Saturday, July 9, 2011

Salut, South Sudan!

Another country emerges:
JUBA, South Sudan -- South Sudan celebrated its first day as an independent nation Saturday, raising its flag before tens of thousands of cheering citizens elated to reach the end of a 50-year struggle. 
U.S. President Barack Obama called the day a new dawn after the darkness of war, while visiting dignitaries offered both congratulations and prodding for South Sudan and its former ruler, Sudan, to avoid a return to conflict over serious and unresolved disagreements. 
"The eyes of the world are now on us," said South Sudan President Salva Kiir, who was inaugurated during a scorching midday ceremony. Kiir stressed that the people of South Sudan must advance their country together, and unite as countrymen first, casting aside allegiances to the dozens of tribes that reside here. 
Saturday meant that South Sudan and its black tribesmen would for the first time be linked politically with sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya and Uganda are already laying strong economic ties with their northern neighbor, an oil-rich country that may one day ship its oil to a Kenyan port, instead of through the pipelines controlled by Khartoum. 
"From today our identity is southern and African, not Arabic and Muslim," read a hand-painted sign that one man carried as he walked through the crowds. 
South Sudan first celebrated its new status with a a raucous street party at midnight. At a packed midday ceremony, the speaker of parliament read a proclamation of independence as the flag of Sudan was lowered and the flag of South Sudan was raised, sparking wild cheers from a crowd tens of thousands strong. 
"Hallelujah!" one resident yelled, as other onlookers wiped away tears. 
The U.S. and Britain, among others, announced their recognition of South Sudan as a sovereign nation. 
"A proud flag flies over Juba and the map of the world has been redrawn," Obama said in a statement. "These symbols speak to the blood that has been spilled, the tears that have been shed, the ballots that have been cast, and the hopes that have been realized by so many millions of people."

South Sudan’s story is particularly touching when you consider the senseless loss of millions of lives for an issue that could have been decided as simply and as peacefully as it eventually was. In the end, it all paid off. Those lives, in a way, have not been lost in vain.

There is a lesson here for other maltreated, bullied, shackled and impoverished but vocal ethnic minorities in many African countries. The lesson to pick here is that the tyrannical ruling majority ethnic group will never give you the much sought-after economic emancipation nor the political freedom that you crave as long as the prevailing status quo continues to disproportionately favor the ruling class or as the case may be, the dominant ethnic group. To achieve economic and political freedom from the oppressive clutches of the ruling majority, and to exercise your right to self-determination, divested of the shackles of the prevailing European imperial contraptions, which were so inelegantly forged in the dark past, your kinsmen must be ready to shed their blood and lay down their lives for it. Only a sustained struggle against the tyrannical impulses of a close-minded majority would suffice to induce a rethink of their hardened positions.

After 50 years of struggle, on July 9, 2011, you now have your freedom and your own country South Sudan. I salute you all but this is just the beginning. Hopefully, with your oil-wealth, you will set upon the task of an aggressive nation-building with the requisite degree of urgency that it demands. One only hopes that what would eventually emerge would have the semblance of democracy, and that the long-suffering people of South Sudan will not once again find themselves under the jackboots of consanguineous overlords.

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