Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Back to Yei

Just arrived back in Yei yesterday, after a week in Juba. It's nice to be back in the 'field,' and certainly in Yei, which is cooler, windier, and much greener than the scorching, dusty, expensive craziness that is the southern Sudanese 'capital.'

It may be nicer, but it's still Sudan, with all the craziness that implies. I logged on to Skype a little while ago, and saw one of my co-workers updates.

"Some Demonstration and Light Shootings in Yei Town."

Apparently war veterans and soldiers are protesting in town, after not receiving pensions and salaries for months on end. It shouldn't be a surprise- this was a regular occurrence during my time in Chad, when teachers would go unpaid for four, five, six months at a time.

A couple thoughts. As I've seen in each of the places I've worked and traveled around Africa so far, there's money around, but it's usually invested in the Mercedes, Land Cruisers, and villas of the elite. Same thing here. As a result, salaries don't get paid, people protest, and soldiers come out to beat and kill them.

Also, it seems bizarre just how casual everyone seemed. Of the local staff at the office, nobody seemed the slightest bit perturbed. Again, I guess I can understand- growing up in a country that's been at war for the better part of its history, I suppose it might make you somewhat more tolerant of situations those of us who grew up in peaceful countries can't understand.

Hopefully things will stabilize by tomorrow, although apparently there's a curfew tonight, with nobody allowed out after 6:00. Not that we're leaving- the head of office doesn't want anyone out of the compound, for obvious reasons. We'll see how things go- I'll post an update if anything changes...

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