News / Africa

    South Sudanese Hopeful on Second Independence Day

    People celebrate the second anniversary of South Sudan becoming an independent state, Juba, July 9, 2013.
    People celebrate the second anniversary of South Sudan becoming an independent state, Juba, July 9, 2013.
    Hannah McNeish
    The searing midday heat at Juba’s main stadium couldn't deter revelers from the dancing, singing and cheering that started at dawn to mark the second birthday of the world's youngest nation.
     
    After decades of figthing to free itself from Sudan, South Sudan became the world’s newest sovereign state on July 9, 2011. While its first two years brought it to the brink of renewed war with the north and near-economic collapse after switching off its oil — its only source of foreign revenue — crowds of people waving or dressed in flags rejoiced on the second anniversary of independence as if it were the first.
     
    People dance during celebrations to commemorate the second anniversary of South Sudan's independence, Juba, July 9, 2013.People dance during celebrations to commemorate the second anniversary of South Sudan's independence, Juba, July 9, 2013.
    x
    People dance during celebrations to commemorate the second anniversary of South Sudan's independence, Juba, July 9, 2013.
    People dance during celebrations to commemorate the second anniversary of South Sudan's independence, Juba, July 9, 2013.
    Amid the celebration, however, questions about the young country's future came to the forefront in a speech by President Salva Kiir.
     
    His government's reputation already tarnished by rampant corruption and a dearth of basic services, Kiir promised to deliver services and vowed that corruption would not be the legacy of independence, insisting a crackdown would start at the national government level and soon extend to counties and villages.
     
    Aside from a bloated public sector and massive army, unemployment was another primary issue Kiir addressed. Following the crackdown on corruption, he said, public money would finally deliver “fruits of peace” such as education, health and clean water, which would lead to development and job creation in one of the most underdeveloped nations on earth.
     
    The president’s promise of proper education for all — not just the elite whose children learn abroad — is exactly what 16-year-old Grace Alek wanted to hear.
     
    “I want them to build up this country and make the country good, and [improve] all the schools — secondaries and primaries," he said. "A better education. We need that, because now there’s not better education, still. After two years we need a good education.”
     
    Since shutting off oil exports to Sudan in 2012 following a dispute with officials in Khartoum, South Sudan's basic services are currently delivered by a raft of aid agencies that are faced with government taxation in the absence of crude subsidies.
     
    Accusing Sudan of stealing its crude and bombarding troops and oil fields along a largely undefined border, South Sudan, girding for the prospect of renewed warfare, reneged on plans to reduce its state security apparatus, which consumes nearly 40 percent of its annual budget, and instead began recruiting new conscripts.
     
    Public health student Taban Michael Peter, who can’t find a job in the health sector despite massive need, says that the key to development in South Sudan is fighting corruption.
     
    "Corruption is what is hindering the development of South Sudan," he said, explaining that it is not just the billions in oil revenue that have been spirited away, but also donor aid. "Since the signing of the CPA until now, if you look at the funds that are brought from outside the country to help this county to develop, it has been corrupted by individuals, so it leave us poor, it left the country like this. Today we are celebrating our second anniversary, so we need to fight corruption and catch the rest of the world.”
     
    While Kiir also slammed security forces for committing abuses on civilians in Jonglei state, he specifically condemned rebel leader David Yau Yau for what he termed “senseless deaths” of vengeance.
     
    Vowing that impunity for such acts of violence and crime is over, Kiir also pledged dialogue with Sudan to secure the peace needed to make both states viable, and allow the coming generations to prosper.
     
    But for Loking Deng, who came to the capital to seek a university education that, so far, is not available, just being free is enough.
     
    “Today I just feel happy because today is the second anniversary, and now all people of South Sudan, today they are enjoying [freedom]," he said. "For a long time they are suffering — they are waiting for their independence, and now South Sudan is independent and it’s all okay, no problems again.”
     
    His words show that the immense challenges facing South Sudan have not extinguished hope that the country can truly move beyond its problems and enjoy its status as an independent nation.

    You May Like

    Multimedia US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora