Births are meant to be joyous. For the world's newest country, the creation of South Sudan also means relief. For more than half a century, the north and the south have fought, resulting in two million deaths. But the reality of the independence is complicated, at best. South Sudan's capital, Juba was little more than a collection of dirt roads and blown-out buildings during the war. It is now a boomtown. It is comprised of steel-and-glass buildings, SUV traffic jams and riverside restaurants full of expat aid workers and Chinese road builders. But corruption is rife and outside the government it can be hard to find many ordinary South Sudanese in Juba who are benefitting from their new independence. Beyond the city limits, life gets even harder. South Sudan remains one of the poorest countries on earth. There are few roads, no industry and only a handful of schools or hospitals.
Half a century of war is not quickly forgotten, nor settled. Where north meets south, Arabia meets Africa. And it is not a fixed frontier but an arbitrary line drawn in the fluid sands of ethnicity, language and culture. Northern Sudanese, Russian-made Antanov bombers unleash their payload inside their own borders against the people of Darfur on a daily basis. The people of the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile fought with the south but find the new dividing line has left them on the north side of the border. Giant oil fields that lie under the ground on both sides of the border further complicate the dispute over where to fix the boundary. In theory, South Sudan's independence lifted the shadow of subjugation and repression from around 10 million people. In practice, for millions of South Sudanese, peace, stability and prosperity continue to prove elusive.
- Written by Dominic Nahr, Edited by Alex Perry, TIME Magazine's Africa Bureau Chief, 2012
about the artist
Dominic Nahr works with a strong and unwavering gaze, aiming to document and disseminate images of actions that must not be continued or forgotten. He is intent on reporting certain and unflinching narratives about natural catastrophes, civil unrest and crimes inflicted in the pursuit of protecting physical and psychological borders.
Nahr was raised in Hong Kong where he established himself as a photojournalist with South China Morning Post. He relocated to Toronto and subsequently graduated from Ryerson University in 2008.
Nahr has been honoured with several prestigious awards, including The Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award. He has been selected as one of the 'Top 30 under 30 photographers' by PDN magazine and has been exhibited at Visa Pour l'Image in Perpignan, France. Nahr was selected to take part in 2010's Joop Swart Masterclass in Holland and received grants from the Pulitzer Center and the Emergency Fund.
Dominic Nahr joined Magnum Photos as a nominee in July 2010. He is a contract photographer for Time magazine and represented by O'Born Contemporary in Toronto. Nahr currently resides in Nairobi, Kenya.