-  Diary of an Adventure   -  Juba Adventures

Juba Adventures
18 Jan 13
Dinner of left over terrine and pineapple from a lady who was selling sliced, peeled, pineapple from her barrow on the corner. The slices cost almost nothing, which makes me a tad embarrassed about how much my bottle of wine costs and how many slices of pineapple she would need to sell to pay for it. I did give her a bunch of money, but still it’s humbling.

Juba town feels like it has been demanding these past few days, although I’m still learning. During our retreat with the heads of all the UN agencies in South Sudan, we were given a fascinating talk on the background to some of the troubles and violence we are seeing in the country. What was particularly interesting was seeing how these same issues of entitlement and reward for the years of struggle are mirrored in much of what we have seen in Zim, and to a more sophisticated extent in South Africa.

My painting was effortless with the young girl from Lake State forcing herself from the canvas. I have also done one of the charcoal studies that I didn’t get to during the week.
Oil on Linen 40cmx50cm
Expectations Web

Our new refugee crisis is looming in Yida, the original refugee settlement for those fleeing the fighting in South Kordofan, which is bursting and we are seeing almost 3,000 people a week coming down from the Nuba Mountians. The numbers are difficult because its also the time of the month when food rations are being handed out, and no one is really sure how many of the new arrivals are here to collect food to take back across the border to the rebel fighters.

Our job is to create the infrastructure that will allow about 40,000 people to move to a new camp, which is some 40 km from Yida at a place called Jam-Jam. It’s still close to the border, which means the security fears of being caught up in the fighting remain. There is an alternative site which has been prepared at Nial, which would take them about 50km from the border, which the refugees refuse to use. They claim it’s prone to flooding, while the reality is probably that it’s too far for them to support the rebels.

Concern that any build up of machinery for road construction will be seen as an act of aggression and instead of protecting the refugees will escalate the conflict. Then of course there are the timing issues, is the area clear of landmines, do we have the correct government approvals, how to provide water, what can be done about prepositioning supplies ahead of the roads being cut in the wet season and exactly how many refugees are we talking about? This while trying not to drown in the myriad of UN agencies and NGO’s involved.

My jog was noisy with the guy in the mosque in full cry and dogs barking. Not sure if they are related?? I had a jogging buddy for part of the way, who kept going faster and faster. Fortunately he turned off before my lungs gave out.

Chiba (our Japanese Program Officer) organised the UNOPS SSOC Olympic games that as part of her farewell. She is leaving for our Johannesburg office and will be missed in South Sudan, where she has made a real impact. She had a range of team games that included crazy things like a three-legged race. No surprise that I took my partner sprawling, much to the delight of all. At least I wasn’t the only one! The speed at which some of the teams raced around the course was impressive, and the relay was incredibly competitive. I did excel at being bombarded with water balloons, as there were bonus points on offer, and I was confined to a circle with little room to move.

My bags are packed, the coffee machine is clean and I’m heading to the vineyards.

In his time Jan has been an electronics, nuclear and power system engineer, a strategist, a humanitarian and an artist. A career path linked by creativity and innovative thinking. Initially trained at the Johannesburg College of Art, Jan has won numerous international awards and has exhibited nationally and internationally. He can be found in his studio ‘Jandreart’ located at Thesen Harbour Town, Knysna.


  • Jean Baardsen

    Where have you gone? I’ve really been enjoying your paintings, and the stories of South Sudan are eye-opening. I had never heard of the country before (not surprising, for an American). I was reading about it in Wikipedia and this quote caught my eye: In 2010, the CIA issued a warning that “over the next five years,…a new mass killing or genocide is most likely to occur in southern Sudan.” Predicting a genocide? And will this be another time when no one will be able to do anything about it?
    I admire you for the work you’re doing. Hope you’re okay. :o)

    January 22, 2013

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