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August 2011 - Posts

Ethiopia: The forbidden territory for males

What follows is a brief excerpt from my forthcoming book (planned to be a little over 300 pages), “The Ethiopian Revolution and the Generation of the 1970s: Dreams, Memories and Harsh Realities.” The two main characters – Jembernesh and Kurat – were childhood lovers in the 1970s. After being apart for many decades, they unexpectedly met at a conference in May 2006. The Kitchen Story takes place while Kurate is visiting Jembernesh in Paris, where she lives.

By Maru Gubena

August 23, 2011 — It was a sticky, hot July, and we had spent a long and extremely tiring day visiting the Eiffel Tower and many other museums and sights of Paris. Immediately after arriving home, my Jember of the 1970s and I went upstairs to rest for a while. A little more than an hour later, we went downstairs to prepare and eat some food.

Jember held my right hand tightly and pulled me towards the kitchen. She said lovingly “Kurate Hode, wouldn’t you like to stay here with me in the kitchen while I warm up our dinner? We still need to eat, it’s pretty late. I think the children will probably stay ’til late evening or perhaps the whole night, enjoying themselves with their father at Disneyland. By the way, am I offending you by bringing you to the kitchen? I mean, traditionally speaking, many Ethiopian males don’t even enter the kitchen, and since you and I have grown apart over the last three decades, I really don’t know what you think about it. In many cases, even if a man wants to enter the kitchen, his wife and other female family members will not allow it. In Ethiopia the kitchen is strictly forbidden territory for most Ethiopian males, as I was taught in childhood.

“Isn’t this a very strange and a tragic pattern of our culture? Just imagine, Kurate Hode, if a man were starving to death and there were no women and no girls around, what then? What is he going to do? What will he eat? You know, I can vividly recall what my mother, and more particularly my maternal grandmother, used to tell all of the female family members.

“‘A real man, a real Ethiopian patriot,’ said my grandmother, talking to me and two of my younger sisters, ‘would never, never go into the kitchen. It is a room just for women, where they prepare and cook all the food for the family. The man is just supposed to enjoy the food prepared for him by his wife, mother, sisters or grandmothers, after a woman has brought the food to the dining room or wherever he is to eat. But certainly not in the kitchen’.

“When Kuku, my youngest sister was just eleven – she really enjoys provoking her family – asked grandmother a question that was a bit confrontational, grandma got somewhat emotional. Kukuye’s question was in fact simple and it was valid, at least in my eyes. It was enough, though, to annoy grandmother. In her usual bossy way, Kukuye loudly asked grandmother and all of us ‘Imagine now Eneye, grandma, that I am married to a very handsome, gentle and hardworking young man, who is very caring and loves me so dearly, what will happen if I take my husband into the kitchen to help me cook and talk with me? Why would this be wrong, Anchi Eneye?’

“My grandmother began to stare at me and my sisters, Kukuye and Kiduse. She began to shake her head in a way that clearly showed her surprise and her complete disapproval of Kukuye’s question. Grandma then spoke to my sister, saying ‘my love Kukuye, come here in front of me and listen! You are not going to do that. You are not supposed to take your husband into the kitchen, however deep his love for you may be. If you do that, then your husband will no longer be a man. He will be seen by the neighbourhood and by all the villagers as a man without his manliness. A man married to a lovely girl like you, like my grandchild, is supposed to be sensible. He must be responsible for the entire community, to help save lives, secure peace and restore hope for our entire people and beyond. But he must never be allowed to accompany my lovely girl into the forbidden “women’s territory” of the kitchen. If any of you do that, you will never see my face again,’ concluded Eneye angrily. As can be imagined, Kiduse and I were a bit scared by her frowning face. But not the bossy Kukuye! Instead she kept on irritating Eneye.

“‘What is that?’ asked Kukuye again, challenging the strong traditional beliefs of our grandmother. Grandmother looked more and more irritated, tired of the confrontational behaviour of her own granddaughter. ‘Listen my love, it simply means that if you allow your husband into the kitchen, he will not be a complete man. He will be seen by the whole community as half man, half woman, someone who is not capable of protecting his family and his country.’

“Kukuye wouldn’t stop, however. She kept challenging, asking more and more questions. These were interesting and relevant, though not in the eyes of our grandma. Kukuye said ‘but Anchi Eneye, that wouldn’t be true. How is it possible that my husband wouldn’t be a complete man? Who says so? What makes him incomplete? Of course not! Such things wouldn’t happen to my husband; unless people in our village did something crazy to him, my husband would remain exactly the same man as long as he still had all of his body parts. That is what I believe, even though I will have to wait and see for myself.’

“My grandmother had become increasingly angry. She seemed to have had enough of trying to advise and teach us. She reacted not just to Kukuye and her confrontational questions, but to all of us. ‘I don’t want any more talk with any of you. Woregna hulu! Please leave me alone! Leave this room immediately! Please go away. I don’t want any more of your talk and questions.’ Then we all ran outside to play hide and seek, which we always enjoyed.

“But you know, Kurate Hode, this is an important issue, and a difficult one for me. Let me tell you a little more about how I feel. I see myself as an agent, an engine, of change. I often go places, not just to inform people, women and men, young and old, but more importantly, to make them really understand the broad gaps that have always existed between women and men. They need to see how urgent it is to change the inequalities that have lasted so long. I honestly love doing everything I can to bridge these gaps. But unfortunately I have a real dilemma. Even though I completely disagree with the views of my grandmother and people like her, when it touches deep inside my own household or my personal life, I often find it extremely difficult to accept, not to mention enjoying it. Whenever I see Hailu, my husband, standing in an apron in the kitchen cutting up a whole chicken or trying to make Enjera, our traditional food in Ethiopia, I just can’t stand him; I can’t tolerate him being busy with women’s business. I actually don’t mind seeing him making some small things, like breakfast or salads. But not those big dishes, certainly not our traditional foods. I honestly really hate it. Yigermehal Ayimechegnim. Betam Yidebregnal! I always prefer to make our big dishes by myself; then I feel so happy, so satisfied when I see my husband and my children enjoying the food.

“Also, I remember how worried I was when I used to travel long distances and attend a conference for two or more days, leaving my children behind with my husband. Even though I am 100 percent certain that my husband loves his children just as much as I do, I nevertheless always felt that he might not take care of them in the same way as I do. I used to spend many unnecessarily sleepless nights.”

I found Jember’s story and her experiences fascinating, and listened attentively. Now it was my turn to say a few words – just a few words, especially since I could not disagree with Jembere’s story and her experiences: I am undisputedly part and parcel of Ethiopian culture and society, and often heard such stories being told to my own sisters. On the other hand, I was somewhat surprised by Jembere’s hazy memory when she said “I really don’t know what you think about being in the kitchen,” so I tenderly repeated what I had told her some time ago.

I looked directly at Jembere and said softly and adoringly “I thought I told you a few days after we met again, at the conference, that I love being in the kitchen – especially with you, with my Jember, my Mukete. In fact, cooking is something that I enjoy so much. Whenever I cook I always feel creative and joyful. I hope you don’t see this as an advertisement, but cooking, cleaning and ironing are among my favorite hobbies, especially after sitting in front of the computer for a long time. Those physical activities relax my mind and my entire body. I might even say that I become more energetic and enthusiastic, and I am able to produce great text for articles or academic papers.

But what I want to tell you most of all is that I am fascinated by the story from your childhood. It is a great example of something I see all the time. Ethiopian socio-cultural values and norms seem to have been constructed to discourage girls and women from enjoying their relationships with their husbands, lovers and friends to the fullest.”

“Oh yes!” responded Jembere enthusiastically. She looked a bit serious and went on: “that is part of the reason I am always running from place to place or from symposium to symposium. Those harmful traditional values and practices like keeping males out of the forbidden territory of the kitchen mean that men cannot share household responsibilities. But there are so many complex issues for African women, including their socio-economic position within African society. Then there are things like female genital mutilation (female circumcision), which permanently affect the health of women and girls in Africa. None of us should ever stop lobbying and campaigning against traditions like that.”

Readers who wish to contact the author can reach me at

Democracy by the gun

By Magdi El Gizouli

August 20, 2011 - In a rushed attempt to revive the ‘New Sudan’ project propagated by the unionist faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Yasir Arman, the Secretary General of the movement’s (North) Sudanese organisation (SPLM-N), and Abdel Aziz al-Hilu, its rebellious Deputy Chairman, signed recently a military-political pact with the twin factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur and Mini Minawi, with the declared aim of waging war against the regime of the National Congress Party (NCP) and establishing a secular democracy in Sudan. Notably, it was the same Arman who missed the ‘democracy’ game in April 2010 when he, a presidential candidate, pulled out of the race citing inevitable fraud and the situation in Darfur, in line with the mainstream SPLM’s preference for a safe trade off for South Sudanese independence.

A spokesman of the SPLM-N, who until recently was a reporter for its associate Khartoum newspaper, Ajras al-Hurriya, claimed that the declaration of the brand new Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) was signed in Kauda, the SPLM’s capital so to speak in South Kordofan. The NCP press reported that the agreement was sealed inside South Sudan. Ajras al-Hurriya was recently closed down by order of the Press Council on the grounds that its shareholders included South Sudanese citizens. A cynical guess is that the pact was signed in Kampala or over the phone. Both Mini and Abdel Wahid have recently moved to the Ugandan capital, the first from Juba and the second from Paris, where they reinvented the absentee leadership of the pre-Addis Ababa Agreement (1972) South Sudanese political figureheads.

The cause of a secular Sudan did not sell well with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) which refused to join the pact, and expectedly irked the SPLM-N’s ambivalent allies in the Khartoum opposition, namely the National Umma Party (NUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Turabi’s Popular Congress Party (PCP) had before voiced its rejection of the SPLM-N’s secular agenda. The first two are more likely to seek a co-existence formula with the NCP in the really existing new Sudan, or the Second Republic to use President Bashir’s depiction of the rump North; while the third, carried away by the vengeance of its chief, prefers to invest in the promise of an ‘intifada’, possibly with the assistance of collateral guns.

Before his exit from the electoral race in April 2010 Yasir Arman and his crew had rather successfully generated a momentum for the dividends of ‘democracy’ and ‘secularism’ on a mass scale. The political space they managed to create then is today doomed to dwindle with the gun as its declared protector. Rather than unite Sudan’s dispossessed the more likely consequence of the SPLM-N’s current military fantasies is the generation of divisions within its own ranks. No wonder the organisation’s very Chairman, Malik Agar, has largely kept a distance from his colleagues designs. The governor of the Blue Nile, backed by a constituency he managed to organise politically, is more a challenge to the NCP’s hegemony than the SRF with its three armies, liberated areas, and busy satellite phones.

The author is a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute. He publishes regular opinion articles and analyses at his blog Still Sudan. He can be reached at

Saving South Sudan from a destructive SPLM

By Elhag Paul

August 18, 2011 - Writing this piece, I feel it is important to go back to 2004 to pick up from where I left. Then, I wrote my last critique about the SPLM which coincided with the row between Col. Dr John Garang de Mabior and his deputy, Salva Kiir Mayardit, which was settled in Rumbek.

I decided to refrain from writing for the entire period of the CPA implementation in the hope that the SPLM would mature and behave like a true government. Unfortunately, this is not the case. SPLM remained unchanged and as destructive as ever before.

SPLM as a Dinka organization:

In this short piece I shall be arguing that SPLM is a Dinka organisation and it cannot be trusted to represent or serve the South Sudanese masses fairly. In saying this, I wish to categorically make it clear that I have nothing against the Dinka as a people. I respect them and I would stand up in defense against any abuse of the Dinka people, because they are human beings just like the other tribes of South Sudan.

What I do not approve of is their abusive behaviour and it is incumbent on them to address this deficiency in their culture if they truly value living peacefully with all the people of the South Sudan.

Garang (1987) argues that the sole reason for creation of SPLM/A is to liberate the entire country of the Sudan from the northern sectarian clique and to establish a socialist system in the country. To gain insight into Garang’s thinking, it is important to critically read his 3rd March 1983 and 22nd March 1985 speeches.

These are masterful writings which clearly diagnosed the problems of the country and charted a wise path as a solution. In these papers, no doubt SPLM is a noble organisation with beautiful objective. However, in practice it actually propagated what it was fighting against.

Looking at it from a psychological perspective, it becomes a story of envy and projection about the ruling clique in Khartoum. Today what we see in the Republic of South Sudan is worse than what the Aulad al balad (Arab Northerners) were and are still doing in the Sudan.

It is open secret that in the 22 years of war, the SPLM/A behaved as an oppressive and discriminatory organisation than a revolutionary movement that it claims to be. Wherever they operated in the South, the local people suffered the most egregious human right abuses. Local administrative structures were deliberately destroyed with chiefs and headmen rubbished and reduced to nothing.

The impact of this destruction today can be felt and seen in the breakdown of law and order in our country. The structure of the movement was filled with Dinka from top to bottom starting with Dr Garang at the top and ending with Aguer at the bottom.

Equatorians suffered worst atrocities:

I know that some readers may ask as to why the movement then thrived. The answer is simple, for example in Equatoria, there has been a belief that people should persevere for the sake of South Sudan liberation.

Although the movement propagates unity, the Equatorians are clear of what they wanted: total separation and they gave their full to it. Thus, the Equatorians endured the worst atrocities from SPLM/A silently to ensure that South Sudan is born.

In the history of the Sudan and South Sudan in particular, there has never been any organisation that inflicted heinous crimes on Equatoria as the SPLM/A.

From the beginning the SPLM/A exercised a policy of pacification against Equatoria. Since 1985 when SPLM/A came into Equatoria, it unleashed horror in Mundari land and eastern Equatoria. This resulted in massive movement of citizens into Juba town. Stories of wanton destruction, looting and rape were abundant.

Those Equatorians who remained in SPLM controlled areas effectively were turned into slaves.

Radio SPLM/A became a useful tool of propaganda for the Dinka to portray a different story to the masses. Garang on the other hand was presenting a sweet picture to the gullible so-called Equatorian politicians, convincing them that SPLM is a national movement and there was nothing against Equatoria.

Garang anti-Kokora:

Let us face it; Garang himself was bitter about Kokora. He writes: “(e) Nimeiri completed the abrogation of his Addis Ababa Agreement by agitating for the division of the South Sudan into three mini-regions, consistent with policy of divide and rule. In this way Nimeiri unilaterally proclaimed redivision of the South in June 1983 to the consternation of even his foreign sympathizers.” (Garang (1987, p22).

While Garang is right in saying so, what I am driving at here is to try to understand his feelings expressed by the phrase, ‘the consternation of even’. He also made it abundantly clear in other parts of his book that he was against Kokora. From this it is clear that, the policy of pacifying Equatoria was truly an undeclared SPLM project.

The fact that SPLM used the SPLA as a tool to pacify Equatoria speaks for itself. From 1983 all those Equatorians who flocked to the movement were discriminated upon and oppressed. Unfortunate ones were lynched, others imprisoned and the majority silenced. Along side this, was the policy of indoctrination.

SPLM promotes the ideology of Dinka superiority:

In practice, every department of the movement was headed by a Dinka even if such Dinka were not qualified. Equatorians were made to feel inadequate.

Today watching SSTV and listening to radio programmes in the South, one can not miss the over indoctrination of the country with the idea that the Dinka are the liberators. The department of culture of SPLM runs programmes which falsify the history of the South.

Deliberately, SPLM has decided to zap all the non-Dinka heroes of our liberation dating back to 1947. It does not mention people like Lolik, Gbatala, Tafeng, Fr Saturino, Samuel Gai Tut, Akot Atem, Aggrey Jaden, Clement Mboro, Ezbon Mandiri, Joseph Oduho and so on. The heroes being parroted in Radio Juba and SSTV are Garang, Kerbino, Kiir and cohorts. For them the South started from 1983 and not 1821.

This is a deliberate attempt to write a new history of South Sudan excluding the participation of the other South Sudanese.

Theft and brutality SPLM ingrained:

Dinka culture has become part and parcel of SPLM. Theft and brutality which is part of Dinka culture related to cattle rustling is ingrained in the machinery of SPLM. As a result thieving is seen as OK and crimes appreciated. In South Sudan today we see master thieves being praised as good leaders. Kiir’s failure to deal with the issue of corruption is because he does not see anything wrong with it.

Thinking about the above, it is abundantly clear that SPLM is a criminal organisation which needs to deal with its past.

South-South dialogue sabotaged: In spite of deafening calls from South Sudanese for a true South-South dialogue to address these wounds, the SPLM sabotaged it and used the occasions to advance its interest.

For example, soon after the signing of the CPA, the south-south dialogue held in Nairobi became a farce smothered by Garang and Abel Alier. Again in October 2010, another south-south dialogue was convened and it became Kiir’s Trojan horse to ride on the back of South Sudanese people to the presidency of South Sudan.

SPLM has learnt over the years that it can use the card of South-South dialogue to achieve its interest whenever the unity of south is crucial and needed. Hence, its invocation soon after the CPA and prior to the referendum.

Basically, SPLM is not serious about addressing its horrendous past and bringing harmony to our new country. This is not surprising at all given the arrogance sung everywhere in South Sudan by its members that they liberated us. Every Dinka, even the uneducated blurts this song freely to non-Dinka people.

Equatoria saved the SPLM/A: What the Dinka people have failed to acknowledge is that if it was not Equatoria, SPLM/A would have been history. The alliance of NCP and the Nuer in early 90s at the height of the war successfully wiped out SPLM/A from the entire South Sudan save eastern Equatoria. The Dinka were nowhere to be seen in the ragging battle field.

Had it not been for Eliaba Surur and the other elders of Equatoria to mobilise the Equatorians from the refugee settlements in Uganda and Congo to re-launch the war, and give SPLM/A a new breath of life in Nimule under gallant Equatoria commanders, the independence of South Sudan would not have been achieved.

The Equatorian determination and sacrifice to remain loyal to the cause of South Sudan’s freedom should not be taken as weakness to allow the illiterate lot to crow: “We liberated you!” What a nonsense?

SPLM liberated nobody:

SPLM/A by its implication as a Dinka organisation has not liberated anybody. In addition to the reason given above, this organisation did not win the war out right. It is important to note that SPLM and NCP settled for a negotiated settlement which led to the CPA because neither could win the war.

The provision of the referendum in the CPA allowed each and everyone of us to decide for ourselves what we wanted. We individually (through the power of our votes) chose separation and thus liberated ourselves from the Arabs. It has nothing to do with SPLM (Dinka) liberating us and this must be made clear to our Dinka brothers and sisters so that they stop living in delusions of grandeur.

Nobody liberates another person especially when that person is the initiator of the struggle from its inception and continued to advance it until 09/07/2011.

The strength of the SPLM emanates from its membership of the non-Dinka people who have given their all to ensure that South Sudan becomes independent. Now that this has been achieved, it is imperative that to rescue the country they so dearly sacrificed for; they have to reflect seriously as to whether their presence in such an organisation is of use to the country and the future generation.

Promoting a criminal organization:

The SPLM is powerful because of them. Without them, SPLM is a vacuous shell. The recent abuses ranging from ratification of the ill drafted transitional constitution whose main aim is to entrench Dinka hegemony to the appointment of MPs was made possible by this same group.

The other group helping the SPLM is composed of opportunistic political parties and individuals looking after their tummies at the expense of our country. One way or another they are working against the interest of the South and the South Sudanese are watching. It is time to wake up and be with the people than with criminals.

There is nothing to be gained by promoting a criminal organisation that robes you, your people and the country.

Starting on right footing:

Having said this, the failure of realising the intended fruit of the south-south dialogue is a shared responsibility. We the non-SPLM (civil societies and political parties) allowed ourselves to be duped because in negotiations with SPLM, we accepted dilution of the principles of south-south dialogue to mean different things than the real issue of justice and reconciliation. It became about mobilisation of people and not accountability and healing. In future this should be avoided at all costs.

Now that the south is an independent country, it needs to start on a right footing. What we are seeing is not encouraging. To start with a flawed constitution and one party rule is not a good sign for the future. This needs to be corrected if we want a good peaceful future for our children.

Therefore, I suggest the following as a solution:

(1) Non-Dinka members of the SPLM to abandon the SPLM to forge a new alliance

(2) Non-Dinka citizens to speak out against Dinkocracy and Dinkanisation of the institutions of South Sudan

(3) Concerned Dinka to join their brothers and sisters in the wider South Sudan against the current SPLM Dinka leadership abusing their humanity.

(4) The Dinkanised ministries of Justice, Home Affairs and Defense need to be exposed to the world. After all most of the officials in these ministries are not qualified.

(5) The world to be enlightened about the fallacy and so called democracy in South Sudan.

(6) The Non-Dinka must say, “Enough is enough”. The boat has docked and no more nonsense.

(7) All peace loving South Sudanese to work tirelessly for establishment of a commission for Justice, Reconciliation and healing to investigate human rights abuse dating back to 1983.

(8) The Diaspora to make use of their MPs in their respective countries to call for a swift elections in South Sudan to bring about a multi-party democracy. It is absurd that in this day and age we condone a one party system tyranny in South sudan.

(9) The Diaspora to organise an international conference to discuss the state of the country

Elhag Paul is based in South Sudan. He is reachable at:

The Resource Curse’, Isn’t South Sudan already there?

By Justin Ambago Ramba.

August 17, 2011 — It was a long time ago when the people of South Sudan became aware that they practically sitting right on top of huge reserves of different types of mineral resources. Nonetheless a resource is only a resource when it is put in use, like the Oil exploitation currently taking place in parts of this forgotten ‘Eden’ was even started until late.

Ask any school child in Raja, Yambio, Mundri, Kapoeta, Malakal, Akobo, Bor or Parieng as to the natural resources that can be found in South Sudan, and you are in for a surprise for you will hear a long list from Gold, Copper, Uranium, Iron ore, cement……..etc, and of course they believe that the entire land that their grandfathers and fathers fought to liberate is literally floating on a sea of Oil.

Others with wider commercial awareness may add things like cattle, timber, water (Nile), fish, and different oil seeds to the list. Until here it is all about raw materials that if managed wisely can provide the necessary money for building the much needed schools, hospitals, roads, houses and the rest of the infrastructure.

But nevertheless this article is intended to raise the important question of whether anyone of our over 9 million citizens has ever thought that these vast resources could be associated with a curse. Maybe a few amongst the well schooled, but hardly would you expect the average citizen to look at all these resources and associate them with any ‘curse’. On the contrary the general expectations keep running high.

The idea to initiate this discussion is to shade like on our economic performance over the past six years that marked the end of the second civil war and we intend to raise the public awareness to the fact of ‘The Resource Curse’. The author became deeply concerned after drawing parallels between how the local economic performance was quick to recover following the peace deal of 1972 that ended the first civil war and how the economy continues now to show no any signs of recovery over a similar period of peace as measured by the local food production in the territory that constitutes the newly born state of South Sudan.

Without any prejudice one can rightly say that the impacts of the second civil war had been more severer that the first in as far as the disruption of the social lives and economic activities are concerned, with around four million people displaced from their homes and another more than two million lives lost. Nonetheless the ‘international aid’ and assistance that the South Sudan received following the 2005 Peace is by far the greatest. It continues to be more than anything the region has ever received in its entire history, not to mention the billions of oil dollars it had access to from the oil revenues shared with the north before becoming an independent country.

And since it came to my knowledge that there exists a proven curse that associates with economies primarily driven by natural resources e.g. Oil, as is the case in many African countries, I felt much obliged to learn more about the phenomenon and share that knowledge with my fellow compatriots. And why shouldn’t we become worried and join hands to find out what this ‘Resources Curse’ is and how much chance do we stand as a new state to protect our people from it when South Sudan is 98% dependant on Oil revenues?

It is my hope that this article will trigger the urge to find more on the topic, and initially you can have a read to the material written by a visiting fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, John Ghazvinian who is also the author of Untapped: ‘The Scramble for Africa’s Oil.’

"Since 1990 alone, the petroleum industry has invested more than $20 billion in exploration and production activity in Africa. And, "A further $50 billion will be spent between now and the end of the decade, the largest investment in the continent’s history," Professor Ghazvinian said. “Unfortunately most Africans on the ground are seeing little benefit from this influx of oil drillers and investment,” the Professor lamented. This he attributed to an economic paradox, known as the ‘Resource Curse’ in which Africans are hurt by the exports of their countries oil.

However he gave us this example which drew my attention even further:

“Consider Gabon, which produces about 300,000 barrels of oil a day.”It’s covered with tropical rainforest, but it’s hard to find bananas that are grown there. They are mostly imported from Cameroon. At one point, Gabon was the world’s largest per-capita importer of champagne." The oil — and the champagne — will eventually run dry. Gabon, with relatively small reserves, is already coming to terms with that possibility. By then, much of the rest of the country’s economy may have atrophied, “Ghazvinian says.

My fellow compatriots all that I request of you is to take a time out and re-construct the above example putting our new state of South Sudan in the place of Gabon. Don’t we have the huge rainforests and are we still not finding it hard to get locally grown fruits and vegetables in our biggest open market of ‘Konyo Konyo’ in Juba the capital city? Like Gabon which imports its food mostly from Cameroon, we in South Sudan are entirely dependent on Uganda for food. As for the champagne it is needless to talk about it for all is set to dry sooner or later. By the way Gabon produces 300,000 barrels of oil a day just more or less as we do.

Astonishing to me further was the parallel drawn by the professor to rest his argument. I quote:

"Between 1970 and 1993, countries without oil saw their economies grow four times faster than those of countries with oil," Ghazvinian notes, adding that oil exports inflate the value of a country’s currency, making its other exports uncompetitive. At the same time, workers flock to booming petroleum businesses, which saps other sectors of the economy. "Your country becomes import-dependent," he says. "That decimates a country’s agriculture and traditional industries."

Importantly though is a fact that the ‘Resource Curse’ is not unique to the African continent for it was also observed in the Netherlands after the natural gas was discovered in the 1960s and the country’s manufacturing sector withered as the gas industry grew owning it the name “ the Dutch Disease”. This part here shouldn’t be taken as an excuse not to take the issue seriously, but rather it confirms how real ‘Resource Curse’ is or “the Dutch Disease” whichever way you like to call it.

Besides the established reality that the exploitation of valuable natural resources can result in the ‘Resource Curse’ or “ Dutch Disease, where a country’s other industries become less competitive as a result of currency valuation due to the revenue raised from the resource. Countries that are rich in natural resources are paradoxically usually worse off than countries that are not and according to another equally renowned Economist Collier (author of the Bottom Billion); this can be attributed to a variety of other causes.

First Collier stated that resources make conflict more likely and we have an example of this during the second civil war and is again being reproduced in the North- South borders disputes even after South Sudan has attained its sovereign status. Khartoum continues to hold fast on the Abyei Territory of the Dinka Ngok (Southern tribe) because of Oil and the vast natural pastures on one hand while on the other it wants to unjustifiable claim the regions of Kafia Kinji and Hufrat el Nahas in the remote Raja district of the Western Bahr Ghazal state. Many agricultural areas around the Megainis Mechanised Agricultural schemes and others bordering South Kordofan and the White Nile states of North Sudan are all areas that the North annexed as early as 1960 and they actually belong to the South.

However the biggest problem with our ‘Natural resources’ driven economy is that the government in most instances doesn’t have to tax the citizens in order to raise the money budgeted for services or the running of the state and because of this citizens become less inclined to demand financial accountability from the government. There is a truth in that as the government no longer depend on income taxes it therefore doesn’t have to do what the citizens want. According to Professor John Ghazvinian, “The state no longer functions as an engineer of economic growth, but a gravy train. None of the money gets down to the people”. He added.

You cannot discuss the ills of development in Africa without discussing the corrupt politicians who also have their role in making worse a situation which is already appalling, can you? Money in general if not well managed tends to corrupt, nonetheless Oil money tends to corrupt politicians even the quickest. What they do instead of looking for ways to invest in the country’s future long-term prosperity, people are fast to pocket the finite petroleum riches.

In the case of South Sudan, the many Western countries that pose as friends should understand that they also have their share of the blame for the rampant corruption that will soon cripple the country. Our local politicians once they pocket public funds, these monies are quickly transferred into accounts in Western banks where unfortunately the Western bankers and their governments turn blind eyes pretending not to have seen nor heard anything. The people of Africa have since known this fact and our poor people in South Sudan are no exception for many are now aware that the rampant poverty in the African continent is but a result of both an internal and an external conspiracy.

Thank God that we don’t have to invent the wheel to address this issue, for what we need to do is to find out who are those successful with resources in this world? There must be some, and Norway they say is the best example. It is the third largest Oil producer in the world, after Saudi Arabia and Russia, but they say it is saving its money in pension funds which is already now at $300 billion.

It is commonsense that no way can we be compared to the Norwegians when we are still starting with almost a nonexistent infrastructure. Again Norway is a homogenous society of only 5.0 million people and it was already well advanced in terms of infrastructure when they discovered Oil. However with good knowledge, good governance and proper planning we can be able to avoid the route taken by “Gabon” and be able to safeguard the interests of the future generations.

the Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. Secretary General – United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can be reached at: or

When UNSC enters the fray with the Khartoum regime, Darfur IDPs suffer

By Abdellatif Abdelrahman

The proverb says; “when two elephants fight it’s the grass that suffers”. Similarly, when the genocidal regime of Khartoum fights with the UNSC it is the IDPs and refugees of Darfur who suffer.

When judges of the pre-trail chamber at the International Criminal Court(ICC), issued a warrant of the arrest for al- Bashir, charging him with crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity; the National Congress Party (NCP) of the fugitive president immediately enacted its vengeance and on 3 March 2009, expelling thirteen of the world’s most distinguished humanitarian organisations from Darfur. The expelled organisations were providing the IDPs with water, food, medicine, health services, and other essential life-saving materials.

In order to fathom the depth of the aid chasm left in IDP camps after the expulsion of the NGOs; I contacted Sheikh Zakaria Mohamed from Kalma IDP camp and Halima Abdulla from Abu Shouk IDP camp.

They unanimously said that the expelled NGOs used to provide 13kg of food per person per month, but today people are given only 3kg. They added that this is sometimes delayed by three or four months. Therefore, the IDPs are forced into hard labour such as making bricks around the IDPs camps.

Halima from Abu Shouk IDP camp said that it’s also unwise for them to leave the camps, looking for work, because they fear being arrested or harassed by the Janjaweed militias who are forever patrolling around the camps.

“We queue through the night to fetch water from the tap and when you fail to get it, we have to fill one jerkin from rain water at the pool in the camp,” said Halima.

Sheikh Zakaria from Kalma explained that a family of 20 persons or more depend on the food distribution card of one person, due to ban on registration for new cards.

“When you feel ill there is nowhere to get treatment, because the two doctors of the centre select serious cases among the sick people,” said Zakaria.

Other IDPs who I personally talked in El-Geneina camps complained that the regime pushed the World Food Program (WFP) to let Sudan Government take over distribution of relief items through its chamber of commerce, which the IDPs vehemently disagree with.

Frankly speaking; it’s true that finding a political solution to the conflict in Darfur has negatively affected the IDPs and refugees inthe camps; most of the camps, if not all, receive only salt and sorghum and no other items.

No feeding centres for the children, no pre-natal clinics, no trauma centres, no ambulances (the IDPs are using wheelbarrows to carry patients), no tents or shelters to protect the IDPs from rain water, no water because most of the camps were equipped to receive a limited number of people in 2005 and now the numbers have significantly increased. Therefore, suicide; delivery problems; and diseases like fistula, malnutrition are rampant among the IDPs.

On 29July 2011 the UN Security Council decided to extend the mandate of African Union-United Nation Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) for one year and to empower the mandate of UNAMID; and to create coordination between the UNAMID, the UN Interim Security Forces of Abyei (UNSFA) and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

However, on 3 Aug 2011, the Sudan government was highly critical of the UNSC resolution, saying it’s interfering in Sudan’s internal affairs and that the resolution attempts to distort the image of the country. Hence the Government of Sudan reaffirmed that any attempt to impose any new obligation, is contrary to what has been agreed upon and will lead Sudan to refuse cooperation and to disengage from any previous obligation related to the acceptance of the mission and its deployment.

Now as heavy clouds of dispute between Sudan Government and UNSC gather inthe sky; the IDPs and refugees of Darfur are very worried that this fight may compound their injuries.

This is a particular fear in today’s climate, as the regime of Khartoum resorted to cowardly behaviour; attacking UNAMID and humanitarian aid workers on the ground, to force UNSC not to take steps towards the implementation.

Of course; I am not saying UNSC should stop voting for resolutions because of the empty threats of Al-Bashir, but what are the precautions put forward by the UNSC to stop the criminal Al-Bashir from pouring his venom of anger on the vulnerable IDPs and refugees?

However, personally I do not expect quick implementation to the UNSC resolutions as was the case in Libya, when it is clear that UNSC has two kinds of resolutions; toothed and toothless.

The writer is based in Nairobi and can be reached at



South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/A)

Mayom General Headquarters

August, 13, 2011

The South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/A) would like to inform the people of South Sudan and international community that on August, 6, 2011, sixty five bodyguards of Maj. Gen. Peter Gatdet were given a choice to either remain with SSLA or follow Peter Gatdet, who rejoined the SPLA on August, 03, 2011. The SSLA’s leadership was compelled to democratically invite the immediate family members of Maj. Gen. Peter Gatdet in the army to exercise their freewill after the government of Unity State negatively propagated in the radio that his cousins and nephews in the SSLA were inhumanely treated.

The aim of the propaganda of Unity State government to concoct mistreatment of Peter Gatdet’s immediate relatives was to create clan and sectional disputes among the Bul-Nuer clan of Unity State. To prove to the people of South Sudan that SSLM/A is a Movement founded upon sound democratic principles, we decided to call the immediate family members of Peter Gatdet to exercise their freewill whether they would remain or follow him. Out of sixty five bodyguards, thirty five decided to follow him. On August, 7, 2011, the leadership of the SSLA allowed them to go to Mayom County which is under the control of the SPLA army.

It is important to note that Maj. Gen. Peter Gatdet joined SSLM/A on March, 28, with his friend Col. Bol Gatkuoth Koal. He didn’t bring any single soldier from the SPLA army. But when he joined the Movement, his nephews and cousins who were part of SSLA prior to his defection were permitted to become his bodyguards in the frontline. When he re-defected to SPLA on August, 3, his entire family in the SSLA was emotionally disturbed and disappointed for bringing shame to his family’s refutation. However, his re-defection to the SPLA was exploited by the government of the Unity State that attempted to instigate clan and sectional disputes among the Nuer. Therefore, the SSLA took a rational decision to allow his immediate family members who wanted to join him to go to Mayom County in order to show to the people of Unity State that the allegations of mistreatment concocted by the government were not real.

Unfortunately, Maj. Gen. Gatduel Gatluak, head of SPLA Division Four in Unity State, ordered the arrest of Maj. Gen. Peter Gatdet’s bodyguards upon their arrival in Mayom County on August, 7, 2011. It came to our attention that they are being subjected to harsh and inhumane treatments which violated 1949 Geneva Convention. Their arrests revealed to the general public that Maj. Gen. Peter Gatdet was deceived on August 3rd to rejoin the SPLA army. It is becoming clearer that he might end up deceased like Col. Gatluak Gai who was lured to signing a fake peace which made him vulnerable to assassination.

The international human rights bodies and Red Cross should investigate the SPLA’s violations of Geneva Convention, particularly Common Article 3 relating to Non-International Armed Conflict which states that persons taking no active part in hostilities, including military persons who have ceased to be active, should be treated humanely. The bodyguards of Maj. Gen. Peter Gatdet decided to follow him out of family reasons and their arrest is the violation of Geneva Convention Common Article 3 relating to Non-International Armed Conflict.

It is important for the SPLA army to put into action Geneva Convention since South Sudan became an independent state on July, 9, 2011. Our Movement is fully observing Geneva Convention that is why we treat humanely over five hundred SPLA war prisoners (POWs). Besides, we have five Congolese and Rwandese war prisoners captured together with SPLA forces in May this year. Therefore, we invite the Red Cross and human rights bodies to come and see foreigners captured along with SPLA army.

For media contact:

Information Department

Tel. +249-912150206 Tel. +249-905-133596 Email: SSLA Headquarters, Mayom

What good will Machar’s apology produce?

By Zechariah Manyok Biar

August 12, 2011 — Dr. Riek Machar Teny’s apology to the people of greater Bor attracted different reactions from both Nuer Community and the Greater Bor Community. Some politicians like Gordon Buay thought it was a mistake for the Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan to “reduce himself to the level of Peter Gatdet.” People like Mr. Gatkuoth Nguth believed that Dr. Riek apologized to score a political point. Mr. Isaiah Abraham reasoned that what the Vice President had done was a bold move that should be imitated by others so that we amend the past. Some people from Bor Community argued that Dr. Machar should go and express his apology in places like Bor, Panyagor, and Duk.

These people have their own points to make. But the reality is that political apology is often regarded as symbolic. Politicians sometimes apologize for the atrocities committed by their dead generation against a particular community and it is still regarded as important. Political apology is not necessarily meant for the affected people to hear. It is meant for the world to hear how a particular group of people was unjustifiably affected by a political decision.

Political apology gives the message about the change from the past wrong behavior to the present one that might be just and reconciliatory. That is what Dr. Machar’s apology is meant for, I think.

Now, if the apology was meant for the scoring of political points, as Mr. Gatkuoth reasoned, then it would not achieve that goal because people from the Greater Bor have the ability to judge the motive through one’s behavior. Dr. Machar’s intention would be clear in the near future and it is not going to take even a day before we know it. But I am not saying that Dr. Machar should stop from expressing his political ambitions. He had been doing that before he apologized to us. He is still free to do so. But we are not going to support him simply because he has apologized to us. We still deserve our democratic right to judge whether one deserves or not deserve our political support. It is how one performs that counts in politics.

Let us not forget also that Dr. Machar is the Vice President of this Country. He cannot be so desperate to get a political position as if he has none. I think he apologized because he believed it was the right thing to do. Dr. Machar apologized on moral ground. He is a leader and should not remain adamant and arrogant to the people he once wronged. He was bold enough not to play a blame game. That was why he took all the responsibility on what happened in 1991.

Of course he delayed to apologize. But that does not mean we would overlook the symbolism served by his political apology. We are happy that he personally did it. His apology is not going to be spoiled by people who do not understand it from Dr. Machar’s community. We believe that the few who understand it are enough for us to start mending social relationships between our two communities. Madam Nyandeng has already made a move by making it clear that she would now be eating in Dr. Machar’s house. Most of us will because Dr. Machar was sincere in his apology. His apology was not the “so-called” or put in quote as Isaiah Abraham did in his article.

The sincerity of Dr. Machar’s apology was demonstrated by the tears he shed before the people at the house of Dr. Garang. The tears he shed were not crocodile tears; they were real tears of disappointment on what happened in 1991 under his leadership. Dr. Machar’s sincerity in the shedding of tears let people like Madam Nyandeng shed their tears too.

What remains for us now as members of both Bor and Nuer Communities is to devise ways that we can start new social life between our communities. Bad things happen and people still overcome them.

I agree with Isaiah Abraham when he says in the conclusion of his article published by Sudan Tribune on August 12, 2011: “Yeah, brothers and sisters from Bor were on the receiving end of that rebellion and no right minded person could deny the destruction it has caused these people. But the by gone should be by gone, especially now that the big man has come out and say ‘he is sorry’.” That is the good that Dr. Machar’s apology will produce, I believe.

Zechariah Manyok Biar, BA. Edu., MACM, MSSW. He can be reached at

Two Sudans but the tasks of nation building remain the same!

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

August 10, 2011 — When President Omer Hassan al Bashir boarded his presidential plane back to Khartoum on the eve of the 9th July 2011 after having joined the people of South Sudan in their celebrations that saw the lowering of the flag of the Republic of Sudan and its replacement with the flag of the new republic of South Sudan, he knew that, that was it. He knew that he was a witness to the moment that not only is he no longer a president over that very soil where he stood, but also that neither him nor his delegation would be visiting that same spot any time in the future without first going through the lengthy processes of filling visa application forms and having to wait for somebody to decide whether to approve it or reject it.

On the whole this new development understandably is not limited to al Bashir as such, for it extends to affect many other people like myself who spent decades in high profile jobs and major academic achievements in national institutions in different parts of what today is the North Sudan. Many much so are those born across the political divide that can now only through similar procedural routes have access to their personal or family properties in lands only recently designated as foreign territory. Many will have to seek the assistance of their diplomatic missions acknowledging that they are no longer citizens in those parts as was the case prior to 9th July 2011.

So whether they would be happy with their new status when they make their first visit to North Sudan following the official secession of the South shouldn’t really be an issue to any South Sudanese. Nothing in all the above should sound any unfamiliar since our people have travelled vast and lived in foreign lands where they acquired jobs and properties. As I write, I now reside with my family of five in the United Kingdom, after fleeing the harsh realities of marginalisation wherever we were in Northern Sudan during the civil war and especially so under the Islamists rule of today. However in the UK my family and I enjoy full rights to the basics of life in a way no less to those native born. This is also true of other fellows from North Sudan who resided here even earlier than me and we all interact under the British Law which we find to an extent, accommodative to all.

Where I was born, Juba the capital of the republic of South Sudan life continues to ooze with a cosmopolitan atmosphere characteristic of a major trade centre that remains open to business involving persons from different parts of the world; however a historical fact remains unique that many businesses were and continue to be run by merchants from North Sudan. We are all glad that the leadership of the new republic has made it clear that people of North Sudanese origin will continue to do business and hold properties in South Sudan. Some who fulfil the conditions and opt to have South Sudanese citizenship will be offered citizenships per the constitution of the new country. Isn’t that civilized!?

Surprisingly though is the official position of the authorities in North Sudan who are slower to upgrade their judgements and levels of interaction so as to accommodate the new realities on the ground while at the same time not jeopardising the much needed good neighbours relationship. It was natural that South Sudanese be affected by the referendum result that favoured secession, however judging by previous precedence as was the case between the Sudan and Egypt before 1956, it can be seen that the North Sudanese policy makers have shown too much irrationality in some of their decisions.

There exists much similarity in the situation between how it was between Egypt and the Sudan before the later formal declared its independence. The Mahdist revolution was a movement to free Sudan from the Turkey-Egypt rule, which can be compared to the many other south Sudanese armed struggles like the Anya Nya or the SPLM/A to much extend. Egypt which instigated the Sudanese to call an end to the colonial rule expected the Sudan to chose unity with it when the British left, unfortunately it wasn’t to be for the very person in the centre of ‘the Unity of the Nile Valley’, Sayyed Ismail al Azhari on the first opportunity chose independence of sovereignty over unity with Egypt.

Al Azhari and his colleagues whose roles in confronting the Anglo-Egyptian rule can be compared to that of Dr. Garang and the SPLM/A vision of the’ New Sudan’, they didn’t hold a referendum to decide which way Sudan was to go, and obviously to avoid the possibility of a popular vote in favour of unity with Egypt, the very politician who was in the frontline campaigning for this unity showed a change of heart in the last minute when he declared the independence of Sudan from inside the parliament. How was this news received by Egypt is everyone’s guess, yet the official reaction from Cairo resembles nothing like what we are seeing today happening between Juba and Khartoum.

On January 1st 1956 there were thousands of Sudanese nationals serving in Egyptian institutions especially so in the Border Guards the Police Forces and Hotel Chefs, and Gate Keepers and many other private sectors. Non of those Sudanese where forced out of their jobs as we saw happened to South Sudanese following the results of the 9th January 2010 self determination referendum that came in favour of secession.

In Egypt following Ismail al Azhari’s declaration of Independence, the Egyptian Authorities reacted with a very high level of self respect and understanding and they accepted that decision as the choice of the people of the Sudan although it didn’t come out of a democratically conducted popular referendum as expected. Egypt gave the Sudanese in their work force the options of either choosing Egyptian citizenships or to remain as Sudanese nationals, but in both cases they remained entitled to their jobs, properties, residence with minimal or no alternation at all. There were none of these irresponsible and childish statements like denying people basics e.g. treatment to the extend of a certain Obeid a government minister threatening that South Sudanese remaining in the North Sudan will be denied even syringes and medical injections. This of course sent South Sudanese to imagine scenarios where midwives who attending their women in labour would be arrested for cooperating or being involved in illegal activities with foreign nationals with ‘persona non grata’ status..

The hostile attitudes shown by the North Sudan’s National Congress Party (NCP) a.k.a National Islamic Front (N.I.F.) politicians in addressing the post split South Sudan was based on a true reflection of their deeply seated frustration as if the poor South Sudanese who fled the civil war northwards were to blame for the regimes multiple failures. This is a malicious intent to undermine the huge contributions by the South Sudanese to make Khartoum the city that it is now. This modern City is what it is because of the Oil money from the Oil fields of South Sudan, and almost every brick in those tall beautiful buildings were soaked with the sweat of manual labourers who mainly hailed from the South.

Even in the absence of the million or so South Sudanese, Khartoum will still be predominant black, especially so in what has become known as ‘the black belt’, city suburb. The Nuba of South Kordofan, the black Africans of Darfur and the South Blue Nile together with the millions of others from the neighbouring Chad, Nigeria, Niger, Senegal who make the bulk of the working class in the city and the other big towns of North Sudan will continue to give that part of Africa its ‘ blackness’.

Now that officially we have two Sudans yet the tasks of nation building on both either remain the same, be it in the North or the South. For us in the new republic of South Sudan we have an obligation to participate with the international community in maintaining the global peace. In our new dealings with our northern neighbours we will as much as possible opt for more dialogue and diplomacy through the channels availed to us by our new sovereignty to address the much contentious issues of international borders or agreements. This we hope should also be the change in attitude in the North. Much of our dealings with the neighbours in Khartoum will no doubt continue to request the involvement of the various international institutions given the attitudes of the northern officials as shown above until such a time that sensible politicians take over there.

The split of Sudan into two is not the final solution in itself, but the solutions to those issues that led to this events are to be found in the lessons learnt by both sides if ever they were learnt. For the North Sudan, the elite may yet risk seeing a much small versions of their country if they don’t accept that the so-called ‘Islamic Civilization Project’ is both a failure and unrealistic.

‘The Islamic economy’, was another utter failure and any improvement that happened from 2000 on ward was due to the Oil money from the South and has nothing to do with the raised slogan of Islamism. Again the destructive pursuit of a purely Arabic speaking, Arabized and Islamised Sudan is another delusion. This kind of bigotry can only be realised by again relinquishing the whole of Darfur, the South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile regions. Those who find it difficult to accept the new map of Sudan can go ahead to imagine the map of a purely ‘Arabized Sudan’, after excluding the above mentioned areas.

Given the facts of ‘the climate change’, the desertification and droughts, North Sudan will continue to depend on its border areas with South Sudan for water, pasture and security. The Nile water agreement is another issue with a huge regional political impact. North Sudan will have to learn how to adjust to the facts on the ground and possibly learn from the much advanced Egypt that only good diplomatic relationship with South Sudan can guarantee for mutual co-existence. Without the least doubt, Khartoum’s behavior over the fees of transporting the South Sudan oil through the North’s territory is yet another ill-timed brinkmanship for which NCP/NIF will hugely regret.

As for the new republic of South Sudan, the challenges are multiples. But to start any sensible development, the new government must find more realistic ways of addressing the broader state of insecurity in the country. South Sudanese are the cause of most of their problems, even though nature and climate has its role as well. We have seen many rebel groups following the only general elections in our recent history, largely because we didn’t conduct ourselves well. In future worse things can still happen if the ruling party insists of the way it addresses issues of nominations, campaigns, voting, vote counting etc. it was badly done, and again those declared winners through fraud wanted to have it exclusively.

Democracy and elections are good as long as they are fairly conducted. On the other hand a clumsy democracy and sham elections can destroy the national fabrics of the state. Say you don’t want it and go for one party dictatorship and in places like South Sudan you are stuck with crazy nationwide rebellions. If we found it easy to condemn the North for failing to provide democracy, then now it us to bear the ultimate blame should South Sudan go bananas.

The ‘Old Sudan’, failed to hold as a country because the Northern elites sought to correct the issues of the Sudanese vast diversity by opting to eliminate it (diversity) altogether in favour of a single identity. Where is that country now? Non existent, and in fact ‘dismantled’, is the correct word. In south Sudan we need to do things differently, but sincerely recognising our diversity, and genuinely managing it as our reality. It is good to talk about fighting tribalism, but it only changes when you take actions. National Institutions have the capacity to eradicate tribalism by realising inclusiveness and fair representation. The basic criteria to qualify an institution as national are its national nature, mission and composition. You can have a national assembly quite easily because you by law request for representatives from all sections and parts of the country in a fair representation. This goes on to serve the nation well. However in other settings like having a national army without strictly stressing its inclusiveness at all levels betrays its claim of being national.

Our diversity can only be managed through brave decisions and policies which deliberately aim to include all sectors and segments of the society in nation building. If we really choose to fight tribalism by adopting a national inclusiveness then we can do it by making it a policy and a practice. Otherwise tribalism is what naturally happens in an African setting and unless there are clear directives to put limits to it, it is bound to flourish. The marginalization of segments of society which we are supposed to have walked away from by choosing independence over unity with the North should be fought by clearly defined policies. We are not in any way immune from any of the vices that we used to attribute to the Northerners, nor are we immune from the crisis that followed.

In conclusion one can say with much certainty that it is not the split but the lessons learnt from the split (why, the timing, associated and immediate events, how ………etc) that can offer the recipe for the viability of the two Sudans, with each independent in sovereignty, and both inter-dependent as good neighbors.

The author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. Secretary General – United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can be reached at: or

An effendi’s democracy

By Magdi El Gizouli

August 7, 2011 — Failing to think in other than their self-defeating legalistic categories the leaders of the Khartoum opposition, lumped together in the rather wobbly National Consensus Forces (NCF), could only ruminate yet again the claim that President Bashir’s government has lost its ‘legitimacy’. The opposition had made the same pronouncement at each and every major milestone of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), notably after the April 2010 elections, following the announcement of the results of the January 2011 referendum on the future of Southern Sudan, and now that the South has been christened an independent state. The argument this time is that the Interim National Constitution, an amalgam of the CPA and the National Congress Party’s (NCP) 1998 constitution is no longer valid considering that the CPA has reached its final station. On each occasion, the secretary of the NCF leadership, Farouq Abu Issa, busied the local media with the pledge of a nation-wide political campaign to challenge the NCP, a declaration of next to no substance.

The ‘legitimacy’ argument while formally presentable cynically exposes the opposition for what it currently is; a domestic but detached observation mission with little political muscle to back its proclamations. During their years of abstinence from power the crown leaders of Khartoum’s political parties have done little more than rehearse a fantasy of post-NCP ‘democracy’ that will restore the status quo ante of the pre-1989 Khartoum and simultaneously do away with the country’s many ills in an instantaneous puff of freedom. Paradoxically the major proponent of this Newfoundland beyond the NCP’s Sudan is Hassan al-Turabi. To that end the veteran leader of the Islamic Movement has recently developed a new look altogether. Revising his political career he declared himself the prime leader of the 1964 October Revolution against the military government of President Abboud and reinterpreted his entire adventure with power as a continuous battle to wrestle freedom from the grip of evil dictators.

The democracy in question I suppose, paraphrasing Georges Sorel, is the paradise of which unscrupulous effendiya dream. Of course, the standard wisdom of Khartoum’s opposition it to blame the chronic crises of the country on the recurrence of military rule, and thereupon to conclude that once democracy is restored the suitable conditions for the resolution of the country’s incessant dilemmas would be created. The argument obviously supposes an unqualified divorce between form and content, a rift through which the tanks of the army have repeatedly rolled. Rarely does it cross the minds of Khartoum’s elite that the doom of their democracy may not necessarily be an imposition of fate but a consequence of its very nature.

In its heyday the Communist Party attempted with a degree of nuance to address this question and develop an alternative historical narrative of the post-colonial Sudan. To overcome the impasse of Sudan’s abortive democracy, formally sound but by necessity reliant on a rural-urban schism whereby Sudan’s hinterlands are condemned to provide the rulers in Khartoum with votes and resources, the Party suggested alternative forms of government borrowed from the experience of third world liberation movements. In the 1960s the Communist Party advocated for ‘direct democracy’ or ‘popular democracy’ led by a ‘national democratic front’ uniting the nation’s progressive forces as it were. Once the fantasy became reality under Colonel Nimayri the communists were quick to reconsider and soon rediscovered the safe mode of parliamentary rule albeit with a taste of bitterness. Shocked by the bloody confrontation with state power in 1971 the Party simply dropped its critique of the concrete Sudanese mode of democracy without further investigation, to the detriment of both itself and the country.

While the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in South Sudan has chosen its particular response to Khartoum’s democracy, namely breakaway, the Khartoum opposition, if it is to develop into a credible alternative to the NCP, has to rethink its own. What democracy, and for whom?

The author is a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute. He publishes regular opinion articles and analyses at his blog Still Sudan. He can be reached at

The definitive way out for the New Republic!

By Justin Ambago Ramba

August 4, 2011 — While it is completely understandable for us to go on deservedly congratulating ourselves over our Independence and sharing the ‘free at last’ expression with fellow compatriots, there is an obliging need that we seriously consider those valuable advices that came from our generous guests who joined us in the celebration.

We will have to demonstrate a great deal of political maturity when we come to reflect on the participations shown by our many friends, as some expressed words of encouragement and gave advice, while others preferred physical expressions either drawing our attention by their actions, comments or body language. This is what friends are for, aren’t they? They have done their bits and it is now our sole responsibility to choose which ones to take and which ones to discard. As it always goes the final decision is ours for it is but the beginning of being independent.

So if nobody has already told us how substandard the organisation of the 9th July 2011 Independence Day celebration was, they are probably being diplomatic with us. The obvious is that we clearly underestimated the complexity involved in such matters. It was chaos, but still it didn’t stop there for many of our guests were left to wonder what type of a nation was about to come out in this messy start?

Again as usual our top political echelons were quick to blame it all on ‘the over used’ excuse of ‘starting from the scratch’, reneging on the fact that we are at the continuum of a six years period where we ran our own affairs. That shouldn’t count as ‘scratch’, unless of course all that we with the $10 billion worth over a half of a decade was but some kind of ‘scratch’. Things need to change fellow compatriots and until the ruling SPLM recognises its limitations of trying bull-doze everything exclusively without the involvement of the other political parties, South Sudan will always remain a laughing stock.

We have seen the SPLM stuck in a vicious circle where decision makers insist on always assigning public duties exclusively to their kinsmen regardless of the fact that others from outside the domains of the so-called major ethnicities could have performed better. As defensive as some may react when confronted by articles like this, their lack to the sense of details is already damaging our national image and the pride we are entitled to as a country.

It is important that we not only look for genuine feedbacks from our guests as well as the people we do business with, but it is also important to learn lessons from them. Feedbacks are meant to help us have a picture or even just a rough idea about our performances as it is seen by other people. If you think that you know it all, and when you are caught in a middle of a mess and you think that each it happens you just walk away by blaming it on lack of experience……the overused starting from the ‘scratch’, then you are dangerous, for your neither learn nor alone in those who have the know how.

The 9th of July 2011 in itself was just a day that marked the official inauguration of the new state of South Sudan, but from thence we look forward to the reality of life as people of an independent sovereignty. As citizens of this new independent country we are entitled to a daily life that will not only continuously reflect the freedom that we hold very dearly, but we also should opt to do everything within our reach to maintain it forever in a context which guarantees our human rights and rights as citizens. Again it is about transparency and accountability from the top to the bottom.

Integral to this new dawn of independence the people of South Sudan is expected to enjoy the peace dividends and have a full meaning to their hard won independence. And to achieve these milestones the much talked about ‘democratic transformation’ should immediately be given a priority in all the socio-political engagements. Indisputably the SPLM which rules the new country has for decades acted as a voice of the oppressed and the marginalised, however the realities on the ground today say otherwise.

In South Sudan the people have long known that oppressors do not have race, skin colour, or religion and our ‘free at last’ from the Arab North will and should be taken with a pinch of salt. Indeed it is very easy for a liberator to turn oppressor when democracy ends at the eve of announcing the elections results. For ‘Democracy’ to be complete we have to have check and balance in place, even if it has to come from regional or international bodies, otherwise experience has shown us that a starting democracy like ours can easily overlook the important separation of power.

Governments can be tested by the most trivial events, and now the new state of South Sudan has issued a new currency which has just entered into circulation but the citizens are looking for answers as to why there is no issuance date on the notes. Deducing from how events unfold, the Governor of the Central Bank of South Sudan is bent on downplaying what otherwise is a genuine public observation and concern. Sincerely speaking one feels irritated on hearing excuses as,’ even the British pound has no issue date’. And so what?

The people of South Sudan are clever people and they expected a transparent answer to their question as they suspect that these notes might have been printed long time back and only released now. Putting a date would have given out that bit which the people high up in the system do not what the common citizens to know. We better appreciate that it is now time for government officials to treat their fellow compatriots as equal citizens with the full rights to know how decisions are taken and why.

Patronizing fellow citizens is a breach of contract. The British banknotes may not carry dates of issuance and that is in the interest of the Britons, and should they be asking their people in authority for answers, I believe they will get it, and I don’t expect the British government to simply say they it is so because some country somewhere in the north or south pole are doing the same.

As it is commonly said, one thing often leads to the other, no surprise as a part of the surrounding euphoria of independence, President Kiir was reported to have publicly acknowledged being aware of the fact that some South Sudanese do own huge sums of money outside the country. “I know that some people here are keeping huge sums of money out there in foreign banks, and I advise them to transfer that money back to the country, now that we have our own currency,” . President Kiir commented. However one is made to wonder as to whether what Mr. President said wasn’t just a demonstration of his sense of humour which he obviously wanted to share with the jubilant crowd rather than genuinely appealing to the ‘over-night millionaires’ to seriously consider relocating these dubiously earned wealth?

Many will agree with me that before July 2005, there hardly existed South Sudanese with huge accounts in foreign banks the way Mr. President was referring to. All these fat accounts came into existence after the ‘liberators’ begun serving themselves through the Oil money in that government of self service, the GOSS. Huge mansions and super deluxe flats in Europe, Australia, Canada, USA, Dubai, Nairobi, Kampala, South Africa, even in Khartoum are visible evidences of how a recognisable number multi millionaire former SPLM/A freedom fighters and their cronies have looted the nascent country since they made it to the higher offices.

Again no surprise that most of these illegal amassed riches are basically maintaining super extended and compound families of top people in the government who largely reside in the Diaspora with bills paid from the public coffers. While this trend is likely to continue, it obviously means that more public money will continue to find its way into those overseas banks. this is the one well documented characteristics of our present day leadership as they are known for easily reconciling abusers of power and those whose corruption graft and received kickbacks in those countless dubious contracts both locally and internationally.

Recently there was media mention of the Vodafone scandal involving a high placed politician in the ruling SPLM who for his role in the current government will evade any question. The British Macmillan Printing House bribery scandals are one huge example of yet another big bribery at the international level. It seems that everything from telephone companies to roads construction contracts have been messed, while our national assembly engages itself with unnecessary bureaucracy that in itself compromises its attempts at tackling the infamous sorghum (Dura) saga.

Now that South Sudan is a sovereign state and a republic for that matter, the hope for a nationwide stability will only come through a unity of purpose and positive discrimination which aims at an all inclusive participation in the various organs of the state. Democracy is a beautiful thing and the ballot can achieve more than the bullet. The self determination referendum in January 2011 and the high participation rate that it achieved in settling what was otherwise a huge step in our history will forever stand tall as an example of what good democracy can achieve

With my due respect to the leadership of the day, yet looking at their backgrounds with some scrutiny, one can never miss to notice ‘the huge conflict of interest’, when many are both owners of companies, or related(spouses) to their owners while they sit on the government side to dispatch those contracts. No amount of rhetoric can eradicate corruption, for neither nepotism nor favouritism contradicts with our tribal beliefs to which most of us take refuge when the going gets tough. Much will depend on the political will, but this too remains a historical rarity in third world politics. And the more we hope for a natural change the more things will remain the same, even under a new leadership. On the other hand other things are just too deformed to be reformed (late Dr. Garang, founder of SPLM/A) and where South Sudan stands now, only a total overhaul can offer the definitive way out.

Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. Secretary General of United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can be reached at: or

The Conference of the African Horne Donors will support drought affected people and overcome the crises

Translated By: Belgees Fagier

the Region of the African Horn , particularly
Somalia is witnessing the worst periods of draughts during the last five
decades, where more than 12 million people were affected with waves of drought and starvation.

The deterioration of the conditions has caused a dangerous
humanitarian crises , which requires launching appeals by a number of
regional organizations to overcome the crises and attract more
urgent humanitarian aid to reduce the effects of drought ,which deprived
most of the region's nations from clean water, , food needs , primary
. health care and sanitation services .

In this context, the African Union "AU" called all its members states
to collect the resources and immediately respond to save the people in
the region of African Horn, according to a press statement released by the

The Donors conference will convene in the 25th of current August in the Ethiopian capital , Addis Ababa. It target to mobilize the continent resources, first to fill the financing gab and to adopt an urgent relief programme , in addition to drawing the attentions of the African leaders and the world community to the strategy of alleviating the effects from the civilians on the Medium and long term of the crises.

The invitation will be extended to the African private sector , the NGOs and the AU partners to participate in the conference.
Preceeding the conference the AU has specialized the 15th of Aug, of every year to be the Day of " a unified African Call" concerning the humanitarian situation in the African Horne
While more than 303 million person face the danger of drought and starvation in Somalia, the day will be specified to mobilize and alert all the member states in the African Union, within the framework of the AU efforts to gather all the African entities to support the African and provide kind and cash contributions, to increase the humanitarians assistants to the drought- affected people in the region .
The AU commission has opened a bank account by the number 002702/953184/00 in the Ethiopian commercial Bank, the branch of AU
In Addis Ababa, to receive the contributions from the African
governments, the private sector and African peoples , including the AU
efforts to support victims of Starvation in Somalia and African
The AU has also provided a support amounting to 500.000 USD to eliminate the impacts of starvation in Somalia and call the council of Peace and security , related to AU to lay shadow on the topic of starvation as a
priority in its last meeting.

A report to monitor the condition in Somalia , issued by the UN
recently, warned that tens of thousands of Somali people died
,while 1.25 million children in south Somalia need to save their live .
Besides, 2.8 million person include 1.25 children are in need to urgent
support in South Somalia, according to the office of coordination of the
humanitarian affairs in UN , also Kenya , Ethiopia, Djibouti
, North Uganda and some areas in Eretria suffer the impacts of
drought and crops production decline .