Tuesday, August 5, 1980

Interesting Trip to Riwoto

Riwoto, Sudan

Today has been quite an interesting day.  We left for Riwoto this morning.  (It is in the vicinity of Kapoeta.)  Shortly after we got on the main road, the fuel tank fell out from under the seat of Samuel's Land Rover.  He and Kristine were in one Land Rover.  Lanny, Brian and I were in the other one.  We were traveling behind them.  It was a very odd sight to come up on Samuel sitting in the middle of the road holding a dented up fuel tank to keep it from falling over.

Fortunately, the Land Rover had a second fuel tank at the back end.  After a bit of trouble, we were able to transfer the fuel from one tank to the other.  A few minutes later we had to tie off the fuel line that led to the lost tank as it was leaking.  Of course we had to re-prime the engine fuel system.  Later, the manifold started to come apart where I welded it yesterday.  We wired it back up to give it more strength.  Later, we had to park for a while to let a river go down so we could cross.

Later, we met an army truck.  The soldiers needed a tire patch, so we gave one to them.  They gave us some goat meat roasted over an open fire.  It was quite good tasting, but a little tough.  We finally arrived here (after getting stuck only once) at about 5:30 p.m.  This was about eleven hours after our journey began.  The distance we travelled was about 100 miles.  

This place is in the middle of a thorn tree covered plain in Taposa country.  Most Taposa men go stark naked.  The appropriate greeting here is "Mata" said repeatedly while shaking hands.  More tomorrow.

Monday, August 4, 1980

Preparing for Trip to Kapoeta

Lohutok, Sudan

We had planned to go to Kapoeta today but we had too much to do first.  Samuel and I had to fix the exhaust manifold on the green Land Rover.  It was hard to get off and hard to weld as it was some sort of a cast material.  We asked Elijah to have someone plant some sweet potatoes to start a garden for the mission station.  This afternoon I wrote a letter.  I also finished the foot board of the bunk bed for the Arensen girls.  We plan to leave for Kapoeta in the morning.

Sunday, August 3, 1980

Out of the Silent Planet

Lohutok, Sudan
Today, I read Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis.  It was a very good book dealing partly with man's presupposition that there is no God, leading to disbelief.  It was a different theme than most science fiction.

I slept quite a while this afternoon.  My stomach feels a bit troubled but not too bad.

We ate at Samuel and Kristine's tonight.  Kristine cooked some meat that had been left in the freezer by another missionary.  The package was marked with an "E" which we concluded might have meant it was elephant meat.  It was tender and tasty.

Saturday, August 2, 1980

Land Rover Repair

Lohutok, Sudan

I spent most of the morning fixing the switch on the Land Rover.  We were unable to start it with the key.  We had to hot wire it all the time.  The interlock system was messed up.  I took off the switch.  This was a difficult job.  I had to drill and chisel a couple of headless bolts.  I removed the steering and fuel shut-off interlocks and put the switch back on.

In the afternoon I read one of my Michigan State Rural Employment Papers.  I also napped a bit.  I cut out all the pieces for the footboard of the Arensen girls bunk bed.  The metal pieces are ready for welding and then drilling.

This evening I will read one or two more of the Michigan State papers.

Friday, August 1, 1980

Visit to Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) at Hiliu

Hiliu & Torit, Sudan

This morning we left Imatong Bible College.  We stopped at Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) headquarters in Hiliu.  The agriculturalist was not in.  Brian and I gook a self guided tour around Hiliu, looking at agricultural and intermediate technology projects.  A man at NCA's shop explained to us how to remove the lock mechanism on the Land Rover's ignition system.  I wonder if that will be my job?

We had lunch at the home of Dr. Hedda (spelling?), the medical coordinator for NCA.  After we ate with him, he went to Torit with to give us chairs for the Imehijek dispensary.  The chairs were at the cooperative's office.  The coordinator of the cooperatives from NCA was there, so Lanny asked him about getting grain.  We were able to get three bags with the money Lanny and had between ourselves. (The NCA cooperative director said that one bag weighs 90 kilograms.)  The cost was about 22 Sudanese pounds per bag.  I am glad we were able to get the dura (grain sorghum) at such a low price for the people in Lohutok.  The coordinator talked with us a bit about their problems.  One problem is that people getting dura for their areas are having to deal in thousands of pounds of cash, something they are not used to doing.  There is the problem that the dura could be stolen before delivery or the cash could be stolen while the person responsible was carrying it to Torit.  One group did not have cash to buy dura, but could trade bulls for it.  NCA wanted bulls for training as draft animals, so they agreed to the trade.  When asked if they wanted a police escort to Torit, the people said "No, we can do a better job ourselves."  They supplied their own armed guards with automatic rifles for the walk to Torit.

Note:  See photographs of NCA projects at entry dated 16 July 1980

At Hiliu, I read in Sudanow that the government took the Taposa's cattle, hoping to use that as leverage to get the Taposa to turn in their automatic rifles.  The Taposa have apparently been trading gold found over in the Kapoeta District for the rifles.  The Taposa say the army men sold their cattle to nearby tribes, so now they are making raids to get back their cattle.  The Lotuho were mentioned as major recipients of these cattle.  The article said that the Lotuho and other tribes are arming themselves.  I have heard that in one instance some Turkana and/or Taposa took on the army and killed four soldiers including a major.  Another time the army had a Taposa camp surrounded to get their guns when the Taposa opened fire on them.

Thursday, July 31, 1980

A Market, an Ant Lion and Kenyan Missionaries

Torit and Katire, Sudan

Lanny, Brian and I were in Torit this morning.  Brian and I visited the market.  Much of the processed food appears to be from Kenya: jams, pineapple juice, crackers, syrup, soap, washing powder, batteries, cookies, candies, cloth, cigarettes, etc.  Local goods available included greens of many sorts, tiny red peppers, very little dura (sorghum), potatoes, meat, wood, charcoal, cassava (not much), okra, cucumbers, bananas, smoked meat, smoked fish, sugar cane, corn, groundnuts (peanuts), lemons, limes, bread and one squash.  There were also beans, rice, millet and flour for sale.  The storekeepers seemed unwilling to sell whole bags of dura, millet, groundnuts, etc.
Brian showed me an ant lion today.  It is a small insect which makes a pit in the dust, then waits for an ant to stumble in.  It has pincer-like jaws.
This afternoon we drove up to Katire.  There were many teak and some mahogany trees along the way.  There were bamboo plants and some bananas at the bottom of the Imatong Mountains.  The climate is much wetter here.  There is some rice growing on the grounds of Imatong Bible College.  They have also planted cassava, maize, beans, papaya and a few other crops.

Photo: Myself Near the Road from Torit to Katire 

Photo: Brian Arensen Near the Road from Torit to Katire

I met Peter and Ann Konyi.  They are missionaries sent here by Africa Inland Church (AIC) Missionary Board.  They are the first AIC missionaries to be sent outside Kenya.  They are very warm, open and eager to serve the Lord.  I am impressed.  Thelma is also here.  The Pontiers are in Zaire.  We are spending the night in their house.

Wednesday, July 30, 1980

My Hut is Finished

Lohutok, Sudan
I took the men out to get grass for the peak of my house.  They finished up my house today and were paid.  I finished the metal work for the head of the bunk bed for Katie & Kristy.  I got little else done today.
Russ and Steve from Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) stopped by to visit Lanny today.  Russ is stationed at Riwoto and Steve at Chukudum.  Riwoto is a village near Kapoeta in the territory of the Taposa tribe.  Chukudum is a village in the territory of the Didinga tribe between Lohutok and Kapoeta.  SIL is involved in translation and literacy work.  They are affiliated with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Tuesday, July 29, 1980

"Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger"

Lohutok, Sudan

Today, the men mudded the inside walls of my hut.  I helped them by bringing some of the water.  I did that so I could mix up the chlordane in the water.  They still have to put the peak on the roof and we may have them put mud on the outside.

I finished re-reading "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger" by Ron Sider.  The proposals for living a radically simple lifestyle seen much less radical to me than they used to.  I am living without many of the things I used to take for granted and which most Americans consider necessities.  I do not miss those things at all.  In fact, I think I could happily do with less.  The Lotuko have much less than I do.  If I were to become like them, I would miss the adequacy of food, health care, education and opportunity to travel that I have.  Perhaps this makes me a materialist.  I would not really miss the television, big houses (or even dorm rooms), electricity, tractors, combines or "culture".  I think my experience here is making me less materialistic.  I want to seek happiness in the simplicity of my wants rather than in the multiplicity of my possessions.

I started making bunk beds for Kristy and Katie today.  Maybe I will finish that tomorrow.

Monday, July 28, 1980

High Price of New Grain

Lohutok, Sudan

I talked with Tobia this morning.  His mother and sister were able to buy new grain at Imehejek or Mura on Saturday.  One tin (1/4 sack) cost one goat.  That would be about 10 Sudanese pounds per tin or 40 Sudanese pounds per sack.  This is a very high price.  The sellers would not take money in payment.  They said, "Can money drink water?"  Tobia has eight goats which he keeps with some else's herd.  They do not charge him for that.

The men are making good progress on the walls of my hut.  They have most of the sticks and bamboo up for my walls.  They thought they might start mudding the walls today, but that did not happen.

I learned the names of some more wild spinaches from Tobia.  I will record them later when I get a more complete list.

Sunday, July 27, 1980

Chief Suggests Draft Animal and Grain Storage Projects

Lohutok, Sudan

Chief Daniel stopped by to talk with Lanny.  He talked mostly about the grain shortage situation.  He also talked about training bulls for plowing.  He seems very serious about this idea.  I think Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) trains bulls through the cooperatives.  Josiah and Daniel also talked about having the cooperative store grain.  They would want to build local type granaries here at the mission.  (I guess they trust us.)  Their idea sounds okay to me, however the membership of the cooperative would need to agree to it.

Daniel sent us some roasting ears from his garden.  It is good to see a little new food coming, but I wish it were in the garden of someone really needing it.

Saturday, July 26, 1980

Climbing Asarahai

Lohutok, Sudan

This morning, I gave a talk at the clinic.  It was not very difficult.  I talked about Matthew 5: 21 - 22 and 43 - 46.  I tried to bring out that God demands not just obedience to a few rules, but perfection of deed and thought.  I used a scripture about loving enemies because the Lotuko waste no love on the Taposa.  I was trying to follow the example of Jesus who demanded of the rich young ruler the very thing he was least willing to do.  I wrote my message out ahead of time in simple English so it would be easy for Michael to translate into Lotuko.

Brian Arensen and I left right after my talk to climb Asarahai.  It was about 10:00 am.  Asarahai is the mountain also known as "Three Sisters" because of its three peaks.  The first half of the way was easy going.  There was a good path to follow.  But the last half of the way we had to bushwhack our way through shoulder high grass and bamboo groves.  At the top, we were turned back three times by cliffs before we found a way to the peak.  It was a hard hike and we did not bring enough water.  We arrived at the top about 1:30 pm and ate our lunch.  We started down around 2:30 pm.  We did not find the path again.  We were walking cross-wise along the slopes which gave me blisters on my feet.  I ripped the knee of my jeans.  I was very thirsty. tired, weak and rubbery-kneed.  I was also very wet as we got rained on.  We finally got to Ahaba, the mountain field, and I knew the way back from there.  We arrived home at 6:00 pm.  The bed will feel great tonight!

Photo: Asarahai (left) and Lodyo (right) 

Photo: A closer view of Asarahai's peaks

Photo:  Me standing at the top of Asarahai

Photos:  Three views from the top of Asarahai

Friday, July 25, 1980

Progress on My Hut

Lohutok, Sudan
I went to Iboni this morning to take medicine to the community health worker.  I brought my camera and tape recorder hoping that the funeral was in full swing.  It was not.  I got a poor recording of some of the chanting.  I do not know if it is worth keeping.  I hope I can get better tapes later.  Martha  and Marcia were much impressed with my extra small tape recorder.
We returned to Lohutok.  All but the peak of my roof is on now.  I really hope they can finish the hut tomorrow so they can get the bonus.  I know they need the money more than we do.

Photo: My hut under construction

  I hope the crops will be ready soon also.  The yields should be good because of the rain we had today.  Today's rain should guarantee a good crop from the mountain fields and the earlier lowland sorghum fields.  It will go far toward producing a good crop on the later fields also.

Thursday, July 24, 1980

Funeral at Iboni

Lohutok, Sudan

When I got to Iboni, a funeral was going on under a tree on a dance floor.  There was a vertical pile of wood in the center of the dance area.  A group of women, the deceased man's mother and other relatives were seated near this.  Men, children and a few women were around the outer edge of the circle.  When I arrived, some women were dancing clockwise around the center.  They were making short hops, all together in time to the music.  They were chanting or singing while dancing.  The music was provided by six drums ranging in size from about four feet high and eighteen inches in diameter on down to one about two feet or less in height.  Someone was also playing a wooden, tube-like instrument about eighteen inches long.  Its sound was between that of a flute and a trumpet.  It was a smooth, deep, resonant sound.  I liked the music and rhythm very much.  The tube-like instrument was played only part of the time.  Most of the time, only the drums played along with some chanting.  At one point, a man with a shield and two spears ran in from behind me.  He ran across the circle and threw one spear into the grass at the edge of the circle.  Then he went around the circle for a while shaking his remaining spear.  At one point, one or two women came up behind him when he was standing still and put handfuls of dust on his head.  Shortly after that, he went away from the circle.  Later, a woman picked up the spear he had thrown and carried it back to him.  I do not know the meanings behind any of these things.  Perhaps the man with spears was chasing evil spirits away.

Later, I asked Michael about funerals.  He said that the songs at funerals may be about evil spirits.  If the deceased died fighting Taposa tribesmen, there may be songs about this.  If he was young, the mother may sing about her boy being taken away.  There may be songs about an ancestor (perhaps a father) coming to take the deceased to be with him.  This indicates the Lotuko have a concept of an afterlife.

Very Little Grain Gets Through to Lohutok

Lohutok, Sudan

This morning there was a big meeting where Josiah and the two teachers from Iboni explained what happened to the grain.  The grain was put under the care of the teachers from Iboni to distribute along East Lopit from Loming to Imehejek.  They were able to get transport from Torit to Keyala courtesy of a loan from Chief Daniel.  However, they were not able to get transport on to Lohutok.  They got tired of waiting for transport (mosquitos, expense for accomodations, etc.) so they started selling grain to people from East Lopit who came to Keyala.  The people from Lohutok were asking pointed questions but in a courteous manner.  In the end, it was acknowledged that the people who came on the truck (Josiah, the teachers from Imehejek and others) had rights to the grain.  I think many people here at Lohutok are discouraged about the grain situation.  They had hoped a truck would bring some grain for them, but it did not.

After the meeting, I used the Land Rover to give several people a ride to Iboni. They brought five and one-half bags of grain with them.  They gave us a chicken and a ram as a gift for doing so.

Wednesday, July 23, 1980

Installing Doum Palm Roof

Lohutok, Sudan
The Digunas are amazing.  They pulled the pump up, put the new cylinder on and got the whole thing back down the well last night.  It is already pumping water today.

We went out to get the rest of the doum palm fronds for my house.  We got about 1 3/4 loads on the Land Rover.  The builders have collected quite a bit of bamboo as well.  Most of the framework for the house is up.  Installation of the roof is well underway.  All the bamboo and much of the doum palm is in place.

Photo: Installing doum palm fronds on the roof of my hut.

Tobia killed a squirrel-like animal when we were out getting doum palm.  It was the first time I have seen a spear used.
The Diguna truck that went to Juba returned today.  It had a few bags of grain, but they were apparently already sold to people on the truck.  I do not quite understand all the facts (or rather mystery) surrounding the grain deal.  I think I will wait until later to try to explain it.

Tuesday, July 22, 1980

Kabisa Trouble Installing the Windmill

Lohutok, Sudan

I drove Tobia and his crew to an area where they could cut doum palm fronds for the roof of my hut.  We got two and one half Land Rover loads.  I need to drive them there again tomorrow to get more.  They also brought some bamboo for the hut.  If they finish it this week, they are to get a bonus.

Photos:  Cutting and Loading Doum Palm Fronds

The missionaries here had a birthday party for me this afternoon.  Janis Arensen made a very good orange cake.  Arensen's gave me an Asterix comic book and McConnel's gave me a card.

The Diguna's had trouble - "kabisa" trouble as Phil would say - in putting up the windmill.  ("Kabisa" is Swahili for "utterly" or "completely".)  The welder broke down in the morning.  Then it appeared that the windmill pump rod was too long.  Therefore they first took the welder engine all apart and put it back together. It worked, but they left off the muffler and shields so it was kabisa noisy.  They did this in little more than one hour.  Then they cut a piece out of the pump rod and welded it back together.  This time it seemed too short.  We started checking and discovered that the cylinder was too short for the length of stroke of the windmill.  Tonight at 8:30 p.m. they were just starting to pull up the pipe out of the well to put on the other cylinder with a longer stroke.  (The cylinder is on the lower end of a long pipe that extends from the surface to the bottom of the well.  The cylinder is connected to the overhead windmill by a steel rod inside the pipe.  When the windmill spins in the wind, the rod goes up and down, causing the cylinder to pump underground water through the pipe to the surface.)  I think the Diguna's will need to work most of the night to finish the installation.

Photos:  Erection of New Windmill at Lohutok

Monday, July 21, 1980

Wild Plants Used for Food

Lohutok, Sudan

Today, I did some more reading, including Barbara Catherwood's paper written for Professor Thomas T. Poleman's Ag Econ 660 "Food Population and Employment" class at Cornell University.  It was about development schemes in Africa, including Sudan's Gezira Project.  I also read Professor Poleman's book "Food, Population and Employment".

I talked a bit with Tobia.  I learned a few names of wild plants used for food.  They are as follows:

* Malwa (singular Mulé) - a nut from a tree.
* Ebonge - tree leaves eaten as spinach.  This is the big tree by the church.
* Eduti - tree leaves eaten as spinach.  This tree is at the east side of my hut.
* Ingore - plant with leaves eaten as spinach.
* Amagwe (singular Magi) - plant with leaves eaten as spinach. It is similar to groundnut.
* Emoloto - plant with leaves eaten as spinach.
* Ehaya - pumpkin leaves which are eaten as spinach.
* I did not learn the Lotuko word for cassava leaves which are also eaten as spinach.

Sunday, July 20, 1980

Grain is Coming

Lohutok, Sudan

We heard this morning that Josiah is at Keyala and that there are forty bags of grain there with him.  He wanted us to come to pick it up, but we decided to let the Diguna truck coming back from Juba pick it up on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

Eliha offered to teach a class for some of the girls.  Martha and Lanny felt it would be good for her to do that even though she is pregnant without a husband.  I agree.

I finished reading Jeal's book about Livingstone.  I read a Newsweek magazine.  Wow!  Information from the outside world!

Saturday, July 19, 1980

A Monkey Trap

Lohutok, Sudan

The plane left this morning.  After that, I walked up the valley to our west.  I walked for a ways up the dry, sandy stream bed.  As the stream got rockier, there was water babbling through it.  Parts of the stream were quite pretty with boulders and rocks, pools of clear water, small waterfalls, tiny rapids and grass and trees overhanging the bank.  After about forty-five minutes of walking, I came to the mountain gardens near the head of the valley.  The place seemed drier and sandier than Ahaba.  There was quite a bit of ometi (bullrush millet) mixed in with the osingo (sorghum).  I walked up to a small hut built up in one of the lower fields and said "mong" (a Lotuko greeting) to the young girls who were there.  I always get amusing reactions when I do that.  They were cooking some angiria (sorghum porridge).  I climbed up a rock for quite a ways.  People in some of the fields below me were playing flutes, pounding a drum and singing.

I saw a monkey trap made from a rock, sticks, bark string and a bit of sorghum used as bait.  The following sketch of the trap is my best attempt, but is not quite accurate.  I am not a very good artist.  If the monkey pulls the sorghum, the sticks propping up the rock fall allowing the rock to tumble and pin the monkey's arm.

I saw a young man and woman on a rock in the shade near a sorghum field.  They were talking and smiling.  It was the closest thing I have seen to romance so far.  The man was eating some holé  (or ahulé?) and gave me some to try.  It was a clearly a cucumber, but much shorter and chunkier than the ones we have in the U.S.A.

This afternoon, Martha, Marcia, Brian and I walked over to Lohofan.  This is the place to our east which reminds me of Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca, New York.  (There is photo of this area  at my blog entry dated June 27, 1980.)  I should mention that Brian Arensen is Lanny's younger brother.  He is  here on a short visit.

Friday, July 18, 1980

Community Health Worker in Iboni

Lohutok, Sudan

I drove Martha and Marcia to Iboni this morning to give medicines to the community health worker.  It seems that he has only given out medicine on four days during the past month.  We went to his compound. There was a bit of tobacco being grown there.  Most of the compounds had some sorghum or maize growing in them.  The sorghum looks very good in the flat area near the Iboni turnoff.

Photo: Tobacco Growing in a Lotuko Village

I wrote letters to several friends.  I have nine personal letters and one letter to Dr. Poleman to go out on this plane.  I got letters from Mom and Dad and from Uncle John and Aunt Opal.  I was disappointed that there was no letter from Dr. Poleman.  Mom and Dad said the wheat harvest at home is going rapidly.  It is only making about 25 bushels per acre on average.  Dad cut about thirty acres on each of two days.

We are having a goat barbeque today.  We received no potato chips or other such goodies on the plane.  No big loss.

Thursday, July 17, 1980

Slaughtering a Goat

Lohutok, Sudan

I went up to Ahaba, the mountain field, this morning.  The sorghum is looking good.  Much of it is starting to head.  I saw a pumpkin which is already about the size of a muskmelon.  (Some pumpkins were planted among the sorghum plants.)  There was a man up at Ahaba who is already cutting trees for a garden for next year.

AIM missionaries David and Joanne Gladstone came to Lohutok for a visit.  They drove a Land Rover pickup.

We slaughtered a goat today.  It was the first time I have seen the throat of a live animal cut.  The blood really spurted from the jugular veins.  On second thought, it is not quite true that this was my first time seeing an animal's throat cut.  We often cut the heads off chickens on our farm in Kansas.  Somehow, killing a chicken seems less disturbing than killing a goat.  Perhaps this is because I am more closely related to goats which are fellow mammals.  Perhaps it is because the goat's death was a little slower and drawn out than the sudden demise of our chickens.

The Diguna missionaries got the pipe put in the well for the new windmill today.  I helped a bit.

I wrote letters to Mom and Dad and to a friend today.  Letter writing is always a last minute task before the plane comes.

Wednesday, July 16, 1980

Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) Agricultural Project

Torit & Helio, Sudan

We went to Helio (near Torit) where I saw one of Norwegian Church Aid's (NCA's) agricultural people.  There was also a young woman there from Yambio Agricultural Institute.  She was with NCA for some sort of practical training.  NCA is working with oxenization and with improved seeds such as the sorghum variety Serena which Josiah planted.  NCA works primarily with improved simsim (sesame), sorghum, groundnuts and cassava.  They do not do the breeding, but test seeds in connection with government research and multiply planting stock.  They have a very good looking variety of cassava which seems quite resistant to cassava mosaic.  I was not able to evaluate the groundnuts or sorghum I saw as they were still in an early growth stage.  NCA inter-planted cassava and groundnuts in one of their plots.  I would like to try the improved cassava in Lohutok and perhaps encourage its being planted just before fallowing on the appropriate soils.  That might extend the cropping life of a given field, complement seasonal bottlenecks, provide a famine relief store and encourage the rapid regrowth of woody vegetation.

Photo: Sesame Plants in NCA Test Plot

Photo: Cassava and Groundnuts Inter-Planted in NCA Test Plot

NCA also has nurseries for trees (e.g. mango, orange, guava) which they want people to plant in the villages.  They have Rhode Island Red chickens (better egg layers) for crossing with local types (better brooders).  They have some ducks around their station.  They have cotton spinning, weaving and sesame oil processing as part of an appropriate technology program.

Photo: Spinning Cotton - NCA Appropriate Technology Project

Photo: Seedlings in NCA Nursery

We may have the Lohutok cooperative set up so we can get grain tomorrow.  The man we needed to see was out, but Josiah is staying over to see him in the morning.  A lorry will be bringing grain this way in the morning.  Josiah hopes to be able to come on that truck.  Hopefully we will be able to get that grain at cooperative price.

Torit has a market section which I did not get to look at closely.  Torit also has an area with quite a few "modern" buildings (government offices, hospital, aid agencies, etc.)  The residential section consists of typical Lotuho mud huts with grass roofs.

Observation of Soils Along the Lopit Mountains

Torit, Sudan
We travelled to Torit today.  The trip along the Lopit Mountains more or less confirmed my initial ideas about the soil catena.  I drew the catena as follows.  I have noted the typical agricultural use of each soil type as well as its normal natural vegetation.

Sketch of Generalized Soil Catena
Lopit Mountains, Eastern Equatoria, Sudan

I think there are quite a few places without a broad alluvial valley.  In these places, the red sandy soil generally grades into the drier soils of the plains.  Perhaps I am not detailed enough about the soils of the plains or need to subdivide them further.  I think that these soils range from sandy to darker clay.  Some areas are well drained others quite flat.  I have not had opportunity to carefully observe the soils further from the mountains and figure out crop-soil associations for them.   The road, poor as it is, runs along the mountains.   There are no roads further from the mountains.

Tuesday, July 15, 1980

Food Distribution at Lalanga Clinic

Lohutok, Sudan

This morning, I took Martha, Marcia and David to the clinic at Lalanga.  The children seemed healthier and fewer in number than last time, but I am not sure of this.  I did not collect data this time.  The man who runs the Lalanga health center seemed to have a bit better record of his medicine than before.  We sold some of the canned goulash from Food for the Hungry and gave out milk powder.  Much goulash, beans and milk had also been sold at Lohutok.

This afternoon I helped put away supplies and started helping pull up the pipe from the well.  I talked to Tobia for a while and he showed me his notebooks from history and science in secondary school.  His drawings of flower parts, cells, etc. were very good.

We are still planning to go to Torit tomorrow morning.  I hope it does not rain too much.  I have not yet thought much about what I will say to the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) agricultural staff or what I will ask them.

Monday, July 14, 1980

The Digunas Begin Working While We Unload the Trucks

Lohutok, Sudan

I walked north this morning until I came to uncleared trees.  It was not as far past the intersection of our road as I thought it would be.  Josiah told me he planted his improved sorghum on the 23rd of June.  He said white ants (termites) were its only trouble now.  It is emerging and starting well.

The Digunas started taking the old windmill down.  They also began putting the engine in our lorry (truck).    They are a skillful group.  We unloaded all the lumber they brought.  It was a mammoth job!  The workmen put in an extra-long day, so we gave them some beans in addition to normal pay.  We have beans, milk powder, goulash and chocolate nutrition food to begin distributing tomorrow.  It came from "Food for the Hungry".

Photos: Unloading the trucks

I just heard another rock slide on the mountain.  There was one yesterday also.

We treated ourselves (Lanny, Janis and me) to some Coca-Cola after unloading the lumber.  It was my first soft drink in Sudan.

We plan to go to Torit on Wednesday.  I hope we can make it this time.

Sunday, July 13, 1980

The Diguna Trucks Arrive

Lohutok, Sudan
The Diguna trucks came last night.  The Digunas are missionaries who do trucking and mechanical work for other missionaries.  Seven of them are here.  They are from Russia and Germany.  They took six hours just to come up our road.  They have three trucks with large loads, including a windmill, lumber, food, tin roofing, etc.

I read and rested today.

Saturday, July 12, 1980

Working on Thesis Outline

Lohutok, Sudan
I wrote another copy of my revised thesis outline for Dr. Poleman, my major professor at Cornell.  I gave Lanny one copy and talked with him a bit about it.  He is very willing to help me get the information and exposure I need to write a good thesis.

I learned from Lanny that the trees with fairly bright yellow bark along the road to Imehejek are a kind of acacia formerly called a "fever tree".  He also said that some Lotuko raise or herd ostriches to get their feathers.

Martha gave me my first language test today.  I don't know the language as well as I thought.

Friday, July 11, 1980

Trip to Torit Cancelled

Lohutok, Sudan
Lanny had planned to go to Torit and I had planned to go with him.  It rained though so the trip is postponed until Monday.  Josiah stopped by because he had been planning ride along to Torit.  He asked me quite a few questions about the United States.  I learned from him that tobacco is grown on the mountains.

I worked much on my thesis outline, so I don't feel like writing much now.  I am also tired because I did not sleep well.  I finished welding rafters for Samuel's house.

Thursday, July 10, 1980

Additional Information About Crops

Lohutok, Sudan

I went to the mountain garden, Ahaba, this morning.  There are still very few weeds and little weeding has been done.  Low weed pressure is apparently one advantage in the first year after clearing trees in the mountains.  Some of the tall sorghum is heading.  Some of the maize (corn) is tasseling and looks very good.  Much of it has two ears per stalk though the ears are quite a bit smaller than we would expect in the United States.
My house is off to a good start at its new site.  Lanny decided it would be better if it were closer to the other houses, so we moved its location.  Samuel is putting tin on his roof today.

Photos: Construction on my house begins.

I talked with Tobia today.  I got the names of more types of sorghum and groundnuts.  I added them to my entry of Tuesday, 8 July 1980.  I will repeat the new information here also.
Red Sorghums:
Akunati - Tall, red, goose-necked.
Obilet - Tall, red.
Groundnuts (peanuts):  
Atuye - Bush type.
Elonge - Bush type. Very big brown nuts. Must be dug to harvest.
Logum - Bush type.  Like atuye, but big nuts.
Aheto - Bush type.  White nuts.  Many nuts in each shell.
Amakarara - Big shell like kabir.  Bush type.  Must be dug to harvest.
Maize (corn):
Etuyet - A type of oseri which is short and has one-ear.
Refer to the Tuesday, 8 July 1980 entry for a more complete list of crop varieties.
Tobia said some groundnuts must be dug with hoes while others can just be pulled.  The types which must be dug are elonge, amakarara, kabir and aful.  Tobia planted aful and atuye this year.  He had no seed for amilo as his was destroyed by the sun last year.  Amilo is planted about 2 weeks after other groundnuts.  The things he said about it seemed to indicate that it is less drought tolerant or else photoperiod sensitive.

One would expect that with so much variation to work with, crop breeding programs would have a good chance of success with sorghum and with groundnuts.

Wednesday, July 9, 1980

Recovering the Broken Down Land Rover

Lohutok, Sudan

I did some welding on rafters for Samuel's house this morning.  Then I went with Lanny to Imehejek to get the crippled Land Rover.  We cleaned up the carburetor and did a few other little things.  It ran well enough to get home with the help of a tow at one steep river crossing.
This afternoon, Lanny met with the new arrivals (Samuel, Christine, Marsha and me) for some orientation.

Tuesday, July 8, 1980

Saving a Chicken From Depths of Loo (Outhouse)

Lohutok, Sudan
Tonight we added another amusing chapter to my collection of experiences in Sudan.  As Lanny was chasing the chickens into the pen, one ran into the open door of the loo (outhouse).  It jumped up expecting to land on the seat but was surprised to find an uncovered opening.  With our flashlights, we could see the chicken sitting far below at the bottom of the pit.  Lanny tried to catch the chicken with a lasso which he made from twine.  It was soon apparent that this was a hopeless strategy.
I told Lanny that when I was a child, we caught chickens by the leg using a homemade wire "chicken hook".  The outer part of the hook was flared to make it easier to catch the chicken's leg and guide it into the narrow part which gently held the leg and kept the chicken from escaping.
Photo: A typical "chicken hook" made from wire

We quickly made a chicken hook.  Lanny fastened it on the end of a long bamboo pole.  He caught the chicken, but the bamboo was not flexible enough to go from the bottom of the pit, out the opening and through the doorway without brushing the chicken off against the sides of the pit.  Finally we got a long piece of stiff wire and bent one end into a chicken hook.  This time we were successful!  Lanny caught the chicken by the leg.  It came out of the pit upside-down, flapping its wings and squawking indignantly.  We tossed it into its pen, still squawking.  We then went into the house to eat supper which was waiting for us.

Cultivars of Sorghum, Groundnuts, Millet and Maize

Lohutok, Sudan
This morning, I helped Samuel with getting the rafters onto his house.  I also watched a bit as they began putting poles up for my hut.
Photo: Samuel installing rafters
I talked with Michael and asked him about the spelling of Lotuko names for crops.  Emma is a general term for grain.  I initially learned there are at least eight types of sorghum, four types of groundnuts and one or two types of millet and one type of maize (corn).  In later conversations with Michael and others, I learned of still more types.  They are as follows:
Red Sorghums:
Osingo - A general term or a specific type.
Tuhunyi - Short, earlier-maturing than osingo.
Akunati - Tall, red, goose-necked.
Obilet - Tall, red.
Brown Sorghum:
White Sorghums:
Ameterita - "Dura" can be a general term or can refer to this variety.
Ngaboli - Off-white or yellowish in color.
Groundnuts (peanuts):  
["Ful" is the general term for groundnuts.]
Kabir - Big, long shell, bush type.  Must be dug to harvest.
Anguak - Bush type.  Michael said it has numerous small nuts, but Otia said they are big.
Amilo - Red nuts, many nuts in each shell. Plant 2 weeks later. Destroyed by sun in 1979.
Aful - Vine type.  Has been used since time immemorial.  Must be dug to harvest.
Atuye - Bush type.
Elonge - Bush type. Very big brown nuts. Must be dug to harvest.
Logum - Bush type.  Like atuye, but big nuts.
Aheto - Bush type.  White nuts.  Many nuts in each shell.
Amakarara - Big shell like kabir.  Bush type.  Must be dug to harvest.
Ometi - Bullrush or pearl millet.
Faloro - Finger millet.  Seldom grown.  Maybe planted by only one person in Lohutok.
Maize (corn):
Etuyet - A type of oseri which is short and has one-ear.
Michael said odoko (a white sorghum), ngirengire (a red sorghum) and ometi (bullrush millet) can be planted together.  Of the groundnuts, anguak (a bush type) and aful (a vine or spreading type) can be planted together. 

Monday, July 7, 1980

Drums for the Crops

Lohutok, Sudan

Drums were beating this morning.  Abele said these were drums to make the grain grow well.  I worked most of the day on my thesis outline.

Sunday, July 6, 1980

High Dura (Sorghum) Prices Drive Establishment of Cooperative

Lohutok, Sudan
Pastor Thomaso gave the sermon today.  He spoke about two points - God's wrath and God's love.  His texts were from Romans 1:16 & following, II Thessalonians 2 and John 3:16 & following.  At the end of the service, he explained about the cooperative society.  After the service there was a meeting under the tree near our storehouse.  Josiah presided over it.  The Lohutok Primary Cooperative Society was formed and its first 25 members were signed up.  More can be signed up later.  Josiah was made chairman, Michael  and Akim were chosen as treasurer and secretary.  (I am not sure which was selected for which office.)  Each person joining must pay 1 Sudanese pound and buy at least 1 share at 5 Sudanese pounds per share.  The shares can apparently be sold later, perhaps at a higher value if the cooperative is profitable.  They should be able to get dura (sorghum) for 25 Sudanese pounds per bag (FOB Lohutok) rather than the 30 or 35 pounds it reportedly costs from the merchants at Torit.  The first dura purchase should more than pay each members fees and stock purchase.  Not only dura, but also hoes, sugar, oil, kerosene, and other commodities can be purchased from the cooperative.
Lanny returned from Juba today.  He brought some lemon grass with him to plant and give out.  It can reportedly be made into a good tea.  They were not able to get dura in Juba.  It would have cost 60 or 70 Sudanese pounds per bag.  They did get a couple of bags of white wheat flour.
Lanny said that Daniel (chief of Lohutok) had told him that more cassava is not grown because the goats would eat it.  Beans are not grown because they do not have seed.  The people eat pumpkin seeds.
The Taposa made a cattle raid last night at Mura which is a village near Lalanga.  The drums sounded this morning and some men left running, but soon came back.  I guess the Taposa had too big a head start and the Lotuko were already tired.
Lanny mentioned a couple of things that sound good to me.  1) Going to the village and staying overnight for a couple of days to see what goes on (e.g. food consumption patterns).  2) Spending time, perhaps a week, with a Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) agriculturalist.  That would give me quite a few insights and contacts for thesis purposes.  It could also help Voluntary Service Group's (VSG's) agriculture program tie in closely with NCA's.  (VSG is the service arm of Africa Inland Mission here in Sudan.)

Saturday, July 5, 1980

Interviewing Josiah About Lotuko Agriculture

Lohutok, Sudan
It rained most of the morning and some of the afternoon.  I read the rest of the CIMMYT publication about rapid surveys for planning agricultural innovation or research.  It motivated me to start structuring what I am doing.  I need to get crackin' on a thesis outline revision and some tentative ideas for a formal survey.
I talked to Josiah this afternoon.  Tomorrow they are going to have a meeting after church to form a cooperative for buying grain.  The grain can be purchased from Equatoria Trading Commission which is headquartered in Juba.  The grain can be purchased in Juba for 15 Sudanese pounds or in Torit for 22 pounds.  That compares with the merchants' price of 30 or 36 pounds.
Josiah told me that there is no person in authority who allocates the gardens.  Apparently, for the mountain gardens, a group of people decide they will make gardens in a certain place.  If someone wants to go along with them, he can.  They then, as a group, decide the boundaries of each person's garden.  Josiah says that there is plenty of land.  I guess that is why there can be such an informal arrangement for deciding who gets what and how much land.
According to Josiah, there is shifting cultivation out on the plains as well as the mountains.  That makes sense.  In the valley, cultivation is continuous.  On the mountains, fields can be farmed for 2 to 4 years with a 10 year fallow.  On the plains, fields can be cultivated for 3 to 6 years with a 15 or maybe 20 year fallow.  Weeds are the problem which necessitates rotating to fallow on the plains.  Weeds are not so big a problem on the mountains.  This I have observed.  I wonder why the cultivation period and the fallow period both are shorter on the mountains?  Faster nutrient cycling?  More rain?
There are 7 clans in Lohutok by Josiah's count.  A given clan does not live in a particular village.  Neither do village or clan divisions determine who goes together to clear a garden such as on the mountain.  One can only marry someone from a different clan.
Cattle, goats, sheep and chickens are owned individually.  Some people apparently have quite a few cattle and goats while others have few or none.  During the civil war, the Arabs and Taposa took or killed the animals.  Since then, the herds had to be built up from nothing.  When someone accumulated enough money he could perhaps buy a goat.  That is how the recovery began.
I get the impression that there are gender roles but that they are not strictly adhered to.  Hoeing the gardens tends to be done by men but women also hoe.  The women tend to be the ones who gather the weeds into piles if my observations are representative.  When planting is done with communal labor, it is the owner and his best friend and their wives who gather the weeds into bunches according to Josiah.  It is very important to take up all the weeds so they do not regerminate or prevent the crop from starting by smothering it.  (Apparently this is not true in some areas of the Imatong mountains.)  Weeding may also be done collectively.  For collective labor the owner of the garden must provide food and beer.  Weeding tends to be done by women but I have seen many men do the weeding also.
During school hours, children who do not go to school guard crops from monkeys and birds.  The children who go to school are supposed to relieve them by guarding the crops after school hours.  If all children went to school, I do not know how this job would get done.  It is not uncommon for a family with 4 children to put 2 in school and keep 2 at home to work.  Compulsory eduction and crop protection could be very conflicting goals.
Josiah said that perhaps three-fourths of the farmers have mountain gardens.
Josiah mentioned rural-urban migration as a contributing factor in the food shortage.  The drought was the main factor.  The rains did not fall much from July to October.
School vacation is from December to April which is the hot dry season.
Josiah said it could be difficult to get many people into a cooperative because they are not educated.  They might think the government should give them grain or that the government was taking their money to use for other projects.  This could hold a lesson about the feasibility of a credit program or herbicide and fertilizer programs.  The people might have difficulty understanding and implementing them.

Friday, July 4, 1980

Making Sorghum Beer

Lohutok, Sudan

The plane left this morning.  Lanny is going to get a new Land Rover at Juba.  Daniel, chief of Lohutok, went - on government business I suppose.  Michael went to buy sorghum.
Samuel and I completed the last two steel rafters today.  It was our best day ever.  I am glad I know how to use an electric welder.
I went for a walk today.  I saw some women on the "rock hill" who were making sorghum beer.  One woman was laying some sprouted, dark-colored sorghum out on the rock to dry.  Another woman had ground some sorghum and spread it out to dry.  Judging from the container it had been in, it had been wet when it was in the ground-up form.  (But I cannot be sure.)  It smelled a bit fermented when it was damp.  When it was dry, the woman swept it up and put it into her container.  It was a dry, powdery substance.
Photos: Woman making beer from ground sorghum while carrying child on her back.


Yesterday, Michael pointed out some sesame to me in a field.  He called it simsim.  It is eaten with the sorghum porridge.  (He called it porridge, but it is actually more like a stiff dough.)  Vegetables and perhaps meat is also eaten with the sorghum porridge.  The porridge is held in the fingers and used to dip in the vegetable dish.
I saw Abele's brother, Akim, today.  He teaches P3 (third grade) at the school.  He was planting some of the improved sorghum seed that Josiah got from Norwegian Church Aid (NCA).  He said a bag about a foot long cost one Sudanese pound.

Thursday, July 3, 1980

Death in Imehejek

Lohutok, Sudan

Today was an interesting day full of surprises which, if not all pleasant, were at least very thought provoking.

I drove Martha to Imehejek this morning.  Michael, David and Esyiak  went along to help.  We brought enough measles vaccine for 120 children.  There was a big turnout, so they used all the vaccine by about 1:00 pm.  I imagine their half day of work prevented a measles epidemic in Imehejek.  Our plan to go on to Mura and vaccinate more children was cancelled because we had no more vaccine.

While the others were giving vaccinations, I spent a little time looking at gardens near the village.  A woman motioned me to follow her.  She led me to her hut.  Her husband motioned me to follow him into the hut.  I got down on my belly and went through the eighteen inch high door into the hut.  Inside was a man who seemed in great pain.  I tried to tell them that I could not help but that I would bring one of the medical people.  I went back and talked to Martha.  She told me to take David with me.  When we got there, the women had already started the death wail.  We looked in and the man was still breathing weakly, but he soon stopped breathing.  A man in the hut raised the dead man to show that his head flopped back, thus proving he was dead.  I felt so helpless watching him die.  Things like that and the sick children I see make me think the unspoken requirement that a thesis have much data is a superfluous requirement in a place like this.  Isn't it enough that children are losing weight, getting measles and dying to get a health program started?  If people are starving, must their weights be documented before help is sent?  I've seen people die.  I've seen children hanging onto life by a thread.  I've talked with farmers and seen their resources and problems.  Why must I document things when I can so easily see what must be done?
We started home, but the Land Rover's engine was missing very badly.  It did not have enough power to get through the first dry river, so we had to half-push, half-drive it out of the river and back to Imehejek.  We sent Esyiak ahead and started walking after we had parked the Land Rover.  We walked for about 3 hours, perhaps 10 miles.  We got well past Iboni when Thelma met us in her Suzuki with water.  She then took us the rest of the way back to Lohutok.

Photo:  Road crosses dry river bed  

It was good that we had to walk.  It gave me a better appreciation of how the Lotuko feel when they do all their walking.  It also gave me a better view of the country than I get from the Land Rover.
When we got to Lohutok, we found that the plane had come.  Lanny Arensen had come on it, as expected.  But Marcia Orner had also come.  She was not expected for another month or two.  She is a young nurse.  I think it will be good to have help for Martha.
The plane brought mail, including letters from Mom and Dad and from several friends at Cornell.  I wrote letters to Dad and Mom and some of my friends.  The plane is our only way of getting mail in and out.  It arrives one afternoon and leaves the next morning.  Everyone hurries to read their mail and get answers written in time for the plane's departure.

Wednesday, July 2, 1980

Recalcitrant Land Rover

Lohutok, Sudan
This morning, I marked out where my hut is to be.  The men already have several poles ready for it.  Samuel McConnell (builder of clinics and missionary houses) took a crew of men to Imehejek this morning.  The Land Rover did not want to start.  I checked the spark and it was alright.  Then I disconnected the air cleaner and looked at the carburetor.  When I held my hand over the carburetor and left only a small opening for air while Samuel ran the starter, it started.  I guess it needed to be choked harder than the choke would choke it.  It gave no more problems for the rest of the day.  I adjusted the idle when they got back.
I spent the morning at the Lohutok children's clinic gathering data.  I do not know how good the weight data is.  It shows a big problem of underweight children this time of year.  That is almost certainly partly due to bias caused by a higher turnout of sick than of healthy children.  I need to gather more data later in the year to see if there are changes.
Photo: Nurse Martha Hughell talks with some women outside Lohutok clinic

This afternoon, a missionary from Katiri or Katire.  (I am unsure of the spelling.)  She wants to pick up some stuff from tomorrow's plane.  She used to work here at Lohutok.

Tuesday, July 1, 1980

Construction of My Hut Begins

Lohutok, Sudan
This morning I drove Martha to the clinic in Lalanga.  Once again I collected weight information for the children.  I noticed that the few who came both weeks are those in the poorest health.  The clinics are intended to help the children stay healthy, so I was expecting that those who came regularly would be the ones in the best health.  But apparently what is happening is that only those most acutely in need of medical care are repeat attenders.  The others do not come regularly.  One wonders how effective the malaria prophylaxis (Maloprim) is under such conditions.  Martha gives Maloprim to all the children who come, but it is supposed to be taken weekly.

Samuel and I finished another rafter (#4 of 6) today.  Six or seven men began work on my hut today.  I saw that they have some poles made for it.  It will be rectangular rather than round as I originally thought.  That is mainly so that things such as a bed will fit in it more easily.

Photos: My hut under construction
(Actually taken on a later date)

I thought I saw groundnuts and sorghum interplanted just east of where the side road to Lohutok intersects the main road.  They were on the south side of the road.  I could not tell for sure from the Land Rover.  I will have to walk down there and have a look sometime.

Monday, June 30, 1980

Cattle Raid!

Lohutok, Sudan

This morning all the younger men were running north with their weapons in a long, spread-out string.  Drums had sounded in the village to our northeast.  I found out later that the Taposa had stolen some cattle from a Lotuko village during the night.  The Lotuko got their cattle back, but one man was wounded in the process.  I hope this sort of thing comes to an end.

Photo: Warriors on their way to recover stolen cattle.

I did some more welding today.  We passed the half-way mark in building rafters.  We also made fairly firm arrangements to have some men start building my hut.  They should begin tomorrow.  I think housing will become tight here soon.  When the Yonkers get back, Samuel and Christine will have to move into a tent.  I hope the living space crunch does not cause too much tension.

I poked around in the ground today and noticed that the onions I planted have sprouted.  At least one of the three things I have planted should do okay.  I hope the carrots grow too.  I do not have much hope for the lettuce.

Michael is talking of going to Juba to get grain.  At Torit, sorghum costs 36.50 Sudanese pounds per bag, but only 15.00 in Juba.  We may have the plane go to Torit to get sorghum from Norwegian Church Aid.  We have heard they have some sort of cooperative.

Sunday, June 29, 1980

A Relaxed Sunday

Lohutok, Sudan

There were 15 or 20 people in church today.  Samuel McConnell spoke and Michael Otongo interpreted for him.  After church, Kristy (the Arensen's daughter) and I listened to "The Roar of Love" by the Second Chapter of Acts.  She had read the Narnia Chronicles so she enjoyed the tape.  We had enchiladas for our evening meal.  They were hot, but good.  Martha Hughell, Janis Arensen and I prayed for the school and head teacher Josiah Odwa.  We would like the school to be used of God to reach the children for him.  Samuel and Christine were not at the meal because of their six month wedding anniversary.  I wrote letters to my Uncle John and Aunt Opal and to a friend at Cornell University.

Saturday, June 28, 1980

View from Above the Mountain Garden; More Thoughts on Materialism

Lohutok, Sudan

I walked to the mountain garden this morning.  There were eight children there this time rather than the six I counted last time.  They were there to scare off monkeys.  The two boys and one girl I talked with were children of Atalino.  They seemed to have been hollowing out a log for a bee hive.  They had a small bag of sorghum which I would assume they were going to grind while watching for monkeys.  They were thus making good use of their time - guarding crops from monkeys, making bee hives and preparing food all at the same time.  They had some groundnuts (peanuts) and "malwa" in a little sack.  I think malwa is a cooked nut from a tree, possibly what Daniel referred to as "mule" when I talked with him on June 18.  The children had a vegetable spinach (cooked) called magi and some from another plant (freshly picked) called inore.  I noticed a maize (corn) plant tasseling in the mountain garden.  I had been told this garden was planted to sorghum.  Now I have learned there is also some maize.

I climbed on up above the gardens to the pass.  I could not see too well from the pass, so I went on up to the peak to the south.  The napier grass up there was a foot or two tall.  I could see to the Boya Hills.  There were gardens along the base of the Lopit Mountains.  Further out, there were trees which were fairly thick.  After those was what looked like fairly open grass savannah, perhaps with scattered trees.  I could see some bare, sandy spots among the thicker trees.  The trees extended into the savannah along watercourses or low-lying areas.

I looked through one of Martha's magazines called The Other Side.  It seems devoted to encouraging a simpler lifestyle, doing away with military force and helping the impoverished.  One of the articles was critical of the Urbana mission conventions for not dealing with social and political action as they relate to missions.  (I attended Urbana '76.)  I think the criticism was a bit exaggerated but perhaps somewhat valid.  I was convicted by the articles about economic lifestyles.  Sure I could go home to the U.S., tell everyone how I am living here and be complimented for sacrificing for Christ's sake.  Yet I am sure the Lotuho think I am rich and are correct in so thinking.  It does not bother me to see them live in conditions (nutritional, medical, housing, educational, transportation, government services, etc.) that I would not tolerate.  I have a double standard.

More Information About the Doum Palm

Lohutok, Sudan

I wrote about the doum palm yesterday.  Here is a little more information from Tropical Crops, Monocotyledons by J. W. Purseglove, published by Longman Group Ltd., 1979.  Purseglove's two-volume set (this book and its companion volume, Dicotyledons) is the premier English language reference about tropical crops.

Doum or Dum Palm [Hyphaene thebaica (L.) Mart.] grows wild throughout drier regions of tropical Africa to 600 meters altitude, the Middle East and western India.  It is fire-resistant and may form dense stands in hot dry valleys.  It is distributed by nomadic tribes as well as elephants and baboons which eat the seeds.  I found it interesting that the seeds are among the most common objects found in tombs in ancient Egypt.  I am not surprised that the seeds can last that long given how hard they are.  The ancient Egyptians cultivated it and considered it sacred because it was connected with the god Thout and his sacred animal, the baboon.  I will not go into Purseglove's technical descriptions beyond saying the doum palm is a fan palm that can grow to 15 meters and is the only palm with a branched stem.  He says the mesocarp (husk) smells and tastes of gingerbread.  The husk was already removed from the nut or seed pictured in my preceding post.    In appearance, the nut is similar to a miniature coconut but is much harder than a coconut.  The endocarp (shell) is hard and thin.  The endosperm is white, very hard and has a hollow center.  The endosperm was so hard I needed a hack saw to cut through it.  I cannot understand how a seed with such a hard endosperm could possibly germinate.

As for uses, Purseglove says the husk is edible and diuretic (tends to increase the discharge of urine).  It can be made into syrup or ground to a meal for making cakes and sweetmeats.  Seeds are used as "vegetable ivory" for making buttons, beads, etc.  The unripe kernels are edible.  The shell can be used for small containers such as snuff boxes.  The cabbage and cotyledon stalk can be eaten.  Maybe this is a plant which has helped people here survive through times of drought and war.  I doubt that it is a highly desired food.  Purseglove says the young unexpanded leaves are plaited in strips for making baskets, mats, hats, etc.  I have seen Lotuho hats made from doum palm leaves.  These hats are hard enough to serve as helmets which protect against traditional weapons.

Photo: Lotuho hat made from doum palm leaves

Friday, June 27, 1980

Impassable Road, a Hike and the Doum Palm

Lohutok, Sudan

This morning I drove Martha to the medical clinic in Iboni. We had to stop one place to fill in a ditch so we could get through.

Photo: I am repairing the road so we can continue our trip.

Martha gave pills of various sorts to the community health worker at Iboni. Then we tried to go to Imehejek. We got through one bad river. We figured out that four-wheel drive was only working in the high range on the Land Rover. When we got to the big river, we had to turn around because it was quite badly washed. Perhaps we can fix it another day with a crew of men. We need to get through to give inoculations before the measles vaccine expires.

This afternoon Janis, Katie, Kristie, Martha and I hiked up to the rock called Lohofan. It was a very nice place which reminded me of Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca, New York. A stream ran down the mountainside and across the rocks. Unfortunately it began pouring rain on us when we were up there. We all got soaking wet and muddy. Janis had to carry Katie most of the way back which must have been difficult on some of the slippery rocks we traversed. Katie and Kristie cried because of the cold. Except for the rain, it was an enjoyable trek.

Below: Children Playing at Lohofon
Photo by Irina Balytsky, October 2010, http://sitwiththepoor.blogspot.com/

I figured out the name of a tree today, the doum palm (or dom palm). I found a nut from one of them on the trip to Iboni. That sparked my curiosity enough to key it out in Tropical Crops by Purseglove. It has fan-like palmately compound leaves. The kernel or seed is very hard and is used as a "vegetable ivory" in some places. It took quite a bit of work with a hammer and chisel to break the husk open and more work with a hack saw to cut the seed in two. It is hollow inside. The plant is used as a source of sisal-like material for use in mats, hats, etc. The people here tell me the tree must be quite young if it is to be used for sisal, about waist high.

Below: Doum Palm Seed

Thursday, June 26, 1980

Thoughts on Materialism; Observing Crop Conditions

Lohutok, Sudan

This morning, I was to take Martha to a couple of clinics to give vaccinations. It rained, so we dared not venture forth on the muddy roads. Instead I stayed around here and read. I finished The Mountain People which is about the Ik tribe of northeastern Uganda. I understand they are similar to the Taposa of southeastern Sudan and the Turkana of northern Kenya. It was sad to read that the Ik's society degenerated to an "every man for himself" one and continued along that path even when there was enough food for everyone. The author said this should teach western society to pursue social values, not just what Francis Schaeffer would call "personal peace and affluence". I think it is true enough that selfish materialism will be the undoing of western society. But I think it will take more than an appeal from an anthropologist to prevent that. Man will have to turn to God for individual healing before society can be healed.

I went on a long walk today, perhaps four miles. Quite a few of the sorghum and millet fields (called "gardens" by the local people) were heavily weed infested. But other fields looked as good as I would expect to see in a fairly typical Kansas field except for uniformity of size. Uniformity may not even be considered a benefit here. Uniformity is necessary for mechanized agricultural operations. But where crops are harvested by hand, a labor bottleneck might be created if all the plants in a field matured at the same time. Planting multiple varieties in a field may also reduce the risk that any one disease, insect or other disaster could wipe out the entire crop.

I saw Abele and Kelero Onuha who were planting across from the school. They are going to plant a strip of local millet next to a short season, short statured cultivar they got from Norwegian Church Aid's project in Torit. Josiah's plot won't be the only one planted to this cultivar. I hope this high yield variety (HYV) does not need fertilizer and special treatment to do well.

There are some maps available in Khartoum for this area showing topography and quite a bit of detail. Hopefully supplies last. I saw a fairly good magazine called Sudanow. I ought to check whether Cornell University gets it.

Wednesday, June 25, 1980

Visit to Small Village on Sohot

Lohutok, Sudan

This morning I went up to the village on Sohot, the nearest hill to our southwest. It seems to have fewer fences dividing the compounds than does Lohutok, the main village. I did not notice any cassava or ochra either. There was a goat pen on the edge of the village. I walked to some goat pens to the southwest of the village. There were some kids (of the goat type) there, but the rest were out grazing. I think some cattle are also kept in some of the pens judging from the manure. When I was there, a child came from Lohutok and got a bowl full of cow dung. I don't know what it was for.

Below: View from Sohot.  
Photo by Irina Balytsky, October 2010, http://sitwiththepoor.blogspot.com/ 

Samuel, Kristine and I had another language lesson today. I have learned a vocabulary of nearly forty words so I feel I am making some progress, but I have a long way to go. The grammar is going to be harder to find help with than the vocabulary.

This afternoon I planted onions and carrots next to the Arensen's house. I also dug some depressions around the small citrus trees that are started around the house. I made some shallow ditches and small ridges to direct runoff to the trees. I hope this speeds up their growth. It is a way to provide some extra water to them without extra labor. At least doing such things make me feel more useful. According to my books, citrus should do fairly well here. It will only yield seasonally but that is better than nothing. Irrigation for year around production would likely be much too expensive.

Tuesday, June 24, 1980

Our Hitchhiker Arrested After Clinic at Lalanga

Lohutok, Sudan

I drove Martha to the clinic at Lalanga today. I collected data on each child, making note of identification number, name, sex, birthday, months he or she was underweight and months dangerously underweight. I am told that high carbohydrate foods are in short supply so lower calorie vegetables are making up a greater portion of the diet. I suppose that is alright for older children and adults, but children cannot get enough carbohydrates and protein on that sort of diet. Martha said the swollen abdomens could be caused by malnutrition, worms or a spleen swollen from malaria. The children seem to me to be less well fed than the adults. But maybe I am just seeing a biased sample. Most of the children I have seen are those who come to the clinics. They are likely the least healthy children. I asked Michael if it is Lotuko custom for the women and children to eat after the men. He said it is the other way around; the women and children eat first. So much for one theory. Martha thinks the youngest children get along better than the older ones because the younger ones are still breast fed.

Below: Weighing a child at the clinic in Lalanga.

When we left Lalanga, we brought along a woman and her child who needed to get treatment at Lohutok. A man came along in our Land Rover as well. He said he needed to see Daniel, the chief. We met Daniel and about three policemen walking along the road. They were escorting some men to prison. We stopped to talk. The guy riding with us tried to hide his face. The next thing I knew, he was bolting out the back door. The police grabbed him, threw him down to the ground and tied him up after a bit of a scuffle. It turned out that Daniel was looking for him. He had stabbed someone, but I did not learn anything more about the incident.

This afternoon I read more in The Mountain People, studied some Lotuko and puttered around a bit. I really should set aside more time for prayer and Bible study. The battle here is definitely a spiritual one against him who blinds men to the saving words of the good news of Christ. A full day of prayer would be an excellent idea followed by more time alone in prayer on a daily basis.

Monday, June 23, 1980

Thoughts About Training I Need and About Local Innovators

Lohutok, Sudan
Today was a "mechanical skills" day.  I took the tire off the Land Rover (with the help of Samuel, Elijah, "Saudi Arabia" and another guy).  I patched the tube.  I also put a new tube in Kristy's bicycle tire.  Kristy is the daughter of Lanny and Janis Arensen.  I also planted lettuce on a little plot by Arensen's house.  I did some welding several days ago.  I really appreciate my farm background which gave me many skills.  Sometimes I think it would be good to have some auto-mechanics or engine repair type training.  But I also want more training in first-aid, language, language acquisition techniques, agronomy, animal science, theology and Bible.  I think I will either have to go to school forever or do some self-training on the job or in my spare time.  I wonder sometimes about my motivations for such broad training.  Could it be that I just like the feeling of being self-sufficient and not imposing on anyone for anything?  How does that fit in with the model of "community" set by the early church?  How does it fit in with the Apostle Paul's supporting himself so as not to be a burden even though he had the right as an apostle to demand support?

Michael has a garden just south of the mission buildings.  He was hoeing it today in preparation for planting some tomatoes.  I think he also wants to get some onion seeds.  I suppose he is more susceptible to our "foreign" influence than most people.  He works at the clinic with Martha and is in Theological Education by Extension (TEE) classes.  He is an elder in the church.  The people who have expressed to me an interest in innovation (Josiah, Michael and Daniel) all have had some outside exposure and a source of income other than agriculture.