Monthly Archives: January 2013

Juba: a brief budget

I get a lot of questions about living costs and money in Juba.  Everyone knows that Juba is an expensive town, ranked 10th in 2012 for expat rent prices.  But specifics are hard to come by, and googlegroups like jubalicious are full of extremely overpriced letting agents focusing on 5- or 10-room properties, or all-inclusive $5000+ one room flats.  I thought I’d do a quick summary post of the basics of finding, costing and paying for a room in Juba for expats.

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Filed under Domestic bliss, South Sudan, Travel

Cash cows: the financial prospects of cattle in South Sudan

(I have to admit I am writing this partly for the title, and the post will be riddled with cow idioms.  I’m not apologising.  I’m also inviting Zoe Cormack, who’s far more of an expert than me on cattle in South Sudan, to comment?)

The news that there are more cows per person in South Sudan than anywhere else in the world has created a bit of a fuss today, not just because a lot of people are looking desperately for where the other 88% of lost government revenue could come from post-oil shutdown.  These figures – despite being based on the heavily disputed 2010 census, which many think massively underestimated the South Sudan population – have re-ignited a very long-standing financial interest in cows.

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Filed under Politics, South Sudan, Uncategorized

Borders: a link set

I’ve been slightly surprised by how many enquiries I get about the borders of South Sudan and Sudan; I’m not a borders expert, and I definitely have no answers.  However, since my rant a few weeks ago about the interminable question of maps, I’m posting again to provide two key links to material on the Sudanese borderlands.

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Filed under Politics, South Sudan, Sudan

Eat, pray, blog: finding yourself in Africa

I’ve been reading Chris Mackowski’s blog about his first trip to Uganda, and realising that in many ways this is now a travel blog as much as a stream of consciousness journal about doing a PhD.  Chris has had an interesting reaction to his post on his feelings about travelling to Uganda, where he discusses his hopes for personal development and eye-opening experiences.

One commenter said:

Africa is your chance as a PHd student to wake up? Sad.

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Filed under Africa, Travel

Training geeks: the basics of history in the South Sudan National Archives project

I harbor a terrible secret here at the South Sudan archives project (where I am either “coordinator” or “researcher” depending on what I’m up to at the time).  I don’t know my history well enough.  I’ve never really been able to grasp the endless splits, mergers, breakaway rebel groups and alliances of 1990s South Sudan.  I also have shamefully skipped over the 1970s: in my haste to attempt to understand the civil wars I skipped the dubious peace.  I am a bad historian.

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Filed under Academia, Archives, History

Maps of the Sudan border: the endless conversation

Maybe it’s working with Douglas Johnson, or for the Rift Valley Institute, or being a PhD student at Durham with the Sudan Archives, but I am fed up with the endless preoccupation with maps of the Sudan-South Sudan border.

The desperate search for the colonial maps of the 1956 boundary, which was then an internal administrative border, has flared up again today, as Vice President Riek Machar asked the British officials he met over Christmas in England to look for ‘missing’ maps of key border hotspots, apparently secreted away by the British in a fit of pique.


Apparently the message hasn’t been received.  There are no maps of the 1956 border from 1956.  The administrative borders were laid out on maps by the survey department from the 1930s through to the early 1950s; there’s no one map that shows, in sufficient detail, where the border exactly is in 1956.  A full collection of maps – I’m pretty certain there aren’t any missing ones?  I’ve seen the existing ones from the Nuba Mountains and Bahr al Ghazal in the Sudan Archive already – can be found in the Royal Geographical Society in London and the Sudan Archive in Durham.  These were consulted in early rounds of border demarcation exercises.

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Filed under Archives, Current affairs, Politics

Some things that I have learnt in Juba this year


  • Some termites live underground
  • What a cuticle is
  • The basics of import-export business with Uganda
  • Arabic – shweyan
  • A small amount of ministry politics
  • Patience
  • The second hand ballgown markets
  • How to cook on charcoal.

Happy 2013!

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Filed under Domestic bliss, South Sudan