JUBA, Sudan–Greetings all. I’ve been entirely MIA from this blog since my month-long stay in Nigeria, which is now, somehow two months behind me. I spent the past two months in Juba (reporting on Abyei crisis and Southern Sudanese army abuses for the AP and others) and at home in the US, and now, fast forward to the present, independence of Southern Sudan is one week away!
It’s an exciting and busy time here in Juba as the government and southern citizens prepare for a massive celebration to mark their country’s birth next Saturday (I should note that outside of Juba, along the north-south border and particularly in the Nuba Mountains and in the Abyei area, the picture is incredibly bleak and there is nothing whatsover to celebrate over). Everyday Juba residents, both the locals and the folks like me who have come to call this city home, are now anticipating the arrival of many VIPs, international journalists, and high-flying international delegations from most African nations and from a slew of governments and external actors with a stake in the future of both Sudans.
Scanning SudanTribune.com yesterday while I was visiting his office, a UN friend pointed out an interesting bit of news: the southern government issued a directive Thursday “explaining that the term ‘Excellency’ should only be used for the president and head of foreign missions and embassies.”
In a place that arguably has 2 MANY VIPs, where every Tom, Dick, Harry, village chief, county commissioner, and ministerial under-secretary has acquired the illustrious precursory title of “Excellency,” and where I have routinely dodged over-sized and heavily protected government and army convoys careening through the streets of Juba, I’m not the only one who considers this good news.
In the SudanTribune.com article, a humble civil servant is quoted in approval of the move:
“The decision made by the government to limit the use of ’Excellency’ is encouraging move indeed. The public was not comfortable with the use of Excellency in the public address”, said Deng Akuei Ajou, a senior member of the GoSS.
I agree that–as in any country–all southern officials, statesmen and women, and elders deserve respect in the form of correct usage of their appropriate titles, the Southern Sudanese president, HE Salva Kiir Mayardit, is the only person who should be called “Excellency.”
Expect a revival of this blog in the coming weeks, when I’ll be doing my best to cover the story of Southern Sudan’s birth as the world’s newest country. Thanks for reading and feel free to contact me with comments or thoughts of any sort at maggie.fick at gmail.com.