Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Not a toy

Land Mines are one of the more insidious and long-lasting legacies of war.  Ridiculously cheap to purchase and plant; horrifically expensive and dangerous to remove, they render many parts of South Sudan uninhabitable because of their lingering presence.  Children are often the victims because the mines are small, plastic, and look very much like toys. The UN brings highly-specialized landmine removal teams from places like South Africa, using trained dogs to sniff them out, but their work is painstakingly slow.  It could literally take hundreds of years to clear the fertile farmlands of South Sudan.

Here a warning, looking a bit like a pirate flag, is affixed above the license plate of a UN vehicle in Rumbek, South Sudan.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Braided Fish, anyone?

Though I have been in and out of South Sudan many times over the past decade, I've learned to expect something new and different every time.  On a recent trip to Rumbek in Lakes State, for example, I spied something in the central outdoor market that made me stop and stare:  long, elegant BRAIDS of FISH.  Why use a plastic carry bag when you can weave them into long strands?  Simple, ingenious, and quite practical!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wearable Art

Continuing our blog posts highlighting beauty in South Sudan:

Just look at the bright patterns in the beaded goatskin skirt worn by this mom, her colorful vest and bracelets, and the necklaces and earrings on her young daughter.  The jewelry is painstakingly hand-made, of course, by women sitting on the ground next to their thatched huts, taking respite in the heat of the day from the harder daily tasks of cooking and washing and hauling firewood or farming.... All the while the women are telling stories and laughing and teaching their daughters, too, how to create beauty from almost nothing--wherever they are, from whatever is at hand.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Simple Beauty in Sudan's Villages

As every architect knows, simplicity is fundamental to elegant design. Though I  am willing to bet there are no trained architects among the Toposa tribe in South Sudan, just look at the inherent beauty in their simple, beehive-shaped dwellings and storage huts.

Building these huts from thatch and tree branch is hard work and it is always done by the women. Truly, the women of Sudan are artists--and perhaps would become fine architects if they ever had the chance to go to school!