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?