Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Prostitutes rape pastors

You try finding an appropriate image
Im not a massive fan of copy and pasting but this was just too funny. From AllAfrica:

Two men of God were over the weekend allegedly lured to patronise harlots at a popular brothel at Cable Point, Asaba, the Delta State capital, when they went there to preach to the ladies of easy virtue.LEADERSHIP learnt that the pastors from a very popular church along Ibusa Road in the state had visited the area to convert and win over the sex workers to their church, but they were themselves seduced by the prostitutes who had sex with them and later burnt their Bibles and clothes.
Sources said the men of God (their names withheld) had resolved in one of their meetings to win many converts, especially the prostitutes who stay in brothels, in order for them to grow their church's membership.Cable Point is a notorious stop-over for hoodlums and has the largest number of brothels and casinos in the south-south region.An eyewitness said that preachers had gained audience with the harlots but after a period of time they were disoriented by the sudden display of breasts and other revealing body parts which reportedly hypnotized the preachers. Their hosts then took them into their rooms where they were said to have performed 'quickies.'LEADERSHIP learnt that fight broke out when the evangelists regained their composure and insisted on not paying the harlots' bills, arguing that that was not their original mission. During the scuffle, they ladies reportedly burnt the pastors' Bibles and clothes.

I have absolutely nothing to add....

(I don't know how to get rid of the highlights and can't be bothered to retype it, sorry)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ostriches and Sufis in Sudan

I was recently sent this most interesting link of a video of a Sufi Tariqa (order) in Sudan performing a ritual ceremony......with ostriches?!
Further research led to the photograph above from a Foreign Policy collection of photos of Sudan as a whole released just before the South's independence. There are references to ostriches in a bunch of articles, but nothing that actually explains the significance of ostriches to their ceremonies. Just references to the creature in metaphorical a

I consulted my Sufi expert (because all the cool kids have one of those), who has spent some time with this Tariqa in Sudan but he was unsure of it himself. I then tried to consult my ostrich expert, but he had his head in the ground (ba-dum-tiss)

If anyone out there has some answers and would like to enlighten me, I would be very grateful.

H/T: Harith Ramli 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More Tweet Battles...

Continuing on from previous wars being fought over twitter, Al-Shabab (@HSMPress) and the Kenyan Defence Forces (@KDF) have started their on war of words as the KDF pushes into Somalia in support of the "Somalian Government".

From Al-Jazeera:

A few days ago, al-Shabab posted this, referring to the Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF): "Unable to foot the bill, the young & temperamental #KDF joins the fatigued &timid #AMISOM in a turbulent marriage of convenience." 
Major Emmaneul Chirchir, the KDF's spokesman, is also on Twitter (@MajorEChirchir). When Kenyan forces went into Somalia, he tweeted the names of the Somali towns which would be targeted, warning people to leave. 
 "Any large concentration and movement of loaded donkeys will be considered Al Shabaab activity," he wrote.

@HSMPress responded: "Like bombing donkeys, you mean! Your eccentric battle strategy has got animal rights groups quite concerned. Major. " 
The Major, clearly rattled, responded: "Life has more meaning than denying women to wear bras..RT in support of Somalia women."

The use of formal english in their tweets suggests that the writer for Al-Shabab was educated in the west or is a westerner themselves. Whoever it is, they are pretty dedicated in their role as a spokesperson, while even adding some humour:

nazaninemoshiri [correspondent for Al-Jazeera] This must be 's innovative new approach to Twitter interviews. Should we call it Twinterview?
On the darker side, HSMPress is also being used as a means to report the victims of its violence:

Images of the ID cards of  soldiers killed in battles. - NSENGIYUMVA, Céléstin. D.O.B = 1975

Friday, December 9, 2011

Lessons in diplomacy

If things start to get messy, just walk away:

 The Kenyan foreign minister Moses Wetangula on Tuesday announced that his government will not host the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting that was to be dedicated for discussions on the Sudan issues.
The decision comes against the backdrop of the arrest warrant issued by a Kenyan high court judge last month for Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir in compliance with similar warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC)....the Kenyan top diplomat reversed course revealing that Kenya has written to IGAD to allow Ethiopia host the summit since President Meles Zenawi is the current IGAD chairman.

from Sudan Tribune.

Also, read the rest of the article to see a beautiful political system with its powers well distributed in action.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Machine Gun Present

Oh joy, the lovely folks at Invisible Children, in collaboration with the Enough! project, gave the Machine Gun Preacher a fancy new app that helps him track LRA movement. Now he can easily capture more LRA soldiers.....

I just hope that he doesn't accidentally get shot by those newly US trained soldiers.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crocheting out of poverty......?

My reaction after watching this video that my friend had sent me was:

"Oh, what a delightful little satirical video of crazy development aid projects."

I was convinced that this was a joke for four reasons:

1) Krocheting for Kids?!......Now that just sounds made up.

2) The three guys running the project look like cast members of a Saturday Night Live-like show (I thought I had been away for so long that these were just some comedians I hadn't heard of).

3) The fact that they used Bing to search for things on the internet.....I mean seriously, who actually uses Bing without being forced to.

and finally because of this guy:

 "Wow these guys must be super committed to the joke, they even made an entire website for it."

I must have watched the video 10 times over to find clues of it being a joke. I even started going through the website, reading all their finance report, while still thinking to myself; "This is one elaborate joke"............. I think the fact that they were advertising sweaters for chickens didn't really help.

Eventually, I came to terms with it. These guys were serious. 

So naturally, I put on my cynic cap on and began to think of the many ways in which this idea fails. 

"Hopefully, they actually cause more harm than they help...." I began to lustfully dream while stroking my chin. 

I came up with nothing*.

After getting over the mild depression that came with the death of my cynical side I began to think positively. 

As ridiculous as this idea was, it had its benefits. 1) capacity building, 2) creation of livelihoods, 3) sustainability (a donor somewhere just came himself). 
These guys aren't dumping these hats in the developing world (SWEDOW) and they aren't portraying their 'beneficiaries' (they don't actually eve use the word) as miserable helpless people (poverty porn) -- although thats probably because they can't afford to not have the camera focusing on anyone else but themselves (booya, I still got that snark). 

Although one thing that did get me thinking was their choice of location......Uganda. They have their story as to how they started there, but recently I have been hearing about a lot of these micro-development projects popping up there, e.g. DIG. It seems that Uganda has become a test market for all these new innovative projects. Maybe its because the country is relatively stable but just not too developed that you can't establish a grassroots project there. Anyways, it was just interesting to note. 

So in the end, as much as I would like to be a dick, I have to let these hipster bros (I have been away for too long) go, holster my guns of snark and save them for the day Prendergrast decides to rear his head back in the public will be soon. I can feel it. 

* So some negative things to point out: We have no idea where the materials/wool for these hats are coming from.....maybe they are conflict wool. Also, their finance report reads like a 9 year old's toy box inventory. Finally, the purchase of these hats may cause damage on the Chinese economy, the traditional manufacturer of junk. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

ménage à trois?....more like an orgy

J at Tales from the Hood has a nice rant about shaking up current aid system, of which he describes as a ménage à trois between the donors, aid implementers and beneficiaries.

Now I don't know which aid system you're working in old man, but these days, we have let our hair down, got the lube out and are engaged in a full on orgy.

Here is how it goes down:

- Donor gives money to management consultancy firm who then gives that money to aid providers (AP)

- Only if donor is feeling like being dirty and going bareback will they directly give to APs.

- AP then has to find a local AP (L-AP) to actually implement the project because the AP staff don't actually speak the local language or know anything about the local culture. Sometimes AP has to use L-AP because the local government wants to see some of that sexy overhead money go to its own local companies...err, I mean L-AP.

- Some of that money goes to that mysterious consultant that just turns up from nowhere and has such an important sounding job title that you are simply forced to give him the cash in exchange for a ridiculously convoluted report.......who invited that guy anyways?

- L-AP doesn't actually have any technical skill or equipment so they hire contractors who are owned either by a local politician, some foreign guys (Eriterians, Lebanese, South Africans etc) or by a staff member of the AP.

- Consultant appears again and demands further payment for his services. Obviously he gets paid......Seriously guys, who invited that guy?

- L-AP director decides to pack his bags and just leave the country.....along with the money of course. Donor MUST NOT HER ABOUT THIS. AP steps in, finds another L-AP to complete the project using the same contractors. Consultant gets paid again.

- Beneficiary gets something.....wait, what was the project again? Oh, you mean you didn't more water supplies? Flooding you say? Well, you will have to simply wait until the next cycle little buddy.

- UN comes in and takes credit for EVERYTHING.


- Consultant gets paid again

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A challenger appears

So we have another South Sudan blogger amongst our midst, Tales of a Traveling Turkey. While the title seriously requires some rebranding (I imagine this is simply due to the location of where this blog was conceived), it is worth a read for the antics of an aid worker travelling between Ethiopia and South Sudan. Whats the best post from this blog you ask? Why of course its the one that refers to this blog.......

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

South Sudanese music...brrraaaappp

*****Please note, what started as a meaningful post has just been replaced with self-indulgence******

Seriously World, its not what you think.......

So first, the World's initial exposure to South Sudan is through a Hollywood movie about a white priest who hunts rebels and saves kids, now, the World's first exposure to South Sudanese music is through this guy.......Bangs.

Seemingly a member of the South Sudanese diaspora in Australia, Bangs has recently become yet another internet sensation........ironically. Luckily though, a lot of his videos are made pre-independence and so all the maps of Sudan he refers to on the video is simply, Sudan.......not South-specific (I say this because the North don't need their music industry is booming on its own).

And YES, I know you have heard of Emmanuel Jal, but thats because your an aid worker and pride yourself on being down with the exoticness.....thats why you probably have K'naan in your music collection and tell people that you've been listening to him since before the World Cup. Also, Bangs has about 500,000 more hits than Emmanuel Jal.......never underestimate the power of internet trolls.

But Bangs is not the only SS diaspora musician. A quick google search leads you to an array of rather embarrassing amateur videos. Although not all of them are terrible. This is my favourite, though they are in Kenya, so they get a bit more street cred:

 "We love you, Juba we love you...."(I can't make out the rest of the lyrics of the chorus, but it still brings joy to my heart)

And heres one from the US...... I think.

OK, ok, just one more. If you guys used to read the old version of Sudan Tribune that still had the comments section open, you will appreciate this. Ever wonder what happened to Dinka Boy? Well he is now D-Boy:

"I am the Sudanese man, I like the way I am. All I need is freedom, cause Im the Sudanese man"
Instant banger!

I would just like to take this moment to appeal to the World, to not simply write off South Sudanese music based on this one artist. For a country that is still recovering (probably closer to starting from scratch) from the civil war, South Sudan has surprisingly done pretty damn well in establishing its music industry. But those are simply words aren't they? Well, if you have the time to spare, here is a select few South Sudanese (locally produced) tracks that I feel better represents the country. Please note that a lot of the really good tracks are impossible to find on Youtube as they are only available at in Juba.

First, we got a classic tune. This was on loop on South Sudan TV in the lead to the referendum (and NO, not because SSTV didn't really have much material to air at the time!). Emmanuel Kembe:

Not feeling that one? A little bit too slow for your? Try this classic dance tune:

This one goes out to my peacebuilders out there:

Since I have just obviously gone off on a self-indulgent ride of sweet audible Juba memories, here is an brilliant track with a great video from the Sudan Votes album (this whole album is a good introduction to Sudanese pop music). This track is a collaboration with artists from all over the country:

And finally, what better way to say goodbye than to say good bye to the Arabs, "Bye Bye Jalaba"

I actually have a lot more to share. Let me know in the comments section if you are interested.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stuff that could only happen to a new country.....

From Sudan Tribune:

South Sudanese students in India have been unable to renew their passports since the country became independent leaving many stranded, students say.

South Sudanese students, received scholarships from the then government of southern Sudan during the CPA’s interim period (July 2005 – July 2011) to India, used the Sudanese passport. Following South Sudan’s declaration of independence, the students claim that Sudanese embassy is declining to renew expired passports.
“South Sudan[ese] students are frustrated in India...., now stranded and deeply confused,” the students’ letter says.

The students urge South Sudanese authorities to speed up the establishment of the diplomatic mission in Delhi in order to help in this situation adding “something has to be done. We can’t just be like this.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Wait (guest post)

Remixed from: Inside Art New Orleans 

The Wait

Prologue: In this (completely fictional) scene from a Juba noir in the making, a private
detective who just survived a scuffle arrives to question South Sudan’s Minister of Finance on
the recent murder of the Minister of Wildlife and Animal Resources.

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. There’s a Macy’s Day parade of pain marching through my head
and I’m barely floating.

The office manager’s pals stroll in, more tea is called for, hands are shook, the old, fat Dinka
ministry made men play with their ill-gotten iPhones, laugh and congratulate each other in
Arabic not on a job well done, but on jobs not done at all. Development purgatory.

The cold metal of the flask in my jacket bumps against my chest like an old friend and
I am relieved that for once they did not frisk me before letting me in—there are some
benefits to arriving to see the minster during tea time. Not that anyone has anything
against drink during work hours—it’s just that ever since the assassination there’s been an
acute aversion to unexpected concealed objects, particularly those with which I am most
intimately acquainted.

My thumb unscrews the lid and the whiskey washes over my mouth like Picasso coloring a
canvas. I might as well be wearing a leisure suit.

I know the minister is a busy man and I’m not like advisors who bustle in here expecting
him to rearrange his schedule like Moses parting the Red Sea. I never understood that
really—how this whole damn industry can profess to be there to support, to build, to
strengthen, but at the same time can’t stomach when counterparts don’t play nice, or don’t
play at all. We are here to empower you, as long as you remember your place.

Back in the golden age, the boss man was boss and what he said was the word. I’ve always
been convinced every development professional who takes his work seriously is at heart a
colonialist, or at least romanticizes the notion. After all consultants can only have so much
expertise, so much seniority, before it’s impossible for them to start marching into places
and expecting everyone to do what they say.

Blame it on the system, man. Aid to perpetuate a strategy, a strategy all about the
beneficiary except when it comes to what matters. Donor gets money. Donor spends
money. Consultant gets his danger pay. Counterpart scratches head, yawns. Tale as old as

Seeing a donor designing an aid program is a bit like watching a mad scientist at work,
except without the science. The curtains are drawn, consultants live in a world of
whispers about what’s cooking, and the counterparts go about their business oblivious
and unengaged. Then five years later a small forest has been converted into reports, but
overall everyone is surprised how little is accomplished. But the best people to do the
jobs are not those with new ideas, but the ones who have already done it before with
outstanding mediocrity, so the donors put their heads together, the consultants insinuate
their own plans and personnel into the mix, and the result is another couple millions worth
of incestuous, bastardized programs reshuffling old work the counterpart does not give a
damn about.

Same circus, different clowns, but they don’t realize the joke’s on them. Because while no
one can touch the plan, the scarce resource isn’t dollars, it’s places to put them. Donors
spending and consultants earning, both to advance their careers. And the counterpart
is the prettiest girl at the ball, except instead of a tight, low cut dress what really gets
mouths watering is complete and utter lack of capacity. Counterpart willingness to address
problems is beside the point—you might as well be voting for prom queen based on
personality. The development pie gets baked and split up, and everyone eats except those
who are hungry. Where’s a cigarette when you need one?

Just as my headache’s getting to be too much the minister’s door swings open like the
pearly gates in all their heavenly glamour, and a consultant shakes hands goodbye
unctuously, homage paid by another castrated colonialist.

The minister is the Big Man, the Earth Mother, the end and the beginning. I take one more
long, hard draw, and force myself into a toothy smile.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Taliban Tweet Battle....yo

The following is an exchange between the Taliban spokesman (spox), Abdulqaqhar Balkhi, and the International Security Assistance Force's twitter-guy. From the Guardian:

ISAF: "Re: Taliban spox on #Kabul attack: the outcome is inevitable. Question is how much longer will            terrorist put innocent Afghans in harm's way?" 

Taliban: "@ISAFmedia i dnt knw.u hve bn pttng thm n 'harm's way' fr da pst 10 yrs. Razd whole vllgs n mrkts.n stil hv da nrve to tlk bout 'harm's way" 

ISAF: "Really, @abalkhi? UNAMA reported 80% of civilians causalities are caused by insurgent (your) activities" 

Taliban: @ISAFmedia UNAMA is an entity of whom? mine or yours?


That was a few weeks ago. They're still fighting today:

ISAF: 11 children among dead. Noticed  didn't tweet this one.

But who ever is in charge of the ISAF twitter page is fully engaged, as seen in today's exchange with  Joshuafoust

h/t: Harith Ramli

Friday, September 23, 2011

Machine gun preacher and SS Cinema

"Is there any movie about South Sudan?" a good friend and SPLA soldier asks me in Juba Arabic.

"Non that I know. Although I heard they are making a movie about a khawaja who is apparently rescuing children from the LRA" I reply.

He stares at me blankly.....not so much because my Juba Arabic is incomprehensible but because the idea of the only movie about South Sudan is about a white guy. A white guy that he has never even heard of.

The Machine Gun Preacher movie premiered on the 21st somewhere far enough away from the location of where the story comes from, that the peripheral characters are unable to stand up and scream

"Who are these people and when the hell did any of that happen?!"

I could go on to talk about Sam Childers' methodology with explosive cynicism, but there are plenty of other blog posts that have covered this issue in the past. But I won't. I would however like to refer you to this rather interesting article written by Sister Rose Pacatte, the National Catholic Reporter's official film reviewer. For those of you who have been following the story of the Machine Gun preacher, you may notice that the quotes used in this article suggests that Sam Childers has somewhat come to realise the faults of his own actions and is dialing down the self-righteous machoism.......he still sounds batshit crazy though.

Anyways, at the moment, my biggest problem with this is that this preachy piece of shit is going to be the first movie about South Sudan. And I mean movie movie, documentaries don't count because most of the world's population can't quite be bothered to watch a documentary.

However this movie portrays South Sudanese is how the world will come to see them, a nation who needed a single white knight to come and rescue their children. Forgotten will be the struggle of the South Sudanese soldiers who fought for decades to achieve their freedom. From what I can see in the previews, this movie may even go so far as to portray the SPLA as being an impedance to the protection and rescue of the children.
For me that is probably the worst crime of this movie.
Luckily, there are those out there who want to do justice. Lekan Ayinde and Dare Folder. Two Nigerian film makers who have come to Juba to produce "Salt of The Nation"

The director says that "Salt of the Nation" is about "the Sudan of yesterday, today and tomorrow." Folder said the movie addresses the struggle South Sudan has gone through and the challenges it will face after the referendum.

I for one will be saving my popcorn for this film to be available (I think the movie might already be out, but I have not been able to find it anywhere).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Yes, a new capital.

Suck my decadence (photo credit: David Adams)

(Update 15/9/11: See comments for my fail)

Sorry for the absence but apparently I have greater access to the internet in Juba than I do in my current location.....also, I had not come across anything that enraged me enough to encourage me to write........

So the Government of South Sudan has somewhat recently announced that it is planning to move the capital to a state-neutral area called Ramciel. This is not the first time GoSS has made this announcement and there seems to be just as much criticism to the idea this time around. Some Smug faced Guardian newspaper journalists has so kindly shared his view on the matter based on his "lightning visit" of Juba. The legend that is John Ashworth has so succinctly explained in the comments section

"A lightning visit" sums up the international media's understanding of South Sudan.
It is evident in reading the article and its romanticised description of Juba as some wild west town that the writer is missing some pretty important arguments as to why GoSS has come to this decision. You can find some more elaborate explanations in the comments section written by some South Sudanese, but here is my summary:

  • As the article suggests, Juba is growing very rapidly. However, the land around it does not belong to the government. As the South Sudan Land Act 2009 indicates, land is primarily owned by the "community". The land that surrounds Juba is owned by the Bari community, who are not particularly happy with Juba expanding anymore than it already has. So they can pretty much charge whatever they want for the land, and are very much motivated to charge ridiculous prices to discourage any further expansion. Therefore moving to newer cheaper land may be just as cost effective as staying (I am merely speculating and will not be doing the calculations for this).
  • Starting from scratch will mean that the government is able to plan out the new city much better to allow for infrastructure to be developed much more efficiently. For example, the current water supply system in Juba are rather small pipes that have been barely submerged in the ground. When ever it rained, the pipe near where I lived would be exposed, punctured and would turn the road into a river. Wasting treated water as well as making it a bitch for me to get home. 
  • Actually, screw this.....the article says "For outsiders, the decision [of moving the city] seems baffling", then fine, be baffled. People on the inside are just as baffled as to how the Guardian would publish such poorly researched articles. I've heard South Sudanese primary school children come out with more intelligence on development issues than this garbage. 
Although one point I would like to make that is independent of the Guardian article is that I worry about the motivation of selecting the location for the new capital. While it is great that the government is trying to keep everyone happy*, I fear that always making concessions to all parties as opposed to making decisions based on actual merits may be a shot in the foot in the long term. Nothing can make everyone happy all the time.  

To my friends still working in Juba, the capital city moving away simply means that you can still be based in Juba with all its bars and swimming pools while having the bonus 'badass points' of saying your living in the field.

* even though the Ramciel, while straddling multiple states is in fact very much Dinka country. Credit goes to Chagai  in the comments section of the Guardian article for this one. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In which I say good bye.....

Sorry for the lack of posts recently but I’ve been somewhat busy travelling and have not had much access to the net. The thing is, I’ve left South Sudan. My work here is over, only peace will ensue from now on... You're welcome.

It has been a tremendously exciting experience and I am eternally grateful for having been able to be here for such a momentous period in the history of this new nation.

Anyways, something a little personal, here is a list of things of consideration that I will be taking away with me.

Things I’m going to miss:

  • My peoples
  • Riding my motorcycle through Juba while being terrified for my life as cars seemingly target to run me over
  • Playing ‘Boda-boda’ (motorcycle taxis) to the local law enforcement, as well as random strangers
  • The consistency of the sun
  • Hazy nights hanging out and exchanging stories with my SPLA buddies
  • Watching the rapid development of Juba. As each day passes, building get taller, the streets get brighter and life gets ever more decadent….. for me.
  • Not being in an always-thrilling context that never stagnates.
  • Working in a context where you can claim to be an expert of simply because there isn’t really any way of verifying the stuff you just totally made up.

Things I’m not going to miss:

  • The UN

Things Im going to struggle getting used to in the real world

  • Humvees not accounting for 10% of vehicles on the road
  • Not using the hazard lights when signalling to drive straight through a rounadabout
  • Speaking dialects of Arabic that has a proper grammar
  • Not seeing people carry livestock on to an airplane…. straight up, two ducks in a basket.
  • Picking my nose in public like it’s noteven an issue.
  • Traffic laws
  • Being around people who think Prendergast is an alright guy with good ideas.
  • Being around people who think the Machine gun preacher is going to win an oscar
  • Having to worry about crime….. unless I happen to have aload of cattle.

As for the blog, if you all will permit me, I would like to continue writing when possible. To counter the fall in the legitimacy due to my absence in South Sudan, I have ‘field correspondences’ who I know will be very vocal to any bullshit I try to post and who will also keep me updated on information that is readily availableto those outside the country. There are probably more heartfelt sentiments that I could share about leaving, but I am on my first holiday in a very very very long time andwill therefore go and have fun with that instead.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The impact of blogs VII: Effect of bloggers blogging about other bloggers on the

Development Impacts has an interesting series of articles titled "Impact of Economics Blogs" that makes bloggers feel like they matter. There are currently 3 parts, with more come (I,II,III).

Currently, my favourite is the article that looks at the effect of blogging on the dissemination of papers and whether blogging about a paper lead to it being accessed/disseminated more. The study found that "Blogging about a paper causes a large increase in the number of abstract views and downloads in the same month"

They provide some lovely examples:

Here is one using Chris Blattman's blog:

Oh, that's this blog's stats page. However, it seems that the graph is showing a similar effect. A sudden massive surge in hits from a mere few hours?! From 76 one day to 1,302 the other....What incredible force could have caused such a spike?

Na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, Blattman!

But I am not alone in having experienced this effect. This is Roving Bandit's after Blattman posted about his blog.

With a massive sample size of a 2 I think we can safely declare this an effect.

The Blattman Blog Effect.

Now how can I use this new found fame as a chat up line?.......

Friday, August 12, 2011

This is not a circus.....


My name is Douglas Lyon.

I work for Japanese television. ( I am however based in Paris, France).

Permit me to use this Google group for my research : I wanted to ask your
guidance... ( and by the way, if you have alreade received this yesterday,
please forgive me... I have never used Google Groups before... )

I currently have a project to visit South Sudan, at the end of this month,
to film for a Japanese television show.

I am looking for something "wild and crazy", or exotique, or funny... This
is for a comedy show, but we want people to be aware of the birth of the
worlds newest independant nation... So the idea is to go to South Sudan,
and do... Something ... "For the first time ever in South Sudan".

I was hoping to find something particular to South Sudan, unusual, or exotic
that cannot be found elsewhere perhaps ? Or some kind of adventure that our
two comedians can experience ? I was thinking about traditional
wrestling... Or attending a wedding of two women, or something...

I was hoping you all might be so kind as to recommend some ideas ? What do
foreigners like to see or do when they visit South Sudan ?

Can you help me ? We would greatly appreciate any ideas or suggestions you
might have...

Thank you in advance, and

best wishes,

Douglas E. Lyon
Excelman Productions
67, rue Traversiere
75012 Paris, France
Mobile : (+33) 6-0742-7838
e-mail :

......So fuck off....

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Terrorice this....

Some jerks behind a desk in London calling themselves Maplecroft have decided to make a little list ranking countries with the highest risk of terrorist attacks. Sadly, they have decided to put South Sudan 5th on the list, below Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Terrorism Risk Index has been developed by Maplecroft, and comprises of three separate sub-indices: incidence – which calculates the frequency of attacks over a 12-month period (June 2009 – June 2010, the latest available data); intensity –a calculation of how lethal terrorist attacks are. The report indicates that in some countries like Greece for example, there have been a lot of small scale attacks that typically do not kill anyone. In other countries, like Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan for example, terrorist attacks are designed to kill as many people as possible. The intensity index also counts the number of mass-casualty attacks per country. The third includes historical aspects– the historical component looks at a country’s past experience of terrorism, whether it has a long-standing militant group that has operated in the country, for instance, Colombia’s FARC which has been active since the 1960s. Based on these parameters the Index, released annually covers 196 countries. (Foreignpolicyblog)

My initial reaction to South Sudan’s ranking was straight up anger. It felt like the warmongers were charging at the gates again, trying to paint South Sudan red with violence. Also, I had never really thought of the violence in South Sudan as being terrorism, and so the thought of terrorists running around South Sudan just did not compute in my mind. Then again, defining terrorism has always been a problem in this modern age.

For the purposes of the index, Maplecroft defines terrorism as “incidents in which sub-national or clandestine groups or individuals deliberately attack civilians or non-combatants (including military personnel and assets outside war zones and war-like settings).” (Foreignpolicyblog)

So why did South Sudan manage to land itself in 5th position above Palestine and Yemen?

Following the country’s formal secession from Sudan in July 2011, South Sudan (5) makes its first appearance in the Terrorism Risk Index. The country is rated as ‘extreme risk’ primarily due to the intensity of terrorist attacks, with an average of 6.59 fatalities per terrorist incident, almost three times that of Somalia at 2.23. (Maplecroft)

Wow. That is some pretty hardcore numbers. Three times the intensity of terrorists in Somalia. South Sudanese terrorists must be far better at terrorising than those useless suicide bombers. So how did they come to this conclusion?

A number of terrorist groups operate in South Sudan including the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has been responsible for mass-casualty attacks. However, splinter groups that have broken away from the mainstream Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) use terrorist methods and pose the greatest threat. One such group, led by George Athor, was responsible for 111 deaths in an attack in Jonglei province in February 2011. This one incident accounts for over 50% of the 211 fatalities sustained by South Sudan from attacks between April 2010 and March 2011.

One incident…one…. that is all it took to place this brand new country to 5th on the list. By that account, in 2001 the US would have been placed number one in intensity for its 2,606 casualties following a single terrorist attack. Despite whatever magical indices they use, I think that solely basing your ranking on a single event is extremely careless. Especially when you have clearly not even investigated that single event.

The attack the report refers to is one that took place in February following the announcement of the referendum results. A rebel militia, led by George Athor had attacked Fangak County. There were two belligerents in this attack, the rebel militia and the SPLA. Who initiated the attack first is up for debate but the fact that this was clearly a military operation means that this was NOT an act of terrorism.

Phillip Aguer, spokesman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, in a separate interview confirmed 105 people were killed. Reports from the area indicate that 105 people from both sides have killed: 39 civilians, 24 police and 42 from Athor’s men. (link)

Yes, there were civilian casualties, but most military operations in this day and age have civilian casualties. It does not mean that the militias were deliberately targeting them. These various rebel militias, while being an absolute tragedy to the peace of South Sudan, are trying to gain the support of the public while crippling the SPLA. It makes absolutely no strategic sense for them to target civilians. If there were anyone who were targeting civilians, the SPLA would be the one responsible as we have seen in Mayom County.

But that is not the issue. The issue is that these ignorant desk jockeys should really do their homework before they go ahead and scare away any potential foreign investment for South Sudan. I mean, seriously, a simple search in Google or Sudan Tribune would have even sufficed. That is why I get the feeling that they ranked South Sudan as 5th simply because of the juicy publicity that comes with failing the new country. Well done…your publicity stunt has now assured your status as complete failures in your industry of weavers of nightmares for the corporate world.

As a side note, the UK has been classified as medium threat. I would strongly suggest Maplecroft change that to extreme because I’m about to go terrorise their mom’s house.