Over the past few months I have been continuously asked about my impressions of the Southern Sudan Referendum. As the days drew near and the week-long voting ended the questions changed to what are my thoughts of eminent division of Sudan. Preliminary results show overwhelming support for secession, which comes as no surprise. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. It was evident many years prior to this vital decision point. Frankly I am a bit aghast by those who are grieving the eminent division of the country. Honestly the notion of unity crashed, burned and died along with the late Dr. John Garang. The late Southern Sudanese SPLM leader was probably the only one with a visionary view of united Sudan. To many in power it was $$$ that dictated their decisions, both North and South. In focusing only on the last 5 years post the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement it is evident Northern powers that be failed to make unity a viable option for the South and Southerners failed to adequately engage with a government that was half heartedly (if that) supporting their cause.
For me secession is a decision that I have easily come to accept and for the most part many young Sudanese of my generation probably share the same sentiments. The decision to secede in the South is unanimous. For those in the North,some sympathize with the Southern cause and can understand their desire for self-determination after decades of neglect. Others are tired of constantly hearing blames from the South that it was the North/ Northerners who kept them down, given that Southern Sudan has its own myriad of internal regional issues. It was easy for most Southerners to unite against one common enemy “Northern Sudanese government”. It those who are part of an older era from the North who are lamenting this event. To them their identity is somehow intertwined in Sudan that is known as the largest country in Africa, in a Sudan that represents more 500 ethnic groups and over 200 dialects.
In looking ahead, Southern Sudan faces tremendous hurdles to self governance. The region is desperately in need of development. Many in power today were part of the decades-long civil war, making the transition from war to politics can be a challenge. There are too many external influences and too many internal problems between various tribal groups that can destabilize the process of formulating a new nation. The North isn’t in the greatest shape either, standing to lose more than 80% of its oil revenues it has embarked on various austerity measures, which have sparked tensions and riots, well before the Tunisian revolution hit the airwaves. The events that unfolded in Tunis served as a stark reminder to Northern Sudanese governing powers of their precarious position and unstable foundation, that has made them fairly weary. With secession, we stand to see 2 very weak and fragile states that have a very tough uphill battle. The hope is that the oil, which is seen as a “black curse” in many African nations, could be the cure to insuring stability in the region. Both the North and South are starting to realize regardless of the outcome of this secession, they are economically intertwined and need to maintain cordial relations in order to sustain their economies.