Juba: An old Jo’burg

Juba, on a Monday morning, spews diesel from thousands of Toyota Land Cruisers, their logos testimony to the baffling phalanx of aid organisations nudging the world’s newest nation into being. Flying over the city brings to mind images of Johannesburg in 1890 – a flung-together, hodge-podge camp made almost entirely of canvas, corrugated iron and mud.

But on closer inspection, Juba is less unformed than it appears. We have never seen an aid orgy like this one – not in Kabul, not in eastern DRC, nowhere. A lengthy Sunday stroll reveals a city in various stages of development: hotels taking shape, shanty towns sprawling over a graveyard, superbly tarred roads petering out into muddy tracts. Spend Saturday night at the Logali House Hotel and the neighbouring nightclubs, and you learn that money is flowing in from everywhere, and dangerous little rivalries are forming between locals and the international moneymen. Sometimes, knives get pulled. Like we said, Johannesburg in the 1890s.

But we’d be lying if we pretended that our Sunday flaneuring was not a pleasant experience. The air is sultry, the Jubans are relaxed, and the Land Cruisers, after a while, become a bitter, gallows-humour punch line. This, for now, is how life appears in the capital of the world’s youngest country.

Water containers for a town with no infrastructure

Water containers for a town with no infrastructure.

 

Boda-boda boys.


Pics: Richard Poplak

This post is part of Africa 3.0, a weekly series by Richard Poplak and Kevin Bloom in which they highlight aspects of their travels and investigations on the continent. Visit http://africa3point0.tumblr.com for more, and engage with them on Facebook or Twitter

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Kevin Bloom
Guest Author

Related stories

Nine years later, South Sudan is still a nation in waiting

July 9 marks nine years since South Sudan became independent. But the promise of that independence has yet to be realised

Much of South Sudan’s cabinet has Covid-19. What happened?

And only two of the country’s five vice-presidents have not had the virus

Lifting the arms embargo on South Sudan would be a disgrace

Later this month, the UN Security Council will vote on whether to lift the arms embargo on South Sudan. Doing so would be a terrible mistake

Crisis, what crisis? How not to handle a pandemic

So far, most countries on the African continent are dealing with Covid-19, but not all leaders are taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously

‘The UN didn’t do anything wrong’: Peacekeepers in South Sudan respond to Covid-19 criticism

The international organisation has been on the receiving end of bitter criticism since South Sudan’s first case of Covid-19 was confirmed to be a UN staffer

‘Any trigger can lead to suicide’

For South Sudanese refugees, fleeing war and sexual violence is only the beginning of their struggles, writes Amanda Sperber from northern Uganda. This story was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting
Advertising

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday