Tuesday, July 19, 2011

South Sudan, the promised land

From The London Guardian-

On the streets of Juba, jubilation rang out the night before independence day. There were shouts of joy, women ululating, car horns blaring, drums beating, flames fired from aerosols, freedom chants, waving of arms, dancing and praising of soldiers.

This massive street party started on Friday from about 10pm and continued to about 2am on the morning of Saturday 9 July, the day of independence. With six others – a mixture of locals and visitors – I was standing on the back of a pickup truck, belonging to the Episcopal church of Sudan. Halfway through, we stopped at the cathedral for an extraordinary service leading up to midnight, the birth of a nation: South Sudan. Then back on to the streets again, and we were drenched with water from water bottles: baptism after new birth.

Cynics said the five-year comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) would not last. It did. Detractors opined that the referendum set for 9 January 2011 would have to be postponed. It wasn't. Expatriates reckoned that the plans for the independence celebrations would not be completed in time for 9 July. They were. Africa and the world were witnesses.

This was good news for Africa: not the usual bad news of famine, war and HIV/Aids, but news of liberation and freedom. Her leaders turned out in great numbers to celebrate at the arena of the mausoleum of Dr John Garang de Mabior, the leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) who died tragically three weeks after the signing of the CPA. His statue was unveiled as the ceremony began.

I sat next to the archbishop of Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng, and his wife, Mama Deborah, as the representative of the archbishop of Canterbury and of the diocese of Salisbury, which has had a 39-year link with the Episcopal church of Sudan.

More here-


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