By Adam Brickley
January 9, 2010 (SSNA) — I have never been to South Sudan. Heck, I’ve never been to Sudan at all, let alone Africa or the Eastern Hemisphere. Yes, I have a degree in Global Politics and will admit to being a long-time Africa watcher – but in all honesty, if you asked me about Africa three years ago I was much more likely to bring up my personal area of African expertise, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
I certainly supported the struggle of the South Sudanese against the oppression they faced, and like every other sane person in the world I realized that “President” Omar al-Bashir was a genocidal maniac. Beyond that, however, South Sudan interested me but it wasn’t really “my thing.” So – why am I writing this column? My primary claim to fame involves an Alaskan politician, so why am now listed a contributor to a site dedicated a tropical African country that won’t even exist until 2011?
Well, it started while I was in a college political science course – I believe it was Dr. Paul Sondrol’s “Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism in Film” – where I had the odd luck to meet Duop Chak Wuol, a student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Now, I’m sure many of you recognize Duop’s name because he helped found this website – but I need you to understand that the nice-looking man on his Facebook profile is not the Duop that I met. I met a large, imposing man wearing baggy, hip-hop style clothing with the pitch-black skin-tone that is common in South Sudan but almost totally alien to America (even among the Afro-American community).
I’ll admit it, the guy was a little intimidating – especially to the polo-shirt-wearing white boy who ran the College Republicans – and he looked extremely out of place in a political science class at the lily-white University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Hence, I was somewhat surprised when this individual decided to chase me down after class and start chatting me up about Sudan – and even more surprised when the guy in the baggy jeans and the FUBU jersey turned out to be the sharpest guy in the class. He also turned out to be a genuinely nice guy with a smile that could fill a whole room, a booming voice that puts James Earl Jones to shame, and a passion for helping his countrymen. I don’t remember exactly why he decided to talk to me – I’m guessing I had said something about Africa in class – but so began the unlikely friendship that now finds me writing for Duop’s new website.
I know what you’re thinking – “great human interest story, but isn’t this supposed to be a news website about a recently-pacified African war zone?”
Well, yes, it is. But that African war zone isn’t just a news story. It’s not just about bullets and dictators and refugees – it’s about the 8 million people who live in South Sudan. Approaching issues from an American, libertarian perspective like mine, one has no choice but to think in terms of individual rights rather than classes of people or “social justice” – and to me that makes the “8 million” number seem so much bigger. The South Sudanese are not just numbers on statistic sheets – every single one of them has a story, a personality, and a destiny all their own. Meeting Duop drilled that point into my head and put a human face on the conflict in that part of the world. Maybe I’m over-personalizing this issue, but for me it’s not about 8 million “war victims” or 8 million “South Sudanese” – it’s about 8 million Duops.
I’m sure that, in my future writings here, I will have plenty of time to blast the Sudanese Government and dissect the particulars of regional politics. I’m sure that Führer…I mean…President Bashir will give us plenty of material to comment on (he’d be comical if he didn’t have so much blood on his hands), and be prepared for tough criticism of the Southern authorities, too (they may not be murderers, but it’s Africa and that means corruption). Also, I want to put the pothead hippies in the “Save Darfur” crowd on notice that they are also in my crosshairs – real change requires more than wearing a Darfur t-shirt and frankly they’ve reduced a very real genocide to bumper-sticker slogan that looks good on their Prius (they did the same to Tibet, by the way).
But that stuff can wait.
Today, it’s about launching a website devoted to the people of South Sudan. Today, it’s not about numbers or statistics or lines on a map. It’s about real hopes, real dreams, and real people who deserve the right to determine their own destiny in a real, free South Sudan.
Thanks, Duop, for helping me see the human side of Sudan – and here’s hoping for a prosperous future for both this website and the people it is designed to serve.
Adam Brickley is a blogger and public relations professional based in Washington, DC. He is best known as the proprietor of the blog “Draft Sarah Palin for Vice President” (palinforvp.blogspot.com), which was widely credited as a factor in Gov. Palin’s Vice-Presidential nomination. He has appeared on Fox News, CNN, the BBC, and Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report.” In addition to his work with the South Sudan News Agency, Brickley is currently a Contributing Editor at Race42012.com and a contributor to Conseratives4Palin.com. He is reachable at: email@example.com