A Christmas Carol

Local artist painting for peace in SSThis year has not been a merry one. 5 years after independence the newest nation on earth is still ravaged by civil war. Come Christmas, people are looking for shimmers of hope. There is one such shimmer I want to share…

Leaving behind Yei and the coffee project, was heart wrenching. I truly believed in what we were doing and embraced the 10 year plan behind it.

The last evenings I spent in Yei are often interrupted by the sound of gunshots. Unrest is in the air and you can feel it. At the same time excitement is building as the coffee harvest is around the corner and we are all excited. We are getting in stories of ‘incidents’ from the areas we work in. Farmers are starting to leave their homes as rebels and soldiers clash.

That evening, on Independence Day the 9th of July, I pack my bags not knowing when to return. I set off 5.30 in the morning driving passed drunken people in the village still celebrating their, once so hopeful, independence. I am quiet during the drive. Just as I cross the border I receive a message from Juba that heavy fighting has broken out. I decide to stop all ongoing project operations and make necessary phone calls. It feels like the bridges behind me are being burned as I drive out; a new chapter torn out of a book I so enjoyed reading. The ensuing days are punctured by security updates, phone calls discussing the situation and going over different close down scenarios.

As time on the clock slowly ticks by the coming months, the situation on the ground moves in the opposite direction. The rebels take Yei under siege and cut off food supply. The government soldiers daily harass the local population caught in the middle of the conflict. Every killing or ‘incident’ reduces the hope people have left.

It is encouraging to see how my colleagues unite and remain positive. Our idea to keep in contact with farmers is to start a coffee radio show. We hit the road towards the border and interview farmers along the way. The radio show airs in farming areas and turns out a real success. Farmers hiding in the bush are listening to it from their small radios they

Suluja coffee on sale

Suluja coffee on sale

carried along as essentials. One farmer tells us he footed for hours through the bush to buy some new batteries in Uganda to be able to tune in to this show that gives him hope.

As I visit the Netherlands at the end of October, the South Sudanese coffee is sold there for the first time in Nespresso shops. As they are selling like hot cakes I tour the country to get my hands on the last ones. It is a moment of pride stepping into an upmarket Nespresso shop and seeing the product by Yei farmers on display.

Suluja coffee tasting with J boy

Suluja coffee tasting with rapper J boy

I get in touch with a famous rap band I once met before. As we get together, the inspiration starts flowing as they hear about the amazing story of coffee and how it is sold as authentic South Sudanese in Europe and the US. No war story hitting the news, but extraordinarily delicious coffee hitting the shelves. That’s a future they can picture. I let them taste their own coffee I brought back from the Netherlands and as the caffeine hits the brain, a tune emerges.

Brewing up a tune

Brewing up a tune

The coffee song (called Jabana meaning “strong coffee”) by rap band J family turns out to be a smash hit. Because of the story of hope the song tells, it turns into a Christmas hit and the week before Christmas the band is being interviewed by every radio station to learn more about the story of coffee. On Christmas day the band performs in a big club in Juba. The place is packed to capacity and another 2,000 stand outside the whole night. As

J Family performing on Christmas Day in Juba

J Family performing on Christmas Day in Juba

Jabana plays on that Christmas day the whole crowd sings along. They demand the song to be played again and J family ends up performing the song three times. In December Jabana is the most requested song on Juba City FM. The song is being played by radio stations throughout the country and hopefully the story of coffee brings a shimmer of hope into peoples’ homes in a time much needed.

The mixture of languages the song is made out of, is symbolic of part of the solution for a country torn apart by tribalism. The embrace by people of the song reveals the true longing of people in South Sudan for lasting peace. I pray one Christmas they may celebrate in peace the coming of the Prince of Peace to this world.

I’d like to dedicate the song to the farmers in South Sudan working tirelessly tilling their soil to reap a better tomorrow for their families.

Enjoy here the coffee song J (lyrics below):

INTRO:

Ooooohh,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,. Oooohh Suluja,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,..

COFFEE NUMBER ONE…..SOUTH SUDAN

JAY FAMILY WE TAKE YOU TO THE FARM…. SULUJA NUMBER ONE COFFEE …

CORNERSTONEMUSIC AGAIN ….JEHU GOVERNMENT NOW WE TAKE THIS ONE…..

 

CHORUS

LET US PLANT OUR COFFEE OHH, OUR COFFEE …….

TAKE CARE OF OUR COFFEE EEH, ….OUR COFFEE ……

I NEED SOME COFFEE, I FEEL LIKE TAKING COFFEE … YIYIYI

I NEED COFFEE…… FEELING THIRST FOR COFFEE EEH

 

VERSE ONE (1)

MOTHER PLANT COFFEE…….. FATHER PLANT COFFEE AAH

LET US PLANT COFFEE FOR US TO REAP BIGGER BENEFIT AAAAH

THIS COFFEE WILL PAY FOR OUR CHILDREN’S SCHOOL FEES…. THIS COFFEE EDIFICE OUR FAMILIES,

IT’S THE COFFEE THAT GIVES US HAPPINESS………………….

IT’S THE COFFEE THAT DEVELOPS THE NATION …………

MUM COFFEE IS WEALTH,

COFFEE IS MONEY…….

DAD DISCARD LAZINESS……. CULTIVATE……

DISCARD LAZINESS………… CULTIVATE COFFEE

 

CHORUS

LET US PLANT OUR COFFEE OHH, OUR COFFEE …….

TAKE CARE OF OUR COFFEE EEH ….OUR COFFEE ……

I NEED SOME COFFEE, I FEEL LIKE TAKING COFFEE … YIYIYI

I NEED COFFEE…… FEELING THIRST FOR COFFEE EEH

 

VERSE TWO (2)

Bumbadang Magic…

…I NEED COFFEE NEXT TO ME,

….I AM THIRSTING FOR COFFEE IN MY HEART….

….BRETHREN SOUTHERNERS, IT’S VITAL…

WE SHOULD START TAKING CARE OF OUR COFFEE WHOLE HEARTEDLY

EVERYONE TRY WHOLE HEARTEDLY YEEEE

FOR OUR OWN GOOD……

IT THE COFFEE THAT WILL HELP US ……

MUM GIVE ME HEAVY COFFEE…. HEAD IS HEAVY… A LOT OF PROBLEM….

IT’S THE COFFEE TO HELP US AAH BUMBADANG MAGIC WE ARE HAPPY

 

CHORUS

LET US PLANT OUR COFFEE OHH, OUR COFFEE …….

TAKE CARE OF OUR COFFEE EEH ….OUR COFFEE ……

I NEED SOME COFFEE, I FEEL LIKE TAKING COFFEE … YIYIYI

I NEED COFFEE…… FEELING THIRST FOR COFFEE EEH

 

VERSE THREE (3)

THANKS NESPRESSO FOR TAKING FROM US…..

THANKS NESPRESSO FOR INTRODUCING OUR COFFEE OVERSEAS…..

COFFEE BRINGS DOLLAR……

THE COFFEE BRINGS HAPPINESS………

COFFEE MAKES US KNOWN……

NOW WE GOT DOLLAR…..

DANCE, BE HAPPY ALL OF YOU………DANCE NESPRESSO………

DANCE; BE HAPPY ALL OF YOU YELL FOR SULUJA……

JAY FAMILY WE TAKE TO THE FARM…. SULUJA NUMBER ONE COFFEE….

CORNERSTONE MUSIC AGAIN …. JEHU GOVERNMENT NOW WE TAKE THIS ONE

 

CHORUS

LET US PLANT OUR COFFEE OHH, OUR COFFEE …….

TAKE CARE OF OUR COFFEE EEH ….OUR COFFEE ……

I NEED SOME COFFEE, I FEEL LIKE TAKING COFFEE … YIYIYI

I NEED COFFEE…… FEELING THIRST FOR COFFEE EEH

OUT TRO…..

 

COFFEE EEH…. COFFEE EEH…. COFFEE EEH…. SWEET

SWEET

About Janno

A young development worker in Africa
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6 Responses to A Christmas Carol

  1. faber15@hetnet.nl says:

    Hé Janno, Dank je wel dat je ons nog es mee neemt “into africa” Ook de tekst van het liedje is zoveel duidelijker nu, het feit dat het zo’n hit werd is zo bemoedigend. Lieve neef wat heb je je licht laten schijnen waar het nu zo donker is, dat stemt mij dankbaar enne voor dit nieuwe jaar citeer ik een deel van een oud gezang (oude liedboek 427) Vooral het 1e couplet wat eindigt met: “Die wolken lucht en winden wijst spoor en loop en baan, zal ook wel wegen vinden waarlangs uw/jou voet kan gaan. Lieve groet, van je tante Tannie

  2. Anonymous says:

    Beste Janno,

    Allereerst Gods zegen voor dit nieuwe jaar!!
    God heeft de wereld in Zijn hand!!
    Wat een geweldige bemoediging van hoop en verwachting, dit prachtige lied!!
    Ik heb ervan genoten!
    Het ga je goed. Groet, Tineke Splinter

  3. Pieter Koen says:

    Hallo Janno,
    Heel leuk dit bericht te lezen, dat ik via je ouders krijg. Ik hoor af en toe over je via Koos, mijn zoon. Prachtig dat je in S.S. kunt werken – laat ik het beter zeggen: ik hoop dat je je werk daar kunt continueren en ook dit jaar een groet zegen kunt zijn voor de mensen. Veel sterkte en succes in je onderneming. Hartelijke groet, Pieter Koen op 14 januari 2017.

  4. Henk Pot says:

    Hoi Janno,
    Mooi stuk heb je geschreven. De rapper song klinkt erg goed en inspirerend voor de boeren. Knap dat ze dat kunnen maken en zoveel fans naar zich toe kunnen trekken. De veerkracht is groot, maar veel keus is er ook niet. Ook de boerenorganisatie SSAPU is na het 5-daagse gevecht in juli gelijk weer aan de slag gegaan waar het wel veilig is. Het programma in Yei is opgeschort zoals ook de koffie coöperaties waarschijnlijk niet de boer op kunnen.
    Ben je nog Juba of houdt het helemaal op?
    Vriendelijke groet, Henk Pot

    • Janno says:

      Bedankt voor je berichtje. Ik verblijf voorlopig in Kampala totdat de situatie verbeterd. Ja zo snel als het achteruit kan gaan, kunnen dingen hopelijk ook weer de andere kant op verbeteren. Groet, Janno

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  5. Julie says:

    Thank you Janno for sharing this moment this is incredible! Best wishes to you, Jennifer and South Sudan.

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