Independence day celebrations are upon us in Rumbek.
The national anthem of South Sudan is everywhere, on the radio when I wake up in the morning, on the breath of uniformed children on their way to school and set as the every other person’s ringtone. I haven’t learnt the words yet, but the boys in the family I am staying with have been studying them dutifully for the last week so I think that base is covered. In the afternoon you cannot move in town for all the groups of school children.
In Rumbek, preparations for the celebrations on Saturday are in full swing. A bandstand it frantically being constructed on Freedom Square, the roof went on yesterday, it still needs to be finished and painted but it will probably be done just in the nick of time. The trees lining the streets are being painted white at the bottom. School children and church groups are practicing their marching. I even saw a large troop of Dinka scouts marching this morning.
The celebrations will start tomorrow, where Church groups will lead a candlelit vigil on Freedom square. On Saturday the flag will be raised, there will be speeches, dances and sports competitions. Bulls will be sacrificed and it will be a big party.
There is currently insecurity around Rumbek with cattle raids between Gok from Rumbek West/Cuiebet and people from Rumbek central. A Beny Bith (spiritual leader) from Warrap wrote to the Govenor of Lakes State to say which colour bulls should be sacrificed in order to ensure peace in the new country – these were Marial and Mabor. I am waiting to see if this advice will be taken or ignored.
About to give up on the prospects of getting any work done till next week…more (and photos) soon