Today marks the second year since South Sudan became an independent state, following a referendum that passed with 98.83% of the votes.
It had formerly been a part of the Republic of Sudan (consisting of an Arab Muslim North and the mainly Christian and Animist South), but after two civil wars (from 1955-1972 and another from 1983)in which about 1.5 million people lost their lives, between the central government of Northern Sudan and the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army/Movement, SPLA/M of Southern Sudan a Comprehensive Peace Agreement, CPA (which ended the civil war) was signed in January 2005, which granted autonomy to Southern Sudan before it seceded from Sudan following the referendum on the 9th of July, 2011.
Unfortunately, John Garang de Mabior who led the SPLA during the Second Sudanese Civil War and had been instrumental to the accord reached in 2005, and later served as First Vice President of Sudan from July 9th, 2005 died in a helicopter crash on the 30th of July, 2005.
South Sudan’s independence was greeted with great joy and happiness, not only amongst her new citizens but by well meaning citizens of other nations worldwide. There was so much hope in the air about what great nation she’ll turn out to be having freed herself from the shackles of what could amount to a master-slave relationship with her northern neighbours when they were a part of Sudan.
Since achieving independence though, South Sudan has being beset with several challenges both within and outside her boundaries (especially with her Northern neighbour, Sudan).
Following the split, several territorial issues between North and South remain unresolved, such as in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile region, with several incursions by the Sudanese army into South Sudan territory.
Western Darfur is neither here nor there, with the North (Sudan) accused by the United Nations of perpetrating Genocide (Sudan’s President Omar El Bashir is currently on the International Criminal Court, ICC’s wanted list) against the non-Arab locals.
Economically, the Sudan and South Sudan are connected by oil, the crude which South Sudan has in large quantity but must be transported via pipelines through Sudan (the North) to the outside world, as South Sudan is a landlocked country.
In recent times, the North has had to resort to shutting off the pipelines in response to what it terms ”Juba’s continued support to the Sudan Revolutionary Front, SRF rebels” fighting Khartoum on multiple fronts, leading to a stoppage of oil production by South Sudan with the consequence that much needed funds become out of reach for the young nation, in dire need of infrastructural development.
Within South Sudan, that ugly malaise that’s at the bane of development of many African nations has reared it’s ugly head even before the fruits of independence was fully consumated. Corruption is rife, and though there’s been some effort in tackling it by the Salva Kirr government it must be stated that firing corrupt government officials without prosecution is the weakest way to fight the scourge.
Skirmishes amongst various tribes over grazing land, and wells have also contributed in painting the young nation as unstable before the international community.
Despite these and many other challenges South Sudan face today, it still holds much hope of a better and greater future if it avoids the pitfalls other African countries made on attaining Independence. Hopefully, she will also escape the ”resource curse” that’s associated with oil rich nations like Nigeria, and solid mineral rich ones like the Congo.
I believe South Sudan will not disappoint Africa. These teething problems, like many before it, will pass, as long as she continues to espouse democratic principles and the respect for the rule of law.
I only wished South Sudan adopted the name ‘KUSH’ when it had to decide on a name before independence. I guess it was the other conotation of the ‘nomen’ that probably went against that decision. Maybe, just maybe it’ll be Kush in the nearest future.
P.S., Juba is the capital of South Sudan, while Khartoum is the capital of the Republic of Sudan in the North.
BBC News – South Sudan talks resume in Addis Ababa nightclub Gaslight – http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25718654