Africa

Africa 3.0: Meet the gubernator

Richard Poplak, Kevin Bloom

Meet Nyandeng Malek Dielic, the only female governor in the Republic of South Sudan.

The Gubernator. (Richard Poplak, M&G)

"If you go to Warap, I am struggling even to have a government building." So says Nyandeng Malek Dielic, the governor of Warap State, and the only female governor in the Republic of South Sudan.

Born in adjacent Lake State, around 1963 – "at least that's what I take to be the year of my birth", she says – she was highly unusual in being the eldest daughter of a local family to go to school.

Her grandfather was a progressive chief, and her aunt was the celebrated Victoria Yar, the first Dinka girl to graduate from the University of Khartoum, and a pioneering African female politician. Yar took Dielic under her wing, and shepherded her through a variety of schools. After her aunt's death in 1981, Dielic continued on her own, graduating eventually from an Egyptian university, while her people were fighting and dying for independence.

She returned in 2005, with the will and the knowledge to start building a country. "We have a vision from our late chairperson John Garang, and I think that is the beginning," she says.

"Take the town to the people, not the people to the town."

It's a bottom up philosophy that entirely drives her political ideology. Now, she needs to bring over one million uneducated pastoralists and cattle herders into the 21st century. "Most of the men in Warap have a military mind," she says. Security is a nightmare. No roads, no sanitation, no clinics, no schools.

"But we're just happy to be starting," she insists. "The fact is that we are now doing it for ourselves. I'm governing my state. No one else. We are under trees this year, and in 10 years everyone will be in a classroom."

 

This post is part of Africa 3.0, a weekly series by Richard Poplak and Kevin Bloom in which they highlight aspects of their travels and investigations on the continent. Visit http://africa3point0.tumblr.com for more, and engage with them on Facebook or Twitter.

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