by Gerry Emmett
The final vote for southern Sudan’s independence from the north will be overwhelming. The days of referendum have been days of tears and memories along with happiness. Among the diaspora, people in line to vote echoed the words of one woman who said, “I’m casting my vote for the men and women who fought in the trenches of southern Sudan to bring us freedom today.”
We are witnessing the birth of a new nation born of unimaginable suffering. In 50 years of intermittent civil war over 2,500,000 people have died, the vast majority civilians. It was war that became alternately tribal, racial, religious, and illustrated the disappointed hopes of the anti-colonial revolutions that remained tied to the capitalist world market. Neither Stalinism nor religious fundamentalism could develop the needed humanist vision for bringing to birth a truly free society.
As in South Africa after apartheid, the long lines and rebel songs are an echo of the hopes of African independence. But the new nation will face the old problems, with potential conflicts over oil and water developing between southern tribes, as well as with the old oppressor to the north and the circling great powers of the U.S. and China.