Saturday, July 12, 2008

Honorable Deng

This weekend has started out like all weekends should - wine and friends Friday night and sleeping in Saturday morning. Luckily Sweet Simba was there to rescue me this morning with scrambled eggs. Now we're both in my tent and I'm explaining to him what a blog is, how it works and who it is for. His conclusion is that I just have too much time on my hands. As if. He keeps saying he is going to write one and I think he should, because with his imagination it would be fantastic. And he's cranky because there are no pictures of the two of us up here - so here you go.

One of the drawbacks of living in my particular tented camp is that the guys that run the place (well not run it, but own it) have business "meetings" in the main mess area. These visits generally include one way conversations where we sit there and get lectured, and TONS of wine/scotch/beer. Doesn't matter what time of day.The people that come run the gambit from South African investors who speak with such a strong Afrikaans accent that it is virtually impossible to understand them, to English business men looking for a piece of the action here in Southern Sudan, to SPLA Generals.

So one day I was eating dinner, which is at the mess area where everyone sits at one long table. A rather large Sudanese gentlemen sitting diagonally across from me was here for a "meeting" and working his way through the second half of a bottle of gin with a woman who looks to be around 17 or 18 sitting by his side. He introduced himself to me by saying, "Everyone knows me as Commander Deng. But you can call me...Honorable Deng." Turns out Honorable/Commander Deng was one of the senior rebel commanders during the war and is now a General, an MP in the Legislative Assembly, chair of the Security Committee, head of the SPLM caucus, basically a seriously powerful man.

After that he proceeded to lecture my friend and I on the fact that in his view, the thing that is seriously contributing to the downfall of Sudan is the fact that women don't ask permission when they go out and men are not as much in control as before/during the war. Nevermind all the horrible things happening in the country. This is obviously cause for alarm and action.

Therefore it is not surprising that a couple weeks ago the Commissioner of Yei County made a proclamation that women were no longer allowed to wear pants in public and supported its "enforcement." So bands of men, including civilians, policemen and soldiers were roaming around Yei in vigilante groups beating the ever loving bejeezus out of women found wearing pants. They even forced some of the ones found "disobeying the law" (although even if there was a law it would be diffult to verify because they don't have a way of publishing laws here) to sweep Freedom Square (the main square in Yei) in their knickers.

So back to our Honorable/Commander Deng. On another occasion when he was here for another "meeting" but not drinking this time, he proceeds to call my other friend a "Sudanese Queen" and me a "Khawaja Queen" and state, "Do you know how many wives I have? 6 and a half." AND A HALF! Turns out him, all his wives, and his 18 children live together in ONE HOUSE in Rumbek, and he is trying to get his young plaything who was with him the night we met to marry him. This guy is probably in his late 50's now. Gross.

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