After breakfast, we drove out to a restaurant on the Nile and had drinks. We talked forever about South Sudanese politics with Aduei and Sheldon, and it was really interesting to hear their perspectives. Aduei now works in the Ministry of Defense, and Sheldon is working on multiple projects this summer, including securing medical supplies for a village in Jonglei province and helping out at a primary school here in Juba. Sanjay and I are going with him tomorrow to the school to visit the students and to help teach leadership activities!
|Me and Aduei!|
|Sanjay and I checking out the White Nile|
After driving around and seeing a bit more of Juba, we stopped at a hotel to get some internet access and then went to an amazing Ethiopian restaurant called Queen of Sheeba for dinner. All in all, the day included lots of heated discussions about politics in South Sudan, and many eye-opening views of Juba. FYI: The South Sudanese government and military wont let you take pictures of many ministries or monuments for security reasons, so you won’t see many of those. Their rules, not mine.
Today I felt a little less like a complete tourist (though I don’t think there are many tourists in Juba). Sanjay and I got up and walked around the city to get our bearings a bit. We wandered the streets of Juba for a while and were lured in by the “Net Café and Public Library” sign outside of the Ministry of Information. Indeed, the ministry has a small public library with a ton of South Sudan’s budgetary, legal, and humanitarian documents from the past five years or so. Being the nerds that we are, we stayed for a couple of hours and browsed through legal documents and reports on South Sudan (I’ll be sure to include some of my findings in my next post). We’ll definitely be back to the library, as it was a gold mine for government data that largely isn’t available online.
After visiting the library we had a meeting with Dr. Jok Madut Jok, the undersecretary at the Ministry of Culture. I had the chance to hear him speak last summer during a panel at the US Institute of Peace, so it was great to get to actually meet him. A journalist from Reuters was already in his office, so we just joined in on the interview and asked questions ourselves. We talked for almost two hours about corruption, the recent government shutoff of oil production, other possible sources of government revenue, and how to combat ethnic divisions and forge a South Sudanese national identity. The fact that we had such an in-depth discussion about the serious challenges facing the country proved to me (at least to some extent) that freedom of speech is alive and well in South Sudan. I’m interested to hear what others have to say about personal freedoms in this new country, and how we can be open about how to address challenges.
So right now, I’m trying to collect my thoughts after a couple of amazing days. I didn't take any pictures today because we were mostly by ministries the whole day and surrounded by lots of SPLA soldiers. We’re putting together our lesson plan of sorts for the kids tomorrow tonight, and hopefully I’ll be able to write a couple more blog posts as well!