Strange Things Afoot at the Circle Juba K

Sorry, the title is a terrible reference to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I’m tired; go with it.

Bit of a strange day in Juba. First, around noon, the Sudan Tribune posted a story that Riek Machar had been killed by a sniper.


Credit: Talk of Juba

Credit: Talk of Juba

After about an hour of confusion, rumor mill investigations, and NGOs wondering if they should be pulling their staff from field and PoC sites, Sudan Tribune announced they had been hacked and the story was false. Their website is still down.

Naturally, accusations started it was an April Fools joke. Whatever the motivation, the ramification of what this could have caused had the story been true or even just perceived to be true are extremely serious. I’m somewhat aghast at any motivations of the perpetrator(s).

In a secondary only-in-South-Sudan story of the day, the Juba police have apparently decided that no bodas (motorbikes) are allowed on Ministries Road anymore. Despite a lack of any announcement, today they decided to physically stop all bodas driving on the road, and subsequently confiscate said vehicles.

Naturally, bodas not being fans of losing their livelihoods for spurious reasons, many tried to outrun the law. This intersected my world when a boda came careening around a corner near Juba Teaching Hospital, at obscene speeds, and smashed straight into a woman crossing the street about 10 feet in front of my car.

Boda goes vrroom

Boda goes vrroom

This is about where I screamed, slammed on the brakes and closed my eyes.

This is about where I screamed, slammed on the brakes and closed my eyes.

The woman was flung to the ground. The boda continued on, ricocheted off the side of a matatu, then smashed directly into my front bumper with a sickening thud.

I don't have a pithy caption for this one.

I don’t have a pithy caption for this one.

Thankfully, I had already slammed on the brakes, so the impact was not as bad as it could have been for him. The boda took most of the impact, and the driver was able to walk off the the side of the road before laying down. The woman he hit, on the other hand, needed to be carried to the side of the road by onlookers, but was at least alive, moving and not obviously bleeding in any way.

Somewhat ironically, about 30 seconds after the incident, the traffic police, with a lorry fully of confiscated bodas, showed up on scene. They actually impressed me with their professionalism (not always having the highest regard for armed forces here), and after about 5 minutes the head officer determined the accident was obviously in no way a fault of mine and sent me and my passenger on our way.

In short, it was a miserably frightening experience, everyone walked away alive, and a personal plea to be aware and take care of yourselves and others on the road.

Strange day here in Juba. No fooling.


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