Alfred Taban: Crusading Editor of the Khartoum Monitor

Khartoum Monitor was the only private English-language newspaper in Sudan. It was established by Alfred Taban and other journalists from southern Sudan in 2000. The newspaper was known for its independent news and editorial policy as well as the crusading editor’s refusal to accept the censorship policy of the Sudan government as related to particular articles on southern Sudan the ongoing war and the peace process

After friends who were working with private concerns helping with relief efforts in Sudan emailed me about the newspaper, I used to follow the news from 2006 that was posted on the Khartoum Monitor's website. I remember when I read my first web edition of the Khartoum Monitor. It was early spring of 2006 and I was in San Francisco doing some consulting work for a client of the progressive software company I work for. My background is in Magento website development and customization and this firm needed help with its e-commerce websites. They wanted us to develop a strategy for choosing and executing the best Magento development services and themes that fit their marketing strategies. Because Magento has tons of custom extensions and modules to choose from, the platform can be overwhelming to newbies. I was there with several other members of my team to help get their custom Magento website functioning smoothly and securely. In the evenings after work, I would return to my hotel room and check out the latest news from southern Suden. Initially, I didn't know what to think when when the website disappeared. Later I learned Alfred Taban had closed down the newspaper's offices and moved to Juba where he opened the Juba Monitor.

Recently I discovered that the Khartoum Monitor site's domain was available. I bought it with the goal of recreating as much of its original content as possible from archived pages. Even though thew Khartoum Monitor is no more, I felt from an historical perspective its content was important and should still be available on the web.

Since the site will not be exactly as you remember it, please be indulgent.

Today Alfred Taban finds his staunchly independent English language daily paper, Juba Monitor is as disliked by authorities in Juba as was the Khartoum Monitor in Khartoum.  Mr. Taban‘s career has spanned decades in the journalistic trenches of both Sudan and South Sudan.

Taban first moved to Khartoum in 1976 to attend university. He became the BBC's Sudan correspondent working for them from 1981until 2007.

It was in 2000 when he began his most important and dangerous journalistic work by starting the Khartoum Monitor in order to report on the civil war for readers in the rebellious south.

The authorities tried everything to silence the Khartoum Monitor from weekly confiscation of press runs to detention. Police in Khartoum twice closed his offices. Looking back, Taban believes his reporting was part of the Sudan liberation struggle.

Taban’s perseverance earned him regonition and a meeting in the Oval Office with President George Bush in 2006 where he received a National Endowment for Democracy award.

"They tried to kill me in Khartoum and they didn't succeed," he shrugs. "I will not keep quiet."

On July 8, 2011, a day before South Sudan independence, Taban closed the Khartoum Monitor and moved south to start the Juba Monitor.

When I discovered that the domain for the online version of the Khartoum Monitor was available I immediately bought it with the goal of rebuilding from archived pages at least some of the former site’s content.  What Alfred Taban accomplished and is still accomplishing is commendable. This domain and its content should not disappear.

Be inspired by Alfred Taban and the fearless journalists who labored daily under extreme and dangerous conditions.


Khartoum Monitor Headlines March 18, 2007


Ban Ki-Moon sends another letter to Al Bashir

By Alfred Soka
The United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG), Ban Ki-moon has written a new letter to President Omer Hassan Al Bashir detailing a proposed United Nations-African Union (AU) hybrid force of up to 24,000 personnel, an UNMIS News Bulletin reported without specifying the date. It revealed that African Union (AU)

Mrs. Lukudu appointment reveals NCP effectiveness in GoSS

By Charles Wani Ladu
The first Sudanese female Governor and Ambassador Agnes Poni Lukudu was sworn in three days ago as an advisor of rural development to the President of Government Southern Sudan (GoSS).

Speaking to the Khartoum Monitor by telephone, the National Congress Party (NCP) Southern sector spokesman Khamis Haggar said that he hoped for an increase in NCP members in the GoSS and in all Southern states because the NCP is a partner in the GoSS, not an opposition party.

“The appointment of Mrs. Lukudu reveals the NCP effectiveness in the GoSS”, asserted Haggar who reiterated that Mrs. Lukudu was the first woman in the whole Sudan who held the posts of a Governor in Bahr el Jebel State Juba and former Ambassador of the Sudan to Congo.

Humanitarian operations suspended in West Darfur

By Alfred Soka
An UNMIS News Bulletin has revealed that humanitarian operations in the Ardamata camp in West Darfur have been temporarily suspended because some 250 militiamen surrounded Ardamata camp on the east and north side demanding a meeting with community leaders.

Al Mahdi calls for Sudanese national solutions to Sudan crisis

 By Mohamed Ali Fazari
Amid a large rally the leader of the Umma Party, Saddiq Al Mahdi addressed the people of Sirkela locality in Northern Kordufan State. In his speech he called for political solutions to the crisis of Darfur to avoid a confrontation with the international community.

Al Mahdi who was speaking last Thursday to a political rally for his party called on the National Congress Party (NCP) to review their mistakes until peace is completed in all of Sudan. He also said that the peace agreement did not move forward on the right path because the NCP has marginalised the effective role of other Sudanese political parties. According to him the solution exists in unifying Sudanese political parties, otherwise Sudan’s confrontation with the international community, shown in the UN’s security council’s resolution 1706 will inevitably break the fragile ceasefire in the Darfur region, after four years of conflict.

The regime has found itself in a real problem vis a vis its neighbours and the international community. This is because of the NCP repeatedly rejecting the UNS’s resolution.

Al Mahdi also held a political forum in Omruwaba last Thursday amid other major Sudanese political parties including the SPLM, National Democratic Party and Sudanese Communist party.

Al Mahdi sharply criticised the NCP’s of rejection of the International Criminal Court’s finding that two suspects be brough to trial. It is needed to clean the bitterness of the past, he said. Finally, he called on the SPLM, NCP and his party to put aside differences and move towards national unification.

UN calls on ending impunity for violence against women

By Alfred Soka
The United Nations (UN) Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon called for action on ending impunity for violence against women. In his message on the International Women’s Day, Ki-moon said, “This day is an opportunity for all of us, women and men, to unite in a cause that embraces all humankind.”
This year’s theme is “Ending impunity for violence against women”. The Secretary-General drew attention to the plight of women saying, “In almost all countries, women continue to be under-represented in decision-making positions.” He added that their work continues to be undervalued, underpaid, or not paid at all. He regretted that a majority of the 100 million children not in school were girls, and, of the more than 800 million illiterate adults, the majority were also women.
In an article, Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, highlighted the difficulties in prosecuting perpetrators of violence against women. “ICC action is gearing up to bolster the cumulative experience of international justice mechanisms that have brought to light specific types and patterns of sexual crimes targeting mainly women and girls in war torn zones,” she said.

In Sudan, the Government, the UN and civil society groups marked International Women’s Day across the country with workshops, marches, speeches and concerts.UNMIS saluted all women working and living in Sudan, and reiterated its call for Sudanese women to be full-fledged partners in shaping their society and country. UNMIS expressed solidarity with the women of Sudan who have been enduring the devastating toll of war, particularly in Darfur, where violence against women and girls, including rape, continues unabated and is used by some as a tool of war.

It urged all actors in Sudan to redouble their efforts to end impunity for violence against women and ensure that the rights of women, are strengthened, promoted, respected, and protected. The UN family in Sudan pledged to continue working with the Government of National Unity, the Government of Southern Sudan, civil society and NGOs, to ensure that Sudanese women are empowered.

Bottled water, a lucrative market in South Sudan

By Isaiah Abraham
Besides accommodation, the bottled water industry seems to be one of the few industries making an aggressive and loud splash to capture the imagination of the Southern Sudanese consumer.


Headlines March 1, 2006


Assessment Commission draws on Oil for CPA implementation

By Al Awiya Abdurrahman
The oil commission would play a pivoted role in the formulation of oil policies, the chairman of assessment commission, Tom Franslian said in a press conference yesterday at Hilton Hotel

He emphasized transparency in all matters related to oil in Abyei and revenue, adding that differences between the two parties should be settled through dialogue

Juba University closes after damages

By Alfred Soka
The Administration of the University of Juba after an urgent meeting Saturday following student’s damages on Kadaru campus decreed a closure of Kadaru campus till further notice.

However, 9 cars were burnt as well as two offices, 35 computers in the laboratory and the office of the university guards. Following the damages the administration through police has detained over 51 students. Students caused damages after demanding the university’s return to Juba and restoration of the students union. The students still persist for the return of the university to Juba.

It is worth noting that the examination of the students in Kadaru   complex should commence on the 25th February for the first year students to be followed later by the other grades.


Headlines Nov 18, 2006



Photojournalism techniques

Because photographers are often driving in their car, spot news is sometimes found through coincidental circumstances. Although emotions are high when driving to a spot news scene, special care must be taken to drive safely. Traffic laws must be obeyed.


Let us Speak Out

A neutral government to conduct elections

It is now clear that in two years, general and presidential elections are going to be held. Presidential polls will be held along with elections for the National Assembly, Council of States, South Sudan Legislative Assembly and state Assemblies. There will also be elections for the President of South Sudan (GoSS) and for Governors in all the 26 states in Sudan.

The government  has ordered the suspension of five leading officials in the Ministry of Finance. They are Isaac Makur, the Undersecretary for Finance; Francis Lotiyo, the Undersecretary for Economic Planning; Peter Laany, the Budget Director; the Director of Taxation, Michael Abola and his deputy Tileit Plating. The President assigned the powers of the suspended officials to senior directors in the same ministry until their cases are resolved.

President Salva directed Dr Paulina Riek, the chairperson of the South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission and the other five members of the commission to investigate the suspended officials and report directly to him.

This is an excellent send off to the United Kingdom, President Mayardit has given himself. His three day visit to the United Kingdom which got underway on Sunday is likely to go very well. At home and abroad, everybody is concerned with the level of corruption in South Sudan. Whenever I ask my hosts abroad for more development funds, I am in turn asked, “is the money going to go to the people it is intended for?” I am often at a loss. The issue of corruption is not a small matter. Poor governance and lack of integrity are responsible for the collapse of not only governments but also of states in the world. A person toils in his field or office and pays taxes to the government. How will he feel when he realises that his money has gone to buy beer for some official in the Ministry of Finance? What about the sick in hospital who is expecting a drug but that medicine cannot be brought because someone has pocketed the money to buy it?

The situation is even worse with money that is not ours. The donations that we are receiving are supposed to go to the common good and to the vulnerable, the weak, old, sick and children. This is blood money. Now when the donors hear that the money has gone into the stomachs of those already with protruding stomachs in Juba, how will they feel? This is why the action taken by President Mayardit is commendable.

The appointment earlier this year of Dr Paulino Riek, a respected southern Sudanese academic as head of the Anti-Corruption watchdog established the seriousness of President Mayardit in tackling this curse.

The suspension of these five officials is very good news. What we now need is a thorough and speedy investigation of these persons and their being taken to court if cases against them are established. If they are found guilty, very harsh punishments must be imposed on them as a deterrent to those who do not value public funds and property. However if they are not found guilty they should be rehabilitated with an apology. We do not want a witch hunt. Indeed those who accuse others wrongly should themselves be investigated because we do not want innocent people to be punished. Continue your anti-corruption drive brother Mayardit, we are right behind you.


Driving based on “I Don't Care Attitude”

One day, during this last Ramadan, I was standing by the side of the road wanting to cross to the other side; all of a sudden I felt something knock my hand. Fortunately I did not fall down. I looked to my left; it was a car, a driver moving his car backward knocked me. I waited a little for the driver to come down and to ask me whether I was alright or not. He did not come. On the contrary he wanted to drive away as if nothing had happened.

I hurried up to reach him before he moved away. I told him in angry language that he knocked me and then wanted to drive away. In the end, I discovered he did not know he had knocked me. He was serious; he was not pretending.
On another day, also during Ramadan, I was also standing by the side of the road to cross to the other side, this time trying to cross in a zebra crossing. I was waiting to have priority to cross; but I waited for long and drivers driving without paying attention to the zebra crossing. I was not waiting alone, there were other people wanting to cross, but drivers didn’t care.

I observed during Ramadan, a little bit before the sunse, drivers were driving their cars with high speed. The motive was that they wanted to reach home before sunset to attend Ramadan breakfast.

Overall, I can say, many drivers have been driving cars absentmindedly, carelessly and without observing traffic laws. They drive without attention to the point that they could knock somebody or something without even knowing.
Secondly, they drive without observing traffic laws; so, they don't give priority to passers by, people at the zebra crossing or sometimes even to other drivers with a green light.

Lots of drivers drive their cars with negligence and don't abide by the reasonable distance neccessary between two cars moving following each other. I see many drivers driving with an “I don't care attitude.” Because of this attitude, many road accidents occur where many innocent people have lost their lives. They lost their lives because of drivers with an “I don't care attitude” driving with high speed to reach Ramadan breakfast at home.

The driver could have parked at the nearest grocery on the road and taken a soft drink instead of driving fast at the cost of somebody’s life


Editorial Nov 18 2006


It is easier to achieve disintegration than unity
Disintegration is not an impossible objective to achieve. On the contrary, the tendencies and activities which stimulate the urge for disintegration are really more unlikely to eradicate. It all borders on power. Power corrupts. It also borders on Wealth. Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, had said, “Working to earn money is not evil but loving it is.” Love for money can compel weak-hearted people to kill even relatives and parents because what they care about most is money and nothing else. Power and wealth are the two sides of the same coin which paralyze and distort the consciences of those who are addicted to economic and political power. With money, politics is dead. Without politics, money has no protection. Money needs security and both money and security need political power. T

hose who have made it to political power work hard to raise money in order to achieve economic power which they will protect through their political power. Along the roads leading to Juba, about 42 people have been killed, several others wounded and vehicles set ablaze. A doctor at the Juba Teaching and Referral Hospital, who declined to be named, said: "One of the wounded was brought in at night, while 16 wounded were still being treated.” Those who carried out the attacks happened to be people from Juba, some of whom live in the very area which was attacked.

What would have blinded a person into killing people with whom he lives? Speculations are that money is at work. Well, it is not just money but the degree of love one has for money. It is enslavement by money that makes a person blind. Too much love for money kills the conscience. Once we have a dead conscience, we lack self-restraint and we can behave like wild animals. This is what has been happening in the Sudanese political and economic landscape. Fingers were pointed at the LRA. But when it was discovered some of the culprits were sons of South Sudan, the wild speculations shifted. These are the type of activities which can easily lead to disintegration rather than unity.