(Victor Lugala- Gurtong) - Metaphorically speaking, Juba locals say December is the longest month of the year
December is the month of jerejere (hustle) to make ends meet, and to make the festive season memorable, meaningful, salaries or no salaries, Christmas tree or no Christmas tree, cookies or no cookies, chicken stew or no chicken at all, even janjaro beans will do.
This month the locals don’t know how the days run so fast because everybody is busy with one thing or worrying about the other.
December is especially the most expensive month as it does havoc to people’s pockets while January patiently waits to handle the casualties on their bended knees.
A kilo of meat now costs an arm and a leg. Sellers of used aliwara clothes are making a windfall. Bodaboda fare is up, and December weddings are a pawn for gold diggers.
The locals are in festive mood. You can hear the sounds at night, some pleasant, some jarring. Nothing is too early for the month. Deep-seated in their collective memory however they have associated December with Armageddon, oh, God, not this time again!
December is a month of renewal. Some people who hardly go to church for prayers, will on Christmas day walk into the nearest church to show their faces to God, confess, and ask for another grace period to continue toiling.
Times are hard. Locals always turn to God in such times of desperation to seek divine intervention in that direction. And the green grass cross which sprouted the other day at Juba Teaching hospital jolted them to the reality that miracles still happen indeed long after they almost gave up on hope.
Now there is hope rekindled by miracles unfolding before the eyes of the locals with great expectations.
When things were really tough there was the miracle of the Chinese rice which was dramatised for media effect. But as with things Chinese, did the manna last?
While the rice manna faded in the local’s memory, there has been this miracle of fuel which is slowly bumping out the get-rich-quick black-market fuel dealers squatting by the roadside.
Civil servants who have not been paid in months but are able to keep hope alive have crossed their fingers expecting a miracle that will see them paid their salaries before Christmas.
As civil servants ponder their unpaid salaries, bang! Another miracle happened in the name of modern technology. With your naked, hungry eyes, you could mistake them for children’s toys or dry season kites. But make no mistake, these are the real stuff you hear about in news these days: drones fitted with sensitive cameras which can smoke out and unmask an unknown gunman from a cave, and domestic rebels from their obscene hideouts.
And as you can imagine on that Christmas day all the young people will spill out in their colourful attire to paint the town red. They will take selfies in church, in the streets, in restaurants, and where else? Well, hopefully another end-of-year miracle will happen at the Seventh Day Adventist roundabout when the rainbow fountain will shoot water again.
After that one day, the locals will have to crawl into the jaws of January 2018 with economic bruises.
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