To the Juba Wharf, Juba in the Making

Pridie, E.D., ‘Faits récents concernant la fièvre jaune dans le Soudan Anglo-Égyptien, en particulier la lutte contre les moustiques,’ Bulletin de l’Office International d’Hygiène Publique, 28 (1936), 1292–1308.

The anti-amaril aerodrome at Juba, Sudan (1936)

Aircraft can inadvertently help to spread disease. This is seen in "airport malaria" and the occassional outbreak of other tropical diseases in the vicinity of airports located in places where they are non-endemic. The image above, from Pridie (1936), shows the precautions taken in the mid-1930s in response to concerns that Yellow Feaver would be spread by the stopover at Juba by Imperial Airways on the route between London and Cape Town.

By 1934, about one thousand people had settled at Burusoki, a settlement laying to the southeast of the Juba aerodrome. In that year, as a precaution against Yellow Fever, the landing ground was made into an anti-amaryl aerodrome: surrounded by a nearly 3 km residential cordon (for those designated as "natives") and equipped with a medical officer and mosquito-proof quarters for medical inspections, isolation, and passengers. Burusoki's residents were abruptly transferred to Burokorongo (today’s Malakia) and Burusoki was demolished.[1] The new Native Lodging Area was laid out on a ridge rising from the bank of Khor-bou—which separated it from the hospital to the north and provided a stripe of scrubland where children could play—and then dipping into Khor Lobuyet to the south. It was composed of the Malakia Primary School and seven residential blocks, each of which were divided into ten plots demarcated by castor oil trees.

The forced relocation of Burusoki's residents and the establishment of a residential cordon for the town's "native population" helped to entrench Juba's residential segregation. By the late 1930s, like other colonial towns and cities,[2] Juba's center comprised a sanitary district (the part of the town with piped water, drains, and the provision for waste removal), where Europeans resided, surrounded by a a kind of cordon sanitaire created by the prohibition against "native" residents within about 3 kilometers of the aerodrome. It was this cordon where Juba's oldest resident now recall having played when they were children.

For an excellent wider discussion about how disease control became a crucial part of the expansion of colonial power in Southern Sudan during the early twentieth century, and why it was so often experienced as "punitive and invasive ...rather than as a source of healing" (212), see Cherry Leonardi's Knowing Authority: Colonial governance and local community in Equatoria Province, Sudan, 1900-56 (PhD dissertation, Durham University, 2005), particularly, Chapter 5, "Chapter Five: Knowing the Body: Medicine, Force and Punishment" (pp.207-238).


1  Yellow Fever was detected in South Sudan in 1933. Officials considered moving the aerodrome, but no other suitable place could be found. To prevent the spread of Yellow Fever, a residential cordon of 3km was established around the landing area. O. F. H. Atkey, ‘Sur les mesures qui seront prises au Soudan Anglo-Égyptien pour réaliser dans les aerodromes de Juba et de Malakal les conditions requises pour les aerodromes anti-amarils,’ Bulletin de l’Office International d’Hygiene Publique 27 (1935), 2377-9. Governor-General’s Reports on the finances, administration and condition of the Sudan in 1934, p. 79, 126.

2  See, for instance, W. B. Johnson, 'Recent Advances In The Knowledge Of Yellow Fever,' The British Medical Journal 2, no. 3736 (1932), pp. 285-288.