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The Exchange: On the road in South Sudan, Day 4

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November 5, 2011

Rosie Goldsmith is a journalist and presenter of the British Council’s international affairs podcast, The Exchange. Rosie travelled through the two new nations of North and South Sudan to report for the British Council on its English Language projects in both countries and show how learning English is helping development.

It’s a Saturday. In North Sudan, which is mainly Islamic, the weekend is Friday and Saturday; in South Sudan, which is mainly Christian, it is Saturday and Sunday. But the new nation is still a hive of activity.

Tony Calderbank and his wife showed me the sights. This was definitely not tourism, but a sobering tour of John Garang’s Statue and Mausoleum – he was killed in a helicopter crash after negotiating the Peace Accord. The Mausoleum was still decked out in the bright plastic flowers and bunting from the 9 July celebrations, when a million people had gathered here. He is literally worshipped – but his dream of a Mandela-like Rainbow Nation for Sudan did not come true.

Tony, Roberta and I then drove by Rock City, Juba’s poorest district, which is a road lined with very basic tents or huts and neat pyramid-piles of rocks. Women and children sit all day hammering granite boulders into small pebbles which can then be sold to building contractors. It’s a shocking sight, especially as Rock City lies cheek-by-jowl with some of Juba’s burgeoning hotels and businesses.

The last British Council project I visit is called New Nationhood. South Sudan definitely needs more inspiring people like this project’s graduates to lead it through it’s struggles.

Down by my beloved River Nile, I met Census Kabang Lo-Liyong, daughter of the country’s most famous writer, Taban, and Derik Uya Alfred, Director of Kwoto Cultural Centre and Juba’s best known actor. They had been twoof the 18 cultural leaders who’d come together for workshops on trauma, reconciliation and post-conflict communication.

That may all sound grand but any nation – like South Africa or East Timor – that goes through decades of war will be bottling up a lot of stress and pain. Census (so-named because she was born on the day of a census in Sudan) was working on promoting Juba’s miniscule music industry. Derik, meanwhile, was preparing to come to London for the 2012 Olympics – his Kwoto Theatre group has been invited by London’s Globe Theatre to perform Shakespeare’s Cymbeline in Juba Arabic.

Thirty-six other international companies have also been invited, so London will hear 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 37 different languages.

Global and cultural reconciliation on a very grand and mad scale. I’ll be there!

And now it’s time to head home.

I’ve seen some ambitious and exciting projects on my journey from Khartoum to Juba. What I’ve learned is that education and development are crucial to peace and progress. The British Council’s long-term commitment to teaching English is a major contribution to that process.

British Council Focus on Sudan and South Sudan

The Exchange – Episode 3 – Sudan and South Sudan by British Council. Uploaded with Scup

The Exchange: blogs from Sudan and South Sudan
Rosie Goldsmith is a journalist and presenter of the British Council’s international affairs podcast, The Exchange. Rosie travelled through the two new nations of North and South Sudan to report for the British Council on its English Language projects in both countries and show how learning English is helping development.
The Exchange – The long road to Khartoum
The Exchange – On the road in South Sudan, Day 1
The Exchange – On the road in South Sudan, Day 2
The Exchange – On the road in South Sudan, Day 3
The Exchange – On the road in South Sudan, Day 4

See Rosie’s photos from her time in Sudan and South Sudan

South Sudan: Out of Bounds
Tony Calderbank, British Council Country Director in the newly minted Republic of South Sudan, finds that having an office in the corner or a nightclub makes life a lot more interesting.

Sudan: Making music where the 2 Niles meet
Tilal Salih, a British Council Project Delivery Manager working in Khartoum, Sudan, blogs about a remarkable meeting of musical minds in a reborn festival by the banks of the Nile.

Tim Cumming blogs for The Huffington Post from the 10th Khartoum International Music Festival

Audioblog: Active Citizens in Sudan by British Council

Find out more about the British Council’s work in Southern Sudan.

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