Tag Archives: the real africa

Only Photos

I’ve been back from Ethiopia for a month now, and as of yet I haven’t done a blog post of just photos. Usually I’ve done one by now. As I looked through some of my favorites, I realized there is going to have to be more than one blog of just photos. I simply have so many I’m happy with. This was my first trip to southern Ethiopia, and all of the following pictures are either from Borana, Arba Minch, or somewhere in between. Enjoy.

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Borana and The Southern Nations

I am back in the land of the internet. I’ve spent the last few days in the Borana region of southern Ethiopia. The Petros Network was invited here just in the last couple years to partner with a largely forgotten people, and I can say that the transformation that I’ve seen happening is truly incredible. Whole villages are changing for the good in tangible ways through the power of the gospel. We look at the people there, and they are so young that your initial thought is that they aren’t capable of changing the world, but thank God, we are being proven wrong again and again.

I will have stories to tell later as I go through the pictures and interviews from this past couple weeks, but for now I have pictures from both Arba Minch and the Borana region. Usually I have a few photos that I know are going to be some of my all time favorites, but this time there are just so many I’m happy with that it’s going to take me a while. Enjoy these for now, and soon I’ll have more.

Arba Minch

Today was not a people day, it was a travel day, so the pictures will reflect that. I took two short flights and landed this afternoon in the city of Arba Minch in Southern Ethiopia. Tomorrow we hit the road, but for today, we were able to recharge a bit. I have to say, this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and that’s saying a lot.

Unfortunately I only get to spend one day here, but please enjoy these pictures from this amazing place, including one very atypical picture of Kifle swinging on a vine in the forest.

The Magic Canoe

I’m in the airport in Washington DC, waiting to board my flight to Ethiopia. If we’re honest, a jumbo jet is really not much more than a giant aluminum canoe with engines big enough to get it into the air. This makes the possibilities of what it is and what it can do even more amazing.

It was not that long ago that my mother rode a cargo ship to the mission field in Nigeria. It was not that long before that, that missionaries would board a sailing ship with their worldly possessions packed into a casket, because they knew that’s how they would be going home.

I’m truly blessed to be able to walk through a door, get onto the magic canoe, and 13 hours later walk through another door into a different world. If you’ve never been to Ethiopia, it truly is a different world. Ethiopia was never colonized, so there is very little westernization. Hardly anyone speaks English or any other European language. Foods are different. Ways of thinking and doing things are different. And all of these things make Ethiopia wonderful.

In about an hour I get onto the plane, and less than a day later I have the privilege of joining some really fantastic and dedicated people from the Petros Network, to train church planters and help facilitate what God is already doing there. I’m looking forward to posting pictures and stories of what happens in the next two weeks, if internet is available. Until next time…

Back To Africa!

It’s been a year now since I was in Africa, and next week I go back. Once again, I’ll be going to Ethiopia. I’ll be taking my camera, not to show pictures of miserable children and flies as some like to do, but to capture a realistic picture of life; to bring awareness not only of the struggles but also the triumphs that people have on a daily basis. My goal is to capture the heart of the people and communicate what commonalities tie us all together on both sides of the ocean. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends, both from Ethiopia and North America.

I’ll be traveling to two different regions, one of which I have not yet been to. I will try to keep blog posts going as I travel, though internet is not always a possibility, so there may be gaps. I may not be able to be specific about where I am at times for various reasons, but I will be traveling to the East and the South. It’s been five years since I was in South Sudan, and the southern region I’m going to will be the closest I’ve been to that country since then. I’m curious to see how the two regions compare, so in that spirit, I’m posting pictures from South Sudan today. We’ll see if there are any similarities when I get to Southern Ethiopia. Until next time, please enjoy the photos.

Revisiting The Terrifying Sound Of Silence.

When I write this blog, I always have to be aware that everything I observe is as an outsider. As such, my thoughts on everything African should be treated as suspect, even if the opinions I express are informed. So I take it as a blessing when something I have written in the past is confirmed by an African source, even if I’d rather the subject was not true. That happened this week, as a friend of mine in South Sudan wrote a small piece. His name is Manyang Mayar, and he’s a journalist.

Four years ago, I laid in a hammock in Bor, South Sudan, trying to sleep. I was unable to sleep though, because the noise was keeping me up. I wrote down an observation at that time that has been one of the most commented on since then. This short entry was written as an outsider coming into South Sudan. This week Manyang wrote a piece from the perspective of an insider going out of South Sudan. I’m going to post mine first, then his. I think you’ll find the two perspectives enlightening.

The Terrifying Sound Of Silence.

Just a short post as I sweat here in my hammock. As I lay here in complete darkness, but hearing music in the background, I’m reminded again of an observation made on my first visit and only confirmed since then. The South Sudanese hate silence. They listen to music all night. When they’re in a car they crank the stereo up until it distorts. You can be standing in a group of people having a conversation, and one of them will start blasting a song from their cell phone. It’s as if they think as long as there’s music or noise, things are ok. That bad things only happen during the night, when things are silent and dark, and terrible things come out of the darkness and silence. When it’s dark and silent, that’s when the attacks come, when children and cattle are stolen. It’s when the snakes crawl into your bed for warmth. It’s as if as long as there’s noise, things are alright. It’s like children who are afraid of monsters, only here the monsters are real. There’s been a lot of talk here about insecurity, about the attacks that come from cattle raiders, and the fact that they’re not far away.  70 people were killed here just last week in cattle raids, and people go to bed afraid. And so I think of that as I lay here in my hammock, wishing for silence.

And now Manyang’s article. This was used with permission.

A night out of Juba is worth good meal of hundred years.

First Published in PaanLuel Wel. For those who could not access the site in Juba.

By Manyang David Mayar, Eldoret, Kenya

(SSB 7 January 2018) I just discovered why my fellow South Sudanese who travel outside of the country’s capital return to Juba healthier compared to the time they left Juba.

For the past many years, I have been seeing some South Sudanese leaving Juba to East African Countries in order to spend their holidays. Sometimes others go for training or for studies in Nairobi or Kampala, Addis Ababa or China and other foreign countries. Most of them fly out of Juba International Airport or cross through the Nimule border with a rough skin and wrinkled faces. But when they return, they come back home with smooth skin; looking fresh and healthier than the time they left Juba.

I have been wondering what could it be – the thing that improves people’s health instantly in the foreign countries. I used to think it might be the cold nice weather in those countries that improve their health, or it might be the nice food or perhaps the free public transport that you don’t need to fight for like in Juba. Fortunately, a time came for me to experience the secret myself.

After spending some few nights outside of Juba recently in one of the East African countries, I had a chance to discover the secret of why South Sudanese become healthier when they are out of Juba.

Sleeping in one of the estates in one of the Kenyan towns, I experienced the calm and peace that my soul and spirit had been longing for. Every evening after I take my shower and eat (just the same maize flour and ngete, the same food I eat in Juba), I go to bed and sleep until morning.

There was no time in the night that a sound of bullet from robbers woke me up. I didn’t have to pause my breath at midnight in order to pay attention to some little sounds outside. And when my bladder has accumulated urine, I wake up easily and go to the urinary without any worry at all. And during the past few days that I have been here, I have found that relaxation and peace of mind that I, like most other South Sudanese, don’t really find back home.

In Juba, after taking my shower and have taken my evening meal, I go to bed. I spend many hours paying attention to little sound happening outside. It could be a wind blowing those empty bottles outside, or some of those wild cats and dogs stepping on some metals. But because my subconscious mind is full of stories about how unknown gunmen had raided the other house, I don’t usual catch my sleep and rest easily.

Worse of it all is when my bladder becomes full of urine. When this happens, I usually open my eyes into the dark and throw my ears outside to access the situation. Is there someone moving, could there be someone waiting for me outside? And then my heart will start pumping. Because of those thoughts, I sometimes convince myself that the morning is soon approaching and that I should ignore for just few hours. My bladder would remain hurting until morning.

Some other nights, I carry with me a container to use later at night when urine knocks the door of my bladder. But even though I have a container in the house, you don’t urinate at ease. I first let my ears do the environment check before I make any move in my own house.

This is the life many South Sudanese go through. People in Juba go to bed alive and died through the whole night. And when the daylight breaks, their being alive becomes a reality again. This is the reason they look healthier when they travel outside Juba even if it is just for a week. This is another beauty of peace that we don’t know. That is why some of us are desperately looking for peace.

When we talk about the need for peace, it is not just about stopping war, it is actually about bringing that kind of atmosphere where citizens can sleep at ease in their houses and not worrying about anything at all in their country.

So what is it that make these East African Countries peaceful compared to our country? It is on two simple things: the strong rule of law that crack down the crimes and the hard working citizens who strive to work for themselves.

In my country, the rule of law is weak in combating crimes and people are relying on short cut to get their wealth. Instead of going to the countryside and produce food, majority of unemployed hungry folks remained in the city only to be night robbers. Of course they exploit the chance of the soft rule of law against them. And by doing what they do, they are making most of their fellow citizens especially in Juba get sick each night.

When we choose to embrace peace and hard work, we will experience the very best of our country.

© Manyang_David 2018

Just a quick reminder that if you’d like to read more about my experiences with missions, you can buy my ebook at the following link, as well as at major online sources like Ibooks and Barnes and Noble. The title is “The Missional Life. What I Learned From Engaging in Missions in East Africa.” The proceeds from this book help fund the work I continue to do in Africa.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/704141

The November 2017 Show And Tell.

Though I’m not quite home from Ethiopia, I am nevertheless sitting in a Canadian airport where there is good wifi. I had intended to blog while I was in Ethiopia, but I’ve been up in the mountains with very limited internet access, at least on my IPad. This trip has been many things; exhausting, thought-provoking, fullfilling, and hard. It put me way out of my comfort zone at times, which I would have previously said was a hard thing to do. I will be writing about these things in the future, but as is my tradition, my first blog when coming back into the country is one I don’t have to think about very hard. So you get pictures this time, which is what a lot of you are looking for anyway. Many of these I will write about in the future, but for now, you’ll just have to wonder and use your imagination.

The Great Summary In Pictures

This is my 100th blog post on South Sudan Traveler, and what better way to celebrate it than with some of my favorite pictures of all time. Some you’ve seen in previous blog posts, but many others are brand new (at least to you). I think back to my first time going to South Sudan back in 2010, before it was its own country. I think back to how green I was, but fully aware that I am simply a different shade of green now. My perspectives have changed since that time, but thankfully I have the pictures to document how those perspectives changed. So please enjoy Africa as I’ve seen it over the last five years, from South Sudan to Kenya to Ethiopia. Soon I will have even more. All pictures can be clicked on for a bit larger view. Also, I am beginning to work on a book that will feature the unexpurgated version of Africa you don’t see in the brochure. More on that later.

The watchman in Ethiopia
The watchman in Ethiopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A boy looks in the window of a polling place shortly before independence in South Sudan.
A boy looks in the window of a polling place shortly before independence in South Sudan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making a mask out of bottle tops and an engine fan in South Sudan
Making a mask out of bottle tops and an engine fan in South Sudan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cattle drive.
The cattle drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sudan-2637
The look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A South Sudanese pastor weeps in prayer as he prays that God would make him in private the man he claims to be in public.
A South Sudanese pastor weeps in prayer as he prays that God would make him in private the man he claims to be in public.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The girls at the reform school in Kenya
The girls at the reform school in Kenya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linus, our sponsor child's grandfather, gives his respect as we leave.
Linus, our sponsor child’s grandfather, gives his respect as we leave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The moon setting as dawn approaches in Ethiopia.
The moon setting as dawn approaches in Ethiopia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

praying for a sick child.
praying for a sick child.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting an Ethiopian widow in her home.
Visiting an Ethiopian widow in her home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little girl carries her sister in South Sudan
A little girl carries her sister in South Sudan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A woman in Ethiopia
A woman in Ethiopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baskets of fresh tea, Kimunye, Kenya
Baskets of fresh tea, Kimunye, Kenya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women carrying thatch for a new roof in Torit, South Sudan.
Women carrying thatch for a new roof in Torit, South Sudan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An old woman in Liliir, South Sudan
An old woman in Liliir, South Sudan
Life in Gojo, Ethiopia
Life in Gojo, Ethiopia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beautiful village of Panwel, South Sudan
The beautiful village of Panwel, South Sudan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The beautiful Tabitha, who was tragically killed last year in South Sudan. We miss her.
The beautiful Tabitha, who was tragically killed last year in South Sudan. We miss her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful smile in Ethiopia.
Beautiful smile in Ethiopia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ethiopian widow with her new calf.
The Ethiopian widow with her new calf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Maasai women near Bisil, Kenya.
Two Maasai women near Bisil, Kenya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To See Africa Without Seeing Africa At All

This most recent trip to Kenya was unique for me in a number of ways. It’s the first time I took my wife along. It’s the first time I went to Kenya for the sake of going to Kenya, and not because it was a stopping point to somewhere else. It’s also the first time I went to Kenya at least partially as a tourist. It’s the last aspect that I’d like to focus on today, because as a tourist I was made aware of things that I hadn’t noticed before.

They say that the American interstate highway system was designed to make it possible to go from one end of the country to the other without actually seeing anything. I believe a similar concept is true about the western-geared tourist industry in Africa, and probably elsewhere for that matter.

 

 

My wife and I on Mt Kenya
My wife and I on Mt Kenya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our third through our sixth days in Kenya, we stayed at a place on Mt Kenya called the Castle Forest Lodge. Now before you jump to conclusions and assume I didn’t like it there, you’d be wrong. The place was absolutely amazing, from the views to the food to the character of the place to the elephants that visited twice in three days.  In fact I will be leaving a glowing review on trip advisor, and I would highly recommend staying there to any vacationer coming to Kenya.  So what’s the problem?

 

The elephants at the Castle Forest Lodge
The elephants at the Castle Forest Lodge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every time I’ve come to Africa previously, I’ve stayed either in a local guest house, or with a family, or in a church. I’ve been immersed in the culture and gotten to know the locals. I’ve discussed local issues with the people who live there, eaten their food. I’ve walked down the road and just explored. I’ve gotten to know the character of Africa. Staying at the Castle Forest Lodge was staying at the western idealized version of Africa. The guests were all white, whether they were from Holland or Canada or elsewhere. The staff were all Kenyans, but they were of course all in subservient positions. It was very, well, colonial. My wife and I walked three kilometers through the forest into the town of Kimunye to catch some of the local culture and watch the work going on in the tea plantations. This was an experience, but the reaction from the locals to two white people walking out of the forest seemed to them a bit disconcerting, and it seemed pretty apparent that this was not something the white guests at the lodge normally do. There is apparently a certain level of insulation between visitor and local. The children of course were thrilled to see us and all of them, and I do mean all, had to shake our hands. The adults were more reserved, as if our presence spelled trouble somehow. Nevertheless we took in the town and the tea fields anyway. We even stopped in at a local bar and had a couple of Stoneys. It was the kind of bar that was truly local, with just a curtain for a door and a television tuned to a channel where everything was in Swahili. Maybe next time the locals won’t be so on edge.

Panorama of the peaks of Mount Kenya
Panorama of the peaks of Mount Kenya

 

 

 

 

But this brings me to my point. The tourist industry is designed so people can see the kind of Africa they WANT to see, not necessarily what Africa is. It delivers an amusement park experience without letting you get to know the people of Africa. Without the people, you no longer have Africa. You really do just have an amusement park. So if you are going to go to Africa, by all means enjoy the sights. Go on a tour, and see the things Africa is famous for. But don’t forget to experience the real Africa. Skip the taxi and ride a matatu or a motorcycle taxi. Walk the streets and go to a local restaurant or a bar. Talk to people on the street. Make friends. One thing that is almost universal in my experience is the friendliness of Africans. Meet the people on their level. Your experience and your understanding of Africa will be richer for it.

Our hut at the Castle Forest Lodge
Our hut at the Castle Forest Lodge

 

 

 

 

The local bar we stopped at in Kimunye
The local bar we stopped at in Kimunye