In Southern Sudan, a Fledgeling Newspaper Faces a Challenge

Uploaded by TheVJMovement on 08.03.2011

This is South Sudan's most prominent newspaper, The Citizen.

Nhial Bol has cast himself as a challenger, testing the promise of good governance
and free press in the South.
We have two main challenges to deal with in the media
in The Citizen. Corruption and dictatorship.
These are our targets. I know they are not that easy because
all the problems of Southern Sudan are either corruption or dictatorship.
Sometimes both.
The Citizen was formed after a 2005 peace deal ended Sudan's 22-year north-south war
giving the South its own government and a vote in 2011 on unity or seperation from the north.
Trying to round up stories so that we have to put the rest of the pages.
We still have eight pages but we will fill them.
Ivory Coast? How can Ivory Coast be local news?
(To us. Local in Africa.)
No, no, no, no.
The paper started in Khartoum where Bol had access to printers but constant suspensions
and censorship there eventually drove him to make a drastic decision.
Why was it so important for you to get your own printers here?
It is because I knew we were going to be closed down from Khartoum.
The South is one of the most under-developed places on the planet.
Transporting and establishing the first printing press in the South for decades
hundreds of miles from ink, paper, electric cables and expertise has been a struggle.
When it works it will be a vital tool of expression for Southerners, especially important
as the South has not itself been a sanctuary of journalistic freedom, as Bol has experienced.
So somebody who is fed up can just arrest you because he has the power.
The first arrest was about the corruption where we detected that the minister had
invested $500,000 for one car and we campaigned for it, the minister lost
his position, his 200 secretaries were relieved.
Again the other one was that when I was detained for three days.
Journalist Jacob Akol has been fighting since the peace deal
to establish press freedoms through media laws.
Compared to Khartoum there is a lot of freedom.
You can interview anybody, you can try to criticise anybody but there are no rules.
As I have said it is like football, playing a game of football without rules.
What happens is anybody becomes a referee.
Bills written by Akol's organisation were stuck for years in bureaucracy
before the drafts reemerged with a restricted right to information and wide licensing powers
given to the government, leading to fears it is less committed to free press
than orginally hoped.
By all means there are people who don't want liberal media laws.
I am writing an article about ten people who were killed between the north and the south.
Twenty-year-old Mary Ajith spent most of her life as a refugee in next-door Kenya.
She says tolerance and understanding of journalists is low and as a result,
harassment fairly common, but added that police training for the independence referendum
made that event easier to cover.
If you can show out your ID they can understand you but before they were told, if they see you
they said you are a stranger who is coming to take the secret things
out of the country. So that is how it is.
I love writing that is whereby I said there is no any other field which can make
me to complete my dream but only the field of journalism.
I am a bit nervous. Until, if the machine starts running properly
then this is where I will have peace of mind.
There is a hope. We have already achieved
something, at least with one colour it is ready to run.
Because if you are to encourage people to fight their own system you don't need
to give them money or whatever, I believe the only thing I can give them is to print
their paper at the minimum cost and then they go to the market and fight.
Our referendum shows good example that we shall have a good future
as journalists because there are many changes now.
We have to fight for our rights also. If there are laws, the laws will be there but we
have to show ourselves that we are press and we have the difference like this.
Corruption and dictatorship are some things which are ever there in the world,
they live with us and we have to fight them always.