As is expected a certain Sudan fatigue in the international media has replaced the attention accorded to the event of the South Sudan referendum. As long as no major catastrophe takes place, i.e. a North-South war, it is unlikely that the drab stories of perennial political strife, low-grade violence, corruption and misery, will draw any interest beyond the baseline liberal sympathy with African calamities. With the secession vote established and wholeheartedly acknowledged by the devilish Khartoum regime the army of international ‘experts’ is already in celebration mode over yet another humanist success. This happy end flutter of NGO hearts was poisoned last week by a report claiming that recruits in a police training facility in Juba funded by international donors were subjected to severe treatment, of which some died, while the women among them were variously raped or forced to comply with the sexual desires of their superiors. The inspector general of the South Sudan police force had this standard response to offer “The so called human rights report attributed to investigators from the United Nations lacks ethics of investigation. It is all about allegations which are not correct. They are fabrications. No women were raped...etc”.
The Prendergastians and Winterites among the international troops of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) would probably argue that the ruling party in the South is yet to master the transition from guerrilla movement to political party proper and is thus excused in failing some of the benchmarks of good behaviour, an argument that transpires of the tutelage of the ‘bog barons’, the British district commissioners of South Sudan, whereby the colonial subjects remain locked in a virtual infantile state. The fact that these supposedly infant rulers had waged and won a 20 year long war involving a fierce battle for moral and diplomatic recognition does not really count.
A similar benevolent silence shrouded the security raid that targeted the premises of the Citizen newspaper in Juba last Sunday. Nhial Bol, the paper’s editor in chief described the incidence as “a direct attack on the freedom of expression”. He suggested that the reason for the assault was a column critical of the police forces published a week before. Contrary to the situation in Fanjak which Prendergast himself hastily attributed to the omnipresent Khartoum ghost these two cases are defiantly domestic. Neither the officers of the South Sudan police forces nor Nhial Bol fit the fantasy of subversive elements funded by the conspiratorial Khartoum. To the wider audience of international spectators these incidences will probably feed into the essential prejudice of African doom, or to paraphrase Chabal and Daloz ‘Africa works’ according to its own rules, in any case beyond the realm of universal reason. To the Sudanese, North and South, my argument is to invest in the universal horizon that is denied Africans by both the rulers and the ‘friendly’ spectators.