By Nyuol Tong
October 19, 2010 (SSNA) — It is no longer a matter of if or when: it is already here. The referendum is here! The hour of liberation has struck; the bell of freedom has rung! We are beyond return; we are beyond unity! Our country is born!
The people of the North, who never experienced the earth tremble with bombs, the sky rain with bullets, or the Nile flood with the blood of the dead and with the tears of the orphaned and the abandoned and the widowed and the traumatized, protest the birth of our nation: “Why?” They ask. “Let us reconcile, let us live in peace, let us preserve unity,” They say.
Although the people of the North well know why unity—once our common national aim—has become neither probable nor focal for the people of the South, let us remind them. Let us remind them, for wars mandated by heaven—as theirs against our people allegedly were—no matter how unjust, are justified and therefore leave neither shadows, echoes or traces in the memory nor stains on the consciences of their perpetrators. They may have forgotten!
Let us, therefore—without expecting them to regret, repent, rethink, or even doubt the justness of their jihad against our people—remind them. Let us remind them that we have peaceful hearts and reconciliatory souls and that our separation is against neither—that our separation is for freedom and equality. Let us tell them—and the world that deserves to know—why our struggle has shifted from a fight for first-class citizenship to a fight for a new nation.
More than five decades ago, with blood and fire, the brave people of the Sudan won our independence from the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium. This momentous victory was to start a new chapter in the history of our nation. It was to end political oppression, social marginalization, and economic exploitation. A chapter of liberty, dignity, and equality was to begin!
But a year earlier, the first bullets of civil war were heard. The South had sensed that the colonizers were leaving, but for the Southern citizen the colonization was remaining. The North, instead of emulating brotherhood and equality, it began to exhibit racial and spiritual superiority. It rejected the secular system that the South believed to be inclusive, reflective and representative of the whole country, a system that valued and respected the cultural beauty and the religious diversity of all the inhabitants of the Sudan, a system that encouraged and empowered our people to embrace our differences and overcome our prejudices.
The North instead imposed the Shari’a law upon the whole country. This theocratic system only reflected and promoted North’s values and agenda of Islamism and Arabism.
Thus, the Christian, the animist, the African South found itself under cultural, political, economic and spiritual invasion.
Thus, the first civil war continued for more than a decade, claiming hundred thousands of lives and leaving the South in shambles.
Then a change of consciousness occurred. Peace was signed in Addis Ababa. The Sudan witnessed peace.
But a decade later, the South realized this peace was mere ink on paper. It had no meaning. The Southern citizen was still treated as an inferior. The Southern citizen was still deprived of economic and educational opportunity. The Southern citizen was still marginalized in the social and political spheres.
Thus, the second civil war erupted, in the name of first-class citizenship, equality, unity, and a better country. More than two million Southerners dead, the South still hoped for unity and brotherhood. More than five million Southerners deserted, the South still sung for change, for a new Sudan.
More than two decades later, another change of consciousness occurred. A comprehensive peace agreement was signed in Naivasha. The South was granted the right to self-determination to be exercised in a referendum. A period of relative peace commenced. A period of implementation of the peace that would determine the outcome of the referendum began.
Now this period of implementation and experimentation to achieve true unity and brotherhood is due to end. And it has already convinced the Southern citizen that the future lies in separation. The Southern citizen has already seen and learned that the North and the South were only equal in the valley of death. In the past five years, obstruction of the implementation of the peace agreement has been the policy of the North. Unity was made ugly, as the North carried out another genocide against another region in the Sudan—Darfur.
More than these grievances inspire our separation, however: We separate not out of frustration and hopelessness. Nor do we seek our own nation out of retribution and inability to forgive.
We, the people of South Sudan, for the preservation of human life, liberty, and dignity, now and for the posterity, do declare our separation from the Sudan and hereby establish the Republic of South Sudan in which these inalienable rights are the foundation and are perpetually protected and promoted.
Let it be known worldwide that a republic of liberty and equality is born in the continent of Africa. Let it be known that this republic stands for freedom and stands against tyranny, domestic or foreign. Let it be known that our nation is born!
The Author is the Director and Founder of Sudan Education for Liberty Foundation (selfsudan.org), a student at Duke University, and he can be reached at: [email protected]