The Sudanese Studies Programme at Durham University, led by the Departments of Law and History, calls for applications, particularly from Sudan and South Sudan nationals, for three one-term visiting scholarships based at Grey College, Durham, for September-December 2014. For the application information, please see here:
This is a partial response to Richard Dowden’s essay in African Arguments, 22.1.2014, which I will address further below.
I am bored to tears with the “birth” metaphor for South Sudan. I can’t be the only one. South Sudan became independent in 2011, prompting a wave of newspaper articles and comment about ‘the birth’. It was ‘the birth of’ ‘a new republic,’ ‘a new nation‘, and ‘a new country‘ – pick your preferred political unit.
Two years of independence celebrations later, and yes, it was becoming extremely wearing. As well as the standard “Christian black South and Arab Islamic North” summary of Sudan-South Sudan politics of old, it seemed that it was now necessary to preface everything about South Sudan with a birth or baby analogy. South Sudan had had a ‘difficult birth,’ and reviews of ‘birthday celebrations’ – like I catalogued, maybe slightly sarcastically, here and here – were opportunities for people to choose their side, pro- or con-independence.
My radio silence could be partly explained by a forthright intercession by a member of the South Sudan Embassy at a SOAS discussion yesterday.
“Self appointed experts on South Sudan [are a big problem at the moment]… [we need discussion to be] made more academic. … [Their comments are how] we are judged”
A few months ago, the Ministry of Culture staff, with Dan and me from the RVI, moved the final load of loose paper from the USAID tent where they’d been housed since 2006, their first post-war home. These were the last of the damaged pages from burst files, which are now waiting for someone who enjoys serious puzzles.
Three weeks ago, when passing, I saw that we were right to get out of the tent. Temporary in the Juba climate really does mean temporary.
I’ve had a bit too much of politics at close hand this week, so here’s an update on my ongoing beautification in Juba. Now I’m back in the capital, there’s no excuse not to go to my favourite nail artist, Joseph, in Souk Libya (next to the pharmacy in the centre). Joseph has upgraded his stool-and-basket to a full on nail bar!
For a while, I’ve kept a running note on my phone of my favourite bus slogans, which are cut-out decals on the back of “taxis”, the private mini-van bus services in Juba. These are my favourites so far this year – more to come. Obviously the all-time favourite is the bus labelled “Where does Abyei belong?”, which has been in service since at least 2011.
- No fear – attack like a lion
- Serving my customer is my pleasure
- Big man
- Rich also cry
- Get little keep going
- No appeal
- Time keeper
- Gentel man
- Injury time
- No pain no gain (also see: “no gain no pain”, and “no gain without pain”).
The SPLM leadership is paralysed by internal schisms that compound the absence of a shared vision. The leaders operate individually and without coordination, leading to contradictory public stances. 
Reading Dr Nyaba’s latest work – after his The Poltiics of Liberation in South Sudan: An Insider’s View (1997) – is like being slapped quite softly with a long, angry editorial from a man who (as per his reputation) has always been an internal critic. It is refreshing, surprising – even the Sudd Institute’s briefing papers don’t have this element of anger and disappointment – and timely, despite Dr Nyaba pointing out at the book launch that the text has dated – it was supposed to be released in 2011, but the print run was accidentally sent to Khartoum and impounded.
I am going to do a quick sketch of Dr Nyaba’s main points regarding the SPLM/A in the interim CPA period, which is the meat of the short book, and his criticisms of the future of Southern government and leadership.