By-Emmanuel Taban (E. T. J)
South Sudan is the world’s youngest nation after gaining her independence on the 9th July 2011,the country has a population of about 12.3 million people and sits on 61,974,559 kilometers of land area. Being a multi ethnic country, south Sudan has more than 64 ethnic groups with the Dinkas and Nuers forming the largest groups respectively , other ethnic groups includes the Loi and none loi speaking groups like the Pojulus, Kukus, Kakwas, Shiluks Murles among others.
Before independence, the country was generally referred to as Sudan, however in the 641 AD, just like in any African country, the Arabs mainly from Syria had started coming into the Sudan notably Arab traders to carryout and benefit from the lucrative white nile trade, but also to establish their political and religious dispensations. The Arab influx continued up to 651 AD.
The most interesting chapter and events of this new nation started in the year 1820’s when different societies, races religions and foreign languages were established, this brought divisions. In 1820,Muhammad Ali who was an Egyptian leader and a Macedonian by origin made his son Ibrahim Pasha to lead an expendition which succeeded and he took over sudan and eventually a Turko-Egyptian administration was made in Sudan, however the administration was characterised by looting, explotation and increase slave trade, which didn’t in any way pleased the Sudanese and the above situations made them to restlesly search for their independence. And in a move to achieve a Sudanese led administration, Muhamed Ahamed who declared himself the “Mahad” with the purpose of restoring their independence waged a war called the “Mahadist revolution ” against the combined administration of the Turks and the Egyptians, the revolution succeeded and sudan gained a temporary independence in 1885,simply because in 1898,the colonialist came back to sudan after the collapse of the Mahadist state under Kalifah Abdallah. However this time around it is the Egyptians and the British not Turks with the condominium rule also called the Aglo-Egyptian rule.
With the established condominium rule, hatred and division emerged among the Sudanese, this was because by the time the condominium rule is established sudan was made of two races the Arab race and the blacks, the disunity was because of the polices introduced by the colonialist, where the northern part of sudan was made for the Arabs with Islam as their religion and Arabic as an official mode of communication, on the other hand the southern part was for the blacks with Christianity as religion and English as official language. The above status quo was further worsen with the declaration of the 1920 Milner report, the report recommends that Sudan be divided into two territories of the North and the south. Further more the colonialist used the separation and closed- district order policies to make sure that the southerners stay within the southern territory and so the northerners and that they can only move to the opposite territory with a permission but could not be allowed in any case, besides the above policies there was imbalances in political position rationing, education and infrastructural development, the colonialist favored the northenners much at the expense of the black southerners, this left a big gap of unity between the two.
The above state of affairs, let to the calling of the juba conference in 1947 which was attended by James Robertson a British official and a deligation from the south led by Clement Mboro, the aim of the conference was that Sudan be united as a one political entity, however, the Juba sitting didn’t yield its objectives and the misunderstanding between the two continued unsolved
Though the misunderstanding between the Arab north and the black south started as early as 1955,it was not so serious until November 1962 when the southerners couldn’t longer tollarate the degree of the segregation of the Arabs north by picking up arms in quench for equality and if possible separate southern sudan. the struggle merely started and was rated as unorganized with the grieved inexperienced , and possessing inferior weapons like stones and hardly destructive sticks, worse of all some of the leaders like fr. Saturino Lohure were religious leaders who were believed to only have skills on how to manage a congregation of Christ’s followers than a group of armed men against the heartless Arabs. With all the above incompetence little did many know that the struggle will ultimately succeed. The group was however given a little boost when Lt Joseph Lagu joined and changed the name of the movement from SPAF to “Anyanya” which means in his native madi language as “The dangerous snake poison”, this civil war was however brought to an end in 1972 with the signing of the Addis Ababa agreement mediated by Ethiopia’s emperor Haille Sellasie between the Anyanya fighters led by Lagu and the Sudanese government led by Abboud where a federal constitution was established giving regional autonomy to the south.
The agreement was however violated in 1983 when another phase of civil war erupted led by Dr John Garang De-mabior who was among the junior officers of Joseph Lagu, a leader of the Ayanya military wing. Garang who was born on the 23rd June 1945 in Wangkulei village and into the Dinka ethnic group became the architect of the second civil war. He founded the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) which is the current ruling party and its military wing Sudan people Liberation Army (SPLA) which is transformed to the present South Sudan People Defense Force (SSPDF). Born from a poor family, Garang went to Tonj primary school, and due the conflict of that time, it made him to attend his secondary level in Tanzania when he won for himself a scholarship, he graduated from Grinnel (IOWA) collage in 1969 earning himself bachelors of arts in economics, he is a PHD holder in Agricultural economics, he also attained other military trainings from USA which made him a tactical and bright military leader. During the struggle that he led, Garang faces alot of military critism from his allies like Dr. Riak Machar and Dr Lam Akol, both from the southern part of sudan but opposed Garang of unwillingness to make reforms, this later explains the cause of the 1991 Conflict led by Riek Machar against Garang. Though Garang’s efforts to liberate the southern sudan from the northern’s oppression were to some extend frustrated internally by some of his colleagues, he didn’t give up his ambition of making the southerners free from all forms of oppression.
The goal and vision of free south Sudan was attained through the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 in Naivasha kenya, the agreement was signed between the sudanese government and the SPLM party led by Dr. John Garang. The peace agreement put an end to the long civil war and proposed a self determination of the southern part of Sudan through referendum, reaching the terms of the 2005 peace agreement was a great achievement for Garang. However in the same year of signing the agreement as the saying “Death knows no heroes ” on the 31 July 2005, the angel of death took Garang’s breath of life when a presidential MI-172 helicopter he was flying crashed on his way back to south Sudan from a meeting with his long time ally president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda. When he died, Salva kiir Mayardit one of the generals during the struggle was made to replace him, Kiir prepared the southerners for referendum after being elected as the president of the southern province during the 2010 general elections, in 2011, referendum was organized as proposed by the 2005 peace agreement and the south Sudanese were to determine their fate by either voting for unity so that Sudan becomes a one political entity comprising of both the Arabs north and the blacks south or vote for separation so that south sudan becomes a sovereign state, after referendum results came and indicated a win for separation making the southern part of Sudan becomes a separate and an independent state on 9th July 2011 were the southern part becomes the Republic of South Sudan. The declaration of south south as an independent state was attended by many head of states, celebrities, international community , religious leaders human rights organization among many others, the flag of sudan was lowered and the one for southern Sudan raised, and salva kiir mayardit was made the first president of the republic of south sudan with Riak Machar as his vice. With the declaration of sovereign south Sudan, a message of hope was generated in the mind of many south Sudanese, international and local investors, they thought it will mean an end to gun shoots, inhuman acts and other disgraceful acts, however, just two years after south Sudan independent on 14th Dec. 2013, due to what many called “premature Leadership ” and “power greediness ” south Sudan was taken back into a civil war within herself, a politics of factionalism within the SPLM ruling party emerged between President Salva Kiir and his Deputy Riak Machar, Machar and other prominent politicians in the government often challenged Kiir’s leadership which created fear in his heart of possible coup, Kiir immediately used his powers granted by the 2011 transitional constitution to pass a decree removing machar and 10 other politicians from their respective officies. However the decree made didn’t please the victims like Machar and the rest, they possibly mobilised and consulted among themselves and in mid-Dec. 2013 they waged a war against the government of kiir which kiir and others within the government called as “failed coup attempt “. The war which started in juba later escalated to the other main towns of Yei, Bor, Malakal and many others.
Since the war was between Kiir the president who comes from the Dinka ethnic group and Machar his former deputy who comes from the Nuer ethnic group, it was merely seen as a “Dinka-Nuer affairs ” simply because it involved targeted killings of each of the above tribes by either of them.
Due to the above status quo and state of affairs, the equatorians ( individuals from one of the regions in south Sudan called the equatoria region) were silent and none partisant, they too at first look at the conflict as one involving only the Dinkas and Nuers and has no duty to play in the military Disco, however when the war later escalated to the equatoria region and also with the defection of other generals from the equatoria to the sides of the opposition, they too started playing part in the conflict. The main demand of the equatorians in this war has been their long time need “federalism “this was championed by their leaders like Bakasi Joseph Bakasoro who was the governor of western equatoria state among others, it was further championed by Gen. Thomas Cirilo who defected after being removed from his position as deputy chief of staff and formed his own movement called National Salvation Front (NAS) which is different from SPLM-IO(in opposition) of Riak Machar. The conflict which was initially looked at as a Dinka-Nuer war later involved many groups of rebels with many motives.Several attempts to bring the civil war to an end were made ranging from Addis Ababa, Arusha, Khartoum and juba but most failed, because most of the parties to the agreement were not ready to compromise. However recently an agreement was reached which led to the formation of broad based government involving ;the government, opposition under Riak,south sudan Opposion alliance, political detainees(those politicians removed by kiir together with Machar and were detained in Kenya for having caused the civil war), however the National salvation front (NAS) under Thomas Cirilo refused to be part of the agreement claiming that the agreement won’t yield a long lasting peace, an they are still in the bush planing to do uncertain things against the government