Reporter John Tanza Mabusu is from Maridi, southern Sudan, and has years of experience covering his country and the region. His last stint was at the Sudan Radio Service, where he had served since 2004.
Tanza says he’s excited about his new assignment on Sudan in Focus, which is funded by the U.S. State Department.
“When I first came here, I was a bit scared,” he says. “But I found strength in the fact that radio is radio. All I need to do here is just adapt to the [VOA} style and everything will be okay.”
Tanza says he felt welcomed and encouraged by the “great team spirit” he found at VOA.
He says he looks forward to co-hosting the program.
Tanza's reporting experiences in Sudan and Kenya have taught him a valuable lesson, he says.
“News and information is what everybody is hungry for -- information that is balanced and credible. What I have learned is that giving people accurate, balanced information sells.”
He says this is especially true of south Sudan, where he says rumors tend to take “center stage.”
The referendum scheduled for early next year will determine whether southern Sudan secedes or remains part of Sudan. Tanza says the sentiment among southerners is clear.
“The only option that the majority of the people of south Sudan are [seeking] is the option for separation. The reason why most people are thinking that way is because of the experiences they had during the 21-year war.”
With the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, says Tanza, people have been “tasting the dividends of peace” and rebuilding their lives. “So the little window of freedom they have enjoyed,” he says, “they want it to continue.”
The journalist sees a mixed view among northerners. “The general mood in the north,” he says, “is for the unity of the country.” Many see an “opportunity to correct past mistakes,” while others, including those he calls “radicals,” say, “If southerners want to secede, let them go.”
Tanza says there’s a lot going on in Sudan today.
“As individual and responsible citizens, Sudanese should sift through all the information before them and make their own choice for their own destiny.”