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The first theme is one that any scholar of the Anyanya Movement is aware of: that the Anyanya were a disparate group of peasant soldiers lacking a central command and a cohesive political ideology. In Western Equatoria, the picture that emerges from Magaya’s book is one of organised and dedicated guerillas, almost akin to the partisans in Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.

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But it’s no surprise that the massive spending on infrastructure began after 1999, simply because for the first time the government had the financial means. It should also come as no surprise that Bashir and others have continued to trumpet the same Islamist slogans, proudly showing off the dams as evidence for the regime’s triumphs. There is still an Islamist constituency to keep onside. But to conclude that ‘Mashru Al-Hadhari [the civilization project] is very much alive’ (p. 149) is to mistake rhetoric and manoevre for a genuine state project.

The view on the street, endorsed by the members of the political elite whom Verhoeven cites, is that the central purpose of the DIU was larceny and political finance, and that building an Islamic state was just hot air. Indeed, Verhoeven’s own verdict is that the hydro-transformational project has ended in a ‘mixture of incompetence, myopia and extraversion’ (p. 248).

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The adversaries of African lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people are diverse and they collude in unexpected ways. African nationalist leaders, fossilized into autocrats, say nasty things about them before embarking on austerity programmes or land-grabs. These nasty things are echoed by clergy from the United States wanting to ‘teach’ Africans about the family […]

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James Copnall was the BBC’s Sudan correspondent between 2009-2012, and reported on the events leading up to South Sudan’s independence, as well as the subsequent clashes between Sudan and South Sudan. His new book, which offers a compassionate, yet understated account of the two Sudans’ “common past, interwoven present and mutually dependent future” could not […]

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The unfortunate truth is that for many people Sudan means the conflict in Darfur and little more. Despite experts on the now two countries being chest-deep in complexity with the proverbial water still rising, superficial knowledge of the region’s humanitarian crisis remains the limit of public understanding of the area even in the aftermath of […]

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James Copnall is an eyewitness to what he calls Sudan and South Sudan’s ‘bitter and incomplete divorce’, having reported on the build-up to the 2011 referendum, and the hostilities that have marked and bracketed that historic event. In his new book, ‘A Poisonous Thorn In Our Hearts’, Copnall proposes to do much more than repeat […]

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