Bearing witness to the national Flag—and our history

Category: Commentary
Published on Friday, 09 December 2011 21:27
Written by Kwai Biar, The New Sudan Vision (NSV), www.newsudanvision.com
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south sudan flagEdmonton, Alberta, Canada - Fellow citizens, allow me to share my gratitude with you on the founding of our new Republic of South Sudan. It was a great achievement on our part that the independence was gained on July 9 2011 and congratulations go out to all of you.  I would have wished for this article to have come earlier but I feel it is never too late. I, like many other South Sudanese, am still overwhelmed with joy and contentment.  It’s with a deep sense of pride and honor to be witnessing the history happening before my eyes.

 When the first gunshots and artillery bombings started on that Monday of May 16th, 1983, at my home town of Bor, I was among the hundreds of thousands of people who first heard those dramatic moments in history. A few months later, I saw cousins, other relatives and community members joining the SPLA/SPLM, during the formative moment, in tens of thousands to go and fight for the liberation of our people. Less than a year later, I started carrying the ammunitions to aid the SPLA combatants to carry on their mission.

My parents as well as the entire Bor community started contributing their oxen and home grown foods to help the freedom fighters and recruits to survive the bush life. And If I may just add: the Bor community was very much one of the backbones of our movement from the inception and well into all aspects of the liberation process.  I am more than proud to say this in case anyone would try to deny or to dispute this statement.  My home village of “Jalle”, due to its strategic location, was the logistical centre where “the Jerrad Brigade”, including Zendia , Cobra. Rhad, Rhino, Lion, Adiid, Elephant, Hippo, Agreb, Bilpam, and Aquilla Manyuon Battalions, among others, had to receive ammunitions and other supplies aerially dropped.  Without that logistical support, the so called “ten thousands operation,” (the largest operation launched by the interim President General Souar El Daab to reinforce the Bor town), would have been a disaster.  The Jerrad or Koryom battalions resisted this major convoys because of the “Jalle aerial logistical base.”  All that occurred before my eyes. I remember one home catching fire because the ammunition box was dropped on it in a parachute around our village.  

In addition, I officially joined the movement a few years later and became a freedom fighter myself. It was a moment of joy and grief at the same time to see this dream being realized. It was joyful because we achieved our independence and it was also sad because we lost some of our important people and property during the liberation process. I am just full of mixed feelings.

Over the years, I have been following the events and situations leading up to the founding of our new country but did not see an opportunity to write an article to my fellow South Sudanese, our friends and allies as well as our observers. I have been just the silent observer and I enjoyed digesting whatever that has been going on but this time something sparked my interest to contribute to my South Sudanese people and the world as a small way to share something that I think is very important to our identity. 

Our national identity is symbolized by our national flag.  On the historical night of our South Sudan independence, I was at work listening to the BBC programming dedicated to our independence.  During the programming, the BBC journalist asked a South Sudanese character about the meaning of our national flag: the South Sudanese participant did not have an idea on how to describe our flag.  I was disgusted about the answer that I heard from that participant.  I thought at that moment that some of our South Sudanese fellows needed to be educated about what our national flag stands for.  So what does our colorful South Sudanese flag stand for?

Well, here is the description according to our late charismatic leader, Dr. John Garang de Mabior, which I learned during the capture of the strategic town of Kaya in 1990.  When our commando captured the Kaya garrison, right after we had chased the enemy’s forces under the command of Isaiah Paul, a South Sudanese who was commanding the Sudan Armed Forces, we raised the SPLA flag, after which our chairman, Dr. John Garang, vividly described our flag as follows:  

First, the black color over the top, symbolizes the black people of the Sudan which means in Arabic words “ arzy el sudd or the land of black”. Second, the white color symbolizes peace in Sudan among us, because with peace, we will be able to enjoy our resources in our land.  Third, the “Red color” symbolizes the “the Bloodshed “which we just did during our 190 years of struggle. We had to shed our blood to achieve an eternal peace and we hope our country remains peaceful for ever to enjoy our resources.  Fourth, the second white represents an eternal peace, harmony and unity in our new country, the Republic of South Sudan.  If I can elaborate on the peace issue, we have to have the peace and harmony in South Sudan in order to enjoy our resources and to have a prosperous nation during these challenging times around the globe.  Fifth, the green color introduces our many resources and prosperity. These resources include the oil reserves, the water resources, the agriculturally fertile land, our life stocks, the wildlife, our minerals…etc.  Sixth, the blue triangular color symbolizes the waters of the Nile and promotes our progress and aspiration for freedom.  Lastly, our yellow star in the triangle is the guiding principle towards our freedom.

Dr. John Garang de Mabior, our late commander-in-Chief of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement SPLA/SPLM, knew he was making the comparison with the Biblical time which dated back to the Old Testament and at the time when the children of Israel were fleeing slavery in Egypt under the Prophet Moses’ guidance, they were guided by the “Night Star”.  That was what they followed to reach the Promised Land.  Therefore, I wanted our children to be able to describe our flag comfortably and with pride.  God Bless South Sudan.  And Long Live the People of South Sudan with their Comrades in arms from the other Marginalized areas.

The author is a veteran freedom fighter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.