Southern Sudan: Nowhere near the ‘Promised Land’ -PART I

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Friday, 21 January 2011 22:11
Written by Chol Marol Deng,The New Sudan Vision (NSV), newsudanvision.com
Hits: 13270

Traditionally, long journeys are punctuated with good seats, sighs of rest and little speech for a time being especially when the journey involved life threatening events,” writes NSV contributor Chol Marol Deng in this first of three articles. “However, after completing this journey to independence, it should immediately ring in Southern Sudanese’s minds that what they feel they have achieved today was achieved by many African countries more than fifty years ago,” he argues.

(Toronto) - The results of the recently held plebiscite in Southern Sudan have not been officially announced yet by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC), but breakdowns of the results at some polling stations, both in the country and outside certify the widely expected secession.  Almost all Southern Sudanese are very excited as they celebrate their hard won independence from an institutionalized Islamism and Arabism imposed upon them by the Arab dominated governments in Khartoum.   Most of the Southern Sudanese people who are celebrating today virtually were born during the struggle that started in a conference at which the British colonialists conspired with the powerful community, the Arabs, against them in 1947.

Traditionally, long journeys are punctuated with good seats, sighs of rest and little speech for a time being especially when the journey involved life threatening events.   However, after completing this journey to independence, it should immediately ring in Southern Sudanese’s minds that what they feel they have achieved today was achieved by many African countries more than fifty years ago On that note, they should understand that the independence is just a major step through the a longer journey and not the end since they have a lot left in order to catch up with the rest of Africa and the world.   Common citizens must not deceive themselves that their government will bring them joy now that they are free.  No government ever does that.  Not even the greatest powers have managed to do that.  It can be seen in the approval ratings of their incumbent presidents.   Governments are not formed with the intentions of developing people’s lives, but to provide free space for everybody to develop their own lives by controlling conflicts of interests and ideas and violence that may result.

As I join my fellow citizens in celebrating the emergence of our identity from the trashes into which it was thrown by those who claimed our land and defined it to fit their own history, I’m quick to warn, as many have done before, and make predictions about the possible problems that the new country may face and how they may be effectively controlled.

Like a new born child, any new country experiences teething problems, some of which may bring it down if it lacks a stable government and committed, patriotic and nationalistic citizens.  Many people, who know the history of Sudan, especially that of Southern Sudan, have pessimistically predicted that Southern Sudan is a pre-failed state.   Those who, in the eyes of Southern Sudanese, care about the stability of the new country urge the international community to prop up the new nation so that it stands on its feet, grow stronger and develop.  It is hard to tell the voice of an enemy from that of reality in this case.  For the enemies of Southern Sudan, their pessimism tries to bare the formation of the new state and for those who care, they warn of the dangers that come with that independence so that international community may help where possible.  While the international community worries about the physical development of this one of the remotest places on earth, Southern Sudanese should worry more about the mental development because it is the only way to all the other forms of development.  In deed there will be many problems that our country will go through.  Some of the problems can be solved while others may be hard to solve and may take a long time.  Since the new born country is nothing comparable to the other African countries that got their independence more than fifty years ago, some of the problems may call for perseverance and patience from the citizens for them to be overcome.

One of the major problems that worry the concerned people around the world is the issue of tribal conflict in the newly formed nation.   It has been analytically concluded, given the tribal infightings that marred the rebellion right from the onset of the struggle until it culminated in a major split in 1991, and which has left slowly healing wounds, is that South Sudanese are only united because of their quest for independence but the tribal conflict will resume after independence.   Though most of other African countries comprise several tribes and many have managed to effectively guard their sovereignty, claims of possible tribal conflict in Southern Sudan are true for several reasons.  Here are some of the reasons:

The other rather obvious problem is the extremely low level of development that will make life difficult for the people of Southern Sudan.  There are remote and extremely few health institutions, learning institutions and almost absent paved roads.   The only things that would help heal war wounds and give a glimpse of hope to the survivors of war, especially those that were orphaned and widowed by the war, is a sustainable government that is capable of providing basic needs for the citizens.  If the government does not work hard enough so that the children whose fathers or mothers died in the frontline can go to school, so that the widows can find it easier to get treatment than it seems now, so that every Southern Sudanese who earns meager salaries can afford basic needs when prices are lowered by developing agriculture, infrastructure and security and fighting corruption, then the government will surely meet a lot of hateful opposition from the people.  Nobody wants to see the formation of Mungiki-like movements because of extreme dissatisfaction in the government by the war veterans.

 

*Chol Marol Deng can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.