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August 28 2012

Sudan: Twitter Activist Released after Two Months in Detention

This post is part of our special coverage Sudan Revolts.

The Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) went on a frenzy and launched a heavy-handed campaign, arresting thousands of protesters, activists, political party members and leaders and even law-abiding citizens from protest sites, universities, public places and in many cases people’s homes, following anti-regime protests which started in mid-June.

However, once the protests calmed down over two months into #SudanRevolts, the NISS began releasing detainees. August 17, 2012, marked the largest number of detainees released.

Among those released is Twitter activist Usamah Mohamed Ali who was arrested from the scene of a protest in Khartoum on June 22, 2012.

Usamah Mohamed Ali is a Sudanese Twitter activist who was arrested at a protest. He tweets his prison experience following his release

Usamah Mohamed Ali is a Sudanese Twitter activist who was arrested at a protest. He tweets his prison experience following his release

A month into Usamah’s arrest, Mimz wrote a blog posthighlighting his detention.

A day after his release, he tweeted a mere two words; but confirmed to his followers that he has been released:

@simsimt: Struggle continues.


@simsimt: I'm so grateful for all who campaigned for me! Tweets, topics & support msgs brought a lump to my throat several times while I was reading!

A week later, Usamah wrote a series of short tweets narrating the conditions of his arrest.

He started off:

@simsimt: Without further detail for now, I was arrested by an #NISS agent in plainclothes who approached me while I was tweeting. #SudanRevolts


@simsimt: I remember very clearly that I was writing about the huge attempts made by #NISS to prevent any documentation of the protest. #SudanRevolts

Usamah explained that he refused to give away the password to his phone, provoking the anger of the NISS officers:

@simsimt: Locking my phone, which I've password-protected, later became the catalyst for much abuse, torture & interrogation I'd endured #SudanRevolts


@simsimt: When taken to an #NISS pickup truck that was stationed by the protest area, I was ordered several times to unlock my phone. #SudanRevolts


@simsimt: I fiercely refused. When they finally gave up on me, I was taken alone on a pickup, blindfolded, to #NISS premises in Bahri. #SudanRevolts

He then notes the emotional and physical torture he sustained while in detention:

@simsimt: At #NISS building, I endured almost 4 or 5 hours of verbal abuse, severe beating up and all kind of threats to unlock my phone #SudanRevolts


@simsimt: I was threatened w/ sexual assault/abuse numerous times during that day. At one point, even by a top-rank #NISS officer. #SudanRevolts

Noting that:

@simsimt: I endured severe beating up on my head w/ a rock, 'cause my phone while in their possession, received a call from the U.S. #SudanRevolts


@simsimt: The torturer who had gone pretty mad was hysterically shouting “You're an agent, AGENT, AGENT!” while beating me up! #SudanRevolts

Explaining that NISS officers forcefully deprived him of sleep:

@simsimt: When again, they finally gave up on me, I was ordered by an officer, in front of me, to be deprived from sleeping. #SudanRevolts

Usamah concluded saying:

@simsimt: I hold #NISS accountable for everything I've endured. I remember the faces of my torturers and abusive officers. #SudanRevolts

This post is part of our special coverage Sudan Revolts.

June 26 2012

Africa: Celebrating Humanity through Photos and Videos

An article by BuzzFeed that recently went viral with over 1.6 million Facebook shares, highlighted 21 pictures that will restore your faith in humanity. Unfortunately, Africa and Africans were absent from the piece. Despite efforts to change existing narratives, the African continent is still widely known as a leading recipient of international aid and the place where international NGOs come to 'save' the fragile local population. While there is no denying the enormous needs of the continent, what is often lost in the many humanitarian stories from the region, are the stories of Africans helping Africans. But there is no shortage of great testimonies of human spirit from the African continent. Here are a few photos and videos that show that “Africa's got Heart” too:

Protecting fellow citizens during prayers in Egypt: 

On February 3, 2011 during the Egyptian revolution, Christians put their own lives at risk protecting Muslims praying at Tahrir Square in Cairo, amid violence between protesters and Egyptian President Mubarak's supporters. For more background on the context of the photos, see our special coverage of the Egypt protests.

Egyptian Copts protecting Muslims on February 3 on Tahir Square - Public Domain

Egyptian Copts protecting Muslims on February 3 on Tahir Square - Public Domain

Welcoming home returning IDPs in Sudan:

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) returned to their original village, Sehjanna, after living seven years in an IDP camp in Aramba. They are welcomed by relatives and friends who stayed back. The voluntary repatriation program is organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission.

IDPs return to their village and are hugged by the villagers on Flickr by UNHCR (CC license-BY)

Saving elephants in perils in Zambia:

From the Norman Carr Safari  in Zambia: “The Kapani Lagoon is a source of drinking water for the animals of the area, as well as the place to go for a relieving mud bath. Unfortunately though, a young calf was unlucky enough to get stuck in the mud when visiting the lagoon recently. The calf’s cries attracted her mother who rushed to her rescue, only to get stuck in the mud herself.”

Elephants stuck in mud. Image by Abraham Banda, Norman Carr Safaris

Elephants stuck in mud. Image by Abraham Banda, Norman Carr Safaris

Team trying to rescue the elephants. Image by Abraham Banda, Norman Carr Safaris

Team trying to rescue the elephants. Image by Abraham Banda, Norman Carr Safaris

The elephant comes out of the mud. Image by Abraham Banda, Norman Carr Safaris

The elephant comes out of the mud. Image by Abraham Banda, Norman Carr Safaris

Overcoming cyclone together in Madagascar:  

Cyclone Giovanna made landfall in Madagascar [fr] on February 13, 2012. The cyclone was classified as a category 4, with winds of up to 194 km (120 mph) ripping up trees and electricity towers. Officials reported  that there were at least 10 casualties. The two main cities in Madagascar, Antananarivo and Toamasina, were out of power for long stretches, marking the darkest Valentine's Day yet in the country. The cyclone did not dampen the spirit of Malagasy people, who showed resilience and helped one another to move away from the flooded areas, all the while still wearing their brightest smiles.

Citizens helping each other and still smiling despite the flood during Cyclone Giovanna by Twitter user @aKoloina

Citizens helping each other and still smiling despite the flood during Cyclone Giovanna by Twitter user @aKoloina

Helping students with disabilities in Ghana

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah is an athlete and activist from Ghana. Yeboah was born with a severely deformed right leg. Yeboah rode 380 kilometers across his country to raise awareness and change perceptions of the disabled. He opened the Emmanuel Education Fund for promising students with disabilities.

Yeboah discussing overcoming disabilities with a child in a wheelchair. Screenshot from the documentary Emmanuel's Gift

Yeboah discussing overcoming disabilities with a child in a wheelchair. Screenshot from the documentary Emmanuel's Gift

Celebrating peaceful elections in Senegal: 

An historical ending to a tense electoral period took place in Senegal on March 25, 2012. Incumbent president Wade was defeated in the presidential elections after citizens protested for months against his nepotist and authoritarian regime. In downtown Dakar citizens celebrated  the peaceful end of the Wade regime.

Demonstrators show their joy by Nd1mbee on Flickr, used with his permission

Demonstrators show their joy by Nd1mbee on Flickr, used with his permission

Protecting marine life in Mozambique:

Janet Gunter showcases a local NGO, Bitonga Divers, that strives to protect marine life by “making positive links between protecting sea life, tourism and economic development.” Here is a video of their work[pt]:

Winning an Olympic heat for Equatorial Guinea, months after learning how to swim:

Eric Moussambani Malonga is a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea. He gained fame when he won the heat although he had never raced more than 50m before the preliminaries, and was swimming by himself when the two other swimmers in his heat were eliminated for false starts. Eric confessed that the last 15m were very difficult for him as can be seen in the video. Yet his willingness to finish the race, while struggling mightily earned him a standing ovation from the audience.

June 24 2012

Sudan: Unshackling the Sudanese Revolution

Unlike other countries in the region, Sudan is grossly underreported, and this was ever so evident during Friday and Saturday’s street demonstrations. The Sudanese government keeps a tight grip on local media and bans journalists from reporting on issues of human rights and corruption.

This however does not justify the blatant lack of interest from international media outlets. Al Jazeera, for instance, played a prominent role in reporting the uprisings in several Arab countries, but netizens say it seems to ignore the events currently unfolding in Sudan.

Sudanese women at the forefront of #SudanRevolts.

The media coverage of recent protests in Sudan was confined to articles in Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera, including some snippets on Al Jazeera’s English Channel. Other news outlets to cover the protests include CNN, the Malaysian news outlet The Star, the New York Times, Yahoo News, ABC News, and the Chicago Tribune. Nonetheless, this has not brought enough attention to the issues on the ground, as most of these news outlets don’t have much impact in the region, say netizens.

The protests kicked off after Friday prayers in a mosque in Wad Nubawi neighborhood in Omdurman. A call for protests tagged as #SandstormFriday was made a day earlier. The demonstrations were organized to protest against rising prices and the government’s new austerity plans that were announced by Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir and implemented last week. Those who heard about the protest made their way there. Hamid was one of them; he tweeted [ar]:

في الطريق إلى مسجد السيد عبدالرحمن بودنوباوي ‎‫#جمع_الكتاحة”.
On my way to Al-Sayed Abdelrahman mosque in Wad Nubawi.

After prayer, people gathered in front of the mosque and marched on one of the main roads in Wad Nubawi chanting anti-regime slogans. This protest lasted a few hours before police dispersed the crowd with tear gas and plain clothed police men infiltrated the ranks of the protesters.

After the protests were disbanded, Yousif Al Mahdi was on the scene and tweeted:

Protest back on inside district, wad nubawi fighting back, police cars in sideroads & firing tear gas @ houses

At the same time, similar protests started in Burri neighbourhood of Khartoum, and eventually in Al-Daim. The protests in Burri were quickly suppressed by security personnel and police. Al-Daim however was too much for the authorities to handle. Ammar Mahdi tweets:

Hours ago from ‪#AlDaim district , ppl throwing police signs and step on them.

Moez Ali shares a photograph of a burning police car on Twitter

Moez Ali shares a photograph of a burning police car on Twitter

The protests in Al-Daim went on into the night with several police trucks burnt by protesters. Haitham Makkawi was on the ground and claimed that Al-Daim residents have taken over the scene:

Al-Daim residents have completely taken over! Photos of burnt down police trucks were all over twitter showing the aftermath of the protests.

Later that night another protest started in Siteen Street, a main road in Khartoum next to Riyad neighbourhood; this photo shows protesters gathering around a burnt tyre in the middle of the road.

Girifna, a non violent movement, used social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to convey information about the whereabouts of protests around the tri-state capital. In this tweet, Girifna directs people to the location of new protests in Omdurman:

قرفنا - امدرمان: نداء لسكان أمدرمان للتوجه الان الى لفة السبيل مع الدوحة ‎
Girifna - Omdurman: Calling on the residents of Omdurman to head now to Al-Sabeel and Al-Doha roundabout

Girifna’s efforts portray the advantages of citizen journalism in a country where free speech and reporting is suppressed.

The Sudanese online community was overjoyed by the events unfolding in the capital Khartoum; Hamid Murtada, who was at the heart of the protests, tweeted:

الله أكبر ولله الحمد… البلد مولعة من كل جهة… قامت قامت!
Allah-u-Akbar [God is great!] and Al Hamdulillah [Thank God].. The country is on fire.. It's on, it's on!

Some of the Sudanese Twitter users likened the events happening in Khartoum to those in other countries in the region and maintained solidarity with those struggling with dictatorial regimes elsewhere. Khalid Ewais, a journalist with Al Arabiya, tweeted:

تحية لثوار سوريا الذين يناصرون ثورتنا الآن رغم ظروفهم، أما بعض الذين يسخرون من السودان وشعبه الآن نقول: ليست ثورتنا الأولى ‎
Salute to the revolutionaries of Syria who are supporting our revolution despite their circumstances, as for those who are mocking Sudan and its people we tell them: This is not our first revolution

The Sudanese Diaspora were on standby for those who needed help on the ground giving tips on how to document the protests and possible use of social media sites in the advent of an internet shutdown. Nada, a Sudanese residing in Egypt, advised on how best to cover the demonstrations:

if u are an IPHONE user & are amongst the protesters in sudan, download USTREAM thru the app. world. ‪#SudanRevolts.

The online Sudanese community seems optimistic about the course of the Sudanese revolution, where many promise that June 30, 2012 will be the ruling National Congress Party's final anniversary.

June 23 2012

Sudan: Protests Trigger Arrest of Twitter Activists


Yesterday’s protests saw the arrest of many protesters from the streets by police and National Intelligence Security Service (NISS) agents. Among them is prominent Sudanese Twitter personality and activist Usamah Mohammed Ali (@simsimt). In his last tweet, Usamah was advocating free content to help spread the word about the events happening on the streets in the capital Khartoum:

Btw, I'm just being technical. You can use my tweets without even mentioning me. Free content advocate here!

Usamah’s last couple of tweets included information about his whereabouts and the situation on the ground. He was in Burri area next to Nile Street [ar]:

في بري الشريف. عدد كبير من بكاسي الاحتياط والأمن ودفارات الشرطة والأهالي بأعداد متفرقة واقفين. ‎‫#جمعة_الكتاحة

In Burri al-Sharif. Large number of security and police trucks and residents in wide numbers standing.

where he saidthere was a lot of security presence, and arrests taking place:

الأمنجية أعدادهم كبيرة ومتمركزين في أكتر من بوكسي. في بحري الشفناهم كانو مسلحين. أفتكر كلهم بكونو كدة. ‎‫#جمعة

There's a large number of NISS agents and they're centered at more than one truck. In Khartoum North, the ones we saw were armed. I think they are all like that.

He tweeted a photograph of arrests being made by security personnel, moments before getting arrested himself.

بوكسي الأمن دة وقف العربية السيلفر الواقفة وراو وطلعو منها زول وركبو معاهم. العربية فيها أولاد وبنات. ‎‫#جمعة_الكتاحة

This NISS truck intercepted the silver car parked behind it and dragged someone out of it. They took him with them to their car. The car is filled with boys and girls.

Two hours prior to his arrest, Usamah made sure to inform people that he was in the company of his brother Asaad (@Arch_Asaad), who was also arrested but later released.

أنا معاي ‎@Arch_Asaad عشان بس لو حصلت اي حاجة.

I'm with Asaad, just in case anything happens to me.

Asaad tweeted as soon he was released that he didn’t know the whereabouts of Usamah.

@simsimt is not released yet! And I don't know where is he!!

According to Asaad, Usamah was taken to NISS headquarters in Khartoum North while he himself was taken to a police station in Khartoum.

Usamah’s friends were tweeting their concern for his safety and demanding his immediate release. Ayman Elkhidir showed his concern for Usamah,

Tweep and activist @simsimt was arrested by NISS yesterday. ‪#FreeUsamah ‪#SudanRevolts ‫#السودان_ينتفض

Montaga Elameen demanded people spread the word about all the people detained at the protests:

keep tweeting & RT's about Detainees @simsimt@OmarMahgoub ‪#FreeOmer‪#FreeUsamah ‫#السودان_ينتفض‪#Sudan_Revolts 

Egyptian Mohammed Al Dahshan, a journalist, writer and a personal friend of Usamah’s, was also concerned for his safety, tweeting:

Good night. Hopefully tomorrow will bring better news from ‪#Sudan, with inshallah @Simsimt, Ahmed Hussein, and all the others free.

Earlier that day, Usamah recorded a video for Al Jazeera’s The Stream highlighting his reasons for going to the street on the 30th of June 2012 – the planned protest date, and the 23rd anniversary of the Sudan’s current ruling National Congress Party.

Several other Sudanese Twitter users have been arrested and released, such as Omer Mahgoub (@OmarMahgoub), who was released today. He was held in the same building as Usamah, but says he has not seen him.

Usamah has been in the custody of the notorious NISS for over 24 hours, and his twitter friends are campaigning for him using #FreeUsamah.

In the wake of the ongoing protests taking place in Khartoum and other states calling on the fall of the regime, numerous other peaceful protesters have been kidnapped by the NISS and many of them were tortured.

Sudan: “Police Denies Use of Bullets; All Injuries are Imaginary”

Sudanese officials are repeating the all too familiar ‘lies' Arab officials have been telling us since the beginning of the so-called Arab Spring in December 2010. Protests are contained, they say, in citizens attacking policemen, who retaliate in self-defense, goes the story.

Sudan is the latest country to join the massive protest movement that saw the toppling of Zine Al Abedine Ben Ali of Tunisia in January 2011 and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt the following month. Libya's Muammar Gaddafi was also captured and later on killed by an angry mob in October 2011. Arab governments are keen in limiting their loss to those three dictators by conducting a massive crackdown on political dissent and an unprecedented killing spree against their revolting people. Sudanese officials are now repeating the same lines we heard from all Arab officials, whose reigns are troubled by angry people they have continued to rule with an iron fist and oppress for decades.

Protests broke out at Khartoum University on June 17, when hundreds of students denounced the government’s planned austerity measures. The protests were met with police brutality and arrests, fueling more anger and protests the following days.

Mimz reacts to how the official Sudanese News Agency (SUNA) covered the news. She tweets:

@MimzicalMimz: SUNA says protests yesterday were ‘limited'. Just the fact that protests were acknowledged conveys the magnitude of #SudanRevolts

Egyptian journalist Salma Elwardany, who is in Khartoum, sums up the coverage. She writes [ar]:

ملخص تغطية وكالة الانباء الرسمية لمظاهرات امس: مواطنين اعتدوا على الشرطة فاضطروها لاستخدام الغاز المسيل للدموع ‎‏ ‎‫#الخراء‬‏
@S_Elwardany: A summary of SUNA's official coverage of the news yesterday: citizens attacked the police, who were forced to use tear gas

She quotes the coverage saying:

وتهيب الشرطة بالمواطنين “عدم الالتفات للشائعات التي تؤدى لزعزعة الامن وتعريض الممتلكات للخطر والتعاون مع الشرطة في أداء واجباتها” ‎‫#السودان‬‏
@S_Elwardany: The Police call upon citizens not to pay attention to rumours aimed at destabilizing security and the destruction of property. It also calls on citizens to cooperate with the police in carrying out their duties

And she adds:

لشرطة تنفي في بيانها ليلة امس استخدام الرصاص المطاطي او الحي, صح الاصابات امبارح كانت من وحي خيال المواطن ‎‫#السودان_ينتفض‬‏
@S_Elwardany: The police denies in its statement last night the use of rubber or live bullets. Right! The injuries last night were a figment of our imagination

Yousif Elmahdi confirms:

@Usiful_ME: Then, i must have imagined being close by guy being shot in leg by rubber bullet & another thrown off moving pick-up

Netizens are now watching Sudan closely, following rumours that the Sudanese authorities intend to cut off the Internet - a chilling reminder of Egypt's attempt to silence activists and contain the January 25 revolution when it pulled the plug off the www on January 27.

The US Embassy in Khartoum Twitter account stated today:

@USembassykrt: Internet access and possibly cell phones may be disrupted or limited in Sudan due to the protests and demonstrations in the capital city.

The internet and the rise of social media, and not dictatorship, injustice and lack of human rights, are blamed for fueling the Arab Spring.

Meanwhile, Arab regimes seem to be immune to learning from experience.

June 22 2012

Sudan: Netizens Verify Internet Blackout Rumours

Netizens are watching Sudan closely, following rumours that the Sudanese authorities intend to cut off the Internet - a chilling reminder of Egypt's attempt to silence activists and contain the January 25 revolution when it pulled the plug off the www on January 27.

On Twitter, Jordanian Ali Alhasani reports:

@_AHA: BREAKING: Reports that Internet has been CUT in #Sudan. If true then god be with them because we won't know anything! #SudanRevolts

Four hours ago, Egyptian journalist Salma Elwardany, who is reporting from Khartoum, tweeted:

@S_Elwardany: news that sudan govt might cut off internet #Sudanrevolts

In preparation for the anticipated blackout, a Speak to Tweet service has been set up. Rodrigo Davies tweets about it:

@rodrigodavis: Dear ‪#Sudan‬, in case ‪#Bashir‬ cuts off the internet, Speak to Tweet using +16504194196 or +390662207294 ‪#SudanRevolts‬ ‫#السودان_ينتفض

Netizens quickly compare notes on who is available online, in Sudan.

Sara Elhassan writes:

@BSonblast: @SudaneseThinker @Usiful_ME is in Sudan and he's still tweeting.

and Israeli Elizabeth Tsurkov adds:

@Elizrael: @JustAmira @SudaneseThinker seeing way too many people tweeting from Sudan for it to be true… See @elizrael/sudanpeeps

Protests broke out at Khartoum University on June 17, when hundreds of students denounced the government’s planned austerity measures. The protests were met with police brutality and arrests, fueling more anger and protests the following days.

CNN's Ben Wedeman comments:

@bencnn: If #Egypt weren't such a 24/7 news tsunami #Sudan might be getting more attention. Sudan has a rich history of rebellion and revolution.

Arab Revolution adds:

@ArabRevolution: Watching #SudanRevolts videos reminds me of how #Yemen started. Tens in the street, but very passionate. All out revolution within weeks.

And the lack of news in mainstream media of what is happening in Sudan is annoying activists. Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas asks [ar]:

هو ليه الجزيرة … مش بتغطي احداث السودان تماما؟
@waelabbas: Why isn't Al Jazeera covering the incidents in Sudan at all?

Al Jazeera, which provided blanket live coverage of the Egyptian revolution from its epi-centre in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, has been credited with ‘exporting' the revolution spark to the living rooms of homes across the Arab world.

May 03 2012

Sudan/South Sudan: Voicing Hope for #newSUDANS

In the wake of the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in July 2011 and the recent clashes between the two countries over the oil-rich region of Heglig, citizens of both Sudans found themselves in the middle of an ugly upheaval.

On April 29, 2012, the Twitterverse was filled with an atmosphere of union and solidarity between Twitter users from both countries. Inspired by late Dr. John Garang’s vision for a “New Sudan”, they initiated the hashtag #newSUDANS and voiced their opinions, perceptions and hopes for two new democratic Sudans.

Aguil Lual (@AguilB) called on Sudanese and South Sudanese on Twitter to revive the momentum of Garang’s “New Sudan” speech and join the dialogue, saying:

@AguilB: What are your dreams 4 peaceful co-existence of the Sudans? Thoughts on CPA? What our leaders should do? #join the conversation #newSUDANS

Former South Sudan leader John Garang. Photo source:

Aguil also called for freedoms and pride:

@AguilB: Freedom to report on politics, politicians, corruption, & rights abuses w/out being detained/beaten/silenced, impoverished #newSUDANS

And added:

@AguilB: Pride in our Sudaness. One day the news reports & int'l com will showcase South Sudan & Sudan as a model 4 peaceful transition #newSUDANS

Ali (@kashiff111) noted his vision for #newSUDANS:

@kashiff111: #newSUDANS powerful with it's individualism, colorful with its diversity, tolerant with it's unity, peaceful with it's faith.

Raian Gibrel (@bro0ownsugar) envisioned women empowerment, recognition of freedoms and an end to corruption:

@bro0ownsugar: empower women in order to get the other half of the society active and productive #newSUDANS

@bro0ownsugar: freedom of speech, religion, political practice #newSUDANS

@bro0ownsugar: “Eliminate corruption and all its resources #newSudans”

Muhanad Rabie (@Neo0rabie) called on peaceful conflict resolution:

@Neo0rabie: #newSUDANS Every one Must put his gun down. lets talk it out. Money you spend in War can be better spend in development, Health & Education

Muhanad also voiced his hope for the return of Sudanese in the Diaspora:

@Neo0rabie: People in #Diaspora have got to come back one day. #newSudans

Asmara Adanis (@AsmaraAdanis) cited good healthcare:

@AsmaraAdanis: Human life is valued. Unjustified death of Sudanese citizens not simply labelled destiny. Existence of #HealthCare #newSUDANS

Omer Abdellatif (@OmerAbdellatif) called against using religion to manipulate people:

@OmerAbdellatif: Do NOT use religion as a tool to manipulate people & laws! Treat people fairly regardless of religious backgrounds! #newSUDANS

On the other hand, Ahmed K (@SkinyTestaverde) preached secularism in #newSUDANS:

@SkinyTestaverde: Were we take advantage of our incredible diversity, eliminate tribalism, and realize that secularism is GOOD for religion #newSUDANS

Moez Ali (@his_moezness) used #newSUDANS to express that Sudanese people from all tribes and ethnicities should be identified as one:

@his_moezness: I'm from Shendi, El Fasher, Juba, El Damazin. I'm a Northerner, a
Southerner, a Nuba, a Zaghawi, a Fur and a Hadandawi #newSUDANS

Muhammad Osman (@Meltilib) promoted the elimination of racism, economic equality and freedom from intellectual materialism:

@Meltilib: #NewSudans where diseases of racism, ethno-centersim & religious bigotry are no more.

@Meltilib: #NewSudans with less economic inequality

@Meltilib: #NewSudans should be free of all forms of intellectual materialism.

Ahmad Mohamed (@AhmadMohamed10) tweeted his aspirations for #newSUDANS:

@AhmadMohamed10: I dream of the day when the #newSUDANS form a EU style federation with all the freedoms & economic cooperation that entails.

@AhmadMohamed10: Sudan and South Sudan - living side by side in peace with close economic, cultural & social cooperation/exchange. #NewSUDANS

And finally, Osman Musa (@OsmanBMusa) hoped:

@OsmanBMusa: No more trouble #newSUDANS.

The hashtag #newSUDANS continues.

May 02 2012

Africa: Calls for Transparency Over Marked Increase in Land Deals

The UK Guardian newspaper's Global Development blog reports that an international coalition of researchers and NGOs has released the world's largest public database of international land deals. This marks an important milestone in highlighting a developmental issue that has received little attention in the international news cycle.

The report states that almost 5% of Africa's agricultural land has been bought or leased by investors since 2000, and emphasizes the fact that this is not a new issue, yet points out that the number of such land deals has increased tremendously in the past five years.

Many observers are increasingly worried that these land deals usually take place in the world's poorest countries and that they impact its most vulnerable population, the farmers. The benefits seldom go to the general population, partially because of a lack of transparency in the proceedings of the transactions.

An additional report by Global Witness, entitled Dealing with Disclosure, emphasizes the dire need for transparency in the making of land deals.

World's poorest nations targeted 

The Global Witness report lists that 754 land deals have been identified, involving the majority of African countries for about 56.2 million hectares.

Target countries of land deals from the Land Matrix Project

Target countries of land deals from the Land Matrix Project

The nations targeted are usually some of the poorest in the world. The countries with the most deals in place are Mozambique (92 deals), Ethiopia (83), Tanzania (58) and Madagascar (39). Some of those deals have made headlines because they were conducted to ensure control over food imports, when the targeted regions faced major food crises.

The NGO GRAIN has already explained in detail the gist of their concerns in an extensive report released in 2008:

Today’s food and financial crises have, in tandem, triggered a new global land grab. On the one hand, “food insecure” governments that rely on imports to feed their people are snatching up vast areas of farmland abroad for their own offshore food production. On the other hand, food corporations and private investors, hungry for profits in the midst of the deepening financial crisis, see investment in foreign farmland as an important new source of revenue. As a result, fertile agricultural land is becoming increasingly privatised and concentrated. If left unchecked, this global land grab could spell the end of small-scale farming, and rural livelihoods, in numerous places around the world.

In Malawi, land deals have grown increasingly prevalent to the detriment of the local farmers. A report from Bangula explains the challenges faced by Malawian farmers, Dorothy Dyton and her family:

Like most smallholder farmers in Malawi, they did not have a title deed for the land Dyton was born on, and in 2009 she and about 2,000 other subsistence farmers from the area were informed by their local chief that the land had been sold and they could no longer cultivate there. […] Since that time, said Dyton, “life has been very hard on us.” With a game reserve on one side of the community and the Shire river and Mozambique border on the other, there is no other available land for them to farm and the family now ekes out a living selling firewood they gather from the nearby forest.

Land construction in Madagascar. Photo by Foko Madagascar, used with the author's authorization

Land construction in Madagascar. Photo by Foko Madagascar, used with the author's authorization

Farmers in Madagascar share similar concerns because they do not own the rights to the land they farm and an effective land reform is yet to be implemented. The Malagasy association Terres Malgaches has been at the forefront of land protection for the local population. They report that [fr]:

 Les familles malgaches ne possèdent pas de document foncier pour sécuriser leurs terres contre les accaparements de toutes sortes. En effet, depuis la colonisation, l’obtention de titres fonciers auprès de l’un des 33 services des domaines d’un pays de 589 000 km2 nécessite 24 étapes, 6 ans en moyenne et jusqu’à 500 dollars US. (..) .  Face aux convoitises et accaparements dont les terres malgaches font l’objet actuellement, seule la possession d’un titre ou d’un certificat foncier, seuls documents juridiques reconnus, permet d’entreprendre des actions en justice en cas de conflit.

Malagasy families do not usually own an estate property document that enable them to secure their lands against land grab. In fact, since colonial times, one has needed about 24 steps, 6 years and up to 500 US dollars to get such documents. There are merely around 33 agencies in the country that deliver such documents for a country that is 589,000 kilometres square […] In the face of the increasing land grabs that Malagasy land is currently at risk of, this certificate is the only document that can trigger legal action in case of conflict.

The association also reports on the practices of a mining company Sheritt, in Ambatovy, which have created a buzz in the local blogosphere because of environmental concerns for the local population and business malpractices (via MiningWatch Canada):

Sherritt International’s Ambatovy project in eastern Madagascar – costing $5.5 billion to build and scheduled to begin full production this month – will comprise a number of open pit mines (..) it will close in 29 years. There are already many concerns about the mine from the thousands of local people near the facilities. They say that their fields are destroyed ; the water is dirty ; the fish in the river are dead and there have been landslides near their village. During testing of the new plant, there have been at least four separate leaks of sulphur dioxide from the hydro-metallurgical facility which villagers say have killed at least two adults and two babies and sickened at least 50 more people. In January, laid-off construction workers from Ambatovy began a wildcat strike, arguing that the jobs they were promised when construction ended have not materialized. The people in nearby cities like Moramanga say that their daughters are increasingly engaged in prostitution.

Video of a worker's testimony in Ambatovy.

Solutions for the local population? 

The plight of Madagascar's farmers' plight may be slowly changing though. Land reform discussions are in progress, according to this report:

 According to a paper presented at the 2011 International Conference on Global Land Grabbing, about 50 agribusiness projects were announced between 2005 and 2010, about 30 of which are still active, covering a total land area of about 150,000 ha. Projects include plantations to produce sugar cane, cassava and jatropha-based biofuel.
To prevent the negative impacts of land grabbing, (The NGO) EFA has set up social models for investors, with funding from the UN Development Programme (UNDP). The goal is to help investors negotiate with the people in the area where they want to implement projects, as a way to prevent future problems.

Joachim Von Braun, formerly  of the International Food Policy Insitute (IFPRI), wrote the following regarding land deals:

 It is in the long-run interest of investors, host governments, and the local people involved to ensure that these arrangements are properly negotiated, practices are sustainable, and benefits are shared. Because of the transnational nature of such arrangements, no single institutional mechanism will ensure this outcome. Rather, a combination of international law, government policies, and the involvement of civil society, the media, and local communities is needed to minimize the threats and realize the benefits.

The need for transparency in land deals is further emphasized by  Megan MacInnes, Senior Land Campaigner at Global Witness:

Far too many people are being kept in the dark about massive land deals that could destroy their homes and livelihoods. That this needs to change is well understood, but how to change it is not. For the first time, this report (Dealing with Disclosure)  sets out in detail what tools governments, companies and citizens can harness to remove the shroud of secrecy that surrounds land acquisition. It takes lessons from efforts to improve transparency in other sectors and looks at what is likely to work for land. Companies should have to prove they are doing no harm, rather than communities with little information or power having to prove that a land deal is negatively affecting them.


March 16 2012

Arab World: Hands Off Clooney!

The United States has arrested actor George Clooney and his father Nick at a protest outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington DC. Arab Twitter users register their protest on their arrest on Twitter.

The protest was organised to to draw attention to a looming humanitarian crisis in the Nuba mountains areas, on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir is accused of blocking food and aid from reaching the region.

The Big Pharaoh, from Egypt, tweets [Ar]:

اكتب على حيطة الزنزانه حبس كلونى عار وخيانة
@TheBigPharaoh: Write on the prison walls, arresting Clooney is shameful and treacherous

Syrian Save Our Syria reacts:

@freeppl: Actor Clooney arrested outside Sudanese Embassy..I am glad someone from hollywood now know how reality action feels like

#FreeClooney trending worldwide on Twitter

Tunisian Tounsia Hourra (Free Tunisian) jokes [Ar]:

أنادي بجبهة شعبية لتحرير جورج كلوني , يا نساء العالم اتحدن جورج مقبوض عليه في واشنطن ‎‬
@tonsiahourra: I call for a popular movement to free George Clooney. Women of the world unite. George Clooney has been arrested in Washington DC.

Malek, from Egypt, adds [Ar]:

كله الا كلوني يا ولاد الكلب … ماعندكم مايكل مور
@malek: Anyone other than Clooney, you sons of dogs! You have Michael Moore [whom you can arrest]

Egyptian Marwan Qoutb chimes in [Ar]:

جورج كلوني مش بلطجي , الحرية لجورج كلوني
@Qoutb: George Clooney is not a thug! Freedom for George Clooney

While Egyptian Alyaa Gad jokes:

@AlyaaGad: Don't #FreeClooney. Can't stand him. lol

And J Berry draws parallels to some of the atrocities committed against Arab protesters during the Arab revolutions saying [Ar}:

كلوني و قبضوا عليه .. ناقص ايه ؟ .. يخرموا عين توم كروز !! يسحلوا كيم كارديشيان !! يكشفوا عذرية باميلا انديرسون !
@moneloky: Clooney has been arrested… what's left for them to do? Pop Tom Cruise's eyes? Pull Kim Kardashian across the street? Or check Pamela Anderson for her virginity?

For other reactions on Clooney's arrest, check out the Twitter hash tag #FreeClooney, which is now trending worldwide

February 19 2012

Africa: Colonial PR Films Provide a Window to Africa's More Recent Past

African Urbanism discusses the UK's Colonial Film Catalogue, a database of more than 6000 films, which provides a window into British colonial period: “…these videos find their value in providing a fantastic trip through time into life in these places — showing people as they were (or, rather, how the government/companies would like you to see them), and life at the time (again, likely how we're supposed to see them).”

February 06 2012

Africa: Highs and Lows of the 2012 African Cup of Nations

Beyond their ethnic, political and regional divides, people unite together around their national football team. We saw the First Lady of Gabon dancing like an excited schoolgirl every time one of the eleven players of the ‘Azingo Nationale' scored a goal and became “the Panthers” for their country.

The people of Equatorial Guinea were ecstatic with the qualification of their national team, languishing in the midst of one of the most ferocious dictatorships. According to Human Rights Watch, journalists who have visited the country to report on the human rights situation have been detained, interrogated, censored and deported.

In the fervour surrounding the 2012 African Cup of Nations, there are two key points that attract attention. The first is the absence of some of the higher achieving teams in African football.

Michael Dodje's blog explains [fr] the unusual goings-on in this year's Cup of Nations:

Imagine a Euro competition without Germany, Spain, Holland and England. Impossible you say, even though Ukraine or Poland would not have to participate in the qualifying rounds as host nations. And yet, this is what happened in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. Indeed, for the first time in ages we will not see Egypt, Cameroon, Algeria, Nigeria or even South Africa in this championship. How did this happen?

Remembering that the five teams mentioned above have won 15 out of 27 previous Cup of Nations tournaments. Nicholas Mc Anally on responded [fr]:

…If these teams do not qualify then there will be others to replace them. It's a breath of fresh air seeing teams like Botswana, Niger and Equatorial Guinea making their debuts in the Cup of Nations.

Another novelty in this year's Cup is the way that the thorny issue of bonuses has been resolved. A post on the blog plat du pied explained [fr] what happened on the 15 November, 2011:

After the cancellations of the matches against China, Gabon, Salvador and Mexico, Cameroon has again cancelled a friendly match at the last minute for the fifth time since the start of the season.  The players went on strike, once again, in protest against the federation over their bonuses for the match.

On the same blog, a statement issued by the Cameroon players, known as the ‘Indomitable Lions', said:

Due to the absence of attendance bonuses, the players have decided not to travel to Algiers and to not play any part in the match against Algeria scheduled for the 15 November.

Different solutions to the problem have been found by building on past negative experiences. A post [fr] on the blog, concerning the Moroccan national team, the ‘Atlas Lions' stated that:

The President of the highest court in Moroccan football announced that a deal has been made with the Atlas Lions in that they accept that they will not receive any form of attendance bonus if they fail to reach the quarter finals of the 2012 African Cup of Nations.

Côte d'Ivoire, not long out of a prolonged and disastrous civil war, will pay their national team the ‘Elephants' a bonus of 5 billion CFA francs (1 million US dollars) if they win the final. The blog states [fr]:

The 23 players in the side receive 5 million CFA francs (10,000 USD) in attendance bonuses. This amount will be paid if the team is eliminated in the first round. In the quarterfinals, the bonus of each player will rise to 8 million, rising further to 10 million in the semifinals and then to 20 million in the final (40,000 USD). The coach, Zahoui François will also enjoy his share of the pie, receiving double the bonuses of his players. also comments [fr] on the bonuses paid to the Mali national team, the ‘Eagles of Mali' at the beginning of January:

Earlier this week the Malian football team received their bonuses for qualifying for the 2012 African Cup of Nations. Two hundred million CFA francs (40,000 USD) were given in cash to the players and coaching staff before the national team left Lomé (Togo) for the final stage in their preparations for the competition.

The Equatorial Guinea team in training by @FlorianK_Sport

The Equatorial Guinea team in training by @FlorianK_Sport

Equatorial Guinea, co-hosts of the event, is a country unable to build a stadium capable of hosting a match due to the frequent rains. Yet posted a blog surrounding their first victory [fr] in the competition:

Teodorin Obiang, the Minister for Agriculture presented a cheque for 500 million CFA francs (760,000 euros) to Francisco Pascual Eyegue Obama Asué, the Minister for Sport, in the absence of the national team in Mbini (mainland Mali). He added a cheque for 20 million CFA francs (30,400 euros), 10 million that had been promised for each goal scored ; the team only won the match 1-0 but he explained that the goal disallowed by the referee deserved to be credited with a bonus.

This blog points out that the actions of Teodorin, tipped to succeed his father as president, are under scrutiny by the Americans.

The generosity of petrodollars being used for the bonuses for the Equatorial Guinea football team makes the Republic of Guinea look like a poor relation. In Conakry, the first problem was in trying to find the money to pay for the bonuses. As reported by, the country set up a National Committee for Support, led by General Mathurin Bangoura, Minister for Housing and Urban Development with the aim of raising funds for the bonuses. Notably, the first contributions came from the Indian community settled in the country.

The least well-spent money during the tournament, without doubt, has to be the bonuses awarded to the ‘Teranga Lions', the Senegalese national team, who had entered the competition as strong favourites and fell at the first hurdle. Yet, at the beginning of the competition the blog stated [fr] that:

There are some concerns surrounding the bonuses given to the Senegalese side.  On Wednesday the Sports Ministry gave the squad bonuses amounting to 140, 650,000 francs in full for their qualification for the 2012 African Cup of Nations.

January 25 2012

Africa: 2012 Cup of Nations Kicks Off!

[All links to external content are in French]

The Africa Cup of Nations began in Bata, Equatorial Guinea this Saturday January 21, 2012, kicking off three weeks of fierce competition. The Cup of Nations, the most important international football competition in Africa, is taking place in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea between January 21 and 12 February.

Supporters in Africa and around the world have been enjoying the build-up to the two opening matches; dancing, light and sound were all part of the spectacle:

GaGuie the Mascot! With GAGUIE : GA as in Gabon, GUI as in Guinea and E as in Equatorial! Image from with permission

GaGuie the Mascot! With GAGUIE : GA as in Gabon, GUI as in Guinea and E as in Equatorial! Image from with permission

Here is a round up of the first three days of the tournament.

Matchday One

Libya took on Equatorial Guinea in the curtain raiser on 21 January, and it was co-hosts Equatorial Guinea, making their tournament debut, who took a surprise 1-0 win.

With just six minutes remaining, Balboa, the Equatorial Guinea number 11 finally opened the scoring after a one-on-one with the Libyan goalkeeper. The score stayed 1-0 until the final whistle, to the delight of the Equatorial Guinea fans who had packed the stadium.

The Senegalese fluffed their entry to the competition with a 2-1 defeat inflicted by Zambia on the same day. Senegal fans took to the web to place the blame on coach of the national team.

Touy wrote on Seneweb News [fr]:

le souci avec un entraîneur local c'est que même s'il se rend compte que le capitaine par exemple Niang n'est pas au niveau il aura la crainte la peur ou la pudeur de le faire sortir au détriment de la victoire bien sur!!

The problem with having a local coach is that even if he realises that the captain, let's say Niang, is not good enough he'll either be afraid or too modest to take him off, to the detriment of getting the win of course!

Amara Traoré [fr] on RFI sheds some light on the subject for us:

Tout le monde savait avant même le début de la CAN que les zambiens sont très vifs et utiliseraient cette vivacité pour gérer les sénégalais beaucoup plus costauds. Alors lui l’entraîneur et son staff devraient trouver un bon système pour les contenir avant de les attaquer.Donc je trouve kil n'a pas fais son boulot qui était de voir les choses venir et de jouer avec des joueurs rapides mais surtout de ne pas trop bourrer cette attaque ou personne ne se retrouve .

Everyone knew, even before the Cup of Nations began, that the Zambians are very energetic and would use that energy to combat the much bigger and stronger Sengalese. So the coach and his staff should find a system to contain thembefore going on the attack. He hasn't done his job which is to anticipate and play fast players but above all not to throw men forward who then can't find each other.

Matchday Two

The second matchday saw the entry of one of the competition favourites: the ‘Elephants' of Côte d'Ivoire. A magnificent strike by Didier Drogba in the 39th minute secured the victory for Côte d'Ivoire over Sudan. The win for the Elephants wasn't enough for every Ivorian fan on the net however. Many felt that they could have done better.

Phox Hermann [fr] said:

la vérité est bonne à dire heinnn. ELEPHANT ke moi jai vu là c N'IMPORTE KOI

Good to tell the truth, riiight. That was no ELEPHANT that I saw

Bi Tia Vincent Toh [fr] added:

la conservation d'un unique but nous a donné des sueurs froides.
Que Mr Gervino soit un peu plus réaliste devant les buts,
Que Mr Yaya Touré regagne sa place au milieu et joue effectivement comme à city
Que la defense cesse d etre trop permeable,

keeping hold of a one goal lead brought us out in a cold sweat.
If only Mr Gervino [sic] was more realistic in front of goal,
If only Mr Yaya Touré could get his place back in the middle and play as well as he does at city
If only the defence stopped leaking,

Angola also played their first game and overpowered Burkina Faso with a 2-1 victory.

Matchday Three

Gabon, the second co-host team of the 2012 Cup of Nations showed their strength with a 2-0 win over Niger, the opening Group C match of the tournament played in a fantastic atmosphere in the Stade de l'Amitié in Libreville.

Rodrigue Magaya [fr] commented on Aubameyang's goal on Facebook:

que dire?!!!merci aux gars, il fallait ça pour la beauté du spetacle et naturelement monter a tt nos adversaires que nous sommes la!!bien en place et on a pas peur!!!vive la can, et vive encore plus nos pantheres;que Dieu benisse le gabon!!!!!!

what can I say?!!!thanks to the lads, we needed that for the beauty of the contest and naturally to show all our opponents that we're here!!right on the spot and with no fear!!long live the cup of nations, and may our panthers live even longer;God bless Gabon!!!!!!

The 2012 Cup of Nations can be followed on TV5 MondeCanal+ Afrique and on Twitter and Google+ via the hashtags #CAN2012 (in French) et #ACN2012 (in English).

January 18 2012

Sudan: Sudanese Activist, Alim Boushi, Freed from Prison

A case that Sudanese bloggers and tweeps have been highlighting in recent days, indicating the current repressive state of affairs in Sudan, is the arrest of the Sudanese political activist and engineer Mohamed Hassan Alim, nicknamed Boushi. Alim was released on January 17, 2011 after 24 days in jail. He was arrested after publicly and harshly criticizing Nafi Ali Nafi, a prominent Sudanese politician, for corruption.

Before his release, Sudanese blogger, Mimz wrote a passionate post expressing her anger and explaining what happened to Alim.

Over the past couple of years, the Sudanese government illegally detained many political activists, opposition party members, anti-NCP revolutionaries, students and journalists who spoke up against injustice. What happens to these detainees at national security prisons or “Ghost Houses” is incomprehensible and beyond any sane person’s mental capacity.

… In mid-December, Alim stood in front of a podium at the University of Khartoum and courageously confronted Nafie Ali Nafie for his crimes against the Sudanese people. He spoke up for you, me and the millions of Sudanese citizens who are struggling day to day to put bread on the table, find jobs and live a well-deserved respectful life. He voiced some of the frustrations we are facing because of the current government, and confronted Nafie and co for their corruption.

For three majestic minutes, Alim was the voice of every oppressed Sudanese person who ever endured a hardship in their life while watching the government privilege its own members and their families by generously offering them money, jobs, and perks earned with the blood and sweat of the average Sudanese people like they were theirs to give.

A few days after his speech, which was recorded and uploaded on YouTube, Alim was arrested from his home. The video now has over 240,000 views. Amnesty International took note of the events and released a statement about Alim's detention.

On 26 December 2011, Mohamed Hassan Alim was arrested from his house in Khartoum by seven men dressed in plain-clothes, believed to be NISS agents. He was beaten by the men in front of his mother and taken away in a car. He has been held incommunicado at an undisclosed location since his arrest. He faces serious risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

Sudanese bloggers and tweeps worried about Alim's fate. Mimz was also concerned and railed against Alim's arrest:

Alim’s freedom is our demand, and his blood is not only in Nafie’s hands, it’s in ours as well if we don’t speak up and demand his protection and his immediate release.

In a world where chivalry is dead and cowardice is spread like a viral disease, Alim stands out and is labeled Sudan’s Bouazizi.

The issues Alim took up with Nafie relate to corruption and favoritism… does this earn him an abduction and justify why his mother has to suffer not knowing his whereabouts, what is being done to him and if he will ever be released?

On the other hand, Zol Sudani, shared his thoughts on the matter in a blog post in Arabic, with an excerpt translated below.

بوشي كشفنا كلنا، كشف السودانيين فرد فرد، كشفنا أمام أنفسنا.. .. كشف نافع علي نافع و أصحابه مدعي التدين، فأثبت أنهم أضعف من أن يردوا الحجة بالحجة.. كشف الأمن الوطني، فهم ليسوا جهاز لحفظ أمن البلاد و المواطنين كما أقسموا أمام الله و الشعب، فأثبت أنهم موجودون لحفظ النظام ولو على حساب مواطن أعزل

Boushi exposed us all. He exposed the Sudanese, one bye one. He exposed us to ourselves. He exposed Nafi Ali Nafi, and his companions who claim to be religious. He proved that they're weak and unable to respond to an argument with an argument. He exposed how the national security is not dedicated to protecting the country and its people as they swore in their oaths. He proved that they're there just to protect the regime, even if this is at the expense of a weak unarmed citizen.

Sudanese on Twitter, like @daloya, tweeted with the hashtag #FreeAlim asking where Alim was.

@daloya: Boshi's mother, “I was promised 2 see Boshi 2 weeks after his arrest, I still have not been allowed 2 see him”. #FreeBoshi #FreeAlim #Sudan

Upon his release, Alim himself, said to Bloomberg News, “I didn’t know if I was going to be killed, held in prison forever, or if was going to see my family again.”

On January 1, 2012 Sudanese celebrated their country's 56th Independence Day. But some like Sudanese blogger, D3a Bin Kar however questioned what has ultimately been gained through independence:

we thought with independence, we would gain true freedom, equality, human rights and a chance to realize all the dreams our forefathers dreamed for our beloved Sudan.

For 56 years ago, Sudan has gone through a civil war, turmoil, drought, famine and recently a secession.

Millions have died unnecessarily, millions displaced, millions go to bed hungry every night. These are just not numbers but there are millions of individuals who need not to have gone through all of this.

All could have been avoidable.

D3a Bin Kar continues his post with a round up of key events that happened in Sudan throughout 2011, and ends on a more optimistic note.

Perhaps, 2012, will mark our true independence.

December 29 2011

Africa: African Arguments Online

African Arguments Online is “a multi-blogging site that covers both contemporary African events as they unfold, and develops debates on themes we believe are centrally important to an ever-changing continent.”

December 07 2011

Sudan: A View From Blue Nile

Read Nenad Marinkovic's field dispatch from Blue Nile, Sudan: “The fighting in Blue Nile has, from the start, followed the pattern of previous clashes in South Kordofan, using frequent aerial bombardments that have repeatedly fallen on the civilian population.”

November 15 2011

Sahel Region: Slavery still very much a Reality for Some

In an interview carried out by François Mauger with Mme Sophia Lakhdar [fr], Director of the Comité Contre l’Esclavage Moderne (Comittee Against Modern Slavery) published on the blog, she states: “Today human trafficking has taken over as the notion of modern slavery, which is a bit contrived.  However it helps raise awareness and mobilize public opinion in the 1990's.  That does not mean that in certain countries slavery no longer exists.  I am thinking most notably of Mauritania, Sudan and Niger”

October 05 2011

Sudan: Concern Grows About Detained Sudanese Writer

Concern grows about detained Sudanese writer and activist: “There’s been no word of Abdelmoniem Rahma, a poet and political activist, since he was arrested a month ago. Rahma was close to the ousted governor of Blue Nile State, Malik Agar, and involved in the arts.”

August 10 2011

Sudan/South Sudan: Can the Issue of Ngok Dinka Citizenship be Resolved?

Hassan Barakya explains why the issue of citizenship for the Ngok Dinka of Abyei is so complex: “Now that South Sudan is independent, the Ngok Dinka are in legal limbo. While their stated loyalty has always been with the south, the geographical region they inhabit along with migratory groups officially belongs to the north.”

Sudan: Coup Against Public Liberties

Osman Shinger examines the uncertain future of media freedom in Sudan: “Journalists and rights activists have expressed concern about diminishing press freedom in Sudan. Reporters attribute their pessimism to what they call a “coup” against public liberties. Chief among their concerns is the press freedom that was stipulated in the 2005 peace agreement, whose duration concluded with South Sudan’s independence that took effect on 9 July.”

July 12 2011

Featured photojournalist: David Azia

David Azia is a London-based photographer and photo editor who has worked in Europe, China and India for AP since 2007. Here he documents the independence celebrations in South Sudan

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