Life in South Sudan

A blog about working and living in South Sudan.

Month: November, 2012

Statistics Oyee!

In Norway, World Statistics Day was acknowledged through an article on the intranet. (I might remember this wrongly but it obviously didn’t make an impact or leave a memory). In South Sudan we don’t have a working intranet, but they do know how to celebrate statistics. Today we celebrated African Statistics Day to create awareness about the importance of statistics.

Dressed in matching t-shirts and caps, accompanied by a marching band and reinforced in number of people by a class of school children, the staff of NBS marched from the office to Nyakuron Culture Center. We marched for about an hour. We sang, shouted, waved our hands to people we met and caused a traffic jam on the few, already congested roads of Juba. What a good way to start the week!

The message from the speakers at Nyakuron was simple and straight, but oh so great. Without the right information the policy makers can not make the right decisions. And without NBS there wouldn’t have been a census. Without a census there wouldn’t have been an election. Without the election South Sudan wouldn’t have become independent.

Statistics Oyee!

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Busy weekends with no plans

Half a year in Africa and I haven’t planned one weekend since I got here. In the middle of the week I always think to myself that it might be nice with a quiet weekend at home, but somehow I end up being very busy. The same thing happened this weekend.

As late as Friday morning I still had no plans. On Friday evening I had dinner with colleagues from Statistics Norway who are visiting. Saturday morning I went to yoga class and ended up participating in a two day yoga detox workshop. After the work shop I joined two friends I met at the workshop to go grocery shopping. Saturday evening I went to Miss Malaika South Sudan, a beauty contest where the winner gets to represent South Sudan in the Miss World competition. Today I continued the yoga workshop and had lunch with friends afterwards.

This might be one of the biggest changes in my behavior since moving. Back home I used to plan for everything. The future is more unpredictable here, which makes it difficult to plan for. Rain might ruin you plans, the car might brake down, suddenly there is a curfew and police check points and you’re not allowed to be out in the streets. It is also interesting to think about all the things I would have missed out on if I had made other plans. I would not want to be without the yoga workshop or the beauty contest. I think I will continue the same way the rest of my stay in Juba, no plans and just embrace the wonderful things that happen to cross my path.

Into the wild

My friend Maria and I are city girls. We are not really the outdoor type. We’ve been living in Oslo for four years, but haven’t really been out enjoying the beautiful nature of Norway. We have done some exploring, like all the coffee shops in the part of town called Grünerløkka and Oslo nightlife.

When I moved to South Sudan (which is not a very city girl thing to do by the way) Maria immediately said she wanted to come and visit. It had been her dream for many years to see wild gorillas. I’m of the opinion that dreams are meant to come true, so we booked a trip – a 14 days camping tour to Kenya and Uganda. Maria had only slept in a tent once before and my camping experience was limited to school trips, the latest one in ninth grade. African wildlife is very far from Oslo nightlife, but in order to see gorillas and other animals at a reasonable price we were willing to go through some discomfort and inconvenience.

It started well. We had the right equipment. We had hand sanitizer, sun lotion and head lights. Besides, the tour guides took extra care of the hopeless Swedish girls, who also complicated things by being vegetarians. Despite all this, for some reason nature had decided to work against us.

A baboon stole Maria’s snack pack. We got bat droppings all over our tent and ourselves. Heavy rain leaked in to our tent from underneath (the other tents were dry). When we put up our tent in Uganda a big frog scared Maria by jumping out of the tent when she unfolded it. The poor frog must have traveled with us all the way from Kenya. A dog peed on our tent door. That same dog nearly scared me to death when I woke up the next morning. He had fallen asleep right outside our tent door, which he might have considered his territory after peeing on it, and he refused to move even though I poked him angrily through the tent canvas. In Kampala we managed to put up our tent on an ant trail and the ants continued their trail on the wall inside our tent.

In the end it was all worth it. We had a wonderful trip. We got to see the mountain gorillas. We also earned some camping experience that might be useful the next time we go traveling in beautiful Africa. Next time we just have to look out for bats, ants, frogs, dogs and especially baboons and all will be fine.