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  • Pernille Bærendtsen

Saturday night in Morobo


One Saturday evening Al-Amin caught a tiny bird in his room. It cried for its life as he held it in his big fist. It almost vanished between his fingers. My most immediate impression was that he was going to set it free. I couldn't hide my surprise when he returned with it shortly after. Unfeathered. Dead.

I couldn't help thinking how naive my most immediate thoughts were. Not just in this case, but in general. Meat is meat, and free flying meat is cheap.

However, the most surprising part, I guess, was that he went into the kitchen to find a pan. The only other time I saw him in there was when I asked him to kill the rat which was munching groundnuts in a corner of the tiny food store. The thick dusty smell of fermenting cassava flour hang in the room.


'May I use some of your oil' he asked me. I said yes, feeling it provided me with a position to observe how he put his meal together.

He fried the bird on the pan. Then he ate it with kalo and two pilipili. Just like that. Off the pan, saving the dishes.

I was making jokes about 'fast food the South Sudanese way', which only I found funny. To all others this was a perfectly normal, peaceful night in Morobo.

I was looking to Rosemary on the couch. She was counselling a friend over the phone while she ate the kalo. She worked the lumps of kalo in her right hand, while she held her phone with her left hand to the left ear.

'I eat while I listen, then I talk', she explained to me when I quizzed on her method, imagining the person in the other end eating kalo in a similar way, filling out the empty space on the wire eating while Rosemary talked back.

Then the thunder came with the rain. I somehow got a laughing fit. Nothing much happened on Saturday nights in Morobo, but then again still, all sorts of things happened.


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