Wednesday, 17 June 2015

An Update From Juba, Republic Of South Sudan

Around three years ago, I had published a letter from my friend Ayak Acol de Dut who grew up in Juba and Khartoum in Sudan, did her law degree from the National Law School of India University and currently lives in Juba, the capital of the Republic of South Sudan. At my request, Ayak sent me an update to her previous letter.

“It is hard to believe that three years have passed since our last interview. And even though it feels as if not much has changed, a lot has.

Soon after the interview I started a job within the petroleum industry where I remain to date. The work is interesting and the industry is very dynamic and is on its way to expand even more in the future.

On a national level South Sudan is going through turbulent political times. In December 2013 war broke out between the Government and supporters of the ex-Vice President following accusations of an attempted coup d’etat. As the conflict spread there was widespread destruction to both life and property. It also caused displacement in parts of the country – there is a substantial part of our population living in insecurity. Oil production was also affected drastically, resulting in a slowing down of the economy. Although Juba has gone back to being peaceful, there are parts of the country where conflict flares up from time to time. At the moment the Government has the upper hand, but it is also engaged in peace talks with the rebels.

As I mentioned, Juba, where I live, has gone back to a new normal and continues to expand. What seems mundane and is taken for granted elsewhere in the world is novel here: new roads, traffic lights, buildings, you name it. When visiting different areas of Juba after an absence of a few months one is constantly surprised by the many changes taking place.

Infrastructure is improving

In spite of the recent war I can say that we have slowly been joining the rest of the world and are striving to be noticed: a South Sudanese troupe performed Shakespeare’s ‘Cymbeline’ at the Globe Theatre in London, and Miss South Sudan was crowned Miss Africa and then took fourth position in the ‘Miss World’ Competition, and we are also trying to join the sporting world, among other things. These are small steps but we will get there.

Crowds of people doing traditional dances on the outskirts of Juba during the weekend.

Christmas 2014 celebrations at the Juba All Saints Cathedral.

As regards the future, especially given the problems South Sudan is going through the question may be posed as to whether I still feel optimistic. The answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’ South Sudan is on a very steep learning curve and is going through major growing pains but it is also a big learning process. We are optimistic that the rounds of peace processes bear fruit.

Small-town Juba

Beautiful Juba

To translate the words of a song by one of our popular singers Emmanuel Kembe: ‘We are all in one boat, moving forward. Our boat is a bit rickety, but it is still moving forward.’

June 2015

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