Monthly Archives: October 2012

Franklin Graham in Juba, and the separation of church and state

Franklin Graham and his wagon of evangelical Christianity came to Juba town this weekend. It was hard not to know, as his face – looking prophetically forward – covered huge billboards and posters around town, and young eager men were handing out fliers everywhere. So obviously I went, because there’s very little entertainment in Juba and you have to take what you can. It was insensitively and provocatively (and likely intentionally) held on Eid al-Adha, a public holiday.

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Archives in South Sudan: moving time

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Four freedoms: forever?

I posted the link to the full text of the September 2012 agreements between Sudan and South Sudan. These are being called both predictable and game-changing; I’m not going to get in to that, but I’m personally settled in for another few years of Doha-style endless talks and agreements.

What I’m interested in, obviously, is the text of the framework agreement on the status of nationals, which was signed just after my birthday in what was obviously a belated present. This enshrined the standard “four freedoms”, as per the four freedoms agreement between Sudan and Egypt: the freedom of movement, property ownership, residence and economic activity between the two countries (4.1). The agreement’s practicalities will be hashed out further in a yet undrafted “elaboration” of the terms.

What I find curious is clause 4.2 – “A person who has already exercised any of the freedoms conferred by this Agreement shall not be deprived of that freedom by reason of the amendment or termination of this Agreement.”

Does this mean that people who have previously resided or traveled to Sudan, or who own property in Khartoum, will have these rights respected indefinitely – or just from the signing of this agreement onwards? Who managed to get this clause in, and how is this going to work? I’m intrigued, and will be looking forward to the next round on this, and do some asking around in Juba.

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Citizenship in action

I “launched” my visa application in the South Sudan Embassy today, here in Nairobi.  While waiting with my bundle of documents – their demands for photocopies of things have increased in the last few months – I saw a fabulous case of paper versus personal citizenship in action.

A tall, let’s say “ethnically identifiable” middle-aged man walked into the office, in evident agitation.  He explained, loudly and frustratedly, that he had just been deported from Juba airport for having no visa.  The Kenyan lady processing the visas looked at his passport and explained that, as an Australian citizen, he was not eligible for an emergency South Sudanese travel permit, and had to apply for a visa as a foreign national.

The gentleman was extremely angry at this, particularly at hearing how much it would cost and how long he would have to wait.  He protested strongly that he was South Sudanese, that he was born there and should automatically be a dual citizen.  I thought of the queues of men and women holding American, Canadian and Australian passports at the border controls at Nimule and in the Nationality and Citizenship offices in Juba town, many of whom were similarly identifiable as South Sudanese from scarification and physiognomy.  They also didn’t have the right paper for their face.

Two white men in the waiting room condoled with him, and told him that this visa requirement was a burden of being a “Western” citizen.  I thought it is also a problem of being a citizen by belonging, but not by paper.

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Back to Juba

After a lengthy summer hiatus, while I gave some conference papers and tidied up my affairs in England, I’m back to posting, and I’m back to Juba.

I’m starting a six month period of Arabic study, which I’m going to spend in Juba, learning modern standard Arabic in classes and trying to pick up Khartoum Arabic from my friends from Khartoum. At the same time, I’m going to be back working at the National Archives of South Sudan. I’m working with the RVI on a six-month emergency intervention – the umpteenth the archive has seen over the years – and will be trying to manage the final eviction of the archives from the USAID tent. I’m really hoping to finally get to go through the 1980s and 1990s documents that we were just, just piling up when I left earlier this summer.

So! I’m in Nairobi, getting things together for a move back to Juba. The blog will be a bit more active from now on.

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