On the making of the South Sudan National Anthem

Category: Writing aboard the Kenya Airways: A story on coming to Rwanda for the first time
Published on Friday, 09 March 2012 07:33
Written by Dr. Thuou Loi Cingoth, The New Sudan Vision (NSV), newsudanvision.com
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(Juba, South Sudan) - Whenever I hear people singing the National Anthem of our beloved country, the Republic of South Sudan, I feel thrilled as one of the people who contributed in making this beautiful, appealing anthem a reality. As a member of the technical committee that wrote our National Anthem, I would like to inform my readers about some historical facts and the contents of our beloved National Anthem.

In brief, the President of the then Government of Southern Sudan and currently the President of our nation H.E Salva Kiir Mayardit ordered the SPLA information unit to lead the process of making sure that we have our National Anthem before independence. It was obvious that we, the people of South Sudan were going to vote for independence as we did in January 2011.

Accordingly the process of having our National Anthem was led by two able senior officers of our beloved army (SPLA).  These senior officers were Lt. Gen. Kuol Deim Kuol and Brig. Gen. Malaak Ayuen Ajok.  Let. Gen. Kuol was the overall supervisor of the whole process and Brig. Gen. Malaak was the direct team leader of the technical group writing the National Anthem.  

There were many preparatory meetings convened before a decision was made to select a committee to write the Anthem. In those preparatory meetings, it was announced in the media (audio, video, print and electronic media) that writers should submit poems among which one would be selected as a National Anthem. More than fifty people including the author of this column submitted their poems and accordingly small committee was formed to select poem that meet the criteria agreed upon to feature in the National Anthem.  Almost all the poems received had very good phrases that made it difficult to select one of them to be the National Anthem. Accordingly a unanimous decision was made to write different National Anthem using those phrases which were scattered in different poems received.

Based on this fact, a technical team was formed to lead the process of writing the Anthem.   That team included Mr. Joseph Abuk, Rev. Peter Deng, Mr. Mayom Bull, Ms. Apal Toby Madout and the author of this column, Dr. Thuou Loi.  This team was led directly by Brig. Gen. Malaak Ayuen Ajok with Lt. Gen. Kuol Deim as an overall supervisor. The team spent some time drafting and redrafting until they came to the version which was believed will be the National Anthem of the Republic of South Sudan. I should say that Cdr. Edward Lino joined the team at the later stages and contributed in amending the initial draft of the current Anthem.

After the technical committee finalized the draft, it was then given for artists to compose song based on that draft. This was done in an open competition where all the artists of South Sudan were informed through media to come for that competition at Nyakurun Cultural Centre.  A team of South Sudanese musicians led by Mr. David Lako and included Dr. Joy Vero, Major. William Deng, Rev. Peter Deng and Mr. Andrea Mabior as members set criteria for the kind of music that should be used to sing the anthem.

This team of musicians selected the choir of the University of Juba as the best team that sang the anthem adhering to all the musical criteria that they agreed upon. I have no single idea as to what were those criteria, but they know them better than you and me unless you are a musician. 

The drafted anthem was then presented to the Council of Ministers where small changes were made to the poem, approved and passed to the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly (SSLA) where some minor changes were made and finally approved. I should say as one of the members of the technical committee that the changes which were made in the Council of Ministers and in SSLA were very minor changes of replacing one word with its synonym. So the Anthem remains pretty much the same to the joy of those who drafted it including myself. 

This is in brief how the National Anthem was written by the technical team mentioned above and sang by the choir of the University of Juba.  This is important to make clear for the records.

The most important point that I would like to make here is that we have very impressive Anthem that all of us should be proud of. It is therefore important that we learn our Anthem at heart so that we are able to sing it proudly and comfortably whenever we are attending the occasions where our beautiful National Anthem is to be sung.  It is very easy to learn. Anyone with Basic English Language like me should not have problem to learn and rehearse our National Anthem easily. 

Our National Anthem is composed of three stanzas. Each stanza is conveying specific message and meaning.  It is important for all of us to study and know, not only the words of our national anthem but the underlying meaning of those words.

The first stanza of our National Anthem is meant for us to thank God for giving us this beautiful place called South Sudan with its abundance resources. It's also a calling on the Almighty God to keep us united in peace and harmony in this country called South Sudan.

The second stanza of our National Anthem is about our core values.  In our new nation, peace, justice and liberty shall be the dominant features of our country. This is what the second stanza of our National Anthem is telling us and the coming generations. We fought very taxing war because we were oppressed and deprived of these ideals.  It is therefore mandatory for each and every one of us to internalize these core values and put them into practice in our daily live and by so doing we will build a nation that all of us will be proud of.

The third, which is the last stanza of our National Anthem, is dedicated to our martyrs who didn’t hesitate to give their souls and precious blood for us to be where we are today. Had it not been for the sacrifices of those brave men and women of our beloved army the SPLA, we would not have thought of writing the National Anthem in the first place.  Therefore the third stanza of our National Anthem is for all of us to honor all those great men and women who lost their lives for us to be independent and free as we are today. 

Remembering our martyrs and promising to protect our nation by all means and at all costs is the meaning that the last stanza of our National Anthem is teaching us and the generations to come.  Please let us all try to learn our National Anthem at heart and sing it proudly whenever it is the time for us to sing it dear brothers and sisters.

*Please contact me in the Ministry of Health if you would like to have a hard copy of our National Anthem. You can also contact Brig. Gen. Malaak Ayuen who can also help you obtain the hard copy of our beloved National Anthem of the Republic of South Sudan.

Dr. Thuou Loi Cingoth is Director General in the Ministry of Health, Republic of South Sudan. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.