As of Day 5, Southern Sudan has reached the 60% voter turnout needed for the vote to be valid. That was a hurdle many were concerned about so some good news on that front. There haven’t been any major incidents other than in the border areas. The Abyei referendum (the much-disputed region on the border between the North and the South that has a LOT of oil) has been postponed indefinitely and could cause a thorn in the side of the whole works. We’ll see what happens there.
As a follow-on to my comments about George Clooney showing up in Juba, apparently Foreign Policy magazine isn’t too thrilled about him being there either. Actually there’s not much reason to read past the title that pretty much tells you all you need to know: “Clooney’s Presence Not Helping Sudan.”
There are reams and reams of articles and blog posts about celebrities dabbling in humanitarian crises (try Tales from the Hood for some particularly choice pieces on Sean Penn in Haiti), from Clooney in Darfur and now Southern Sudan to Sean Penn in Haiti, and mostly I have ignored all the hype and just gotten on with my job. Except when Mandy Moore came to Juba and part of my job was to be directly involved in planning her trip. Unless they understand their role as making a connection between the needs on the grounds and fundraising from high net worth individuals and corporations, celebrities on the ground can be quite pesky, and sometimes do more harm than good. The amount of money spent in supporting their trips to the field compared to the additional project funds they bring in is nearly impossible to quantify. While raising awareness in the general public about the situations in many of these developing countries is good, where does awareness simply for awareness’ sake (a la changing your Facebook photo to your favorite childhood cartoon character under the guise of raising awareness about child abuse) lead? You can’t fault these guys for their zeal and passion, but it needs to be channelled appropriately. Activities that are not accountable to anyone or measurable in terms of impact make me nervous. Food for thought anyway.
And now I leave you with my favorite part of the above-mentioned article on George Clooney:
The Southern Sudanese themselves seem pretty nonplussed about Danny Ocean’s presence in their midst:
“Who is that man talking?” a Sudanese journalist asked, gesturing to a white man with a group of reporters around him. When told it was George Clooney, a movie star, the Sudanese journalist looked confused and walked away.
Update: How did I miss the Daily Show segment on the elections??? Gotta love Jon Stewart.
Sudan is random cause of war generator. it’s religious strife, wrapped in famine and buried in oil. It’s like a Tur-fuck-en.
Want to read more about life in Southern Sudan? Check out my blog written in Juba from 2007 – 2009