One of the realities here is that while most people here (at least in Juba) speak English (insert much longer post about language history and evolution in South Sudan), it is not the first language of anyone. Most grow up learning Arabic and a tribal language (or seven) and begin to learn English in school.
But somehow or another, all children seem to know one phrase, which is shouted at me at all times of the day and night. While I’m running or walking down the street, it’s shouted at me while people stare and giggle.
Yes, at anytime day or night, I hear little children (and occasionally adults) yell to me “Good morning!” I have no idea why it is always “morning” and have even inquired – at the risk of looking incredibly culturally ignorant – with several South Sudanese friends and coworkers why it is always “morning” and none really know. The best guess is that it is one of the first things taught in school, so young children pick it up from other kids around them.
It is very often followed by phrase #2, which is of course:
“How are yooouuu!?”
Or sometimes it’s all thrown together in one big run-on word: “Guudmohninkhawajahaowahryhou?!”
I generally respond, “I am fine, how are you?” which gets giggles.
I admit that one of my favorite moments here was when I was out running one night. I ran off the main beat, on one the lesser traveled dirt paths behind the airport near my place. Little kids started running after me, and despite it being about 6pm, started shouting, “Morning! Morning! Morning!!” I waved, but before I could express my greetings back in kind, I passed by a local shop, and a man sitting outside good-naturely shouted after the kids, “No! Evening, evening, evening!”