A peaceful birth: South Sudan is an independent country

South Sudan, Credit: TUBS et al on Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA

 

The people of Sudan are writing history.

On 9th July the northern and southern parts of the country seceded and now constitute two independent political entities. Clearly the challenges are many. Several analysts – with objective or subjective motives – have already predicted new conflicts within or between the countries concerned. This has already been reported by the media and need no further reiteration here.

Upon reflection, however, there is something more profound to be discerned from this event. Two regions of an African country who have been at war with each other for decades, have reached a peace agreement, largely followed through on their commitments, and peacefully seceded! When did you last hear of an African country – or any country – that simply allowed itself to be split up without a fight? Perhaps my memory is too short, but I believe this is very unusual, if not unique.

We can surely learn from this. What were the factors paved the way for the peaceful resolution of the armed conflict? Patience, leadership, grass-root determination, war fatigue, diplomacy, sanctions, or prayer? Can it successfully be applied to other conflicts? Can it perhaps lead to peaceful resolution of the situation in Darfur, or in the Nuba mountains?

Of course, the birth only marks the beginning. Nurturing the children is essential if they are to reach maturity. Sudan and South Sudan are sovereign and independent countries so the primary responsibility for their growth lies with themselves. But in a globalized world, the enabling environment of the other actors is also crucial.

In the end it is about choice. One can choose to focus on that which is good. One can choose to hold peace. This is what makes the people of South Sudan, Sudan, and everyone else involved, historic. I hope they will remain so.

 

For an eye-witness account and positive perspective on the countries' futures from a person with >30 years of experience in the region, have a look at this interview.