South Sudan: A Long Walk


Image by Cedric Gerbehaye. South Sudan, 2012.

Photographs taken by Pulitzer Center grantee Cédric Gerbehaye were featured in a photo essay in the April 9-22, 2012 issue of New Statesman, a politics, culture and current events magazine published weekly in London. The essay was accompanied by an article written by Sudanese journalist Nesrine Malik, featured below.

Wrapped in a dirty old tunic, the boy stares out of the frame, his gaze hard and fierce. Around him, piles of cow dung are being burned; the smoke provides some respite from the biting insects that feed on the cattle.

These photographs by the Belgian journalist Cédric Gerbehaye show the fragile situation in South Sudan. In the cattle camps, the only signs of modernity are clothes and Kalashnikovs. “People walk barefoot, they have no mobiles, no electricity, no cooking pots,” the photographer says. “They don’t use any currency except cattle. Most only drink milk.”

Gerbehaye has travelled to Sudan five times in the past 18 months with the help of a Pulitzer Center grant. On his most recent visit, he slipped illegally into the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, on the border between Sudan to the north and its newly created neighbour, South Sudan. The looming crisis in the mountains – which has been compared with that of Darfur – captured the world’s attention in March when George Clooney was arrested for trespassing at the Sudanese embassy in Washington, DC. Clooney wanted to publicise the plight of “tens of thousands of people [who] are going to die from starvation” if the Khartoum government continues to blockade the area.

The Nuba peoples are the forgotten victims of Sudan’s decades-long civil war. The mountains where they live have been sealed off, and the civilian population is subjected to aerial bombardment, house-to-house raids and torching of entire villages. As far back as June 2011, UN reports were stating that “human rights abuses are commonplace and part of the strategy” to drive out the ethnic-minority Nuba. Gerbehaye tells of watching as a little girl who had lost an arm in a bombardment quietly prepared breakfast for her family.

To view the full article and the photo essay, purchase a subscription from New Statesman here.

A PDF file of the story as it ran in the magazine can be downloaded from the link below:

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