First Printing Press-South Sudan
Independent Films, Politics, Technology, Travel
Southern Sudan’s first ever printing press kicked into action earlier this year. The press equipped with modern machines is the first of its kind in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan and although some of the machines may look old and rugged, they are getting the job done.
Publishing in Sudan was mostly a Khartoum affair, with strict measures from the state on what goes to press. Publishing houses that did not comply were met with frequent raids by security organs.
South Sudan’s The Citizen newspaper, which was printed in Khartoum since 2006, moved its operations to Juba. It’s first print in the south was on 9 January 2011, a date that saw the start of the historic referendum process in which southern Sudanese voted overwhelmingly for secession.
SOUNDBITE (English) Nhial Bol, Editor-in-Chief, The Citizen:
“In 2006 we were selling only 20 copies in Juba, it increased to 300 copies in 2007 and increased to 1000 copies in 2008. By 2010 we were selling 2000 copies a day, with difficulties because of the flight; we were paying a lot of money in order to bring the news paper to Juba. It was not easy because our people were not getting the paper; they were not reading out opinions.”
Nhial raised the 460,000 Euros and bought the printing press. With help from the Norwegian People’s Aid, they were able to get a generator to power machines.
Although not fully operational, the press can print up to 50,000 copies a day and the company hopes to go full color soon. Although they have stopped flying the papers in from Khartoum; a venture that proved very expensive, there are still many challenges to overcome as southern Sudan is expected to become the world newest nation this year.
SOUNBITE (English) Nhial Bol, Editor-in-Chief, The Citizen:
“It is not easy to distribute in the south, roads are still bad, people are not used to the business of a news paper, so we are still facing challenges, but this is our discussion, I have confidence that we are going to face the next challenges sooner or later. But this is the south we have been fighting for; we have to leave in it with all our facilities.”
Apart from the lack infrastructure, southern Sudan has no laws governing the press. During the interim period of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which was established in 2005, there have been raids on printing houses in the south as well as reports journalist being detained and physically assaulted.
Just over a month after The Citizen printing press was launched in Juba, security agents raided the premises and arrest journalists.
Media practitioners and members of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) have been fighting for media laws that promote the freedom of the press and protect the right to information. The group helped formulate a draft bill in 2006 but it is yet to be passed into law. Certain articles of the bill were removed, restricting the media to report on issues like corruption.
SOUNDBITE (English) Jacob Akol, Chairman, Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS):
“They have been written, re-written, the have been sent forward to the assembly, they have been re-withdrawn after we complained and now we think they are ready to be passed to the assembly. We have agreed on a format which we think will put our media as one of the most liberal in Eastern Africa.”
The government is planning to pass into law the media bill before the south is expected to become an independent nation on the 9 July, but with just two months to go, there are fears that the laws will not be enacted on time and the new nation be taking on the same mistakes that other countries have made with the freedom of the press, the freedom of expression and laws that protect journalist from intimidation.
Year of Production: 2011
Length: 2 mins
First Printing Press-South Sudan by DiplomaticallyIncorrect is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 License.
- Muhamed Sacirbey UNTV
- Susan Sacirbey