This picture is taken in the garden of our new house in Keynsham, between Bath and Bristol, UK. We are grateful to the local people of this place who have come to help us celebrate. We were delighted to find a Zande from Yambio living just up the road from us. Sadly the health of his family has prevented him from fulfilling his dream of returning to Western Equatoria.
Amazingly 9th July provided the only dry and warm evening in a week of rain, so we were able to cook and eat outside.
This picture is taken in Beaminster, Dorset who had a special “Sudan Sunday” on 15th July. The morning worship contained of a sermon and prayers for Sudan, South Sudan and the ECS. In the afternoon they invited the small town to a Dorset Cream Tea to raise funds for the Beaminster Friends of Sudan. Their most recent contribution is a set of bibles for Ephata Primary School in Juba.
The following is a short article that expresses Trevor's feelings following a series of negative reports of the first year of the life of South Sudan.
South Sudan - One Year On ...
The outside world has not given very high marks to South Sudan and its northern neighbour Sudan for its first year of independence celebrated on 9th July 2012. Somehow, reporters had a kind of false anticipation of the progress that the new countries would make following 9th July 2011. The people in Juba that we know, however, were never using rose-tinted glasses. They knew the problems back then, and there really hasn't been any surprises.
They were never under the illusion that the Khartoum government were going to give up trying to keep them poor as they have done for years. They knew that they would drive out the ethnically southern from the north – indeed the exodus was well under way as soon as the referendum had taken place in January 2010. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled or been forced out of Khartoum to do the best they can in the south (where many of them, having been born in the north, had never ever lived). Disruption to trade between north and south had been happening even in 2009, and no-one really believed that the barges of refined fuel that powered the Juba electricity generators would continue to arrive. The north had long been suspected of supplying the LRA, and inciting, and pay-rolling rebellious factions in the south has been an ongoing reality since the CPA was signed in 2005.
These issues of tribal division, mistrust, armed robbery and revenge attacks are not a new thing. The period of the referendum in January 2011 was a remarkable exception to the usual round of tribal violence. The one thing that unites the people of the south is the universal oppression from the north. But both these things, inter-tribal conflict and northern oppression go back centuries.
The allegations of financial corruption surprise no-one. It has been generally accepted, and it is, of course, not confined to a few leading politicians. It is rooted in the natural instinct to survive and to provide for your family in very uncertain and difficult times. It is how human beings are – even in the West (although there they are more likely to make it technically legal). This certainly does not excuse it. But it is not new.
So what is new? First, the fear has largely gone. You can generally say what you think without risk of being picked up and 'disappeared'. The police and soldiers are generally on your side. Then there is a certain pride about being a South Sudanese, having your own identity in a world where, for most of its history, the black tribes of this remote part of Africa far from the sea have been largely ignored. And, not least, there is hope. Things may not get materially better in a hurry, but the Khartoum bullies will eventually loose power, the new relations with East Africa will increase, and the NGOs and investors (although hit by the world's current economic slump) will continue to channel resources into the country without hindrance. Peace between families and communities is high on the agenda of the Christian churches who have joined together across the denominations (and also the Muslim minority in the south) to work to dispel the traditional tribal animosities, outlaw theft and violence, and build schools, workshops and clinics.
So one year on things may seem worse than a year ago, but progress never takes a smooth curve. It's a long term venture. It's going to take generations, but with the resources and the resilience of the people there is lasting hope for both Sudans.
Bishop Gwynne Theological College,