9 July 2011 The Republic of South Sudan gained her independence from Sudan. After a struggle of more than 50 years, involving two long and bitter civil wars which virtually destroyed the country, one of the poorest in the world, South Sudan is hoping to create a better future for itself.

South Sudan is oil-rich, its new neighbor, Sudan, has little. With South Sudan’s secession, Sudan lost the majority of its oil fields – and a lucrative source of income. However, the only way South Sudan’s oil can be exported is through Sudan. Oil, and the money it brings in, is a major source of tension between the two countries. Sudan is demanding a split of the profit from South Sudan’s oil; South Sudan says this is unacceptable.

South Sudan fought long for its independence from the north. As independence day – 9 July – drew nearer, the excitement among ordinary South Sudanese grew. But, at the same time, so did the tension. Would Sudan attack? What would happen? The number of soldiers on the streets of Juba, South Sudan’s capital, grew as independence came nearer. Out of a total population of about 8 million, about a quarter of a million serve in South Sudan’s armed forces. Independence itself was celebrated with pomp – a new flag, a new anthem, even new streets. On the surface, the future looks promising. Underneath? Less so. South Sudanese celebrated their freedom, but the north still has a stranglehold on their future. No deal on oil money has yet been struck and the threat of war still loomed. People were happy, they danced and sang in the streets. All the while there was a threat in the air – will Sudan attack?

New national anthem of South Sudan
You can find soldiers everywhere in Juba. People are clearly afraid for attacks coming from Sudan, which is not amused by the upcoming independence.
The first international football match South is Sudan is playing. Against neighbor Kenya.
The night before independence day in South Sudan.
Days before the declaration of independence churches are fully packed. The priest tries to give people hope hopes by stating that the future will be prosperous.
The middle class is waiting for the declaration of independence.

The lower class is waiting for the declaration of independence.

Days before independence day people are still working to finish the stadium where the declaration will take place.
A lot of people in South Sudan lack electricity and have to charge their cell phones in places like these. Cell phones are extremely popular in South Sudan. People use the telephone credits to pay for things.

Telephone company taking advantage of the upcoming independence.
Juba – the capital city of South Sudan – lacks proper water pipelines. Some people try to make some money bringing water from the nearby White Nile to the city.
South Sudan has in total 60 km of paved roads.
One day before the declaration of independence is seems like everybody is rehearsing for the big day. Just like these soldiers.
Minutes before the declaration of independence the army takes a seat.

The first international football match South is Sudan is playing. Against neighbor Kenya.
Raising the South Sudan flag for the first time.
Crowd sings “We will never surrender”

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Hi, mijn naam is Eric Kampherbeek en ik ben een fotograaf, beeldend kunstenaar en visual storyteller uit Den Haag