By Lydia Namubiru
It is hard to remember one’s childhood with real specificity. I remember the joy of having so many friends to play with (because we lived as an extended family), the softness of my grandmother’s wrinkled elbows, the burning of the sun on my skin, the delight of eating sugar cane and jackfruit… feelings, rather than visions. Seeing Juba brought back the visions.
Like Juba, the Ugandan district I first knew as a child was just recovering from conflict. We drew water from wells not boreholes or taps. In Juba, they draw their water from the White Nile. For efficiency, we carried our clothes and dishes down to the well to wash them there, only carrying the water we needed for cooking and drinking back home. Yes, we bathed at the well too. The less water you had to carry home, the better. Seeing people do these things by the riverbank in Juba, transported me back to childhood, in a way even visiting the towns of my childhood doesn’t. The latter have changed. Juba is right there where we were then.
Did it make me nostalgic for those times? Yes, in the way one is always nostalgic for their childhood. More than nostalgic, it gave me perspective on change and progress. Home changed. We got boreholes, rainwater harvesting tanks and even taps. The adults built bath shelters in the yards out back. A naked adult became a thing you peeped through keyholes to see. I guess, that’s what progress looks like and one day it will come to Juba too.