The Sudanese proverb raises the question: Does the fool drown in his search for water or is he saved by it? And who is, in fact, this fool? Given the wasteful and unfair dealings of mankind with this dwindling resource – aren’t we all? While doing research on water, The Niles correspondents in South Sudan and Sudan met fishermen who deal carefully with the water that nourishes them and business people who exploit the resource without restraint. They report on conflicts around water but also on exemplary projects where water is shared peacefully. In short, the fool is still swimming, but for how long?
26 The Niles Launching the Oky African Boat Cruise Party Amid booming African music and ample local food, passengers aboard the debut Nile cruise of the Queen Juba 001 get a rare glimpse of the nature surrounding the South Sudanese capital. Akim Mugisa & Agama Martha | Juba kayaking, fishing competitions and camping sites among other leisure pursuits. A forest of mango trees hug the east and west banks of the river and local ethnic groups appear from their Tukuls (mud and bamboo houses) and wave to the passengers. Fishing and transport canoes make way for the large cruise boat. An onboard disc jockey plays loud African beats and the sounds of Emmanuel Kembe’s Let us celebrate and Bob Marley’s One Love echo across the water. “We are heading to Malakal,” one passenger jokes to a group of onlookers, referring to the capital of Upper-Nile State, which lies more than 500 kilometres away. South Sudanese artists including Yuppy Jay of Jay family, Meen Meen of the Coozos Clan, comedians and music promoters were among the passengers of the first boat cruise party. Tickets cost 300 South Sudanese Pounds (about US$ 95) for the three-hour voyage. Guests on the front deck challenge “driver” Kitonyi to crash the boat into a lively, six-feet long, yellow-and-green snake which is swimming just metres ahead of the boat, but it struggles out of harms way just in time. A light-hearted argument ensues as to whether the man at the wheel is called a driver, until one of the passengers explains that Kitonyi is a captain, according to nautical terminology. “A couple of water ski boats circle in the distance.” I t is just after three on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the South Sudanese capital Juba. Men and women, many wearing bright orange life jackets over their African attire, head for the pier of the Queen Juba 001 for the first ever Oky African Boat Cruise Party. Passengers pile aboard the double-decker white boat and twin 320-horse-power engines roar to general excitement. High-fives clash in the air and people embrace as the boat’s Assistant Captain Aaron Kitonyi gently steers the Queen Juba 001 away from the platform. The deck is abuzz with expectations of seeing the indigenous people of the River Nile banks and the famous Gondokoro Island, a historic site that once served as an Egyptian garrison and the base of British explorer Sir Samuel Baker during his 1870s expedition. The Nile, which at some 6,853 kilometres is the world’s longest river, snakes through South Sudan on its way through Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea, offers spectacular views of unspoiled nature. “Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’ echoes across the Nile.” In South Sudan, an area which is roughly the size of France and Germany combined, the river is used for transport, fishing and its water is taken by many households and for agriculture. However, until now, it has remained an untapped resource for leisure activities. This contrasts with neighbouring Uganda, where in areas like Jinja, Murchison Falls National park and Panyimur, offer rafting, Juba goes Miami: Fun on Queen Juba, a double-decker boat with twin 320-horse-power engines. Photos: Akim Mugisa Wine, spirits and bottles of beer are served alongside local food, including home-made samosas and chicken thighs. Guests dig their spoons into small ceramic bowls of Githeri, a traditional Kenyan dish made of boiled maize grains and beans. A couple of water-ski boats circle in the distance, prompting a group of passengers to shout “Al-Shabaab, Al-Shabaab”, in reference to the notorious Somali pirates on the Indian Ocean. Smart phones click and flash as revellers snap selfies in various poses. One of the business partners behind the party cruise, Wani Michael, explains the trip was designed to celebrate African diversity and unity. “We need to rejuvenate our lost African cultures. Few from the younger generation can sing African songs, they don’t know our cultures in dressing and feeding because the western culture is killing ours,” he says. He said they created the river trip to enable expatriates, corporate people and socialites to travel along the mighty water body. Data Gordon Emmanuel, a worker at the Zain telecommunications network, praises the trip as a welcome break from the bustle of Juba city: “I was happy to see the natural green scenery along the Nile.” Down in the cabin, five-year old Emily wears a small safety vest and is accompanied by her father, an executive member of the South Sudan Artists Association. “It is good,” she says. “It feels good to be in this boat on the water.” At half past seven the sun starts to set on the river and Queen Juba 001 docks at the pier and its relaxed and upbeat passengers disembark. Winnie Godi, from WinnyG fashions and co-organiser of the cruise, reflects that the Nile trip revealed natural beauty to young people, and could encourage peace by providing work for the unemployed and disenchanted. By introducing and promoting leisure activities, beaches and water games along the world famous water way, South Sudan could generate revenue for government, create employment and also open up markets for locally produced goods such as handcrafts, she says. “Youths can have fun and avoid engaging in war here. They learn they have a life to enjoy and they can earn a living from working as guides to visitors or working on cruise boats… No water, no peace. This river unites us all.” theniles6_20151123.indd 26 2015/11/23 2:13 PM
The Niles 27 Sew & Swim Design Bobby Kolade The Niles swimming trunks were created by promising fashion designer Bobby Kolade. Born in Khartoum in 1987, Kolade grew up in Uganda and studied in Berlin at the Weissensee School of Art. His various homes are reflected in his design process, which often begins with a specific place in mind. Textile and elements from any one of these places are featured in the collections at his Berlin-based fashion label BOBBY KOLADE, which he launched in 2013 after honing his skills at Maison Martin Margiela and Balenciaga. (Model: Morys Koulibaly) The Niles is a publication of Media in Cooperation & Transition MiCT gGmbH Chief Editor: Sven Recker Design: Gunnar Bauer Managing Editor: Dirk Spilker Editors: Leila Bendra-Lehnert, Dominik Lehnert, Jess Smee Language Editors: Rose-Anne Clermont, Mohamed Sami al Habbal Contributors: Adam Mohammed Ahmed, Abdalhady Al-Hag, Chantal Animumu, Simon Bingo, Juliana Bol, Charlton Doki, Hadia Elias, Hassan Faroog, Mahir Abu Goukh, Abdelrahman Ibrahim, Hamid Ibrahim, Samia Ibrahim, Victor Lugala, Agama Martha, Francis Michael, Akim Mugisa, Joseph Nashion, Rishan Oshi, Osman Shinger, Bonifacio Taban Pictures: Abdalhady Al-Hag (p.20/21), Christian Als / laif (p.2/3), De Agostini , N. Cirani/gettyimages (p.4/5), Hadia Elias (p.13), Hassan Faroog (p.21), Fairfax Media/gettyimages (p.1), Mahir Abu Goukh (p.19), Mohamed Hilali (p.15), Claude Iverné / Elnour (p.22/23), Mike D. Kock, gettyimages (p.6/7), laif (p.20), Akim Mugisa (p.26), Joseph Nashion (p.11/p.12), Osman Shinger (p.16), Georg Roske (p.27), Anthony Wani (p.15), Francesco Zizola / Noor / laif (p.10) Illustrations: Mayu Nakai (p.16-19) Special thanks: Bobby Kolade / Fashion Design / Swimming trunks, Morys Koulibaly / Model Translation: Syrian European Documentation Center (SEDC), Robin Moger The publication The Niles is produced by Media in Cooperation & Transition (MiCT) with support from the German Foreign Office. The views expressed in this report do not reflect the opinions of the German Foreign Office or MiCT. Contact: Media in Cooperation and Transition Dirk Spilker, firstname.lastname@example.org Brunnenstrasse 9 10119 Berlin, Germany Phone +49 (0) 30 484 93 02 0 www.mict-international.org 2015, all rights reserved. theniles6_20151123.indd 27 2015/11/23 2:13 PM