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Last night the horizon was ablaze. People are burning the long grass in a bid to uncloak enemies who might wish to lurk there. Tomorrow the ground will sport nothing more than charred stubble

We looked out as the night sky was lit up by tens of fires glowing in the distance. From afar, the crackling flames and protestations from displaced animal inhabitants are on mute: we saw only the soft, orange glow against the blackness.

In the morning my hair smelt of faraway bonfires.


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Some Lou Nuer boys herding their cattle in Motot.

nuer boys and their cattle

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It’s been a quieter than average week in Juba. In the early hours of Wednesday morning the South Sudan security forces announced that they would be conducting a surprise house to house search in Juba to look for illegal weapons, so our Sudanese staff were asked to stay at home. It was not a major incident by any stretch of the imagination; nevertheless it was interesting to see the security ‘machinery’ whirr into action. People wandered around our office listening for UN updates on their radio handsets and the NGO security and coordination body imposed a curfew for all NGOs – so our movements were restricted to the compound. Hardly a chore, considering it is nice and spacious and green, however it’s funny how the knowledge that you can’t leave inspires within one the sudden urge to make a break for it.

It was a remarkably peaceful operation, it seems. Even when the national staff returned the following morning having all had their own houses searched, they told of well organised and polite soldiers. They didn’t even make a mess, but put everything back where they found it according to one staff member, which struck me as really rather decorous when you have a whole city to search.

Read all about it in the wonderful Sudan Tribune: http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article32406.

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