South Sudan


Dut Jok Memorial Cup

The Dut Jok Memorial Cup soccer tournament and conference was held in August 2015 in Kampala, Uganda. It brought together more than four hundred Lakes State youth to compete and discuss issues effecting their region. #Strive2Thrive fb_img_1441029529067 img-20150831-wa0001 img_20150831_090036 img-20150831-wa0046 img-20150831-wa0053 img-20150831-wa0055 img-20150831-wa0078 img-20150831-wa0093 img-20150831-wa0134 img-20150831-wa0156


Southern Kordofan: Unfinished Business

Southern Kordofan: Unfinished Business

Sudan, once Africa’s biggest country, has been in conflict for decades. The mainly African south and predominately Arab north fought for almost 40 years over the past six decades over differences in ideology, politics, resources, land and oil.

The most recent war raged from 1983 to 2005, claiming the lives of at least two million people and leaving another four million displaced.

When South Sudan became independent in July 2011, it was supposed to usher in a new period of peace and stability in the region.

But Sudan is still highly unstable with a continuing humanitarian crisis in Darfur in the west and fighting in oil-rich regions bordering South Sudan together known as the “Three Areas”. The country is also recovering from a conflict in the east.

Southern Kordofan is region that used to be the geographical centre of Sudan, but when the south won independence, it found itself on the southern border.

At its heart is the Nuba Mountains where some 50 black African tribes have lived for thousands of years.

There was heavy fighting in the region during the north-south civil war, but the comprehensive peace agreement that ended the conflict never resolved its status.

In a special show, Al Jazeera investigates a hidden war in the remote state of Southern Kordofan in Sudan where rebels are fighting to defend their people against what they say is “genocide”.

Al Jazeera’s Peter Greste travelled to the isolated Nuba Mountains where he found entire communities hiding in caves from a bombing campaign that Khartoum says is aimed only at putting down an armed insurrection.

But the conflict has stopped people from tending their fields and food is running out. Aid agencies have been banned from the region, and the UN warns of a looming humanitarian disaster.

What will happen to the civilians in the Nuba Mountains? What does the crisis mean for Sudan? And why is the crisis in Southern Kordofan not getting the world’s attention?

Joining us to discuss the issues behind the crisis in Southern Kordofan are: Mustafa Osman Ismail, a senior adviser to Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president. Ismail was Sudan’s foreign minister from 1998 to 2005; and Mukesh Kapila, a former UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Sudan from 2003 to 2004.

War is war and the reason why there is war is because rebels are fighting in South Kordofan, they are refusing the election… If they want democracy, we are ready for democracy. If they want political settlement, we are ready for political settlement. But they are taking civilians as shelter. If you have any humanitarian support and you want to send it to the needy people in the Nuba Mountains… we are ready to take it to them now.

– Mustafa Osman Ismail, a senior adviser to Omar al-Bashir

Original article:


South Sudan ‘sends more troops’ to strife-torn town Pibor

South Sudan’s government says it is sending more troops and police to the town of Pibor, to deal with an outbreak of ethnic violence.

On Saturday, members of the Lou Nuer group attacked Pibor, home to the rival Murle group, in the latest of a series of reprisal attacks over cattle raids.

Tens of thousands of the Murle fled.

Some 6,000 Lou Nuer fighters are chasing them, reportedly to take revenge for previous attacks and to rescue dozens of abducted children.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has called on them to stop their advance.

Charity Medecins Sans Frontieres says it is “extremely worried” after losing contact with some 130 staff in Pibor.

A hospital and other parts of the town were set alight on Saturday.

The BBC has learnt that some of the displaced – mainly women, children and the elderly – have been killed although it has not been possible to verify how many.

The government said it was deploying more troops and an additional 2,000 police to Pibor.

Military spokesman Col Philip Aguer said: “The 2,000 police are being sent within the next 24 hours. Troops will be deployed as soon as possible.”

The UN had sent more more peacekeepers to defend the town on Friday following reports that the armed Lou Nuer men were approaching.

But questions will be asked as to why hundreds of South Sudanese soldiers and UN troops were unable to protect Pibor, says the BBC’s East Africa correspondent Will Ross.

Power struggles
A spokesman for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) told the BBC they had only been able to get in touch with 13 members of staff, and believe the rest fled into the bush to escape the attack.

Parthesarathy Rajendran urged both sides in the conflict to respect MSF facilities because the charity was the only health-care provider in the area.

Almost all the residents of Pibor had also already fled amid fears of an impending assault.

Six thousand fighters from the Lou Nuer group have been marching through Jonglei state in recent weeks, setting fire to homes and seizing livestock.

The entire town of Lukangol was burnt to the ground last week. About 20,000 civilians managed to flee before the attack, but dozens were killed on both sides.

About 1,000 people have been killed in Jonglei in recent months, during inter-ethnic fighting, triggered by the cattle raids.

The governor of Jonglei state and the vice-president of South Sudan have been trying to mediate between the rival ethnic groups.

South Sudan became independent on 9 July 2011 following decades of civil war with the north.

One legacy of the conflict is that the region is still flooded with weapons.

These are now being used in tribal power-struggles, which often focus on cattle because of the central role they play in many South Sudanese communities.

So far, the South Sudanese authorities appear unable to make any progress in tackling the problem.

Original article:


South Sudan to teach in English

CAIRO: The South Sudan government announced that it will use English as the language of instruction in its schools in an effort to improve its students ability to compete globally.

According to Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin, in a recent press conference, Arabic will be supplanted by English across all schools in the infant nation.

“We will soon be teaching English for subjects like Mathematics and Science and Arabic and the same goes for all other subjects. Arabic will be taught only as a language subject,” said Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin.

The move comes only months after the newest country officially broke away from its now northern neighbor Sudan, and passed the Higher and General Education Bill, which states English as the language to be taught in beginning from primary schooling.

“That’s how it used to be, until it was changed in 1989 when they declared syariah (Islamic) law in the whole country before the separation,” he said of the former British colony.

With over 60 different languages in the country, English could be the great unifier. Also, other East African countries similarly use English for instruction and the move could enable students to travel for university and increase the flow of intellectual capital.

“This will also make it easy for the syllabuses within South Sudan to fall within the context of East African syllabuses and universities,” Benjamin said.

[By Desmond Shephard — driginal:]


Dreams of his Father

College freshman was awarded $10,000 to bring peace to native Southern Sudan

by Seth Zweifler | Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 11:33 pm

 Now a guard on the Penn basketball team, Dau Jok hopes to recruit teammates and friends to support the Dut Jok Youth Foundation aiding children in Southern Sudan.
College freshman Dau Jok has vivid recollections of the day his father was murdered.

Just six years old at the time, Jok remembers looking on with horror as his father’s body was carried into the house, his face covered by a bed sheet atop a makeshift stretcher. Enraged by what he saw, Jok ran to the corner of the room and picked up an AK-47, ready to take revenge.

At that moment, there was only one thing on Jok’s mind — kill the Arab soldiers who had killed his father.

Today, however, the boy who once knew nothing but violence is working to become a man who will bring peace to his home of Southern Sudan, which has suffered decades of civil war.

Last week, Jok — a guard on Penn’s basketball team — was named a winner of the Davis Projects for Peace award for founding the Dut Jok Youth Foundation.

The organization, named in memory of Jok’s father, aims to help children in Southern Sudan fight poverty and violence by combining sports and academics.

The award — created in 2007 by philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis — is a national prize given yearly to 100 college students who have plans to promote peace through grassroots efforts.

“Getting this award is going to be an important jump start for me,” said Jok, who will receive a $10,000 grant to work with the foundation this summer. “If I don’t do this, I’m not sure who else will.”

In early February, Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships director Harriet Joseph met with Jok and informed him of the Davis Projects for Peace program. After some initial research, Jok described the award application process as “pretty easy overall.”

The long road to Penn

For Jok, though, the road to Penn has been anything but easy.

When Jok was a young child, his father, Dut, was a top commander in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Jok described his father as “someone who everybody respected and looked up to” in the Gok Dinka tribe.

Dut was also a well-established figure in Gok Dinka politics, responsible for day-to-day tribal affairs. When his father was killed, Jok said it felt like “the entire world had turned upside down.”

“It hit me right away. I was telling myself that it can’t be true, that it had to be a dream,” Jok said.

Even before that moment, Jok’s childhood had been unlike anything most Penn students will ever know. Jok attended school under the cover of trees, learning how to write with sticks in the dirt and how to add with pieces of broken branches.

Whenever he answered a question incorrectly, Jok said he would be promptly whipped by his teacher.

The threat of violence was never far from Jok’s mind. Once, after finishing a game of soccer with friends, Jok said a bomb exploded in the spot he had been just 15 minutes earlier.

Jok’s mother decided to bring Dau, his two brothers and his sister to Des Moines, Iowa, in 2003. Eleven years old at the time, Jok said he was made fun of “because of the way I dressed, spoke and acted.”

“In Africa, you were able to solve everything through violence,” he said. “In America, I had to learn how to take care of my problems in other ways.”

When Jok entered high school, he began to find a new home on a local Amateur Athletic Union basketball team.

On top of his hours spent practicing, Jok was determined to get up to par academically. He said he would stay up studying until 3 a.m. most days. When he finished high school, he had a 3.9 GPA.

“I could’ve had a 4.0, but I caught some senioritis at the end,” he added with a smile.

In 2009, Jok received an offer to play basketball for Penn. He hadn’t heard of the school before, but after some initial research online, he “jumped at the chance” to attend.

Wharton junior Zack Rosen, a fellow guard on the basketball team, called Jok “mature, wise and knowledgeable beyond his years.”

“Dau is the kind of person we should all try to be,” Rosen said. “He’s trying to do the right thing, which should be each of our goals in life.”

Giving back

Back at Penn, Joseph said it is rare for CURF to see a freshman even submit an application for a national award like the Davis prize. But if one thing is clear, it is that Jok is no ordinary freshman.

This summer, Jok plans to travel back to Africa to begin work on the Dut Jok Youth Foundation. While abroad, he will distribute sports equipment, start building a basketball court and coordinate plans for a secondary school.

For Jok, the $10,000 from the Davis award will be “great seed money” to get things going.

“Dau’s motivation and dedication put things into perspective for me … because [my story] doesn’t even compare to what he’s been through,” said College freshman Cameron Gunter, a forward on the basketball team and close friend of Jok’s.

CURF Associate Director for Fellowships Cheryl Shipman said Jok was selected as the University’s candidate for the national award from a pool of about 10 finalists. For Shipman, Jok’s project stood out because it was “extremely well anchored.”

“He has that mix of idealism, energy and tenacity that looks like it will be effective for years to come,” she said.

Joseph — a self-proclaimed “Penn basketball junkie” — agreed, adding that Jok has enough connections in Southern Sudan to hit the ground running with the organization.

By 2016, Jok said he hopes to set up a fully funded secondary school with a capacity to serve more than 750 Sudanese students. Jok also wants to build a sports complex where “every major Western sport other than padded football” can be played.

“My father lived his life for others, and that’s what I want to do,” he said. “My success isn’t about money — it’s about whether I can make my father proud.”

Jok is currently working on gaining nonprofit status for the foundation. In the meantime, he is looking to recruit some Penn students to help with the project.

“If anyone out there at Penn would like to help, it would be great,” he said.

Some of Jok’s teammates like Gunter and Rosen have already expressed a desire to contribute in any way they can.

“Dau’s already trying to get me to commit 5 percent of my salary [to the foundation],” Rosen joked.

Though Jok knows that returning home this summer will be dangerous, he is encouraged by a recent decrease in violence. An area that has seen civil war between Africans and Arabs for years, Southern Sudan may soon gain independence as a result of a national referendum, he said.

Now, however, Jok is concerned about one thing — how his efforts may impact future generations of Sudanese youth.

“By changing the lives of 500 kids, you can change the lives of millions.” he said. “You can change a whole country.”


Dau’s Story on ESPN

Dau Jok’s message of hope for Sudan

O'NeilBy Dana O’Neil 
He was 6 when his father was killed, his body returned to the family’s home on a makeshift stretcher.

He was 17 when his grandfather was killed, caught in the crossfire of a war that has been raging for 20 years.

Dau Jok

Courtesy of Dau Jok

Dau Jok is not merely a victim of violence. He is a byproduct of it, born into its grasp and reared in a world where AK-47s were more readily available than pen and paper.

Until Jok, who just finished his freshman season at Penn, came to the United States eight years ago, the word peace was as foreign to him as the snow that greeted him when he settled in Des Moines, Iowa. In the Southern Sudan, the place Jok calls home, war is not news. It’s life, a two-decade long battle between the Africans and Arabs that has claimed an estimated 2 million lives and left a country in such poverty and disarray that people there are referred to as the “lost generation.”

But while outsiders and even international health organizations struggle to maintain hope, one 18-year-old believes steadfastly in it.

Jok, the child of violence, has plans to bring that rare gift of peace to his home country.

Peace will come in the form of soccer balls and basketballs, an after-school program and in time, a school building. Mostly it will come in the form of human kindness.

It sounds simple but Jok knows it will work.

How? Because it worked for him.

“There are a lot of people who took a chance on me, who told me I could be somebody,” said Jok, who played as a reserve for the Quakers this season. “It’s amazing when I look at myself, at who I was and who I am now. It tells me it can be done. You just need to show these kids that somebody cares for them, that not only can they be somebody, they already are somebody.”

Jok’s dreams are far more than a lofty vision. They are slowly becoming a reality. He has established the Dut Jok Youth Foundation, named in honor of his late father, and last month was named one of the recipients of the Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace award.

On Wednesday he and teammate Zack Rosen joined 12 other Penn students for a 12-day trip to Rwanda as part of a service project. When his classmates return home, Jok will continue on to the Southern Sudan, arriving in his home for the first time since 2003. Jok will blog about his trip for

“I’m more excited than I am worried,” Jok said. “It’s like a dream come true. There’s so much I want to get done.”

The day they brought home the lifeless body of his father, a general in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, Jok’s immediate reaction was to grab a gun himself.

The 6-year-old boy wanted revenge.

When kids in Des Moines teased him about his shoddy English or his gangly basketball skills, Jok’s first instinct was to respond with his fists.

Fight or flight? For Jok, it wasn’t a choice.

“We spent many hours talking about the idea that violence is not the answer,” said Bruce Koepple, who served as a mentor for Jok in Des Moines. “That wasn’t his mentality at first.”

Dau Jok

Courtesy of Penn Athletics: Jok just completed
his freshman year at Penn, where he appeared in 12 games for the Quakers.

Jok came to Iowa — as culturally and meteorologically opposite a world from Sudan as you could envision — with his mother and three siblings, the end of a circuitous journey for the family after Dut Jok was killed. Initially they moved to Rumbek, a larger town in Sudan and then continued on to Uganda.

In December 2003, they came to the United States, settling in Des Moines because of a large Sudanese refugee population there.

Like most kids in Africa, Jok grew up playing soccer, albeit a makeshift version — “we would blow up balloons and wrap them in bandages” — but in Iowa he discovered basketball. Jok spent hours in the local Y, mimicking the moves of the other kids he played against.

He continued to hone his game, attending skills camps and perfecting his jumper. His size — he’s 6-foot-4 — and 3-point shooting ability were enough to attract interest from some colleges but Jok was looking for more than just basketball.

He wanted an education. The kid who grew up writing in the sand because his school had no books or paper maintained a 3.9 grade-point average at Roosevelt High School.

When the University of Pennsylvania called — with the hook of basketball and the promise of an Ivy League education — Jok didn’t hesitate.

“Sports gave me discipline,” he said, “and academics, that’s the way to a better life. It’s the combination for me. If I didn’t have that balance I wouldn’t be where I am. I wouldn’t be in a position to help people.”

Dau Jok is apologizing.

In the middle of answering a question about what he hopes to do with his $10,000 in grant money and with his foundation, Jok stops and says, “I’m sorry. I know I’m talking a lot, but I’m really excited.”

The excitement is contagious. He is a burst of energy and a font of ideas, a kid who has his head in the clouds yet remains grounded to reality.

“He has been on a mission since the first day I met him,” Koepple said.

If we don’t develop the leaders of tomorrow, we will never develop our country. They need to understand that there is more to this world than what they know. There are opportunities if you open your mind. 

–Penn freshman Dau Jok

That mission finally has a direction. Jok has long believed that the secret to ending the strife in the Sudan lies in the hands of its children. Through education, encouragement and, most of all, options that don’t include violence, Jok is convinced that this generation can help restore the lost generation.

He conjured up the notion of a foundation named in honor of his father six months ago, imagining an organization that could provide the infrastructure needed to bolster kids. He would take the lessons he learned in the United States and apply them to Sudan. There would be real soccer balls and basketballs for kids to play with and to keep them busy. Girls, often married away before they are 16 and currently allowed to play only volleyball, would be introduced to new sports, their self-esteem bolstered.

There would be an after-school program where kids could work on their academics as well as learn about anger management and the spread of HIV. His foundation would sponsor a mandatory weekly service day, forcing kids to work productively and help one another; down the road, the country could host a national holiday, bringing together kids from every ethnic group in a collaborative effort to break down barriers.

And someday, if Jok has his way, there will be a secondary school, built with money from his foundation.

“It’s a lot, I know, but I want to harness the potential of our youth,” said Jok, who was inspired by his late uncle, Manute Bol. “If we don’t develop the leaders of tomorrow, we will never develop our country. They need to understand that there is more to this world than what they know. There are opportunities if you open your mind.”

What was once a plan now actually has some heft thanks to the Projects for Peace grant.

The four-year-old program began at the insistence of Davis, who just before her 100th birthday put up $1 million, challenging undergraduates to develop programs that could contribute to peace. She has since reissued her pledge annually, offering $1 million more each time.


Dau Jok

Courtesy of Dau JokDau Jok (in the red shirt) appearing with his father (blue shirt),
mother and brother, will return to Sudan for the first time since he was a boy.

When Jok decided to begin his foundation, he turned to Penn professor Dr. Harriet Joseph for help. Joseph is the director of the university’s Center for Research & Fellowships, and a self-described “basketball junkie.”

Impressed by his idea and stunned to learn about his background, Joseph went to Cheryl Shipman, who specifically handles students’ applications for grants and fellowships.

By then, the Project for Peace deadline was a little more than a week away.

“I remember it was an Ivy League [road game] weekend,” Joseph said. “Dau was writing the application on the bus and sending it to Cheryl. We had no idea if it would work but we decided to let it fly and see if it goes. And it went.”

Jok’s proposal for the Dut Jok Youth Foundation was one of 104 awarded the $10,000 grant.

Armed now with his grant money and a donation of more than 1,000 soccer balls that will await him when he arrives in Sudan, Jok hopes to meet with the country’s ministers of sport and education and talk about his plans.

The visit — which will extend until June 12 — will be an emotional one for Jok. He returns to the place where his father and grandfather were killed, a country he hasn’t laid eyes on since he was a small boy. There was a time, Jok admits, that such a trip would surely stir his anger and give rise to the cauldron of violence he long ago buried inside him.

Not anymore. Jok, who has family he is eager to visit, returns home not as an angry child but as a man with a mission.

“I’m a voice for the kid who understands nothing but violence,” he said. “I’m a voice of a kid who can’t go to school. I’m a voice of a kid who doesn’t have food to eat or water to drink. The work doesn’t stop here. There is lots to be done.”

As Jok speaks, it is hard not to believe that he, barely a man himself, is the person to do it.

“He’s going to change the world,” Koepple said, without a trace of sarcasm. “I have no doubt about that. He will change the world.”

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