I mentioned in my previous post, that I was blogging from South Sudan. Yup...I'm back in Malabo now, but even typing it is a little unreal. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined going to South Sudan of all places. But it happened, and it was definitely an experience.
I was down there for work, and going by CNN and most of Western media, I expected to see kids with distended bellies running around, bombed out buildings and bullet casings on the floor. What I got instead was Sunday pool parties, luxury SUVs, awesome food, great people and tons of shisha (which made me super ill btw, but that's a story for another paragraph).
Not to say that South Sudan isn't undergoing the realities of war, a lot of it was still very evident, like bullet holes all over the Ministry of Petroleum (the latest conflict had been in June). But it is clearly a society on the mend, full of people working hard to improve their lot, so I don't understand why Western media chooses to ignore that story of resilience and only depict the tragedy.
The Republic of South Sudan is the youngest country in the world, they gained independence on 9th July 2011, and some teething problems are to be expected, but NGOs and aid groups, who are making a killing financially by perpetuating the stereotype pf the war-torn African country, even though they are helping the country, continue to block its progress by being too much of a crutch (in my humble, non-foreign correspondent opinion).
We stayed in the capital, Juba, and to be honest it looked just like Lagos. Lagos, of say the early to mid 90s, but not like a refugee camp.
Funny thing though, all the people we saw have a very strong resemblance. You see the way South Sudanese models; Alek Wek and Ajak Deng look exactly alike but are not related, imagine a nation packed with Aleks and Ajaks. Wallahi they all look like them. The guys all look alike too, and they're all so TALL. I could wear 6 inch heels there and only come up to the guys chins. I didn't see a single South Sudanese man under 5'10.
I was a huuuge hit too, marriage proposals left and right. Apparently I'm worth thousands of heads of cattle. Imagine, and you people don't appreciate me in Nigeria.
Anyway I had a really great time, the hospitality was above par, met the President and Vice-President, and smashed it at work. All in all, it was a great trip and I'd definitely want to go back again.
Tell me this doesn't look like it could be Ikoyi even
They also had this spicy beef dish thing that tasted exactly like suya, I ate it almost every day. The food was pretty good and that's saying a lot coming from me, because I'm the Pickiest Eater in the World ™.
I was proud of myself though, ate like a champ and apart from a nasty brush with some bad shisha that had me almost comatose on the bathroom floor, puking out the excellent salmon I'd had earlier. Gastronomy wise, it was a resounding success.
I couldn't take as many pictures as I liked, because I only left the hotel to go to meetings and back, and everytime we left our hotel it was in a convoy with escorts, so couldn't exactly tell all the hard faced military men driving to stop so I could take pictures. I did get a lot of dope snapchat footage though, with lots of messages like this.
Since I started traveling within Africa, I've gotten so many messages like the above. Its crazy how little informed Africans are of Africa. I've been to 6 African countries this year, and with the exception of South Africa, each one was completely different from what I expected.
I'm definitely making it a mission to visit as many as I can next year. If you're interested in inter-Africa travel, Ethiopian Airlines is probably the best airline to travel with within Africa. It goes to all the major African cities, has the best prices and the leg room is the best I've seen in any airline.
If you want to start small, like maybe within West Africa first, you can do Asky or Cronos airlines. Asky is notoriously unreliable...think Arik but on a larger scale (I flew Asky to Bangui in Central African Republic a few weeks ago and my flight back to Malabo was canceled). But both Asky and Cronos fly from Lagos, Accra, Douala etc and go to a good number of West African countries. They're really expensive though.
Love and Light xx