An excerpt from ‘Warzone Holiday’ by Point Man Director Zac Simpson.
“The next morning we boarded the wagon and embarked toward the heart of darkness. Soon we were tearing across rutted dirt roads at back shattering speeds. Our driver, Henry, proved to be the African equivalent of the Stig. He careened through every dirt corner, roared through every straight, and only stopped when he was flagged down at military checkpoints. Never mind that we hadn’t even entered rebel territory yet.
Later in the afternoon we stopped at a barracks to hire some protection and soon shared the van with several armed soldiers, one of whom clung to the roof of the Land Cruiser. With our new pals in tow, we ate up the miles toward the border. Finally we reached the edge of the void: the last UPDF checkpoint before no man’s land. For the next 15 miles we would be vulnerable, save for the deterrent posed by our armed escort. I exited the van to stretch my legs before we continued on. We were told not to venture too far: the surrounding bush was peppered with land mines. That explained the two legged cow stumping its way across a paddock. I wondered why it hadn’t been put down and then I realised that it was too valuable. Such is life in Africa.
We cleared the checkpoint and entered rebel territory in deathly silence, each man consumed by his own fears and thoughts. Rudimentary brick homes, peppered with bullet holes, flashed past and scorch marks on the ground marked the graves of ambushed and unlucky western do-gooders. One member of the team sweat in a profuse way that I have never seen before or since: fluid poured out of his forehead and cheeks in a never ending flurry of perspiration. It may have had something to do with the LRA’s conduct of prisoners. After prolonged torture, the rebels like to cut off ears, arms, eyes, noses, limbs and even genitalia – and then leave you to die. It didn’t help matters when Childers revealed that the LRA were definitely out there watching us.
Finally we reached the New Sudan border. The Children’s Village, more Rambo than Oliver Twist, was a welcome sight after the miles of bush. Recessed concrete bunkers, foxholes, building with firings slits and a guardhouse stocked with ageing AK47s and a Russian RPG made me feel as though we had arrived at the eye of the storm: as long as we could stay in it, we would survive.”
Zac Simpson has returned to Southern Sudan three times since writing this article.