13 Nov 2019

 

Victor Lugala “Overnighting In Wau”

"When Juba civil servants come to Wau and taste Kombo Wau from the hearth of a Jama Wau woman they will not return to Juba, so went the old story."

This is supposed to be the real kak na tor, I presume. Oh, red earth of the signature Wau Nar! Wau nar, a place with fire in the belly, the phrase is a summation of sublime thoughts and even melancholy.

It is a 360 degrees town. You can dance, gyrate and whirl in a circle while taking in the grey sky which meets the horizon with a soft touch.

Architecture is basic and stunted, as if refusing to venture into liberal space where clean air is refreshingly still free. Relics of General Ibrahim Aboud are evident in the stone walls, old and crumbling brick walls, mosques, bucket-system toilets.

However, there are no chugging chimneys, no high rise buildings. It is 9:30 am on a week day, and Wau stadium is already sitting football fans watching a match. Football match is valued over work?

What work? No salaries! There is no electricity here too.

Under the shadow of a brick wall building are lined four barbers who use plastic combs and razorblade to shave their early morning clients.
The barbers' lunch is assured while busy bodies are hanging in a football stadium as if sitting will put bread on the table.

The usual culprits are menacing the streets already. You can wave one to stop by shouting Bodaboda or Boda! And you zoom off to frolic in a city saturated with Arabic, which makes Juba Arabic unintelligible or laughable.

This is Emmanuel Kembe's home town. This is also home to kombo Wau - that potent ash salt which makes men domestic hostages.

When Juba civil servants come to Wau and taste Kombo Wau from the hearth of a Jama Wau woman they will not return to Juba, so went the old story.

I'm only overnighting, far from the spark of Kombo Wau

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