Sudan Plans Classy Cities That Look Like Giraffe and Rhino From Above

If you’re going to rebuild your capital after a devastating civil war, why not do it with style? South Sudan, which hopes to break away from Sudan with a vote in January, is drawing up plans to build its two cities in the shape of a giraffe and a rhino.

Rhino City

Dream of a Rhino City

The capital Juba, which now has slums and exactly three paved roads, would move 10 miles away and be remade as a Dubai-like “Rhino City,” with police HQ in the eye and an amusement park in the ear. Wua would become a giraffe that cleverly places a sewage treatment plant near its tail. Of course building a city in an animal shape doesn’t add any cost per se, but it can be expensive to, say, build a long boulevard to nowhere to simulate a giraffe’s neck.

The plan would cost $10 billion and South Sudan only has annual revenues of about $2 billion from oil, so they claim private investors from Japan are jumping in. That seems preposterous, even for the Japanese. I think we all know the Rhino City is unlikely to be built. (Even if it were, who would see it? As it turns out Feeder Airlines “The Pride of South Sudan,” does fly to Juba five days a week.

Shaping a city like an animal is an ancient dream. Cusco, the capital of the Inca empire, was built to look like a puma. Dubai has a falcon-shaped development. (What don’t they have?) Venice is supposed to look like a fish.

But I still think the fanciful effort should be applauded. When was the last time you heard a positive story out of Sudan? Have you ever heard anything not depressing out of the country that gave us Darfur and Africa’s longest war. (Well, there was another animal-related story: after the 2005 peace deal with the north, elephants, gazelles and other animals finally moved back home en masse in one of theĀ largest animal migrations ever.) I don’t think I’ll ever fly to Juba to get an aerial view of Rhino city, but I’d love to go to South Sudan and see rhinos, giraffes some time.

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