Saturday, July 23, 2011

South Sudan: Birth of a Nation

July 9th, 2011 marks the creation of South Sudan the newest country in Africa and the 196th sovereign nation. After years of wrangling, fighting and talking the once one million square miles strong and largest country in Africa is officially split into two independent countries. A million congratulations to all Sudanese on both sides of the border.

Despite what some in the West might want us to believe, this agreement was arrived into amicably and somewhat peacefully – somewhat because the history of the two people is full of conflicts and violent bloodshed. However this particular declaration was achieved peacefully and with mutual agreement.

What about Abyei I hear you ask!?

Like the majority of Africa, Sudan is a tribal nation, even today when a person is introduced the first thing they are asked is where they come from – which tribe and what’s their kin. Sudanese, even the better educated identify and pride themselves by where they came from – it is also extremely important in matters of business, marriage and many social, economic and political issues.

At first glance it might sound alien but if we look closely it’s not all that dissimilar to how the West operates – maybe less sophisticated and more in your face nevertheless not too different. Take politics and the political class for instance – who and where a person is from can equally open and close doors – a Kennedy, a Bush or even a Clinton is not the same as a Palin, an Obama or even a Reagan in the US. An Oxbridge educated upper class with the appropriate contacts and breeding will top any political party list and every opportunity will come their way without the need for any special measures here in the UK!

Abyei is a small region in the heart of Sudan inhabited by two different tribes Dinka who are pure African in origin and culture and the Messeria who are of Arab decent and lead a nomadic life. The two make their living from cattle; both tribes graze their animals around the river basin but also freely travel around the region in dryer seasons for fodder. For years the two lived side by side and existed in a harmonious understanding.

When the Sudan split, the borders cut in the middle of that region separating it into the two countries therefore restricting their movement and their way of life. That’s what the dispute is really and truly about – the inhabitance who for years lived, married shared cultures and yes sometimes fought, don’t want to become separated – but the two governments can’t agree on an amicable resolution. Logic says pronounce Abyei a neutral zone – but I’m sure it’s not that simple – however it can be!

The right and just thing to do will be to allow the two nations – Sudan and South Sudan – resolve this situation and arrive to a peaceful resolution with as little interference as possible from the Church, Muslim Schoolers and of course the oil thirsty states.

Happy Independence Day South Sudan

About the Author: Walaa Idris was born in Germany to Sudanese parents studying for their PhDs. When she was four years old she returned to Sudan where she attended a traditional Catholic Missionary Convent. After gaining a BA degree in Psychology, Sociology and Economics from Indiana University, USA, she returned to Sudan and set up a social enterprise to help families in rural communities to improve their education and health. With the political climate in Sudan growing increasingly unpleasant, she moved to London where she has been living with her family since 1991.Today, she owns and runs a property consultancy and offers advisory services to small business setups.

No comments: