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Habba, Habba!

Habba, Habba!

Literally, grain by grain, means step by step. On the eve of their long-awaited independence day, South Sudan authorities are eager to show the world
they are ready for the challenges ahead says Ghaleb Cabbabe.

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January 11, 2012 2:22 by



A whisper of relief fills the packed arrival hall when the new X-Ray scanning machine, looking like a futuristic device among so many outdated object releases, is wheeled in. After a notable hesitation for the first piece of luggage, bags from flight KQ352 start hurrying by.

The airport personnel’s spotless outfits make it easy to guess that most of them have been freshly recruited. They work in teams: inspectors, armed with white chalks mark the bags that their colleagues, sitting behind a shaky plastic dining table, will then physically check. Their selection process seems quite straightforward: big means suspicious, small is safe. All passengers then have to wait for every piece of checked-in luggage to be offloaded from the plane by a tractor, before being able to exit the main hall gate. A security official, standing in front of a door locked with a thin rusted chain, confirms that this strange procedure also applies for people who do not have any checked-in luggage. On the eve of their long-awaited independence day, South Sudan authorities are eager to show the world they are ready for the challenges ahead.

Once out of the airport, what strikes you, ignoring for a second Juba’s bumpy roads paced with unassembled solar-panel-powered lights, is the number of 4×4 cars belonging to international humanitarian and development NGOs or UN agencies. It is a perfect illustration of the clashes of two different worlds as modern vehicles contrast with archaic wooden carriages used by local people. Nevertheless, all modes of transportation move into the same direction as independence street celebrations start progressively on July 8. An irregular flow of decorated trucks, pickups, officials’ SUV’ tagged with large VIP stickers, motorbikes defying gravity, pedestrians running, jumping and singing improvised slogans, take possession of Juba streets. Festivities are unstructured, yet most South Sudanese share tonight the same contagious feelings of deep relief, pride and joy. The words “free at last” are on all lips, t-shirts and banners. Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers, posted along the streets, show their content with a genuine smile and are exceptionally not reluctant to be taken in pictures. (Contd…)

First published in Aficionado-now available in stores:



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