Tuesday, February 10, 2009

But there IS a scar. A scar on my SOUL.

I'm on my way to Logali House, my most regular watering hole, yesterday, on the back of a Boda at lunch time. All of Juba is currently being paved, which rocks, but is means you never know what roads will be open. We had just gotten to a road near the restaurant when we saw it was blocked for tarmacking. OK, fine, there's a little road that cuts next to the president's house, people walking up and down it.

My boda guy and I shoot down the road and had paused to go over a curb when a fat man in a red shirt with scarification marks all over his forehead stops us. He starts screaming at the boda guy in juba Arabic. I came off the back of the bike, the guy is screaming screaming. He takes the keys out of the bike and is screaming screaming. I hear him saying "mashi wain" over and over again which is "where are you going" in Arabic and so I say "namshi Logali House."

Oh Lordy. That made him unhappy. Don't know why. He starts SCREAMING at me in English. "Where are you going? Why are you here?" blah blah blah blah blah blah. I'm trying to be calm here, having NO idea a) who this dude is and b) why he's so pissed off. Finally, he feels he's exauhsted his needless, no doubt linked to impotency or something, rage and he takes the keys and chucks them, very hard, right into the middle of my Boda driver's forehead.

Oh man. That's it. I turned to him, sweet as pie, "I'm sorry sir, where are you from? Who are you? Are you police? Are you army? Can I have your name please sir?" He's screaming and yelling at me at the top of his lungs, pushing me harder and harder towards the bike and I just keep asking, "No, I'm sorry, who are you?"

Finally, my boda driver begged me quietly to go and so I let it go. I could've gotten a little knocked around, worst case, he would've been beaten to within an inch of his life.

The whole thing just shows you, though, why a country like Southern Sudan struggles so much to develop to anything beyond cruel, degrading poverty. Sure, he's not that hurt, just a cut and a wee lump on his forehead, but what the hell has all this taught my boda driver about his value to his government, not to mention how to deal with situations when you're in authority. No wonder violence is so prevalent here.

I've asked everyone I know what I can do about this, this sort of ridiculous, wanton abuse of power and really nasty behavior and the answer is nothing. There is no way for me to have this guy be held accountable for assaulting a citizen he has sworn to protect.

I really do hate it here so much sometimes.

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