Grand reception for Afwerki, Abiy
By Odongo Odoyo
February 4th, 2019 will be a memorable day for Juba residents not only because it was the first Monday of the month but because the city hosted rare guests.
They were Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed.
For many Juba city residents, it would take decades of thoughts to undo the history just because the day had its light and good moments to start a week.
As early as 8.00am, Juba’s traditional traffic flow, especially Airport road, was slowly losing psyche to a well-orchestrated plan that would ensure smooth movements of the guests of the day.
It was all evidently telling as several military police and even unmarked security vehicles began deploying forces at strategic positions.
Several traditional dancers lined the Juba Airport-Ministries Road, clear evidence that the guests would drive through the all-important road.
The female traditional dancers did their jigs, they were dressed in their traditional regalia, ready to showcase their mien and in different styles, fly whisks firmly held in their hands as signs of hospitality and joy flashed across their broad faces, some with lesser teeth, a clear telling of the years they have lived to tell untold tales.
These were the unsung heroes and heroines of South Sudan; they resort to songs and dances to firmly deliver their peace messages to friends and foes.
The tight security surveillance displayed by security personnel drawn from different units was clear evidence of proper planning.
They dressed up in their full military fatigues’, some faces concealed in sun glasses as their index fingers firmly grasped triggers of their weaponry.
The elaborate security arrangements put in place confirmed that nothing would be left to chance as mean looking and hawk-eyed servicemen and women strategically positioned themselves to monitor the situation on the ground.
The display of the best foot forward by security personnel also raised the tempo of the happenings as operations at the Juba International Airport were temporarily halted to allow the arrival of the guests.
Not even any unauthorised vehicles were allowed to and from the airport as President Salva Kiir’s convoy snaked its way into the airport. He was at hand and in time to warmly receive his guests.
Not even Juba’s sweltering traditional hot baking sun and heat dampened the mood and spirit of both security and civilians in according the guests a befitting reception.
Up the skies, three military helicopters captured the moment of the day, they closed secured Juba’s airspace through closely monitored military aerial surveillance.
Two dark green military helicopters let the tempo as the third one, a grey one, trailed them, a few seconds later as they secured the airport from above.
At exactly 11.20am, President Kiir’s convoy drove out of the airport and back to State house through the Ministries Road. It was all telling that his guests had arrived and all was well. The convoy composed of sleep SUVs, sedans and several outsiders.
In another few minutes, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s convoy snaked its way to J1 followed shortly by the Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki’s convoy.
Notable presences in the convoys were a number of vehicles with diplomatic number plates, a clear evidence that Eretria and Ethiopian envoys were at hand to host their leaders.
So pregnant was the mood that it did not spare staffs of several corporates and organizations the anxiety to just admire their beautiful convoys. Juba Monitor’s staff joined the chorus of ululations to capture and witness the memorable and colourful reception.
Suddenly Juba’s traffic flow came to an ultimate grid, compelling some passengers to trek to work or hike rides on motorbikes popularly known as “boda boda”.
It was if the gods that saw public transport bear the brunt of the traffic halt also conspired against some premises to paralyse their businesses.
Where I stood to capture the day’s moments, some Eritrean nationals conversed in low tones as they silently sang their national anthem, a clear display of their joy and happiness to showcase patriotism.
Both Afwerki and Abiy were on a one-day visit to meet President Kiir. They started leaving after 3,30pm. It was a day to be remembered in the life of the host citizens and their compatriots in the region. A sign of peaceful co-existence.