I am called South Sudanese Pounds aka SSP

By Malek Arol Dhieu

My name is South Sudanese Pounds. They abbreviate me as SSP. Bringing me to where I’m today was a tug of war. It all began after independence as an independent country must have a currency.

Choosing a portrait of Dr. John Garang de Mabior was unanimous, but choosing of common pictures to represent the 64 tribes of South Sudan in every note was hard. Because of that, leaders resorted to using pictures of cows for their commonality and wild animals such as lion, elephant and ostrich.

Legalizing me to work nationally, I was shown a great deal of honour and respect as all my printed notes were working. Piasters could buy something, 1 SSP could pay a bus fare, 5 SSP could pay a dish of fried meat, 10 SSP could pay upkeep at home, 20 SSP could pay school fees, 50 SSP could pay a rent and 100 SSP could buy a cow. Life was so enjoyable! Four papers (100+100+100+100) of my then big note could buy 100 USD compared to now when sixty papers of my big note buy 100 USD.

When war broke out in 2013, it was as if it broke out against me, and not against people themselves. As people were dying, my small notes were also dying. Piastres were shot dead on spot while 1,5,10 and 20 SSP was maimed seriously. In 2016 when what they call economic meltdown climaxed, 1,5,10 and 20 SSP succumbed to death. 500 and 1000 notes were also printed to help in curbing the economy, but they seem to help corrupt individuals in looting as 1 million SSP could fit in trousers’ pockets.

I’m abused. How dare could South Sudanese abandon me and become needle and thread with the United States Dollar? How dare could people sell their cows back home and come to Juba to sell me out for USD? How dare could black market destroy me like this? Because of disrespect by my own people, 100 Sudanese Pounds is equivalent to 300 SSP, look at how I’m devalued. People don’t even fear of the portrait of Dr John Garang de Mabior, the founding father of the Republic of South Sudan.

In Juba Town and Custom Market, black-marketers use to carry me like exercise books, running here and there after someone coming to exchange USD for me. I have no value completely. If USD has become your national currency, then when are you annexing yourself to Chicago, Miami or Colorado State? If USD has become your national currency, then is Franklin your founding father? If USD has become your national currency, then why does it bear signatures of Americans only? If USD has become your national currency, then why do you pay the civil servants in SSP? Indeed USD works in every country, but South Sudanese have overrated it.

It’s unfortunate that my sickness worsens at the watch of economic professionals in the Economic Cluster, did they really study economics? I doubt! I have a plan to contemplate suicide, but because President Salva Kiir Mayardit sleeps with one eye open just to make sure I gain back my value, no need for hanging myself. I’m happy that the street of Juba is flooded with the former Ministers of Finance and Governors of Central Bank who pretended to be in the forefront against inflation, but much observed in promoting it. Until when I’m valued shall economy improve!

The author is a medical student, University of Juba. He can be reached at or +211922332811.  

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