Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Juba Diary


2Oth Dec 2010

Morning hours: I broke the law. Good Lord, its going to be a bumpy one!

2.00pm: departed Nairobi to Juba via Jetlink express, landed at Juba International Airport at 3.45. Hot. Its 33 degrees Celsius.

4.00pm: picked up by a driver sent by the team that’s been on the ground one week earlier.

Interesting ride; I love taxi drivers! They are such a great source of the most amazing stories. My driver was a Ugandan who came to Juba 4 years ago. He has a wife and kids back home in Entebbe; he is a happy man, he provides well for his family, even built them a home so they don’t have to worry about rent. He sends home money every month for upkeep. I bully him a little, and ask him if he has a second wife in Juba, he laughs and says its too expensive to have a wife or a girlfriend in Juba…then he adds “ but on and off I call someone, it costs me 100” I ask, Sudan pounds? He says “if it was Sudan pounds I would have married another wife. “Its 100 dollars a night, women here are rich”

That alone was my first introduction to Juba, one of the most expensive towns in Eastern Africa.

4.30pm: Arrive at Juba bridge hotel, before check in I asked to look at the rooms, which fall is 3 categories, A, B and C, in that order. A, costs 300 dollars a night, B costs 250 dollars and C is from 200 dollars. I decide to wait for my colleagues, Evelyn, Bosire and Kinja who are still in town.

5.00pm: still waiting at the reception; disappointed at the costs of the rooms. But the staff is friendly, and I begin to warm up to them.

5.30: tired of sitting at the lounge, my patience has been stretched, though the air conditioning kept me inside. I ask for a place to have a drink as I wait for the crew. I ask for a drink that cost me 6 pounds, that’s about 150 shillings, not too bad. The hotel is on the banks of the River Nile, it’s beautiful, there are children playing in the water, laughing and chasing each other around.

I get bitter sweet memories. It’s the 20th of December, 5 days to Christmas, and I will be reporting for a couple of days from here ahead of the referendum on the 9th of January. Its exciting, I love the stories I will find here, I am looking forward, but the Christmas bug still bites, there are other places I’d like to be, one of those places is home, with my baby girl, the other, is a far away land…

6.00pm: Dealt with my demons.


Productive day! Interviews with key personalities, lunch at the hotel, and sun downer by the River Nile.

22nd DEC

Team is up and down as we try to complete accreditation for coverage of the referendum on January 9th. I speak to a few more locals; they are so optimistic about a peaceful referendum, and also desperate to prove not just to teh world but to themselves that they are not a failed state (region)

23rd DEC.

More Interviews, more meetings, and our 25 year old Sudanese driver is the finest! I tell him my mother will only need 10 cows if he wants to marry me, he says" but how will i take 10 cows to Kenya?" if I cant take them, then I cant marry you"

We return to the hotel, begin to work on our scripts, engage with social media, blog...and wait for 24th when we return back home.