The Sudanese proverb raises the question: Does the fool drown in his search for water or is he saved by it? And who is, in fact, this fool? Given the wasteful and unfair dealings of mankind with this dwindling resource – aren’t we all? While doing research on water, The Niles correspondents in South Sudan and Sudan met fishermen who deal carefully with the water that nourishes them and business people who exploit the resource without restraint. They report on conflicts around water but also on exemplary projects where water is shared peacefully. In short, the fool is still swimming, but for how long?
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The Niles 23 Short fiction from Sudan & South Sudan Labour Victor Lugala | Juba I 361-11. Kuli Village / Nuba Mountains / Southern Kordofan / Nov 2003. © Claude Iverné / Elnour t was late afternoon. The sky was a dark cotton wool of wandering clouds. A cool breeze whistled through the tree leaves. Then the sky rumbled like barrels rolling down a hill. Suddenly the dark clouds parted and cracked with a spark of frightening flashlight. Thunder. The pregnant cloud turned darker and menacing, as a strong wind began to blow, swaying tree branches violently as if about to uproot the trees. The first rain of the year was imminent. The dark cloud that hung heavily over the village caused a commotion. People scampered pell-mell: lactating mothers collected their babies and rushed with them to their huts lest they get drenched, lest they catch a cold, lest they develop fever. The bigger children jumped up and down, giggling. The villagers were happy because rain was about to fall. The fields would be wet, green vegetation would sprout and the villagers would grow crops. When there are crops in the village there is life. Water is a source of life. Rain drops began to fall, wetting mother earth.... tap tap tap.... they pounded the earth ferociously. Then the sky opened her flood gates, soaking the whole village. The heavy rain made visibility difficult. The main road of the village and the huts were covered in mist, rain. The leaves and grass were wet. The village huts were wet and dripped with water like a spring, yet smoke escaped gently from the roofs of the huts. The huts’ interiors were warm. The prudent ones who had dry maize cobs in their food granaries were roasting some for hardening their teeth, while leaving some for the planting season, which was at hand. The main village road was wet with pools of water here and there. The water seemed to speak in their language as they rushed and gurgled down the gullies, gutters, streams. The wet, dirt road turned slippery. It was muddy, sticky and foreboding as the angry rain continued to pound with impunity. It was as if the sky was angry. Now the road was foggy. At a distance a hazy, staggering figure could be discerned, struggling against the wind. The figure theniles6_20151123.indd 23 2015/11/23 2:13 PM