The banging continues. Ten, twenty, thirty times, one after the other. Several car alarms sound at the same time. I can smell the gunpowder in the air. The horses a bit further start to run, but they have nowhere to go, so they keep running in circles. A distant pounding makes the windows vibrate, black smoke rises in the air. A few streets further a car passes with screaming siren. I try to avoid the locations where young boys gather, but nevertheless I am surprised by a nearby explosion.

A description of the fighting during our last days in South Sudan? Not exactly. It’s the last day of the year in a small Dutch village. Last months there has been much discussion in the Netherlands about the disadvantages of firework. Nuisances, environmental damage, health risks are reasons for a plea to abandon the use of fireworks by citizens. Some municipalities have designated areas where the firework is illegal to use. I do get the attraction of firework, it’s exciting to play with fire and danger. I’m not a real opponent of firework. I like the decorative firework, especially the professional one with the beautiful light effects. But a longer stay in a country where fighting still rages makes me look, or better listen, differently to the sound of firework. Last year we came to the Netherlands from an setting in which shooting was going on around our house. My first thought when hearing firework was: oh, the shooting is starting again. It took some time to realise that I was in the Netherlands and there is no shooting going on here. This year it’s the explosions that make me think about what’s happening in South Sudan. The grenades, the shooting with tanks that made so much victims. When firework leads to such a reaction for me, how will it be to people that have really lived through war?


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