Category Archives: Archives

The end of the tent: South Sudan National Archives update

20131108_161229_filterQuick update on the South Sudan National Archives, from the African Studies Association conference in Baltimore.

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.

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Culture and diversity: all-singing, all-dancing

I’ve had a lot of culture over the last few days in Juba.  Now that I’m not officially an employee of the Rift Valley Institute in South Sudan – I’m now full-time on the PhD, finally – I’m putting in a lot of time (read, I’m still in the office at 10pm) on various consulting jobs, an article, and planning for moving my life up to Aweil next Thursday.  And I’ve had time to do culture.

culture

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Filed under Africa, Archives, Current affairs, History, Politics, South Sudan

Breaking (in) my replacement

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So, Dan from RVI has arrived to replace me at the South Sudan National Archives for the next nine weeks.  And I’ve spent this week “handing over”.

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Juba updates

  • Ever since the very worrying announcement of Machar’s (constitutionally, legally) curtailed powers last week, there have been dozens of SPLA, heavily armed, stationed at each roundabout in the centre of Juba, and posted along the roads to the airport.  Ominous or precautionary?  Taxi drivers are advising staying in after 10pm, and I am.
  • I am wrapping up my work with the Rift Valley Institute, and at the South Sudan National Archives, this coming Friday.  I panicked, at 2am last night, that I hadn’t arranged for the handover of the RVI office in Wau; then I remembered, RVI in South Sudan is just me at the moment, and I don’t have an office in Wau.

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Filed under Africa, Archives, Domestic bliss, Politics, South Sudan, Travel

Brief update: archives, trips and planning

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A quick update.  I’m back in Juba after a quick trip down south to Nimule National Park; I’m now tied up in a week’s worth of meetings on the designs for the future South Sudan National Archives building, and on fire safety and pest control in our current location (which is conveniently full of bugs and dodgy wiring, with rains coming).  I’m also trying to keep the flagging staff motivated, while looking for key files for digitisation (see after the cut for a good historical find), and organising staff meetings and teams on future protection issues in the medium-term before we get our beautiful shiny permanent building in 2015.

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Moving the past in Juba

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This is probably not the advised method of moving archives around a town; but we have too much paper and we’re trying to resort 2000 files from Equatoria Province in a small house with no air con.  Give us a break.

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Workshops, the plague of Juba

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Everyone here in Juba says that they know the importance of documentation.  Everyone says they do information-based programming, and use research-informed, evidence-based thinking.  This is often, in my experience, complete nonsense.  What Juba produces is endless reporting, often circular and frequently based on the same tiny pools of sometimes inaccurate or irrelevant data, or the same beleaguered researchers; and it discusses its information through endless, endless workshops.

Enjoyably, too, this system of workshop-based attempts at prioritising information were pervasive in the 1972 post-Addis Ababa Agreement peace period, according to the lovely files in the South Sudan National Archives project.

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