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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

Sudan Course 2006

The third annual RVI Sudan course took place in Rumbek, South Sudan from 7th to 12th May 2006. As in previous years, the course provided an intensive introduction to north and south Sudan, covering modern history, politics and administration, civil war, ethnography, economics, human rights, and natural resources.

The course was organized in collaboration with Rumbek Senior Secondary School, where the RVI has connections from before the civil war. Following last year’s course a photovoltaic lighting system for the school science laboratory was installed; this year, with the support of the UK foundation Small Voice, we built a new latrine block. Classes were held at the school; evening sessions at the Afex camp near Rumbek airstrip, where participants stayed during the course. Other activities included field visits to Rumbek cattle market and to a Dinka religious shrine outside Rumbek, at War Nyang. The RVI basketball team once more suffered a defeat against Rumbek Town, playing in front of an enthusiastic crowd in the main town square.

The course was attended by thirty-four students. They included international and Sudanese staff of UNMIS (the UN Mission in Sudan) and participants from a range of other organizations, including the UK and Swiss Governments, the Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO), USAIDOxfam (GB), the Total Oil Company and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Among the teaching staff were Douglas Johnson, author of The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars, Paul Wani Gore and Munzoul Assal of Khartoum University, Eisei Kurimoto of Osaka University and Jemera Rone of Human Rights Watch. Also Gérard Prunier, author of Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide, Michael Kevane of Santa Clara University, Philip Winter, Director of the Mpala Wildlife Foundation, John Ryle, Chair of the RVI, and Rogaia Abusharaf, author of Wanderings: Sudanese Migrants and Exiles in North America.

The Course Director was Dr Justin Willis of Durham University (now Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa). The Deputy Director was Dan Large (also Director of the RVI’s digital library, the Sudan Open Archive.) The Course Coordinator was Toby Fenwick-Wilson.

Visiting speakers included Karak Mayik Nyok, executive director of the Sudanese non-governmental organization, the Friendship Agency for Community Training (FACT). Highlights of the video programme were the first showing in Sudan of Richard Trayler-Smith’s Black Pharaohs, a BBC documentary about archaeological excavations in the flood area of the controversial new dam at Merowe, and a showing of ethnographic documentaries about Rumbek to students at the Senior Secondary School.

The final dinner of the Course was addressed by the Deputy Governor of Lakes state, HE Lt-Col David Nok Marial, and attended by the State Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sport, Ms Adak Costa Mapuor.

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