June 24th, 2011

Town Hall Press Conference - & Raffle!

Posted by Sonya Laurence Green:

After several hours of lively, informative discussion, the meeting concluded with a press conference by Susan McCue, Dana Perino & Michael Meehan, and a VOA raffle. Here I am with Marvis Birungi, VOA Juba bureau reporter (wearing the VOA t-shirt) and one of the lucky winners! Prizes were self-powered Dynamo radios. It was a long, but very rewarding day.

June 24th, 2011

Town Hall Meeting Audience & Media Coverage

Posted by Sonya Laurence Green:

Today’s Town Hall was a great success, attended by a capacity crowd of students, diplomats, journalists, and citizens who queued to participate in a lively discussion. We are just on the eve of South Sudan’s historic independence July 9, you can feel the anticipation. But there is recognition that there is a lot of work ahead.

After their opening remarks, Board members listened along with audience members.

June 24th, 2011

"South Sudan Independence: The Way Forward"

Posted by Sonya Laurence Green:

Today was our Town Hall meeting on South Sudan’s coming independence, held at the Juba Grand Hotel. A high-level panel included a government official, business representative, civil society activist, and ambassador from the African Union.  Three members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors made opening remarks touching on issues of democracy and media rights. Great insight & perspectives from the panel and audience!

Left to right:
Ngor Ayuel (South Sudan Chamber of Commerce), Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin (Minister of Information), Lorna Merekaje (Sudan Domestic Election Monitoring & Observation Programme), Nakaha Stanislas (African Union Liaison Officer in Southern Sudan)

Board governors Susan McCue, Dana Perino & Michael Meehan made opening remarks - notice the slogan of our VOA program Sudan in Focus: “We ask the questions, You get the answers.” Here Sudan in Focus co-host John Tanza asks his question, followed by a young audience member.

June 23rd, 2011

Visiting Affiliate Station Liberty FM - Yei, South Sudan

Posted by Sonya Laurence Green

The city of Yei is about 100 miles west of Juba, close to the borders of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Liberty FM in Yei is a VOA affiliate, airing Sudan in Focus. Find them on Facebook - Liberty F.M -90-Yei-South Sudan! 

Here are two of the wonderful staff members we met:

Engineer Musa poses with the dish they use to receive VOA programs. It was a great visit.

June 22nd, 2011

Independence Remains On Track in South Sudan

Posted by Sonya Laurence Green

June 21 –The “Countdown to Independence Clock” in central Juba was not working yesterday when I passed by — maybe a cosmic sign of the recent tension with the north? (or, just another power outage). But later that evening we heard at the VOA bureau that an agreement was signed between northern and southern military forces over Abyei, easing tensions somewhat — and sure enough, on the drive home, the Countdown Clock was glowing in the dark again.  Independence will not be derailed on July 9, despite the recent fighting in Abyei and Southern Kordofan, but people here in Juba are hoping that their new nation gets off to a good start and many have told me that negotiations – not guns – must be the force deployed.

June 20th, 2011

Changes in Juba

Posted by Sonya Laurence Green

June 20: What amazing changes Juba is going through.  During the civil war, I could never get here to report the news because it was a garrison town, controlled by the north, and those leaders didn’t want journalists poking around.  So, I went to SPLA-controlled towns and villages, but always longed to visit Juba.  After the war, when I first came, Juba was a devastated town emerging from decades of strife — but there was life, energy, and a determination to rebuild.  Many of the war displaced ringed the town in makeshift shelters, militiamen weren’t fully demobilized (a friend warned me there were shooting incidents around town sometimes) and the interim government was just getting started. 

Now, Juba is growing by leaps and bounds — there are several private radio stations (Liberty FM and Voice of the People are new VOA partners, broadcasting Sudan In Focus and other VOA shows), new construction is sprouting up around town (including a badly-needed new airport terminal), and entrepreneurs from all over the region are here.  It’s a boom town.  Last time I was here, I stayed in a tent by the river.  This time I’m staying at the new Keren Hotel, which provides air conditioning and internet access, and I found a glossy brochure in my room declaring, “Keren Hotel: Where Quality Meets Its Limit.”  Well, I know what they meant, even if the English idiom wasn’t exactly correct….

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