Just off the shore of the White Nile, near one of Juba’s most popular expat bars, sits a rusted, half-sunken ferry. It’s iconic. Ask any foreigner who’s visited the city, and chances are they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. But few people seem to have any idea how the boat got there. Was it shot down by an RPG during the Sudanese civil war? Was it sunk by sabotage?
Actually, as I discovered, the true was something far more prosaic — the boat had been damaged unloading and the motor failed. It washed downstream, and eventually got stuck in its current location.
It was a reminder for me, of how easy it is to assume everything in this country revolves around war and violence, how easy it is to sink back into old and worn ways of thinking about South Sudan and the South Sudanese. In truth, this country is many things, and war is only one of them. It is also a place rich with the ordinary and the mundane too.
Ryan Lenora Brown, South Sudan, Reporting Fellow (August 2018)