19th March 13
It felt very early to be up and out on the road for my jog and I felt a bit like a thermometer with my head overheating, despite the weather being seemingly cool. A woman came flying past me which didn’t do anything for the ego!
Finally got to do the painting, ‘Restless Youth’, of the group of young men from Lakes State, which has been on my list for awhile. It’s a painting of angles and shadows and probably not a painting that anyone will want to hang on their wall. However, it tells the story of South Sudan at this moment struggling for identity amongst strong ethnic divisions and to merge its war-torn past, with high expectations. Particularly those of youth.
At the office we have a new catering group, which means that I’m able to get my breakfast here again, particularly as they set up early, and it’s ready before the crazy connect the dots meetings start. They even do salad stuff!
A short hop across the Nile River, which needs extra time as there is a section of the Juba Bridge which has broken due to overloaded trucks, is the village of Rajaf. They actually call themselves the City of Rajaf, as it was here that Juba Town started before moving across the river. It’s a pretty place, with large trees and clusters of traditional huts, well maintained Catholic school buildings and a large red brick cathedral built during colonial times.
The building seems to be in good condition, and the tranquility of the setting has none of the horrors associated with the death of a large number of villages ‘the ground and walls were spattered with blood’, which occurred during the war which had its front line in Rajaf.
I did a charcoal and acrylic illustration of the cathedral. The adults, mere shadows amongst the red walls. The children, ethereal.
We did the opening ceremony for the road project. Listened and gave speeches to a group of mystified school children, the large herds of cattle passing of far more interest than any of us.
Anxiously we watch the skies, scrambling with the complex logistics required to get the convoys (20 trucks) of cement, bridge parts and machinery moved into position before the rains cut the transport routes. Made more complex by needing armed escorts in armoured vehicles due to the ongoing fighting in parts of the country. For now, mornings are overcast, and the afternoons supercharged with energy, breaking into the occasional thunderstorm.