Miss Malaika Southern Sudan
Somewhat of a whirlwind decision coming to Southern Sudan. Two days ago, I had applied for my Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) travel permit, a visa that lets you within Sudan’s borders, but without jumping through the hoops of the Khartoum bureaucracy.
As soon as the visa was in my hands, I had bought the next flight out of Nairobi bound for Juba, the capital of this semi-autonomous state, and ready for the final days of voter registration in the upcoming independence referendum.
Arriving in Juba, I was soon on the back of a boda-boda, the notion of the motorcycle taxi imported—like much else in the region—from Uganda.
My arrival coincided with the final of Miss Malaika Southern Sudan, a sort-of beauty pageant comprising girls from each of the ten states walking a cat-walk, donning outfits ranging from Western evening wear to their traditional dress and customs.
A far cry from the Khartoum government as we enjoyed Kenyan beers—forbidden by the Sharia law of the north—under the eye of former rebel soldiers. Welcome to Southern Sudan.