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.

Sunday, June 22, 1980

Trial and Conviction

Lohutok, Sudan

There were about the same number of people in church as last Sunday.  After church, Daniel and some other men were sitting under a tree.  After a while, I went over to see them.  I soon found myself in the middle of a trial.  One man had come upon another man, taking him by surprise and beating him with a stick.  The beaten man reported the incident to the police who told Daniel to arrest the man and try him.  Each party stated his case before Daniel and some other men.  The offender was sentenced to six months in prison without bail as required by Sudanese law.
 
I think I will be offering to give a talk at a clinic on Saturday.  Martha was hinting for me to do this, but I want to listen to Janis do a talk first.
 
Janis talked quite a bit today about her past, how she met Lanny, previous assignments, etc.

It is too late tonight for deep thinking.  It is just 9:30 pm.  I am on a weird time schedule.  It is a near-the-equator, no-electricity schedule.  The sun sets earlier than during summer in the U.S. and having no electricity discourages staying up after dark.
 

Saturday, June 21, 1980

Planting Groundnuts

Lohutok, Sudan

Today, I finally saw someone scattering seeds.  They were groundnut (a.k.a. peanut) seeds, so I found out that they too are scattered on the ground before hoeing.  This is the same technique used for planting sorghum and millet.  Some of the earlier planted groundnuts are already blooming.  These will be the first groundnut crop I have ever observed as we do not grow them near my home in Kansas.  They are being planted in an area of sandy soil between the base of the mountains and the lower level of the valley.  Some people are still planting, others are weeding.
 

Above: A field before planting.

The following three photos show hoeing.  The seed was scattered immediately prior to hoeing.  Leaving the weed cover in place until the time of planting protects the soil from erosion and the sun.  The hoes have very long handles, some being longer than twice a man's height.  One might call these "push hoes".  The blade is in line with the handle, not at a right angle like hoes used in most parts of the world.  This type of hoe minimizes back strain because the user does not need to bend over.  The weight of the long handle provides momentum which helps it penetrate the soil.  It cuts off the weeds just below the soil surface while minimizing soil disturbance.  This type of hoe has results similar to the V-bladed sweep plows which are used to under-cut weeds in stubble-mulch farming systems in the semi-arid Great Plains of North America.




The following two photos show a woman piling up weeds after the hoeing operation.  If the soil were not cleared, the mulch of dead weeds would inhibit growth of the new crop.



The following photo shows a newly planted field in the foreground.  Behind it, a newly emerged crop can be seen in a previously planted field.  The slopes of the Lopit mountains are visible beyond the fields.


[Disclaimer:  The above photographs are representative of the process of planting groundnuts, sorghum and millet.  They were not necessarily all taken at the same time or location.]
 
I saw Adelino today.  He was weeding and transplanting some sorghum into spots where none was growing.  His wife was just coming to help when I arrived.  Some of the plants he was pulling looked to me like sorghum.  I thought he was thinning his stand.  I pointed to a plant he had pulled and said it looked the same as the ones he was leaving, expecting to get a response about thinning.  But he said it was a weed and held it up next to a sorghum plant so I could see the difference.  I could see no difference, but shrugged in agreement so as not to seem as ignorant as I was.
 
Samuel got back from Torit late this afternoon.  He said there was no grain available for sale.  I imagine the local people who rode along to get some were quite disappointed.  It is a very sad thing if this means food is running out.
 
I read the remaining chapters of Agriculture in the Sudan by Tothill.  I started reading The Mountain People by Colin M. Turnbull.  The author's anthropological approach seems similar to what I find myself doing here.  He has problems that I can understand, e.g. getting straight answers to one's intended questions, language barriers, unintentionally biased guides and people who are looking for gain from you.  He seemed to find a conflict between blending into the culture and collecting information.  Apparently there was contact between the subjects of his study (the Ik in northeast Uganda) and the Taposa of southeast Sudan.
 
There was a very good rain last night and this morning.  Thobias told me the people in the village quarreled with the rain queen yesterday and apparently threatened to send her off.  I hope this bodes well for Christ's cause here.  I was not able to understand the details about the quarrel with the rain queen.

I started some serious language study today.  It seems slow.  Language study always seems slow.  I will almost certainly end up giving talks at clinics or church.  I am going to listen to Janice give one first so I get a feel for the appropriate communication "level".

Friday, June 20, 1980

Thinking About Materialism, Incarnational Evangelism and Sin

Lohutok, Sudan

This morning I walked up to a field in its first year of "grow back".  It was a mountain field.  This afternoon I went back to the new mountain field I first visited.  I saw six people there.  Their job was to scare monkeys away.  Some of them were grinding something or doing other things as they waited for monkeys. They were late getting to the field yesterday and the monkeys did some damage.
 
Above:  Boys guarding the mountain field from monkeys
 
One of the missionaries was talking this evening about things she wishes they had and things they left in Kenya.  It made me think again about how materialism is not defined by how much one has, but by how satisfied one is with what one has.  I also wonder what "incarnational evangelism" implies for missionaries in a place like this one.  I think that to live among the people as they live would greatly increase the credibility and effectiveness of my witness.  It would also greatly decrease my standard of living and life expectancy.  I don't know if I could bring a wife or children into such a situation.  This is definitely something for a missionary to consider before marriage.  I doubt that real, honest-to-goodness incarnational evangelism could be done through most established mission organizations.  I don't think it is a possibility for me this summer.  I wonder if I could find a few people willing to do that sort of thing with me?

Another of the missionaries seems to often complain about the response of the people.  It must be discouraging for her.  I think I can understand why the people act as they do in some instances.  For example, many of us grow up with a feeling that pre-marital sex is wrong.  We would experience great cognitive dissonance or guilt feelings if we sinned in this way.  But the young Christian Lotuko woman who is now pregnant probably had no such feelings to help her overcome the temptation.

Thursday, June 19, 1980

A Day of Writing and Study

Lohutok, Sudan

Today, I hung around the house, but got quite a bit done anyway.  I wrote to some friends at Cornell University.  I also read the chapter about Equatoria in Tothill's book, Agriculture in the Sudan.  The cultivation around the skirts of mountains that is practiced here is called "apron cultivation".  Tothill mentions the Lotuka and Taposa tribes.  He writes about the crops that are grown.  The book contains more information than I had anticipated.

Jan (or John?) and Sylvia Wenting stopped by Lohutok today.  They are missionaries with Africa Inland Mission, but work with another tribe.  Jan has hepatitis.  I am glad I got my gamma globulin injections before coming here.

Wednesday, June 18, 1980

More Information About the Farming System

Lohutok, Sudan

The plane came in today with Janis Arensen and her two young daughters.  It also brought mail.

I went up to the village yesterday to ask Daniel about whether there is any way to get grass for a roof for my hut.  He said no.  I talked with him for quite a while.  He says the people have developed an ingenious system for storing grain.  They put the grain in raised structures and seal it with a mixture of ash and dung.  Large flat stones are also used.  This is to prevent insect entry.  DDT insecticide may also be used if it can be purchased.

I asked about the cultivation of the mountain fields.  He said tree cutting begins in October and goes perhaps through December.  It dries in January and is burned in February.  Heavily tree covered areas are selected for fields.  A field will be used for two years or four years if particularly fertile.  Then it is allowed to go back to forest.  It requires about 20 years before a field is ready to be cultivated again.

People will often "hire" others to help with their planting and weeding.  They pay the workers by supplying their food.  Daniel had 81 people, men and women, helping with his planting one day.  Weeding is done by women who are 18 years old and older and by the old men.  I think I should wait to do a labor survey until I further clarify how labor use is related to gender roles, communal work, etc.

I have begun thinking that an oxen mechanization program might eliminate the communal labor.  That could be a bad thing, especially if people enjoy working together and if it breaks down community spirit.

Daniel gave me the names of several plants used for food.  These included cassava, papaya, pumpkin, sweet potato, okra, mul√© (from a tree) and amagw√© (which has leaves like a groundnut).  I guess when weeds are hard to control, these people find ways to make use of them.  It would be a great addition to my thesis if I could put together a long list of plants used for food, fiber, etc.

I learned the names of the mountains around Lohutok.  The biggest one is called Lodyo.  It has a rock cliff at the peak.  The main village is at its base.  The one with a triple peak is called Asarahai.  The missionaries refer to it as "Three Sisters".  Others are called Sohot (smaller peak near the mission station) and Lolyiri.  The mountainside valley where the big field is located is called Ahaba.

Above:  Lodyo, on the right, is Lohutok's highest mountain.  Asarahai, on 
                the left, is also known as "Three Sisters" because of its three peaks.

Cassava is planted one year, then it is harvested and planted again in the same month a year later.

Daniel said that not all of the Lotuko live along the mountains as those at Lohutok do.  Some live near the main road.  He was referring to the road which runs from Torit to Kapoeta.  But he said that more than half of them live along the mountains.  He thinks there are between 15,000 and 25,000 Lotuko altogether.  That should that between 7,500 and 12,500+ people have farming systems very similar to the one here.

Tuesday, June 17, 1980

First Visit to a Medical Clinic

Lohutok, Sudan

I went to the clinic at Lalanga with Martha (a nurse) and Daniel (Lohutok's chief).  The road was very bad in places.  We had to climb a few rock covered banks and dodge ditches with the Land Rover.  There were many sick and malnourished children at the clinic.  Each child has a card that he / she is to bring to the clinic.  It contains a graph which is supposed to indicate whether the child is at or below normal weight.  Most were below normal weight, especially those who had measles.  They are weighed each month.  The weights could be a good source of data about existence of a "hungry season".  However, weekly frequency of disease may also be an indicator.  Much of the weight loss seems to be the result of disease which in turn may result from malnutrition.  By going through the daily records, I could get data for a longer time period and more complete data.  The weight data might be a good supplement to this if I could collect it.


Above: Weighing a baby at the clinic in Lalanga.

Below: Martha giving an injection to a child.


As we were returning to Lohutok, we saw a man carrying an automatic, military type rifle.  Daniel motioned me to stop.  Daniel chewed the man out for having the gun.  Daniel said that two Lotuko people had been killed in their gardens by people from another tribe (Taposa, I think).  The Lotuko found those who did the killing and killed them.  Sickness and death seem to be just a part of daily life here.  I guess they do not even sound drums for a child below a certain age who dies.  I guess there are too many of them who die.

Daniel apparently has a big responsibility as chief.  He has to try many cases.  There is a jail up in the village.  Once, each of the villages was supposed to build one of the shelters at the school.  The people in the village just northeast of us did not do theirs.  Daniel put all the men in jail every night for a month.  On the morning of the last night, they all gave a big shout when they got out.  It could be heard all the way to church where the Sunday service was in progress.  That must be over one-quarter mile away.

Today I wrote to Bob Kempf, a friend from Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship at Cornell University.

Monday, June 16, 1980

Welding and Learning About Gender Roles in Farming

Lohutok, Sudan

I wrote to Pastor John and Ruth Wilkens of Brantford Covenant Church in Kansas.  I asked them to show their letter to Delbert and Pearl Anderson.  I also wrote to Dave Ettestadt, a grad student in Physics at Cornell.

Last night, my stomach was rather uneasy and I had some diarrhea.  It was minor and seems to be gone now.  Samuel is still fighting something he came down with yesterday.  It may be malaria.  Malaria used to be a frightening word.  With modern medicine, it is not much different than the flu (except that it can recur).

I saw a guy walk past this morning with an automatic rifle.  Interesting!  A hold-over from the latest civil war I suppose.  Or perhaps it came out of Uganda.

I helped Samuel do some welding this afternoon.  It was a bit frustrating as the welder quit working part way through.  Its habit is to quit when it gets warmed up.

A guy named Ernes (spelling?) stopped to see what we were doing.  He said he was finished planting today.  He said weeding will start next week.  He said the women do the weeding.  "Men cannot weed", he said.  I tried to ask what the men do.  I think I understood him to say that men sit around and / or they will dig or plant cassava.  This opens up a whole new set of questions about who does what and will complicate any labor use studies.  Oh well, farming systems in less developed countries are supposed to be complicated.  I also see I have not gotten complete answers about what crops are grown.  I wonder if cassava is used as a famine reserve crop?

Sunday, June 15, 1980

Church Service & A History Lesson

Lohutok, Sudan

I went to the church this morning.  Elijah led the singing and preached.  I sang along with the Lotuko songs and tried to find the scriptures in the Lotuko Bible.  But I really understood nothing that was going on.  I want to start working on the language soon.  It will be a bridge between me and the people.  People in less developed countries (and most places for that matter) like it when you are interested in their language, farming, food and culture.

I met Daniel, the chief, today.  He had heard that an "agriculturalist" was coming.  He is interested in getting ox-plows going here.  He thinks I should be able to train people how to do ox-training and plowing!  (After all, I am an agriculturalist.)  Unfortunately, I have never worked with draft animals.  He did say that the busiest time is from April to June.  I should get busy documenting that.  They work from about 6:00 am to 4:00 or 5:00 pm now.  Hunting is apparently a big user of time in the off-season.

I talked a bit with Martha.  She says they keep a daily log of patients and treatments at the clinic.  I should be able to tell from dosages whether the patient was a child or adult.  I should also separate diseases that could be nutritionally related from those that could not be (e.g. injuries).

Martha also told me about the political history of the area.  She first came in 1950.  There was a war around the time the English gave Sudan independence.  I guess the South wanted to be free from the North, so they rebelled.  The rebellion was quashed in a few months.  The rebellion broke out again in the early or mid-1960's.  Martha had to leave about 1963 and all missionaries by 1965.  Most of the Christians, including Daniel, went to Uganda during the war.  Some went to further their education.  Many Sudanese villagers were not helping either side, but were shot at by both sides.  Sometimes a village would be surrounded by the North in search of rebels.  Villages were often burned and suspicious looking people shot.  The war was never really won, it just came to a stalemate.  Daniel says even now, the North exercises much power over the South.  For example, more Northern students are sent to the USA, England and Germany.  The teachers at Juba are from the North.  Orders for the school at Juba come from Khartoum.  To go to school, even in Juba, one must pass Arabic.

Some children with bloated stomachs were just picking mulberries in the yard.  Through the window, they saw me stand up, so they scurried off.  I consider the mulberries to be "ours", but don't feel quite right about chasing the children away.  In the Bible, the Israelites were instructed that the gleanings were to be left for the poor.

I wrote letters to my family today.

Saturday, June 14, 1980

Visit to the Mountain Field

Lohutok, Sudan

Thobia took me to one of the mountain fields today. He went to Uganda during the war. He speaks fair English. He seems to have had a fair amount of education and would like to get more. His texts and other books were stolen in Torit, which is why he must wait to continue his education.

The sorghum in the mountain field looked good. Most of it was from knee-high to hip-high. The soil was a loamy texture and had some moisture in it. The field is situated in a concave area (or trough) which runs down the mountainside. There is a ditch of sorts down the center of the field. The field is very steep relative to the plain below and the trough is also very steep from side to side. This was the first year the field was planted. The first step in preparation was to cut down the trees in February. These were allowed to dry for a month, then they were burned. Rocks and logs seemed to be placed on the contour in a sort of terracing system. Some were not placed on contour but up and down the slope to demarcate property lines.  Or maybe they mark garden boundaries rather than ownership. I do not yet know much about the ownership system. The fields were fairly free of weeds in general. He said that after the planting of the lowland sorghum, the mountain fields would be weeded. Brown or red sorghum is grown on the mountains and white sorghum in the valley. The white sorghum (millet?) is better to eat according to Thobia. I want to visit a field which has been production for several years for comparison purposes.

Above: Thobia standing in the mountain field.

Below: These two photos show sorghum growing in the mountain field. 




Below: The steepness of the field is evident in this photo taken later in the growing season. 



Thobia pointed out many trees along the way whose seeds are used for food. There is one tree whose seed is used for oil. The leaves of another tree are used as a vegetable. We saw some children picking a plant which is used as a vegetable.

There were notches cut in some trees. If I correctly understood, this was to see if they were hollow and therefore usable as beehives. The beehives were made from logs which were hollowed out. These seemed to be at least partially capped and hung in the trees. I wonder how they harvest the honey without being stung? He also showed me an old trap used for catching animals. It (or what was left of it) consisted of some stones stood on edge in an open-ended rectangle. Apparently when a monkey, or perhaps even a leopard, goes inside, something (a rock?) falls on him and crushes him.  (It was not always easy to overcome the language barrier.)

There were two people at the mountain field to scare monkeys away. Monkeys pull up the sorghum. One person was assigned to each side of the field. The field was quite large, so this was not a large use of manpower. I think the field may have been twenty acres in size. (That's a guess from my memory. I did not make an estimation while at the field.)

Below: A boy guards the field from monkeys.  Birds will also be a problem after the grain forms.



On my way down the mountain I was talking with Thobia. He seemed to want me to get him some shoes. He also wants to see some textbooks. He wanted me to see if the others would bring tea and sugar to him and the other Lotuko men who work here. I am not sure how to handle such requests. I wonder about what my goal should be in helping these people materially. Clearly their level of living should be higher. But I would not want them to be cursed with the materialistically high level of living of the U.S. Maybe this isn't the right question. It is the attitude toward wealth rather than wealth itself with which a Christian ought to first concern himself.

Martha was talking last night about how many people are hungry this time of year. (She said Hans says it is because they sell their grain earlier in the year and have to buy it back later.) I ought to ask her to collect statistics about health status or weights of people who come to the clinic. It would be a useful addition to my thesis.

Samuel and Christine told me tonight that there is a rain queen in Lohutok. Her husband the rain king died a few years back. It is claimed she can make it rain or withhold rain. They say that she really seems to have that power. It is so easy for us to forget that we are in a real spiritual battle. I guess it becomes a bit clearer around here. We need to pray that God will display his power over the rain queen.

Friday, June 13, 1980

Beginning to Explore

Lohutok, Sudan

I went for a walk this morning. Josiah was at the school. It was recess for the children, so I talked with him for a while. He wanted to go to the clinic for treatment so I walked with him. There are three teachers at the school. There are four grades. English, math and writing are taught. English is the medium of instruction for grades P3 and P4. There is a vacation for four months (December - March) during the dry season. They now have school five days per week, but beginning in October they will have six days of school by government policy. They are to give agricultural practice on Saturdays.


Above: Teachers outside the elementary school. Josiah is on the right.
Below: Students in the school.


According to Josiah, the agricultural calendar is:

January - Clear trees from new mountain fields.
February - Plant sorghum and millet in mountain fields.
March to April - Plant sorghum on lower fields.
May to June - Plant millet on lower fields. Plant groundnuts.
July - Some harvesting begins.

This year, the grains were late so the process was a bit delayed. Also worms got the first planting of sorghum on the mountains in February so it had to be replanted in March.

The mountains are planted first because the rains begin there earlier. The lower ground is of two major types. The higher ground near our mission station seems redder and sandier. It is used for groundnuts. It dries faster. Further down the road at a lower elevation the soil is darker and of a finer texture. It holds moisture better and apparently gets more runoff from the mountains. I think that is an area where ants are not as much of a problem as on the red sandy soil.

There are two types of sorghum: white and brown. There are also two types of millet: white and brown. There are three types of groundnuts: a crawling type, a short non-crawling type and a tall non-crawling type.

Josiah introduced me to a man named Adelino. He said Adelino is one of the best cultivators.

Thursday, June 12, 1980

Arrival in Lohutok!

Lohutok, Sudan

I am here at last! There is too much to write in one day. We flew north-northwest out of Nairobi on one of AIM Air's small propeller planes. I sat in the seat next to the pilot. Samuel and Christine were in the back. The pilot let me run the controls for a short time. It was harder than I expected to keep the wings and nose level and the plane pointed in the correct direction. We flew over Kenya, the corner of Uganda and then to Juba. I noticed an artillery or anti-aircraft gun near the edge of the airport. Immigration closely inspected other people's 35 mm SLR cameras, but did not notice my small Kodak instamatic. After a short stop in Juba, we took off again. As we left Juba, I could see the Nile River with a bridge across it. The Nile seemed smaller than I expected. As we flew east, I was impressed by the vast savannah with short mountain ranges jutting up here and there. I could see few signs of human presence on the savannah.  The villages and crop fields were mostly near the base of the mountains.

Below: view from the airplane.

Below: Village at the base of a mountain.

We landed on a grass airstrip at Lohutok. We were met by many local people and the AIM missionaries. Martha is American. Hans and Maryanne are from the Netherlands. Of course I already knew Samuel, who is from Ireland, and Christine, his English wife.

Below: Unloading the plane.

I talked with Josiah, Michael and other Lotuho men. I asked many things about the farming. Dura (sorghum) and millet are the main crops. I also saw a bundle of some greens which was cooked as a vegetable to eat with dura. Cattle are raised for meat and milk. Goats and chickens are also used. Around the mission buildings, white ants (termites) are a big problem, I was told. On the mountain, in the valley and other parts of the plain, they are not such a problem. The people have spears, bows and arrows for hunting. They can walk to Torit in about nine hours where they can buy such things as spear heads, etc. The land here looks quite flat except for the mountains which abruptly rise from the plains.

Hans has been trying to raise tomatoes, peppers, peanuts. carrots, okra, squash, etc. He said insects eat the tomatoes. The peanuts look good, but I wonder if the soil is too hard for pod set. Some corn he planted (seed from Nairobi) was trying to flower at less than a foot in height. Maybe it is a photoperiod problem. Josiah is going to experiment with some improved sorghum. I believe he got it from Norwegian Church Aid's project near Torit.

Wednesday, June 11, 1980

Sudden Change in Travel Plans

Nairobi, Kenya

This morning, Lanny stopped by and said I could go to Lohutok by plane tomorrow morning. I decided to do that. I hate to miss the experience of the ride across Kenya and Sudan. But I do want to get there as soon as possible to get started on my research. The plane is going to pick up a sick baby. They have not had time to fill the plane, so I can take as much baggage as I want.

Jill Hartwell and I listened to David Abbott tell some stories tonight. Jill and I talked in French for about an hour.

Tuesday, June 10, 1980

Shopping & Natural History Museum

Nairobi, Kenya

This morning I went shopping with Mrs. Arensen, Samuel and Christine. Samuel and Christine are a young couple who are also going to Lohutok. It was sort of a wasted afternoon in that I accomplished nothing more than watch them shop. (Oh, I guess I did learn some patience.)

This afternoon, Jill, Lori, Faith and I went to the Natural History Museum. It was a long walk out there from downtown. It was interesting to see all the displays and stuffed animals. We also saw the snake pit with many live snakes on display. On our way back, we met a Kenyan named John Peter Mghade. He came to me and started talking at the bus stop and rode our bus. He was applying to go to Arizona for an MBA but was experiencing delays and red tape. I guess he wanted to talk about it. Christianity came up during our conversation. His parents are Seventh Day Adventists but he is not serious about it. I think he is in his mid to late twenties. He invited us over to his place after dinner, but we were unable to go. I hope we can do so tomorrow night to share the gospel.

Monday, June 9, 1980

Making contacts in Nairobi & looking forward to Sudan

Nairobi, Kenya

It was another very full day. This morning, several of us went downtown to the central market of Nairobi. It was a very typical market. There were many small booths. The proprietors would try to get our attention and sell us things as we went by. There were bananas, mangoes, papayas, rhubarb, asparagus, peppers (only a few), pineapple, avacados, beans, beets, turnips, etc. (A mixture of tropical produce and vegetables that prefer cooler climates.) There was beef, veal, lamb, fish, lobster and crab. It smelled just like the markets in Mexico.


In the afternoon I visited the Ford Foundation and World Bank. At the Ford Foundation, Mr. Gehrhardt gave me a few names. He knew Tom Hertel, Peter Matlon (Cornell students), Randy Barker (my minor professor at Cornell) and David Norman (professor at Kansas State University). He said Collinson’s emphasis on defining domains (distinct farming systems) so that the extent of applicability is known is very important. The guy at World Bank talked mostly in generalities. He knew very few specifics about their work in Sudan. He did offer to let me see their files on Sudan tomorrow. I rode the bus back during the evening rush hour. I had to wait half an hour for a bus that was not crammed full.

Lanny Arensen showed up today, so I talked a bit with him. He seems very amenable to my “studying” initially instead of “doing”. I think that is very important not just so I can get a thesis done, but also so the agricultural program will be relevant to the needs of farmers. He also wants to integrate what we do with the local government projects as much as possible. He would like me to help with the mission’s garden. Also, he might have other handy-man type jobs for me. He advised me to bring a kerosene lantern, plastic wash basin & bucket, mosquito net, shaving stuff and shampoo. I purchased these when I was downtown this afternoon. We will build a mud-walled, grass roofed hut for me to use. It all sounds like a great adventure.

We (the Pontiers, Lani and I) will be driving up to Sudan in a huge, German army surplus truck. I saw it today. It has large flotation tires. It can burn kerosene, gasoline or diesel! It has four wheel drive. It should be a very educational four or five day drive from here to Sudan.

Everyone except us and Jill will be leaving tomorrow. It will be interesting to be here with such a small group of people. We’ll probably feel quite close.

I was just thinking about how I am so excited about living under such primitive conditions. It is so much more enjoyable to choose to live at a lower level of living than one could than to live at as high a level as one can. In the latter case, one is always yearning for more.

Sunday, June 8, 1980

Visit to Game Park

Nairobi, Kenya

This morning, I went to the youth services at Nairobi Baptist Church. I taped the music which was good even though I was disappointed they used American type songs. The British pastor exposited from Ephesians 4. He was a very good speaker.

This afternoon we went to the game preserve just outside Nairobi. It was beautiful. The forest had monkeys, baboons and birds. The savannah looked as if it stretched forever to the mountains. The rolling green grass was occasionally interrupted by an acacia tree. On the savannah we saw many giraffes. They are very graceful animals. The cheetahs we saw absolutely refused to stand up for a photo. The gazelle (Thompson’s and Grant’s) were all over in herds. We saw some small hyraxes. There were ostriches and vultures. We saw a large herd of water buffalo. We found a rhino with a calf. We stopped near it until it acted as if it were going to charge our Land Rover. I think I got some good pictures of it. We saw a hippo in a muddy pool of water. The sun set over the mountains as we drove across the savannah. We saw giraffes silhouetted against the skyline in the dusk. I felt as if I had walked into the pages of a novel. Other animals we saw were impala, wildebeest and marabou stork.

Below: A babboon


Below: A monkey.

Below: An ostrich.

Below: Giraffe.

Below: A rhino and her young one.


This evening we listened to my tape “Roar of Love” by Second Chapter of Acts. Then we went to the Serena Hotel for a late dessert.

I wrote a letter to Dad and Mom.

Saturday, June 7, 1980

Exploring Nairobi



Nairobi, Kenya

I took the bus out to the CIMMYT offices at the International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases (ILRAD) to talk with Michael Collinson. He outlined the procedure he recommends following in doing research on farming systems. He would begin with studying literature to gain as much background knowledge as possible. Then informal interviewing is done. A more formal interview follows with an eye to verifying the important information uncovered by the informal survey. He also gave me the name of a Harvard connected agricultural economist with the Ministry of Agriculture in Juba, Sudan. And of course he gave me some literature to take with me. I tagged along with him to the country club where he played his wife in squash. Then we had dinner at his place. It included Yorkshire pudding and horseradish sauce for the roast beef. Very British!

In the afternoon, Elizabeth and I went downtown to shop. I bought a book “East African Crops” by Onuweume. We met two Ugandans. They claimed to be refugees trying to get out of the country to Tanzania. The one had been a vet student in Uganda and asked about Cornell’s program. We decided his story was straight, so we gave him some money (80 shillings total) to help them get out of the country. Africans normally have families to help them, but not these student refugees. He may have been a con man, but I don’t think so.

I bought some finger bananas on my way back to the mission. This evening I wrote to Professor Poleman and talked with people here at AIM's guest house. My letter to Professor Poleman included my visit to Kansas State University, call to Ford Foundation in New York, my call to Steve Franzel, my visit with Collinson and my knowledge of Lohutok to this point.

Friday, June 6, 1980

Jet Lag in Nairobi

Nairobi, Kenya

Jet lag is the word for today. I didn’t sleep much or well on the plane. We sat in the smoking section. I arrived with burning eyes, a headache and an exhausted body. We had many details to take care of until dinner, so I didn’t hit the sack until about 2:00. I slept 2 1/2 hours, then got up to call Michael Collinson and Steve Franzel at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (known by the Spanish acronym, CIMMYT). Steve will be out of town until Tuesday evening, but said to come and see him if I was still here then. I have a tentative appointment to see Collinson tomorrow if I can make it. They both seemed very friendly. Steve was especially so because he had attended Cornell and studied under Thomas T. Poleman, my major professor. I feel fairly rested now, but still a bit dizzy.

AIM headquarters here is nice, functional and quite busy. They are especially busy now since so many of us are here.

Thursday, June 5, 1980

Layover in Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands

We arrived in Amsterdam at 8:00 this morning. We wandered around town on our own most of the day. Some of us took a canal boat tour. Then Ginny, Kristen and I walked around the shops and back streets (which was the best thing we did). We saw the outside of Ann Frank’s house and went to the City Historical Museum. I was exhausted by the end of the day. We are now waiting to fly out to Nairobi (another seven hour flight). We will leave five minutes before today is over if we stay on schedule. It is hard to believe that tomorrow I will set foot in Africa!

Wednesday, June 4, 1980

Trans-Atlantic Flight

Over the Atlantic

We packed. The people at Africa Inland Mission (AIM) had a farewell luncheon for us. It was exciting to see how God had worked in the many people going in our group of short-termers. Some things we are charged to do are to make an African friend and to learn from the Africans. At 7:00 pm, our plane left JFK on its seven hour flight. We flew business class and had a movie and music. I did not sleep at all.

Tuesday, June 3, 1980

Preparations at AIM in Pearl River, NY



Pearl River, New York

Prayer meeting, finalizing finances, etc. I called the Ford Foundation and got some names in Africa (Nairobi and Khartoum, not Southern Sudan). I talked to a woman who has worked at Logotok. She said the chief and a few others speak English, but most don’t. AIM’s Voluntary Service Group has a medical work and there is a small church (about 30 attend). She mentioned millet (with long, slender, single head), nut grass, cattle, goats, sheep, sorghum and groundnuts (peanuts in American English). Sorghum and groundnuts are the staple foods. There are more than 50 or 100 kinds of birds at the mission. They want to use a windmill at the mission for watering crops. There may be a problem with inadequate wind. The mission is at 1,500 feet and near mountains of 6,000 or 7,000 feet. Very long handled, almost spear-like hoes are used in cultivation. Soil is not disturbed much (apparently) but shallow slices are made and grass is pulled out and left in piles. (I should find out more about this. I wonder how the grass is used?) A rain queen is thought to have power to bring rain. Last year’s dry season began very early. (I forget when.) The wet season begins in April. (Rats, missed it!) People in general are very superstitious. This missionary said they bring food from Kenya . None is available in Logotok. There are no local markets there (I’ll believe that when I see it!) because all production is for family consumption.

Monday, June 2, 1980

Departure

Pearl River, New York

My parents, my sister and I got up at 1:00 this morning and left for Wichita at 2:00. My flight departed at 7:13 am. I think we all had tears in our eyes when we said goodby. I didn’t feel so sad by the time I got to Memphis. I flew on to Newark where Mr. Kingma met me. He was a very genial and relaxed person. I found it very reassuring just to talk with some of the others who are going on short terms with Africa Inland Mission (AIM). They seem to be people in whom God is really working. Many (6) are with Student Training in Missions (STIM). Camaraderie is developing quickly.

AIM headquarters is very beautiful in its quiet, wooded setting. It is very practical also - part motel, part meeting facilities and part just plain home. It is a nice place to be.