safe and sound in America, my heart is still very much in South Sudan. Although I was scheduled to leave for holidays anyways (and I wasn’t technically evacuated since I hopped a Fly540 recovery flight, although I was booked also for an evac flight), being out I’m sad and conflicted about leaving a place I love in turmoil.
I struggle to know what to say about this all. The fighting which broke out in Juba Sunday through Tuesday was sudden and escalated at a rate which I think surprised us all. Information emerged slowly and was often hard to distinguish from rumor and hearsay. Most of us relied on social media for information for three straight days. I’ve never thought I would be so grateful for Twitter in my life.
I’m not a political analyst, and I won’t go into the whos and whats of the conflict, only to say that it is incredibly complicated and please do not let it be boiled down to “ethnic conflict” or a good guys/bad guys narrative. It’s neither.
For further reading, I highly recommend:
9 questions about the South Sudan conflict: A guide for confused observers by Radio Tamazuj
The power struggle was only beginning by Andrew Green
Any and everything from Lesley Warner
December 19 Update by Eric Reeves (Reeves has his biases, but this has good background)
As a final note, as I stressed above, this situation is very complex, and rapidly evolving. There are seemingly infinite number of political motives at play, and a vast historical landscape from which this arises. There are endless questions to answer. Already, making erroneous assumptions and presuming allegiances has exacerbated the situation already.
I’m supposed to return to South Sudan in January. With everything I am, I hope for peace and calm for this beautiful nation which has been my home the past three years.
Texting a friend this morning, checking in on respective statuses and mental states as we all remain locked down.
Friend: : )
Erin: Where is the duck-and-hide emoticon when you need it
Friend: Hahaha I think it’s a hint that you should just duck and hide
Things in Juba are tense. I won’t go into too much detail, because, well my family reads this and whatever I write will sound pretty scary. I want to express that it is a very serious situation but I’m currently okay, on lockdown, with food and water and power, and trying to get out at the first possible opportunity. Right now I’m safe.
Unfortunately there are many who are not safe. I’m terrified for South Sudanese friends and colleagues and citizens. Hoping with everything I am that this stops before more people are killed, because whatever the number, it’s surely already too high.
Love to everyone.
A friend’s reaction regarding my imminent temperature realignment dread:
“I know it’d hurt, but if i were you i’d hope for single digits right when you get back, then the 20s feel kinda nice…”
It was 104*F here yesterday.
For the past few Christmases I’ve showed up in flip flops and capris in defiance of cold weather.
Don’t think I’ll be doing that this year…
Friend: “Bank at train stations says…-10″
Erin: “I’m going to die”
Friend: “I will drink good beer at your funeral”
I have good friends.
This juxtaposition hurts a little
Gonna freeze my giblets off.
In the run up to Christmas, Wau has decided it won’t tolerate any funny stuff/criminal activity and is determined to have a peaceful holiday season by cracking down on criminals and ruffians.
According to the announcement, offenders include anyone involved in criminal activities, such as hosting discos in their houses. Oh, and also:
Other suspects targeted include the girls wearing trousers and boys who have plaited their hairs.
YEAH! Stupid trousers. Dangerous tools of criminal incitement when adorning the wrong gender. Down with the lot of them.
Lest one thinks this is a joke, today’s security update:
On Sunday 01 December at about 14:45, a female NGO national staff member was assaulted and beaten by police forces in the market area of Wau town. The reason given was that she was wearing trousers, which is now forbidden for women in Wau. Expatriates who tried to intervened were chased away by security forces but other national staff members intervened and managed to secure her release.
In happier news, South Sudan debuted at #5 on Transparency International’s list of corrupt countries this year.
Happier because Sudan came in at #4.
Nom nom nom
There’s a lot to be thankful for here in the world’s newest country. In Juba we gathered together to appreciate this properly last night. There was food; there was alcohol; there was laughing; there was dancing. We stuffed ourselves silly, made inappropriate comments, and went back for thirds. America would have been proud.
Personally, I’m a little impressed with myself as well – I made my first pumpkin pie from scratch. And by “from scratch” I don’t just mean from a pumpkin or made my own crust (which I’m impressed with nonetheless); I also evaporated the milk, and ground the cinnamon bark, and crushed the cloves. It was a labor of love that which I was unaware I could direct towards cooking.
And also made me very thankful for electricity and blenders.
Happy thanks, y’all.