Many moons ago, we went to S. Sudan – Aweil, and, then drove on to Wau – why not…
On the way – we were to stop at Bar Mayen Teak Forest and see if it was “valuable” and as a result, if it’s worth rehabilitating Aweil Sawmill to value add to Teak Logs…
So off we drove in a neat convoy of government Land Cruisers’ – a driver, two ministers – a S.P.L.M Sec-Gen (Sir Garang Kuot), a forest ranger, and me…
We drove on the main road (well graded) – towards the forest – then as we came to a tiny 5-house settlement, the car stops. They all alight – and began walking. The forest is still some 3km away, but still…
Me: Why are we walking? The Forest is still in the distance?
Minister (Chuor Mareng): The road is mined, the car is unsafe to continue in.
Stunned into silence, am busy thinking.
What the fuck is wrong with these guys? Surely we are safer in a steel-cased Toyota than on foot?
Now, they are here for me. If they are “trooping off down the road at a fair pace” – how was I supposed to stay in the car?
So I get out – Minister Mareng shouts back:
“Stay on the path, you will be OK!”
There were many paths – all made or cleared by cattle – and so we walk on. I am VERY careful – funny how the thought of instant death makes you watch your step. Each step is precisely in the middle of the path.
I may even have done the “Naomi Campbell Walk”…
When I need to pee – I do not even want to pee “off the path” – but rationalize my thoughts and take a leak… and take off…
We reach the forest.
There’s too much theft logging by soldiers of the North, and it meant that it was going to be better off to clear, cut and re-plant the entire tract – many years away. We turn back – all of us intact…
We proceed to Wau, where we stay overnight in a decent enough hotel.
The following day – we are driving back. Near Akok Town – a lady is selling “Traditional Yogurt” (Milk soured with Urine – cow, I hasten to add!).
She is tall, topless – speaks no Arabic, no English – Stunning ebony beauty – 100% melanin…
We drink the yogurt.
I know what to expect, and drink it down – and suggest a second round… everyone is staring at me agog. If they were expecting me to retch and spit it out… they did not know me.
I get a 2nd serving. What?!
I ask for a 3rd glass… and began talking to the woman – via a translator.
She talks (over me) to Mareng’, and says:
“Please tell this man to stop talking to me, he has no color, and he is very ugly! If people in the village see me talking to someone so ugly, they will not want to marry me”.
Much laughter… we climb back into the car. Oh, my ego is near my ankles!
THAT, my friends is why I could not marry an ebony queen from Aweil.
In their eyes – I am ugly!