...it is the grass that suffers. On the 9 July 2012 the two youngest countries in the world celebrate their first birthdays. To mark the occasion, journalists from Sudan and South Sudan came together to report on the development of both nations in the second edition of The Niles. The proverb about the two elephants, which is popular in both countries, has become a fitting leitmotif. How much the grass actually suffers, how the elephants are affected and what that has to do with relationships between people, are all explored in the collection of stories, pictures and songs from Sudan and South Sudan.
10 The Niles | Commentary Commentary Sudan South Sudan
Commentary | The Niles 11 Football knows no foreigners by Hassan Faroog O ne Saturday in early May 2012, Sudan’s national youth football team played an important and tough match against Tanzania. At that game, the goalkeeper was Kor Albino, who also plays for one of the first division teams in Khartoum. Yet Albino is from South Sudan. And since April he has been a foreigner, someone who should not be playing with any national Sudanese teams. Initially, the presence of this player might have seemed strange; it might have caused some awkward questions for Sudanese football officials. But the weird thing was that Albino played the match and nothing came of it. No one in the media even seemed bothered. Well, I believe one must try harder to maintain some sort of balance. And rather than focusing only on conflict and crisis, I feel a journalist also has the responsibility to initiate discourse on issues of public interest, issues that may help in the development of the nation. For example, discussion of a neglected subject in the media could encourage the government to embark on much needed projects, such as, say, improvement to the agricultural sector. I think it’s all about identifying topics that will stimulate both the minds of the general public and the leaders. And until we understand that both negative and positive stories can happen simultaneously, South Sudan is threatened by its own bad image in the media, and that includes the local media. What we need are journalists, who are well aware of, and deeply rooted in, South Sudan, and willing to take on the challenge of positive reporting. This will ensure that the values of the community are preserved, even while so many bad things are happening. And by reporting both sides of every story, the media can also help in the reconstruction of the country. South Sudanese music industry. This includes the lively zouk beton music, which was often a highlight of regional festivals of music and dance. The past few years have been an emotional roller coaster for the two Sudans. But the good citizens of both countries are hoping that this second, post-secession year will bring an end to their ugly and bitter divorce. They hope it will bring a new era, where somehow the cultures, economies, politics and societies of the two nations can co-exist. We expected more by Charlton Doki So I went a step further. I asked an official from the team what it meant that this player, apparently from South Sudan, was with the Sudanese team. The official responded angrily, saying: “The player has a Sudanese passport so he is still Sudanese and he can play.” Then, after he had calmed down, the official stressed that the team didn’t believe that the political reality imposed upon them was all that mattered. The case of Kor Albino is similar to that of all the southern footballers playing in the Sudanese league, who are vital to their teams. Richard Justin Lado, a star of the Khartoum football premier league club, has been Man of the Match many times as has Guma Genaro, goalkeeper for the Al Hilal Omdurman team, another premier league team that is also very popular. During a recent match, the sports commentator was busy praising Genaro’s performance; again all of this happened without any fuss in any other media. I believe these sporting incidents are real indicators that the south and the southern people remain in the hearts of many of their northern brothers. These examples prove that the policies which divided the country have a negligible effect on what is actually happening in Sudanese society. In this instance, the term „foreigner“ has no place in the people’s dictionary. Think positive! by Hannington A. Ochan P eople dying as a result of border conflicts. Someone embezzling a huge chunk of public money. And all kinds of other horrible headlines, none of which are big news in a country that is becoming well known for such things. It has been one year since South Sudan achieved its independence and this newly born nation never ceases to amaze me. But not the country itself, rather how it is depicted in the media. All I see is corruption, conflict, poverty, famine and the like. My late grandmother told me that every single situation has two sides: negative and positive. Reporters need to consider this too. It’s clear that the challenge of reporting the lighter side in this country is a difficult one. I’m not saying we should stop providing insight on the bad things that are happening. We all know evil happens. This raises a major question: how is positive reporting possible amid the atrocities committed against innocent people, the rampant corruption and the increasing poverty? Maintaining a balance between negative and positive reporting will eventually lead to a change in the way that the country, and possibly even the continent, is seen. And then, one hopes, the national image will go from „disadvantaged“ to „appreciated“, with a much brighter future. How half a culture gets lost by Maha Elsanosi W ho would have thought that the day would come when a country that once prided itself on being Africa’s largest nation, and one of its most diverse regions, would split in half? This year, as South Sudan celebrates its first birthday as the world’s newest nation, its northern counterpart still struggles to overcome the gap that has been left behind. Many in the north remain concerned about the fact that Sudan lost 75 percent of its resources when it lost South Sudan. But the loss is about more than this. For countless others, the emotional repercussions of losing half of their culture also remain. It causes an overwhelming melancholy. On April 9, 2012, a day that some consider a dark one in Sudanese history, the Sudanese government declared the half million South Sudanese citizens residing in Khartoum illegal residents, ordering them to either leave the country or apply for permits to stay. And over the past year, there’s been a gradual decline in the number of South Sudanese citizens on the streets in Khartoum. Take the public show on Ghaba Street in Khartoum that usually attracts tourists as well as locals of all ethnic backgrounds. The vendors there, mainly from South Sudan, used to use the wide street to showcase and sell handmade products, playing on their roots and handicrafts, to eke out a living. Artisans made products from local materials, such as bamboo and ebony; a lot of the goods on sale at this street were much cheaper than those sold in downtown Khartoum. But today, things are very different. Ghaba Street is just an empty expanse. There are no vendors, no artisans, no handicrafts, no shopping tourists, no photographers and no African culture. The Southerners have been gone for a year now and Sudan and many of her people still mourn the departure of a kaleidoscope of religions, dialects, ethnic groups, foods and traditions. They have had to bid farewell to a rich cultural legacy and a colourful, diverse and beautiful era. They grieve the loss of the vibrant I t has been a year since South Sudan gained its independence from the rest of the country and everyone remembers the euphoria with which this new status was welcomed. The future looked rosy and expectations were high. However, things didn’t change the way we expected. There are many issues the government is failing to deal with appropriately. In my opinion, there are four that are critical to the country’s well being: human rights, food security, the provision of social services and the assurance of peace and security. Violations of human rights are still the order of the day: Arbitrary arrests are frequent, suspects are still being detained without trial and the media highlighted allegations of abuse by security services during the campaign to disarm civilians in the state of Jonglei. As the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said after her visit to South Sudan: “Human rights are not negotiable and cannot be cherry-picked. There are no excuses, not even the youthfulness of the state, for ignoring or violating them.” To me, South Sudan will only be truly independent when the government takes measures to protect the rights of women, especially those in rural areas. Women and men should have equal rights in land ownership and property. Early or forced marriage needs to cease and the excuse that discrimination against women is just a part of the culture needs to be challenged. Food security is also elusive for many South Sudanese. As the UN tells us, as many as four million people throughout South Sudan will require food aid this year. The right to food is itself a human right. It is not about charity but about ensuring that all people have the capacity to feed themselves with dignity. And given the abundant resources around this country, the government should be helping in the agricultural realm too, with equipment and training. The government of South Sudan has also done very little in terms of basic social services. People expected medical care and education but many places still lack these. All indicators of social well being show that we have extreme problems. And finally, one year after independence, the government is failing to ensure peace and security throughout the country. Communal violence still persists, for example, in the state of Jonglei, where the government even has had a part in fuelling the conflicts. If hunger, human rights abuses, violence and killing continues, if there is a continued lack of basic services, or even a perceived failure by the government to provide them, then the people of South Sudan will begin to question whether independence really has changed their lives for the better. The international community has already begun to wonder whether South Sudan is a failed state. The ball is in the government’s court.