Some Walls

The hotel I’m staying at is having a new wall built.

Most buildings, even the tukuls, in Juba are walled off.  The easiest wall to build is made of bamboo which weaves between 2 parallel rows.  That is the wall which is most prevalent, even outside of Juba.  This is the wall my hotel currently has around its border.

Basic wall

But, as I alluded to in a recent post, there is quite a lot of development and building going on throughout the city (see: fastest growing city in Africa, possibly the world). Buildings spring up on a weekly, if not daily basis.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

My hotel is no different.  In order to cater to a the Western crowd, they’re transitioning from bamboo to the typical, albeit ugly and menacing, concrete wall, complete with barbed wire.

Fortress Wall

I understand the theory behind it: Bring in more business by appearing safer, etc. It’s the reality of how things work. But it makes my social justice heart sad. Just one more example of stratifying people from each other, and vilifying those on the outside.  I’m spoiled since there’s been no violence in Juba since I arrived (or for a long time prior) and other crime is extremely low, but I do recognize this is not uniform throughout the country (see: Malakal, Aweil, Abyei). Therefore, many places have expectations of what a hotel “needs” to have.

But it still makes me feel like we’re just trying to protect the expats from a group of rabid ninjas.


(Actually, let’s be honest. Like ninjas would ever be stopped by an object as temporal as a wall.  More like rabid cowboys.)


The sad thing is that I probably wouldn’t have questioned the ridiculousness of the impenetrable wall if the transition hadn’t occurred while I was here.

Sigh, white/expat privilege.

(Oh, and all last week when this was being built, I had Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “Some Walls” running through my head.  Whole week.)


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