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A sense of freedom


It was one of those Juba nights. We ended up singing karaoke at the U.S. residence until 3 am. Getting home at night is always difficult as there are no taxis to call that late. We managed to squeeze into one car and then drove around Juba to get everybody home.

At 3 o’clock in the morning the streets of Juba are empty. No one is outside and there are no cars. This is partly because you shouldn’t move around late at night. You risk getting stopped at checkpoints or at gunpoint or getting robbed, or all three of those alternatives at the same time.

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There is still no city power and most people turn their generators off at night. In other words there is complete darkness, except for the lights at the UN compound that light up the sky of Juba, hiding the stars.

Without the sound of generators and traffic the city is silent. There are no other sounds but crickets, and the voices of people praying in a church we passed by.

Empty streets, darkness and silence.

While cruising the streets of Juba I leaned my head out of the car window, let the wind blow in my hair, and while breathing in the sweet, warm night air I felt free.  We were balancing on the edge, doing something that we shouldn’t and maybe that is what evoked a sense of freedom. I wasn’t locked inside. I moved around and it was fine. A town that is stressful and sometimes scary was at that night only peaceful.

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There was no power in my guesthouse when I arrived at 3.30. The guards opened the gate, smiled and asked me if I feared that they wouldn’t open for me. I stepped over one guard who was sleeping on the stairs leading up to the second floor and managed to open my door using the light from my phone.  In my room I found my headlight. While wearing it I brushed my teeth and washed my face before I went to bed under the mosquito net. One slightly reckless car ride and I fell asleep happy, relaxed and feeling safe for the first time in a long while.

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As reported by Life in South Sudan. Enjoyed this news story? Read more South Sudan news features on Life in South Sudan.

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