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Many of us are concerned about the catastrophic situation in Southern Sudan during these first six years of political independence.
The title – “Southern Sudan, hope betrayed” – of this issue’s report, written by Father Bartolomé Burgos, an eyewitness for several years to the desire for independence of the Southern Sudanese, perfectly reflects the feelings of disappointment of many of us. The initial journey of this young country along the road to independence leads to the conclusion that we are facing a failed country: an economy that is disappearing for the benefit of those who are waging war, a political life poisoned by the ambition of power, a coexistence wounded by ethnic hatred, famine, the exodus of several million displaced people, the death of 300,000 people and the total failure of some basic indicators of development, such as education and health. In short, the betrayal of the hopes of 12 million Southern Sudanese.
The causes of this situation, as always, are complex.
Our report points to the ethnic aspects, the ambition for power, the poor political, social and religious development of the country in the years leading up to the declaration of independence. With the author of the report, I personally think that, in Southern Sudan, there has always been a lack of a sense of belonging to a nation. The south of the country is made up of a multitude of different ethnic groups and languages, perhaps more than a hundred, aware only of their tribal personality. The people of the South never had the same national sentiment. Some ethnic groups, such as the Dinkas and Nuers, have been hating each other for centuries. This ethnic hostility is perceived even within Christian communities, to the extent that it is sometimes difficult to preach the precept of love in some of their assemblies.
However, there is some hope on the horizon: Civil society is concerned about the endemic nature of the war in the country. One movement, called “Ana taban”, which means “I’m tired” in local Arabic, expresses the feeling of weariness of much of society.
The celebration of “Nelson Mandela International Day”, promoted by the UN on 18 July each year, is an example of a politician who has combined the virtues necessary for good governance: a sense of the common good, the capacity for dialogue, respect for the equality of all, the search for reconciliation and the inclusion of all sensibilities. Without them, it is impossible to live together.
Agustín Arteche Gorostegui, M.Afr.
Madrid – “Africana” – nr. 192 – June 2018