How Your Life Can Be Turned Upside-Down In South Sudan

"...a decree is read on tv and you are named county commission of a place you have never been to...What makes you nervous is the presence of men wielding guns to protect you. "Protect me from what?"

 Victor Lugala at large in Juba- Gurtong, Jul 7, 2019

All your life hitherto, you have been an ordinary, private person/citizen. You are happy without attaching meaning to personal privacy. Nobody pokes their noses in your affairs, and you too don't bother with what your neighbours do inside their walls.

Most evenings you may be spotted going to the sports club to play cards or discuss football with your buddies. You dislike discussing controversial politics in public because even the electricity poles have extended ears. After a couple of tea or coffee cups, you call it a day. You say, "Salaam aleikum- Salaam aleikum," and retire to the privacy of your home with loved ones.

You watch local news on tv, chat, and crack jokes with your wife to make her happy, then you go to bed (together). You look forward to another day in the office - with or without electricity, don't even mention the erratic salaries. Your wife has a salon in the market. She feeds the family because your civil servant's salary is in arrears.

You may not have enough but you don't complain. You have an old generation cell phone which saves energy. Your cell phone only rings when it is necessary because you don't want to torture your ears with long phone conversations. You dread telephone calls from your close relatives in America.

If you have an old government car you drive yourself to and from work, and to social functions, including church or mosque, as the case may be. When the car has a mechanical problem or has not fuel, you jump on a bodaboda or walk the distance.

When you go to the bank, which is after 2 or 3 months, you queue like any Muludyang or Kakule. You are orderly and disciplined because it gives you peace of mind.

You are not materialistic. Some of your clothes are as old as your 12-year-old daughter and your loving wife does not complain.

BUT some of your "progressive" relatives despise you. Some of them even insult you openly that you are stupid because you don't know how to "eat" public money.

You are not bothered. People can talk and have headaches or diarrhoea.

Somehow some of your relatives begin to sympathise with you. They say they don't want you to die in abject poverty like Lotulube. That you must discard your old-fashioned Kaunda-safari suits of SSU days, and start behaving like a refined English gentleman in a suit and necktie and polished leather shoes. They tell you to donate your old phone to a villager and get a smartphone like all the "progressives" who travel business class.

Before long, without consulting you, they are campaigning for you to become a Big Man, so that your fortunes and title can change overnight. Chief. Oga. Big Man. Zol Kebir.

One evening, to your surprise, a decree is read on tv and you are named county commission of a place you have never been to.

Your life is turned upside-down. Your phone rings like mad. You feel like throwing it away.

People flock to congratulate you. You cannot talk and laugh with your wife like before. You cannot go to the sports club to play cards and drink tea. What makes you nervous is the presence of men wielding guns to protect you. "Protect me from what?" You ask, furious.

The more you ask questions without getting answers, the more the rug of your privacy is swept off your feet.


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