Geophysicist Landon Woods is carrying a 40 kg backpack with 250 m of cable, but I don’t think that is what he is smiling about. The children following Landon are mostly refugees, with a few Turkana. The Kakuma Refugee Camp is on the west side of Laga (dry river bed in Turkana) Tarach, with the host community Turkana living on the east bank as well as all other surrounding areas. After school, the Laga is full of hundreds of kids running, teaching themselves gymnastics moves, playing soccer, along with hauling water back to their homes…unless of course there is something much more fun to do, like watch Landon spool 1,000 m of cable and then carry it across the soft but burning sand in the oppressive afternoon heat. We use long arrays of cable for both our ERT (electrical resistivity tomography) and seismic refraction surveys.
Though this is my third visit to Kakuma, last Sunday was my first opportunity to view the Nuer dancing of South Sudan. On my previous visits the dancing was cancelled because of inter-tribal violence or rain. As the only non-Nuer were the Calgary geophysicists and film crew, the event certainly was NOT put on for tourists. Besides maintaining cultural traditions while in a foreign land, the dances obviously also serve the function of providing an opportunity for young men and women to meet in a social environment. As such, many of the refugees appear in the finest clothes they can find. --Paul Bauman