Robert Bonifas (left) and Don Parrish on the road in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. The pair are members of a travel website where people compete to see the world. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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At a staging area 20 miles south of Khartoum, a man carries his suitcase as he makes his way to a bus headed to Southern Sudan. A referendum in January could grant the south independence from Khartoum, but Southern Sudan is ill-equipped to provide for the tens of thousands of people are heading south ahead of the vote and promise of self-rule. Abd Raouf/AP hide caption

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People stand in line at Juba University for hours to register to vote next month on independence for Southern Sudan. Here, a poll worker helps a prospective voter put a thumb print on his registration card. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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A U.N. peacekeeper stands guard in Abyei last month. The Sudanese town on the faultline between north and south is slowly recovering from violence two years ago and is bracing for more bloodshed as a referendum looms on independence for Southern Sudan. Guillaume Lavalee/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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The mayor of Nairobi, Geoffrey Majiwa (center), was in court Oct. 26 to face charges of fraud over the purchase of land to serve as a new cemetery for the Kenyan capital. Majiwa was arrested by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission. Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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The contrast between Mogadishu and the Somaliland capital of Hargeisa is striking. In Hargeisa, people wave at foreigners, but in Mogadishu, foreigners are more likely to be shot or kidnapped. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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Eastleigh, an area in Nairobi, Kenya, is known as "Little Mogadishu." It's a Somali neighborhood of mud roads, open sewers and intrigue where the militant group al-Shabab is trying to recruit people to its efforts to create a strict Islamist state in Somalia. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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European soldiers are training 2,000 Somalis to help build a national army to defend a weak, Western-backed government in Mogadishu, Somalia. Here, a European soldier participates in the training of a Somali recruit at a training camp in remote Uganda. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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African Union troops are trying to bring stability to war-ravaged Somalia. They are locked in battle with al-Shabab, Islamist militants who claim ties with al-Qaida. Here, militiamen in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, ride in a "technical" -- a pickup truck outfitted with weapons. This militia supports the African Union and local government troops. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

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