June 25th, 2011

Last Day in Juba - Roads Closed

June 25 - Last day in Juba, Southern Sudan after a fruitful trip.  However, all roads are closed in town this morning as security forces conduct house-to-house and room-to-room searches for potential weapons.  They want to ensure a safe independence day celebration on July 9, but it has put a crimp in our plans to get to the airport and fly out on schedule. Thanks to the U.S. Embassy for their help with everything during the Governors’ visit, and thanks to the VOA Juba bureau team for their incredible work organizing the Town Hall.

Sonya Laurence Green

June 25th, 2011

Busy Day in Juba

Governors had a jam-packed day on Friday in Juba. After breakfast with the VOA stringers, the BBG Governors met with medical students at the University of Juba. Most of the students are suffering because the university is not open, they often don’t have any housing and they don’t have enough food. Even so, Dr. Thomas Burke of Massachusetts General Hospital said the students were as dedicated and motivated as any he had seen the world. Dr. Burke is working with American med students to train the Sudanese. Doctors are desperately needed in Sudan where there are only 20 doctors for nearly 9 million people.
 
Board Members mingled with the students at the Juba Episcopal Diocesan Model Secondary School. Some students wanted to be doctors and pilots but few of them wanted to become teachers. That’s because teachers are frequently not paid in Sudan.

 
The Board Members met with the Minister of Information Baraha Marcial Benjamin to discuss the cooperation between South Sudan and the VOA/BBG in the future when the country gains independence.

 The Town Hall meeting was a huge success. Benjamin talked about the “wonderful relationship with VOA,”

More to come…

Joan Mower

June 25th, 2011

The News at the “Voice of the People” in Juba


The struggle to professionalize news coverage in a traditional society can be tricky, and Sudanese journalists are on the forefront of helping the public sort out fact from fiction.

VOA reporter John Tanza and I went to visit affiliate radio station Voice of the People in Juba, and we had to push through a crowd and step over a body. They were busy with a witchcraft story — the stricken man stole a motorbike, and the local witchdoctor who owned the bike announced that the thief would be cursed and collapse, and that’s exactly what allegedly happened.

The Sudanese radio manager had to get personally involved, saying the witchcraft curse was nonsense and calling the police and seeking medical help for the man.  Some local journalists arrived and a tv crew went with the stricken man and the police. All the witnesses believed it was a clear-cut case of witchcraft, and we couldn’t seem to get the facts about what really happened. But we did get the sense that the witchdoctor’s status rose that day, and no one would steal from him again for some time….

 Sonya Laurence Green

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 24th, 2011

Ambassadorial Support

Posted by Joan Mower:

Dana Perino with Ambassador Barrie Walkley, U.S. Consul General in Juba. After briefing our team, Walkley expressed his gratitude that our group had come to Juba.

June 24th, 2011

Visiting a School in Juba

Posted by Dana Perino:

We stopped by Juba Diocesan school - it was behind our hotel. We popped our heads into a few classes and met some students. Anna was quite outgoing and precocious - she’s a natural born leader with a terrific smile. She grew up in Uganda and is in her final year of secondary school. She hopes to go to university in London.

June 24th, 2011

At the University of Juba

Posted by Joan Mower:

Susan McCue and Dana Perino at the University of Juba, where students are not in session because teachers have not yet returned to South Sudan.

Michael Meehan in front of the university’s Clock Tower, at the center of the campus. The university has a recycling center ready & waiting for the school population to return.

For more on the University of Juba, check this VOA story from earlier this year - Juba University Struggles to Build Capacity for Southern Sudan’s Reconstruction.

June 24th, 2011

Reception in Juba

Posted by Joan Mower:

L to R: Michael Meehan, Dana Perino, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Susan McCue

The governors with Dr. Benjamin Barnaba Marial, Minister of Information for the Government of South Sudan. This is at a reception where Dr. Marial expressed support for press freedom and called for a partnership with VOA.

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