Southern Sudan Conference celebrates the CPA and contemplates the future

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Audience looked on as "Magic Atem," otherwise known as Atem Deng, performed his skit where he guessed perfect whatever object he was asked to guess, while his eyes were blindfolded with a cloth. (Photos by: Pamelina Chang and Ian Shamus)

(Victoria BC NSV) – A conference held on Friday at Royal Roads University, titled “Southern Sudan: Celebrating the Peace and Contemplating the Future “ aimed to put southern Sudan on the spotlight ahead of the elections in April and the Referendum on the region in 2011.

The forum was the brainchild of Sudanese university students in British Columbia, Canada, although Royal Roads University provided the venue for the event and supported the initiative as a student event.

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At the podium is myself (Mading Ngor) with (from left to right) Hon. Mum Majak, Hon. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, and Prof. Jok Madut at the Southern Sudan Conference in Victoria on Friday, Feb. 26, 2010.

Celebrating the Peace and Contemplating the Future Conference featured a panel, made up of representatives of the government of southern Sudan in America and Canada, Hon. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth and Hon. Joseph Mum Majak respectively.

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Government of Southern Sudan Representative to America, Hon. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth speaks at the Southern Sudan Conference in Victoria on Friday, Feb. 26, 2010.

Dr. Jok Madut Jok, a fellow of Rift Valley Institute and a Professor in the Department of History at Loyola Marymount University in California was the sole scholar at the panel.

The conference experienced an hour delay as some of the participants and a choir from a Sudanese church in New Westminster missed the ferry to carry them over from Vancouver-- where the Olympic frenzy was in full gear-- to Victoria, located on the Vancouver Island.

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Choir from New West

Finally, the forum begun at 5: 00pm Pacific, with about 100 people physically in attendance while about 100 others watched on NewSudanVision.com, where the event was being broadcast live.

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Mading Ngor (right) looked on as Mathew Trushinski, our volunteer cameraman, broadcasts the event live on NewSudanVision.com on Friday, Feb. 26, 2010 at Royal Roads University.

Associate Vice President of Royal Roads University Roberta Mason welcomed the guests and launched the event with a brief speech.

Hon. Lorrie Williams, founder and president of the Canadian Harambee Education Society, city councillor from New Westminister and winner of the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal for her work in Africa, also spoke at the conference where she conveyed greetings from Mayor Wayne Wright.

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(Above) is Hon. Lorrie Williams, founder and president of the Canadian Harambee Education Society and city councillor from New Westminister at the Southern Sudan Conference in Victoria on Friday, Feb. 26, 2010.

Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth focused his speech on the post-referendum issues. He called for increased international attention on southern Sudan during these critical times, as the region is undergoing uncertainty with the forthcoming elections in April and the referendum on the region in 2011.

On his part, Joseph Mum Majak highlighted the CPA, the upcoming elections as well as GoSS-Canada relations and progress of the Ottawa Mission since its establishment. Meanwhile, Dr. Jok Madut dedicated his speech to, many among others, the challenges of peace building: rampant insecurity, lack of peace dividends, and the promise and danger of independence.

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Government of Southern Representative to Canada Joseph Mum Majak speaks at the panel on the Southern Sudan Conference in Victoria on Friday, Feb. 26, 2010.

Other dignitaries in attendance included Musa Magassa, University of Victoria advisor on Human Rights Education, Phil Saunders, friend and Media Relations Officer at Royal Roads University, Ann Rogers, Professor of Global Communication at Royal Roads University, Kyla McLeod, manager of student affairs at Royal Roads University and a key sponsor of the event, and Alexa Komarnycky, a swimmer who represented Canada in 2009 at the Beijing Olympics, among others.

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From left to Right: Duot Dau, Chol Nhial, Jok Gai, and Aguer Garang, some of the organizers, take a break after a long day of volunteering.

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Chol Nhial (right), a student at University of Victoria and one of the organizers of the conference speaks with one of the audience members at the conference on Friday, Feb. 26, 2010.

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Chris Ready (left), an entrepreneur and a neighbour serves himself at the conference on Friday, Feb. 26, 2010.

The conference closed with the choir from New West, who sang hymnals in Juba Arabic and English. The panel, which was running out of time, took three questions from southerners and one from a Canadian. The former asked about GoSS’s vision for integrating the diaspora: what it was doing to rein in rampant insecurity and how it intends to secure referendum for the region.

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Choir from New Westminster Sudanese church sings at the Southern Sudan Conference in Victoria on Friday, Feb. 26, 2010.

The latter, however, asked about the implications of the decision of the International Criminal Court to indict Sudanese President Omar El Bashir on the Sudan.

Gatkuoth, Mum, and Jok all addressed the Sudanese community in Vancouver the following day, before flying back to their areas of residence.

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Professor Jok Madut speaks at the panel on the Southern Sudan Conference in Victoria on Friday, Feb. 26, 2010.

 

*Mading Ngor is a Canada-based Sudanese journalist. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 


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