South Sudan, Eye Radio Relaunch and then I crash. (Letter 6)

August 19, 2012  (Note, this is an archive post, I am ok.)

Dear Friends,

Eye Radio Opening (5)Suzi left on Saturday, but she got to be part of the celebration Saturday Morning changing the name of the station from Sudan Radio Service (SRS) “For Peace and Development” to Eye Radio “Your Eye on South Sudan.”  The new jingles are hot, all African style music.

The radio station name change from Sudan Radio Service is a big deal.  It marks that South Sudan is no longer part of Sudan and recognizes the station’s transfer from being a owned by a US NGO, to becoming “100% South Sudanese” owned by Eye Radio, a South Sudan NGO.

Eye Radio, LucyThe station was live all day, taking calls and interviewing guests, including public officials, while much of the staff were on a flat bed truck going from market to market (African markets, not shopping malls) blasting music and talking with folks along the way, using a remote pick up unit.  Different entertainers from South Sudan performed on the truck.   The “EYE Radio Road Show” was a festive affair.  It rained during part of the Road Show.  The Program Director, Daniel, said this was a blessing, any day with rain is blessed.  The station was launching on a good omen.

z Cow with long horns (1)



We stayed at the station until about 1PM and took Suzi to the airport. Almost as soon as I put Suzi on the plane my body gave in to the African crud that it had been dodging for a week and that many others in both Yei Road Camp and the Jebel had been fighting.

I was particularly miserable at 3 AM, so called the telephone doc in Dubai that my employer has on call.  I wanted to see which of the meds I had would help and which may cause problems.  Of course he wanted me to go immediately to an ER until he read the security brief on Juba and realized that I should not leave the compound in the dark.   We settled on Cipro, an antibiotic, since I mentioned that about a quarter of the people in camps seemed to have the same thing.  He told me not to drink fizzy water.   I explained that I had 12 liters of fizzy water, that the local papers had been running articles on “fake” bottled water.  I explained that I trusted fizzy water.   It’s more work for a counterfeiter to put in the bubbles.  He told me to open the bottles and let them go flat.

PoolsideI started the Cipro and immediately threw it up.  I started it again in the morning, getting relief from the activated charcoal that Richard and Jilly had left over from Richard’s bout.  It’s an advantage to go through a bug later in its cycle rather than being the leading edge.  Today, Sunday, the Cipro has begun to work.  I held down some oatmeal this morning and actually went to sleep, waking up at 1 PM when the mobile phone company sent me a text message wishing me a blessed Eid (end of Ramadan).  By 4 PM I was feeling well enough to swim a few laps.   The crescent moon appeared and I was invited to an EID party by a Somali woman at one of the tables around the pool.  A group of Moslem and non Moslem friends were celebrating.  They broke the Ramadan fast in fine style with beer and tequila, and (pork) sausage pizza.  Even the Moslems seemed to like beer and tequila, which may not have been such a good thing because two of the women got into an argument over who was the tallest.  The answer was obvious when they stood next to each other but the shorter insisted “but when we were girls I was taller little sister.”

Cows come home for Lunch (2)“Don’t call me sister, I came out of my mother’s womb six feet tall.”  The argument degenerated into how many cows each girl would draw as a bride price (dowry.)  “You wouldn’t get three cows!”  The guys had to pull the girls apart, one ended up in the pool   Sean looked at me and shrugged.  I stuck with drinking water and offered no public opinion on inches or cows.

The Dubai doc called me back to urge me to go to a local doctor.  I went to the manager (at the bar) to ask where I should go.  He was not encouraging. “You’ll spend a lot of money mate, and he will tell you that you have malaria.  Do you think you have malaria?” To the clinics here all whites only get malaria. “It’s always malaria.”  I asked “where do you go to get a good diagnosis?”  Everyone at the bar answered in one voice “Nairobi.”

Earlier I mentioned that Daniel had said that rain on the radio station launch was a blessing.   But rain is a mixed blessing, it brings the crops and it brings the mosquito.  A staff member called asking for a half day off on Friday. His 7 month old was sick and he wanted to take him to the hospital.  On Saturday morning during the launch he said the child was doing better — “Malaria, but it’s under control.”   Saturday afternoon the child died.

Take Care,

Rich McClear

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