Monthly Archives: December 2012

Skin bleaching, women, morality and national character in Juba

Male skin bleaching sachets, "extra strength for tough male skin"

Male skin bleaching sachets, “extra strength for tough male skin”

Anyone who has looked closely at non-European skin products knows that skin bleaching is a serious industry.  The international issues of race, racism and beauty standards must be addressed in any discussion of skin lightening and aspirations to white skin (and I would encourage you to read some excellent comment pieces on this and look at the academic work here).  It is hard to buy a soap, face cream or anti-acne product here in Juba that does not contain skin lightening agents.

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Filed under South Sudan, Uncategorized, Women

Christmas beauty in Juba town


Do you realise how hard it is to get a pedicure on Christmas Eve in Juba?  Even with my regular nail artists, Joseph and Jimmy, in Souk Libya, and several back-up salons, it took me three hours of waiting to get my vital festive nail varnish.

This isn’t frivolous (much).  The beauty industry in Juba has stepped up a notch this last week as people prepare themselves for the festive season.

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Filed under South Sudan, Women

The quiet battle: gender and laughter at the South Sudan Film Festival

(TW: discussion of domestic violence to follow after the cut.)

I always get nervous when presenters at Nyakouron theatre ask for audience participation.  You’re never quite sure how many beers the audience has had; I’ve seen audience members climb onto the stage to shove money down women’s tops, set fire to aerosols, and more prosaically attack performers.  So when the representative of Rhino Star got up on stage last night and asked the audience who the ” biggest enemy” was for South Sudan at the moment, I was a little bit nervous.  But of course it was tribalism – followed closely by poverty, with corruption coming a close third.

What wasn’t mentioned by any of the six enthusiastic volunteers, or any of the shouts from the audience, was the topic that actually formed a theme throughout the evening’s films and theatre: gender relations.

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Filed under Current affairs, South Sudan, Women

Sollywood: the first South Sudan Film Festival

The South Sudan Film Festival is on this weekend!

Nyakouron theatre was packed out last night for the first night’s short films, interspersed with sketches from theatre groups.  The crowd were not the calm, culturally-focused critics I had completely naively expected them to be; if there was popcorn, it would have been thrown.  Howls of laughter were interspersed with heckling in a variety of languages, wolf howls – I kid not – whenever a woman came on screen or on stage, and yells of specific advice to actors and characters on screen.  (“TELEPHONE FI? GET HER NUMBER” was my favourite, directed at my friend Lazarus’ character who was making friends with the lead female character.)

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Filed under South Sudan

Nail art in Juba town

nail art Juba

The nail art industry in Juba is booming.  Run entirely by men – I haven’t yet seen a woman doing manicure/pedicure work – working out of salons or wandering the streets with a small box of lotions and polishes, door-to-door, you can get a relatively good mani-pedi for ten bob a pair here.  I am addicted.

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Filed under Domestic bliss, Procrastination, South Sudan, Women

“Undesirable harlots”: women in the South Sudan national archives

Quote from a file on Murle-Dinka relations, South Sudan National Archives

A file on Murle-Dinka relations, South Sudan National Archives

There’s lots of detail in the South Sudan National Archives: I’ve mentioned this before.  What I didn’t mention is how many women there are.  Obviously any archive, when read properly, contains women’s history; despite the erasure and irrelevance of women to the vastly male writers of historical documents (until, hopefully, recently), it’s hard to completely get rid of an entire pesky gender.  What I am enjoying though in the South Sudan National Archives, as they take shape, is looking at how a determined researcher – with a significant amount of time on their hands – could write a very interesting, if a bit scattergun, history of women in South Sudan from these records.

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Filed under Academia, Archives, Women

Fragile services: the Juba water truck strike

The Eritrean community went on a protest yesterday, about the two violent deaths of Eritrean men in Juba in the last few weeks.  Xenophobia in South Sudan, particularly against nationals of neighbouring countries (or people who were long-term refugees in East Africa, or just look East African), is well-documented and depressing.  The consequences of the protest, though, were widespread because of another key aspect of the Juba economy.  The Eritrean community dominate the water trucking industry here, and they stopped work.

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Filed under Current affairs, South Sudan