Tag Archives: archives

Kenya and South Sudan – the border question resurfaces?

The dotted line of doom: Google's version of the disputed Kenya-South Sudan border

The dotted line of doom: Google’s version of the disputed Kenya-South Sudan border

I’ve been asked recently about the border between South Sudan and Kenya, and how recently, Eastern Equatoria officials have asked for the border to be demarcated, ostensibly to help administration and stop local disputes.

While I don’t want to step on any toes, I’d like to post up my response here, not just about the UK’s potential role in ‘helping’ with this.

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Filed under Current affairs, Politics, South Sudan

Breaking (in) my replacement


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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Filed under Archives, Current affairs, Domestic bliss, South Sudan

Brief update: archives, trips and planning


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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Filed under Archives, Domestic bliss, South Sudan

Moving the past in Juba




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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Filed under Academia, Archives, South Sudan

Workshops, the plague of Juba



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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Corruption in the archives

20130308_133354Non-telegraph transcript after the jump.


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

“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

The South Sudan National Archive: taking stock


The National Archive of South Sudan has had (and still has) an unglamourous life.  Collected by Douglas Johnson in two years before conflict restarted in 1983, left to rot in its own dust in the basement of a girls’ school in Juba for twenty years, and then shunted from one place to another since the peace deal – sustaining a metre’s worth of water damage, termite infestations, rats eating into the sacks of damaged papers, and bad handling in the process: the documents are possibly the least important, least loved but longest lived development project in Juba.

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Filed under Archives, South Sudan

Archives in South Sudan: moving time

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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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Filed under Arabic, Archives, Blogging, South Sudan, Travel