25 May 2019


Juba Booms With Pregnant Osofia Bags of Dollars

"But after painting Juba red last week, the once-pregnant osofia bag of dollars has become lighter, the contents having been released into the market."

By Victor Lugala
July was a month of harvest in Juba. I don’t want you to imagine ancient things like baskets or granaries full of food crops such as groundnuts, maize, beans, sorghum. Hello! We are living in the twenty-first century. The digital age is here and we are talking ATM, cheques, electronic cash transfer, name it. Therefore, forget about boring stuff like the hunters-gathers narrative of long time ago.
I’m talking about what is trending on the lips of ordinary Jubans and social media: the harvesting of green paper bills with the familiar image of Benjamin Franklin.
While people in Juba were still wondering how to break the July 2016 jinx or how to avoid a repeat performance, there was a windfall in some people’s pockets, and Juba streets have been awash with the much coveted US dollar.
To begin with, there was a dry spell in the country which hit the pockets of our representatives who are paid to sit, sulk, talk, argue, and pass bills. Times are hard. Things have been tough for everybody. They too have been hit hard below the belt. Had it not been for last year’s Chinese rice (plastic or real) I don’t know if the people’s reps would still have energy to talk, talk, and pass bills.
As all of you know we have gone through thick and thin, and the men and women of the people, aka the people’s reps have, borne the brunt of the economic meltdown together with us.  There is nothing sweet like people suffering hardship together. It is no longer the issue of the haves versus the have nots. We are all have nots. We belong to the same camp of destitutes.
At a certain point, there was fuel crisis. Those with wheels either spent sleepless nights in queues at petrol stations or bought fuel from the black-market. And when things got worse and there wasn’t even a drop at the pump, some of our reps who had cars had to park them in their backyards for months on end. Some of the skeleton cars are still sitting on rocks. So the reps talked and talked and talked as to whether to remove fuel subsidies or to hold on until the oil taps were turned on again.
Whether a decision was reached or not, is not important now because as most of us the downtrodden walked to work (wtw) our reps also joined us on the sidewalk. They, like us, arrived their chambers with dusty shoes and sweated and complained to themselves. After all, they are hakuma.
Some of them who could afford to cough up something once in a while hopped on the same sweat-soaked Bonga Bus. After all, wasn’t it good for the people’s reps to be in solidarity with the downtrodden wanainchi, the very people who vote for them, the tax payers? Willingly or unwillingly, they too tasted the suffering of the ordinary people, so that when they talk and talk and argue and pass bills in the chamber, they will talk from a first-hand practical experience.
The common suffering notwithstanding, our reps didn’t stop from sitting, talking, sulking, and passing this or that bill. Some of them have also been praying for divine intervention to seal or patch the holes in their pockets.
And as is the nature of people who sit and talk and talk, they were very patient. And God didn’t disappoint when last week He smiled on them with a command, saying, “Let the pockets of the people’s reps multiply.”
And before the reps could say “amen” their pockets were abundantly blessed with dollar bills.
But their pockets were too shallow to hold a whopping $40k. They had to send for osofia bags, which they filled to bursting point, licking all the SSPs in the umbrella markets of Soukh Custom. This time, the reps were sweating, not from walking to work or because the air conditioners had stopped working in the chambers, but from too much excitement when the bills were warming in their pockets.
They were itching to spend the money. And let their wives go on a shopping spree, clearing the supermarkets of foods and drinks and toys for kids, and throwing some of the small denominations to street beggars who wanted to see the colour of a dollar.
The unknown gunmen who watched from a distance because they know hakuma has a long hand, died with envy.
Wasn't it said that when the peace agreement is finally signed, with or without the 'insignificants', our oil will start to flow and our economy will boom like never before? So, when you see the people's reps flush dollars by the river front or wherever they leave their footprints, know that this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Big chunks of meat, gravy, and better things are coming your way. Even the downtrodden people who fell by the gutter and forgotten, will be lifted to greater heights. For, they too will feel the economic boom in their pockets. Who doesn't know that war is a monster? 
When all of us in Juba had dismissed the hotels at the river front as ghost houses, our reps shone light where there was darkness. News about the green bonus travelled faster than any news about Malong or the Khartoum peace process.
Last week osofia bags of all sizes were bought off the market for carrying the green bonus. And let those who can smell money from a distance make a beeline trailing the green bonus. Gold diggers who were dumped a couple of years ago were making a comeback to partake of the season's harvest.
And in-laws who still demanded balance of any bride price from a male people’s rep had to make several calls as a reminder that the clan will soon come knocking. The Shylocks of this world also claimed what was owed to them. And the potential extra younger wife who was waiting on the wings, wanted to fly to Dubai to do shopping.
The hoi polloi of Juba are wondering if they were not daydreaming that in the middle of the Sahara desert of our economy some people with oiled tongues were going to bed with $40k. What will that messenger who can hardly get 40SSP fare to commute to work say? Let them talk! Tijambi until they bite their tongues backbiting big people!

Rumour had it that the $40k was meant to help our reps buy new cars because it was a big embarrassment to see some of them walk to work or mix or rub shoulders with commoners on a Bonga Bus. But after painting Juba red last week, the once-pregnant osofia bag of dollars has become lighter, the contents having been released into the market.

And to save face some of them have resorted to buying used cars and fuel for two weeks, hoping for a second round, forgetting that God smiles such luck only once. 

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