Litter. Overgrown verges. Dust. Couples sitting in the shade. Dripping humidity. Kids on hips. In shade of umbrellas. Decrepit vehicles. Blazing sun in a clear sky. Shop fronts with a focus on heavy security – a chicken burger joint looks like a bunker. Crowds of idle men standing around or sleeping. The Art Gallery and Museum is a tired, painted chipboard sort of place but if you can look past the presentation it is surprisingly educational and informative. It does focus on their pre-history at the expense of everything else but it does capture something of a national pride and focus. Nonetheless as Chris points out, it would be no museum at home that limits its fisheries display to a fisheries poster showing types of fish.
A young man advises us not to go down to the front gate of the museum grounds as it is not safe. He will get us a cab he tells us then shoots through and we wonder if and when we will get out of here. Here we are right next to the Parliament House and it is not safe? And even the locals say so. The taxi (it eventually appeared but we were in a hurry to go nowhere at all) driver centrally locks our doors once we are aboard. He is typical.
I gaze at the street going past. Two businessmen sit in the shade of a lonely tree but still in the dust of the grounds of the National Archives with what look like plans spread out between them. There is no evidence of any rubbish service. Is there anything at all to commend this place? I am sure there is but in these few days here I have yet to uncover it. The traffic is civil. That is a start. The Parliament House corner has a large billboard on it quoting versus from the Bible about leading a nation so clearly there is a social conscience and voice around town somewhere.
But the overwhelming shanty feel to the town belies the fact that this is the capital of what should be a very prosperous country. The wealth is not reflected in the benefits delivered to the people. You don’t have to be Einstein to see that as you make your way through the suburbs – back to a hotel with a high security wall and razor wire. Actually, that pretty much says it all doesn’t it. I have a better image of this place in my mind – it’s friendly locals travelling in communion with us up the track. Aha, it’s guys like him who are and will be the redemption of this country.
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