“FREE AT LAST! FREE AT LAST! THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, FREE AT LAST!” M. L. King, Jr.
By Maurice (Maury) Clark
Maury Clark is a retired investment banker/broker, as well as a Called and Commissioned Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Northwest Washington Synod. He served under Bishops Appointment as pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Maple Valley, Washington in 1990 and 1991, and also served four years on the Synod Council. He has been deeply involved with the people of Southern Sudan since 1996, and is an advisor to the Government of Southern Sudan.. He is also the adoptive father of seven Dinka, the youngest of whom is fourteen years old. Maury and his family reside in Hobart, Washington.
This article first appeared in Lutheran Soundings and is reprinted with the author’s permission.
February 21, 2012 (SSNA) — Hundreds of thousands sought refuge from the longest civil war in African history. The conflict in Southern Sudan lasted more than 21 years, and by some measures, all the way back to the end of British colonialism in 1956. Nearly half of the entire population were either killed or had fled in terror to hastily established refugee camps in Kenya, Egypt, and Ethiopia. More than two million people simply ceased to exist- an entire generation of young men and boys- along with another million persons displaced around the world. The “LOST BOYS OF SUDAN” came to represent the tragedy of ethnic annihilation.
The war finally ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. Colin Powell represented the United States, and was largely the architect of the final resolution. The CPA mandated a referendum for unity or independence, and the vote was scheduled for January, 2011.
January, 2011 came with this question: “How can a people consisting of many tribes, decimated by war and starvation, be certain that the referendum would be representative and incorruptable?” The Southern Sudanese Referendum Commission (SSRC) was created by the CPA, and it then contracted with the International Organization on Migration (IOM) to create an infrastructure that would be credible world-wide. Maurice (Maury) Clark was nominated by Bishop W. Chris Boerger, ELCA and appointed by the SSRC as “Diplomatic Out of Country Observer”. The referendum was actually happening.
And the people came! Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, Kuku, Acholli, and members of all of the great tribes of Southern Sudan. The staff at the Referendum Center in Seattle, and their counterparties around the world, experienced the joyful cry of “Southern Sudan OYEE!” Freedom won by an overwhelming majority exceeding 98%, and the new nation of South Sudan became a reality, created out of a free election after decades of struggle, war, and privation.
On July 9, 2011, my South Sudanese children and I, along with about two hundred of the People will travel from the United States and Canada to Juba, the new capitol of this great new nation to participate in the birth of South Sudan. OYEEEEEE!