Monday, April 7, 2008

Seeking some sidearms

I decided that, in order to scare Stan, my intestinal bug, out of my system, I would go for a run on the street yesterday. Nothing like 100 degree heat, air which is 100% humidity and 100% dust, diesel fumes galore and my out of shape wheezing to make a parasite/amoeba/whatever realize there are greener pastures elsewhere.

As I was trucking down the road I realized something kinda shocking… I haven’t seen a man with a gun since I’ve been here.

See, in Darfur, guns were everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. AK-47s across the back of the scruffy police officer with no shoes ahead of me in the market, rocket propelled grenade launcher in the lap of the SLA rebel sipping tea on the side of the road where I buy my bread, 50mm canon mounted on the back of the converted technical pick-up truck overtaking me at the roundabout. They were such a fact of life that they stopped even being a Thing, they were just as expected as flies or sand or goat meat.

Even in Liberia, while not quite the armament factory that El Fasher was, tanks would rumble past on a regular basis as the UN Pakistani Battalion kept themselves entertained and police officers would unnervingly swing their rifles from hand to hand in ever widening arcs as they chatted to me, unaware, I think, that to someone brought up with gun safety, this was fingernails on a chalkboard.

Here, though, nuthin. I haven’t seen an AK, a rifle, a side arm, a launcher or even a shell casing. I suppose this is a good thing. It certainly makes running easier. That was a key reason for not jogging in Darfur, you don’t want to attract the attention of a technical full of armed Janjaweed by yourself on a back road. But still, it makes everything feel just so… different. I kinda miss my heavily armed, erratic fellow citizens.

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