Overall, the celebrations over the weekend went successfully. People are now in the post-celebration stage and are meeting each other on the street with greetings such as, “Good day, welcome to the new country!”
However, the more I talk with people, the more I realize how many “Oh, South Sudan” moments there really were this weekend.
In addition to the 2+ hour delay and not having enough seats, there were several other peccadilloes from the day, too.
1) No water or food available. Apparently the dignitaries got bottled water in the stands, but inside the square the venue had no water available for purchase. At several points they randomly dispersed a box or two of water or soda, including sometimes just randomly climbing up on the top of the wall and throwing into the crowd.
And yes, at one point I saw a 6-pack of soda go flying. Errmmm… good thing there were medical people available inside the square.
2) Basketball match was canceled. There were 3 big events – the ceremony, the football match against Kenya, and the basketball match. South Sudan is not great at football, but basketball they had a good chance at winning. Yet it was canceled the day before. Why? They didn’t finish construction of the basketball court.
3) Airport. Like I said before, the lights on the airport were finished. Additionally, people worked extremely hard to finish the renovations for the new Juba airport building. It apparently has fishtanks and is beautiful inside, instead of the one room heat box that Juba’s airport currently is. However, the day of, something went wrong and the airport wasn’t ready, so they used the old terminal and the beautiful new building went unappreciated, fish and all.
Part of the reason the celebrations were so delayed were because dignitaries couldn’t land. Rumor has it Mugabe’s plane broke the new tarmac, which further complicated things, and the Chinese or Korean delegation spent about 1.5 hours circling and waiting their chance to land.
Oooooh South Sudan… You really did try so hard.