Catching Up: The Silliness and Sadness Through the Sudan Lens: Vol. I through VII


The light through a mosquito net is phantasmal; spliced into striation by the meshed window of the tent, the shadows don’t move, nor does the light, but the effulgent imprint left by invading electrons stays static as the net sways. The bright bars confine the reposer further from the pallid mesh contrast to night.

don’t like the confines of a mosquito net, especially when it is not sized properly to fit the bed. I don’t even use on most of the time here in The ‘Dan, but I had moved into a tent where one was necessary. Through a series of decisions in which I had no part, events so transpired to throw me back at the helm of The New Restaurant for the week following my concert exposition. The crescendoing buzz of a beast as it nears one’s ear is a inimical lullaby, and in my new home, it the net was necessary to ward of the impending drone of approaching creatures.

Despite my nightly troubles, it was refreshing being back at the project I started, but it was not as good changing gears so fast that they began to grind.I acquired some movies from El Berkerino’s hard drive, and managed to not fry my laptop. At the same time I brushed up on my cooking skills and came up with a a way to make perfectly acceptable tortilla chips in the ‘Dan, and managed to have some fun in the kitchen.

The weekend came and went as I opened for breakfast but still closed at dinner. It was an intense week, and I was glad to get back to the camp to return to my work.


I’ve always said about Sudan, “I’ve seen a lot of guns, but I’ve never heard one.”

My first day back at the river, I heard my first gunshot.

An intoxicated SPLM soldier was outside out camp and fired a gun in the air. People ducked under their desks and our guards called the military police, but he got away.

That weekend, the town was on a lockdown all day, while the SPLA scoured town. Rumours went around like wildfire. The common consensus was that some big-wig from somewhere was coming through. It turned out they were confiscating guns from local people to prevent violence in the city.

Regardless of the fact there were less armed civilians, I was a bit wary of the men in uniform who patrolled all the dirt causeways with scuffed and worn Kalashnikovs slung over their shoulders.

Well, I was a little more wary for a day or so.


The Rugby World Cup was in full swing the last few months. To be honest, I had no idea up until now there was such a tournament. But with the NFL games on at odd hours, and by beloved Eagles gluttons for punishment this season. I really got into it.

I found out, watching the English pound Le Bleu that, ‘asseyez-vous, grenouille’ is not something to yell at a gentleman whilst watching a world cup rugby match.

I always thought Froggie was as playful as Yank, Canuck, Pom, Limey, or Kraut.

Wikipedia has a great list.

Good thing England won, cause all the posh, gin-lapping nose-laughers (that means you, BDB) I’ve met are just fine being referred to as ‘Fog Breathers.”


The BDB had a little going away party the next week as we watched France get flogged (again) by Argentina. Blue sambuca was broken out in honour of his imminent permanent departure. Honestly, we were just happy to see the sonuvabitch leave.

It was Buckshot’s idea to get El Berkerino down for the party. He hadn’t been out with us in a while, and he and I met the BDB about a year ago. It was somewhat of a shocking realization that we’d known the Daniel-Craig-idolater and had all been in the land of dust and heat for that long.

On the way back to the outside of town to drop off El Berkerino, a shadowy figure loomed into the headlights. Our driver slowed down and we realized what we were looking at A soldier.

He had his ancient looking automatic rifle pointed right at us.

He looked a little unsteady.

He started yelling at us in Arabic, the gun wavering in our general direction as he walked around the car.

We dropped some names, tried to make nice, but this solder and his gun were too precarious for us to be comfortable.

He makes his way around the back of the car, to Berk’s open window were he sits, scowling shaking his head and smoking. As he lifted the smoldering stick to his mouth the soldiers fulvous eyes reflected the copper ember.

Now, let me just say that not six months ago, Raleigh, Buckshot, and myself included would have been pretty worried and crap. Not Berk.

He’s a Juba legend.

We were all just pissed about the delay the soused soldier would cause.

Think about how you feel when you hit a traffic jam or get a flat tire. That how we felt about an intoxicated man pointing an automatic rifle in our faces.

The soldier mumbled something.

Then he took one of his hands off his Kalashnikov and gingerly snatched the smoke from the fingers El Berkerino, The solder then popped the smoke in his mouth and put his hand back on the gun

“Hey man,” Berk said perturbedly reaching for the smoke as the soldier turned away.

The soldier pointed his gun to the sky and stepped back, breathing El Berkerino’s smoke through his nostrils like a sleeping dragon.

“Don’t worry about it, bro,” I said as I saluted the guard while we drove off.


During the days back at the River, I was working at the bar to avoid the politics of the office tent. Our camp happens to be on the point of a small trickle from town and the great White Nile. This spot happens to be the swimming pool and bathtub for, seemingly, all of northern Juba. The local government made us put up a fence to have a bar there to prevent peeping toms.

I’ve been out on the river to check on the pump, and felt uncomfortable with the scene that’s going on as people bathe. Most of our groundskeepers like to wolf their lunch in 5 minutes, and spend the rest of their hour break dozing among the roots of the mango trees. Strangely enough, I found many of them to be ‘snoozing’ on the tree that faced the local baths.

But that day my staff were not concerned with the bathers in various states of undress.

Tex wanted to buy some cigarettes, but the bartender had disappeared. Not unusual at ten o’clock AM for the bartender. I grabbed Tex his smokes and we spit out ‘Superbad’ quotes and discuss the inherent qualities of humanity when I see my bartender peeking through the bamboo of the government ordinated face.

It’s not usually the women who like to spy on the bathers, so I was perplexed. Two guards are also had their gazes transfixed. I took a look myself and a crowd had gathered.

There was a body on the ground.

At first I was worried. Everyone knows everyone in the town. I didn’t want to offend anyone.

“Do you know the boy?” I asked the bartender placing my hand on her shoulder.

“No,” she replied as she shook her head never lifting her gaze from the tragedy across the rivulet.

“Then get back to work.”

She turned to me and smiled, shrugged and parted the bamboo to get a better a look.


From all areas, cooks, cleaners, plumber, builders, guards, and department heads, flocked like flies to an open wound, even before the screams of women pierced the calm air of the morning.

I’m not the boss at the camp anymore, but I took it upon myself to shoo them away. It wasn’t reverence or grief or even shock or horror, but instead it was as if everyone was enjoying it.

I remember vividly waiting for a ride when I lived in Burbank, hearing the screech, looking up, and almost seeing two cars collide. Part of me desperately wanted to to see the carnage.

Part of me felt shitty for wanting to see it.

Schadenfreude, I think, is an innately human emotion. We all like it. It’s why we watch horror movies and soap operas. It’s why we only hear about the good things at the end of the evening news.

It’s why we listen to Emo.

However, to see my employees chattering under the wails and moans of women bereaving the deceased child, to behold my staff smiling in morose delectation in the palpable pall of death diid not seem human.

It felt wrong.

And I was having trouble continuing my work through the wails and cries of the women mourning the boys untimely demise. And more and more employees from all over the camp came to see the commotion.

I put aside my fears of cross cultural misunderstandings, pulled security guards from anearby post and told them to make sure no one came to watch. Then threatened to fire anyone if I caught them enjoying the tragedy.

It was a strange mix of emotions.

I felt as if I needed to be more concerned about and his family, but was more concerned about the employees.

It turned out the boy had dove into river at a point too shallow.

Life moved on.


We hosted a party for the World cup Final at d’nile on saturday with Springbok shot for the South Africans and G&Ts for the English. It was an epic evening. We did Springbok shots, Amarula cream and Mint liqueur, for the South Africans and G&Ts for the Brits.

In a seamless transition from sports to party, we switched the sound and started the jams.

So many people were around it was ridiculous. Controlling the music in such a situation is not an easy task. Everyone wants something different. I mean EVERYONE. I banned that ‘Hips don’t Lie’ song entirely. I introduced RJD2 to the crowd and people were going wild.

But then, I nearly had a violent interlude with some employees. The guys who helped me set up the sound, really wanted to play ‘soul’ or ‘rumba.’ I said, this was not a party for us, but for out clients.

I left the table to get a beer, and the growl of the 1/4 inch plug being moved filled the air mid-song. I had already been yelling during the match and this wasn’t any different.

It became a yelling match.

It became that I was racist, and didn’t want to play African music.

Since we had all worked together to make the party happen we should all be able to enjoy it.

Exasperated I call out out, “Do you think I enjoy playing, ‘Jenny From the Block’ and Justin fucking Timberlake?”

They didn’t buy it. And yes, do like a couple JT songs.

They argued and argued, and I eventually just prevented them from getting near the stage. I told them to get it to me on a memory stick, and we would play it from the laptop plugged in already. I just put on some Nelly Furtado to be followed by a little, ‘California Love,” and the guys were back with more people who wanted ‘soul.’

After more quibbling, I said firmly, “This is not a democracy!” and I turned my back to them.

I realized then that I had turned into my father.

I DJed till nearly four AM until I started to pass out.


Two days later, I flew back to Nairobi.

I had a lot of work to do.


4 Responses to Catching Up: The Silliness and Sadness Through the Sudan Lens: Vol. I through VII

  1. intlxpatr says:

    Whoa! Now THAT was a post worth waiting for, Hearto!

    “I realized then that I had turned into my father.” LLLLOOOOOOLLLLLLL. Welcome to adulthood.

  2. Dad says:

    Actually you look more like your grandfather!

  3. Screech says:

    Thanks for the update, bud. I see you’ve been brushing up on your linguistic esoterica – commendable, indeed. You’re learning some interesting things out there, and I’m oddly struck by your handling of the incident with the boy. Good for you.

  4. Dave says:

    sorry to say dude, but light is made up of photons, not electrons. Stick to your hotelie shit

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