South Sudan Safari - Episode 13 (MP3)

Ms Nok Nora Duany:"..I really believe that the way to get rid of tribalism is through education and understanding and appreciating all the different cultures and what unites the people of South Sudan.When people become more enlightened, they appreciate each other’s cultures..."


South Sudan Safari - Episode 13


 An interview with the third winner of Miss Malaika South Sudan-2008, Miss Nok Nora Duany  

Welcome to South Sudan Safari, I am Christine Dario. And I am Christ Olet. In the 13th edition of our South Sudan Safari series, we will be talking to the current holder of the Miss Malaika South Sudan crown, Miss Nok Nora Duany. Miss Duany hails form Akobo County in Jonglei State and is the third winner of Miss Malaika South Sudan contest that has been held since 2005. For South Sudan Safari, Silvanos Batali began by asking Nok Nora Duany to introduce herself to Gurtong listeners.

Nok Nora Duany: My name is Nok Nora Duany. I am very happy to be interviewed here today. I came to Juba in December 2005 shortly after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

This was my first visit after 20 years since I last visited Juba as a little girl. When I came here, I had this passion for the land and people and I saw a lot more of wok that needed to be done in order to develop South Sudan.

So with my background in business I have my Masters degree in  finance and accounting and got a job with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and I have also been working in the  private sector besides my personal businesses.

Batali: You said that you came to Juba after the signing of the CPA in 2005, where were you living before?

Duany:  I was living in Illinois, Chicago in the USA where I was working and studying for my masters. I had just come for Christmas and the New Year and it was my first time to come back. I came for the one and half months with my parents. My father was living here at the time and my mother was living in Uganda. After going back to the US, I talked to my lecturers who accepted my proposal that I study online. I therefore came back home.

Batali: Seems you came back with a lot of experiences to South Sudan. Now, how are you carrying on now in terms of your duties as Miss Malaika South Sudan?

Duany: It is very exciting this new year and now after the holidays, everyone is coming back in a working mood. I have three areas of focus where my general theme dwells on education; women’s education, primary education and youth education. One project is women empowerment through literacy, where we plan to develop facilities and resources. We want to see everyone getting education as it is their right and lack of resources has been the biggest challenge.

Batali: There are many people out there who might not be able to understand some of your roles as a Miss Malaika South Sudan. Briefly, what are some of the specific roles that your office is supposed to perform in South Sudan?

Duany: I believe that my major role includes being a role model to the young women and the people of South Sudan. As the current Miss Malaika, I also represent the organisation, informing people that being Miss Malaika is not just a beauty contest but a position to serve the country. One is not just there to praise herself but to be an ambassador of South Sudan who can speak on behalf of the country.

Batali: There are people who have different views on beauty pageants such as Miss Malaika South Sudan. Some take it as foreign culture and that title holders bring in foreign or bad culture to South Sudan. What do you think about that?

Duany: Well I think in any activity there are always people who take things negatively and there those who take things positively and I think those who think that beauty pageantry is a bad culture are misinforming our people. I feel that individuals who win the Miss Malaika South Sudan titles should disapprove these misconceptions and initiate programmes that can make a difference in South Sudan. Additionally, educating people will make them understand what the pageantry is all about. South Sudan is still young and I believe the programmes initiated by Miss Malaika South Sudan will speak for themselves and people will begin to appreciate it.

Batali: What are the most crucial issues that you need to bring forward when it comes to the girl - child?

Duany: I definitely think that primary education is key and an opportunity that should be utilised by the girl – child. It is, however, unfortunate that many girls are still out of school. The gender disparity gap is still widening. We have to fill this gap by ensuring that we provide equal opportunities and it is important that we involve women in politics and governance. But if we neglect the girl- child, we will be struggling to fill seats in line with the 25 percent allocation to women. We are yet to attain that because the girl- child is forced to stay at home while the boy – child is given preference. Girls should be given opportunities like everyone else.

Batali: It is always said that most of the people in Africa live in rural areas. How will you reach some of those poor girls who are based in the rural areas and who mostly forced into early marriages by their parents while the media and crusaders of their rights like you are in Juba?

Duany: It is definitely going to be a tough undertaking and even my being the Miss Malaika for one year is not sufficient time. It is going to be a process of getting every body involved and not just an individual. It will involve the government, women groups and getting people to actually go out to those areas that do not get information. I believe in the power of radio like these programs by Gurtong and even Miraya FM and Capital FM. They reach out to many South Sudanese and I would encourage the use of the radio in spreading messages encouraging women education, primary girls’ education.

Batali: You participated as a Miss South Sudan in the Miss Earth beauty pageantry in Asia. What are some of the experiences you learnt while taking part in the contest?

Duany: Well I must say that I learnt a lot and it was very important that one knows what to say since they represent their countries. Some people even walked over to me and enquired more about South Sudan as I was the face of our country there. As the country’s ambassador, I have to speak well of our country that is mostly known because of war.

Batali: Have you taken time like in concerts, meetings and conferences talking to the youth about odd behaviour among the traumatised South Sudanese youth? Have you designed something to address issues like the ‘Niggers menace’ through, for example, the media to advocate for peaceful means of solving issues instead of violence?

Duany: One of my programs is youth participation through sport where we use sport as a positive outlet because now there are no positive activities for the youth to be involved in. Many of the youth are idle and hence can think of negative things. We have already held a basketball tournament in which a group of youthful members of parliament representing their different counties and payams played against each other. Hundreds of youth turned up to watch the matches that were free. To me this was a positive thing as the youth spent their time well although a lot still needs to be done. I really want to focus on creating sports activities, programs and youth days so that the youth can consider embracing sports as an alternative activity to engaging in crime and other forms of violence.

Batali: Are you aware that the youth also have a problem of regional and tribal divide as some are still stuck in this quagmire?

Duany: I am aware and I think this is one of the worst things that we learnt from generations before us; whether from our parents or grandparents. I really believe that the way to get rid of tribalism is through education and understanding and appreciating all the different cultures and what unites the people of South Sudan.

When people become more enlightened, they appreciate each other’s cultures. I think this is the difference that we, the youth, can make because war has forced us to go to different places. Because of modernity, we are far much advanced compared to the past generations and we should rise above tribal lines as it is really holding us back.

Batali: It is said that US President Barack Obama was an inspiration to the young people, do you have the admiration to the changes that took place in America and are spearheaded by young people?

Duany: Oh Yes! I am very excited that Barack Obama is the President of the United States of America, and from the history of the US in the 1960s during the civil rights movement, it is truly a victory for the black man against discrimination.
It took 40 years to realise that change and I think many African countries are going to learn from Obama.

Even South Sudan that is still a young country can become different one day provided a complete reconstruction is done.

Batali: What is your resolution this year?

Duany:  I have many resolutions this year but above all I am very excited to be Miss Malaika South Sudan. Being the beauty queen of South Sudan, I want to ensure that my programs reach the grassroots and attain the targeted groups. Even if we do not complete them during my rein, I am optimistic the next winner will pick up from where I leave.

My other resolution is to establish a resource centre where we will have a library and a bookshop and other facilities to enhance girls’ and women’s education.

On the same subject, South Sudan Safari’s Clement Lochio Lomornana spoke to the Chairman of South Sudan Artist Association Lam Tungwar.

Lomornana: What is Miss Malaika contest all about?

Tungwar: Miss Malaika is a beauty pageant that is meant to expose the beauty of the African origin and the beautiful girls in South Sudan as well as promoting our diverse cultures. The title winners are usually given the responsibility of campaigning for the rights of girls, women and those who are not attending school or those who are forced into early marriages, child labour and general maltreatment.

The winners also spearhead campaigns against societal evils such as tribalism, corruption and promote dialogue between ethnic communities in South Sudan and most of all to promote tourism. After all, we don’t have any widely-known game parks in South Sudan but it is the title winners who will showcase our country.
The girls will march and expose the beauty of the river Nile, the game parks in Central Equatoria, Eastern, Jonglei, Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal states.

The idea originated from Nairobi, Kenya where we learnt a lot about the promotion of the girl-child. It was a major challenge but we successfully launched the event in 2005 where Ms Rebecca Yom Chor emerged the first winner. It was well attended and has been nationalised to cover the whole of South Sudan and our people are really proud of it.

We got a lot of motivation from the communities and so we had to promote the rights of girls and women through the pageantry. We realised that we had to create awareness on various issues affecting women to ensure that they have their right place in the society and involve them in  the political sphere of a peaceful country where freedom, dignity and integrity is upheld.

We also seek to promote our culture by charging the winners with the responsibility of acting as role models in the society, especially for girls and women.

Lomornanna: What is the future of Miss Malaika?

Tungwar: The Miss Malaika contest is going to be held on a rotational basis, for instance, it will be held in all the ten states of South Sudan next year and we will ensure that all communities are involved. This will ensure that no community is left behind.

Lomornana: Some people have expressed concerns about Miss Malaika, saying that it is a threat to South Sudanese culture. What is your opinion on that?

Tungwar: Well, the threat is a misconception by those who do not understand the beauty contest well. The Miss Malaika South Sudan is not like beauty pageants held in England or in New York because our girls don’t expose their bodies; they don’t dress in bikinis or skimpy underwear and all that. What we are portraying is actually the beauty of our cultures and so the only thing that is exposed is a traditional dress which is a traditional costume.

The pageantry is thus not a threat to our culture as long as we know how to go about it and operate within the acceptable standards. Comparing it to the west is where the threat comes from.

The winner is actually charged with the responsibility of initiating several programmes, as I have said above, and together with the second runners up will represent the country internationally. They will appear in films besides promoting tourism.

Lomornana: As Chairman of South Sudan Artists’ Association, can you sing to us any song either in your dialect, in Arabic or in English.

Tungwar: Ok, actually I have a song called Changes, (Lam singing………………) .So that’s it, everybody wants a world of change, a world of modernisation, a world of love and peace. Nobody wants war again.
That is the song I can sing for you. Thank you.

On the same subject, South Sudan Safari’s Clement Lochio Lomornana spoke to the Director South Sudan Artist Association Evans Maende.

Lomornana: Who are the main sponsors of this year’s event?

Maende: The main sponsor of this year’s event was MTN and we also had Imatong Gas, UAP Insurance and Charleston Travel, one of the oldest partners of Miss Malaika. UAP and Imatong Gas are annual partners of Miss Malaika and MTN came in for the first time and the fact that they put in a lot of resources made them the main sponsors this year.

Lomornana: When does this contest always take place?

Maende: We usually start organising from July to October or September for the first preliminary and November to December for the final.

Lomornana: Why is this contest always limited to Juba?

Maende: At first it was limited to Nairobi because of the fragile peace in South Sudan as well as the fact that not many people had understood what the pageantry was all about.

However, the security and resource challenges are still forcing us to hold it in Juba but there are plans to spread to all the ten states of South Sudan in the near future.

Lomornana: Does it involve all the states?

Maende: Yes it does because all the girls who contested this year were drawn from all the ten states and I think it has a fair representation of the states. We always make sure that we balance their representation so that all states are covered.

Lomornana: What is your future plan as far as the states are concerned?

Maende: This year we are just trying to see if we can be able to start early and cover all the states. If we generate more resources for the programs, we can go and hold our preliminaries at the states but then that has not yet been confirmed as it is subject to logistics and manpower as well.


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