Schrattenkalk in Kairo

(Picture by Laura Mann – it shows my favourite election poster, with the exception of a poster for a local candidate in Malakal who promised to spread corruption.)

I know, you expect me to comment on the Sudanese elections. But I have been wrong too many times now about what was going to happen or how one can explain certain events. I will for now be a good historian, wait until everything is over, and then give you my enlightened, or maybe less enlightened opinion. Instead I will give you some links you can read and play with in the meantime.

The Electionnaire by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, where you can answer questions and find out, whom you would vote for and what the issues are (which noone really ever talked about).

SudanVoteMonitor which collects reports from all around the country on how the voting is going. They also have some fancy Google Maps overlay of all the incidents –think Web 2.0 meets Sudanese elections. A less fancy but possibly more substantial list of violations is published daily by the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies.

For news on the elections you can check the Southern Sudanese biased Sudan Tribune or you can check the differently biased Al Jazeera International. On the blog of some very distinguished Sudan academics you can read some intelligent commentary, I especially recommend the post on the complexity of the whole exercise. For some visuals you can check out the pictures my flat mate Laura took of campaign posters. She also posted translations of most of them.

Last but not least you can check out the website of a Sudanese anti-government pressure group called Girifna who has been quite outspoken lately.


Now it is time to talk about the nature and landscapes between Kosti and Juba. Basically the trip is divided into three sections. First from Kosti to somewhere after the point where the Sobat river splits off. From there nearly all the way to Bor is the Sudd, the large Sudanese swamp area. From Bor onwards the landscape changes again.

From Kosti down to the Sobat the Nile is wide and the river is still crossing rather dry areas. Therefore the vegetation is mostly only around the river itself, it is low with some interspersed trees and palms. Generally the riverbanks are rather dry now, however this area, as all the others we passed through, surely look very different during the rainy season. The first new element in the landscape is only a couple of hours after Kosti, a small town situated under two hill, fittingly name Jabalain (two mountains). Just before reaching Malakal the river suddenly is lined by palm trees. Already at this point and from here onwards for the whole trip, there was big plants swimming in the water. They grow on the side of the river and I presume that they rip off with the seeds, swim further down and then grow again on the side of the river at a lower point. While it seems obvious how this plant moves down the river, I wonder why it doesn’t die out further up the river –especially as the seeds, if my interpretation that this were seeds is correct, are approximately half the size of a fist and cannot be moved by wind. Sometimes the water was practically full of these swimming plants.


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What do you do for two weeks on a boat?



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As you already know I spent two weeks on a boat travelling from Rabak to Juba. The boat consist of a pusher which has an engine and where the crew is sleeping, eating and working and four barges which transport the goods, as well as people. The crew consists of the captain and his assistant, two other navigators and their assistants, two mechanics, one engineer, one electrician, one cook and the kitchen boy, the so called comissario who is responsible for all papers and all money, one head of barge for each of the four barges, who is responsible for security and supervises the loading and off-loading. Thanks to all these people, that is seventeen, the boat can basically travel all day round without major delays. (The pictures show above a mechanic and below the captain at work, a navigator, another mechanic, the cook, one head of barge.)

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To kick off the floating to Juba post series, for now just some pictures of our boat and other boats we saw on the way. More pictures and more importantly some text will follow soon. Promise.


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