South Sudanese sovereignty
Parastatals, they are called—deep-pocked corporations seemingly immune to the international criticism about the human rights violations involved in extracting the oil out of southern and central Sudan.
Kill Them with Fire
In April 1996, spurred on by promises of support from China and desperate to increase production, Sudan signed a vaguely worded agreement called the Political Charter with Riek Machar to end his rebels’ attacks on the oil fields.
Oil and War
Despite the first major uprising in 1955, Sudan was eager to begin oil exploration, and in 1959 a collection of European and American companies began their search in the north.
After numerous dead ends, our fixer, Edward, finds a pilot to take us into the bush to find Riek Machar. The one-way flight will cost us $17,200—more than double the charter rate when the country isn’t about to cannibalize itself.
The Lost Boys
In the midst of the convoluted battle for South Sudanese independence, about 3,800 of these young boys, many of whom are permanently scarred with tribal markings of the Dinka (the ethnic majority) or the Nuer, were fostered in American homes.
The Swamp War
For centuries, slavery emptied out much of Central Africa. Slavery is so endemic to Sudan that religious groups were still buying back slaves in the north who had been kidnapped in the south as late as the 1990s.
Bright Shiny Nation
We consulted a few regional experts about Machar’s location, and the answers always varied. All we knew for sure was that Machar was in the bush, and the government of South Sudan had just dispatched roughly 2,000 men to hunt him down and kill him.
Fixing South Sudan
Machot blames the UN for many of the problems in the south—complaining that the UN’s rationing of flour and grain did little for his people, whose diet consisted mostly of meat and fish. None of it makes sense, but hey, this is South Sudan.