This July 9th, South Sudan celebrates is tenth birthday as an independent nation.
To honor the day, students and staff from LUV’s anti-trafficking network in South Sudan sent in reflections on what the nations independence means to them — from reflections on the journey and hopes for the future, to the greatest challenges the nation faces today — learn how each person you’re helping to protect, equip, and empower is participating in transforming their community.
Regina, grade 9 at New Life Ministry
I was too young in 2011 when this event took place for the first time in our history. I did not know what it was about but I thought it was just one of the Christian festivals. People are there behind me attending the occasion. We only listened to speeches from our leaders guiding us with words of courage and privilege. You never find security as calm as nowadays during the war but since peace was signed in 2005 and we became independent country in 2011, peace prevailed and freedom existed. We thank God for the Liberation and we thank those who might have contributed their efforts to make peace come to South Sudan. God Bless you and God Bless South Sudan.
Salva, grade 7 at Hope For South Sudan
My hope for this young nation, is that may peace prevail in this country we are tired of war and new need peace and that is my hope. I am also hopping that our country will have good schools and hospital to save many lives, because we are losing people as a result of no proper hospital, and I also hope for our country South Sudan to have good roads. Another hope that I have is that I need this country have change and also be like other countries in the world where people can live in peace and harmony, in other word, I hope South Sudan should be a better place for human admiration.
What I can do to transform my community today is that as school child, I have to create poems that talks about peace in this way, am helping to transform our community because our community needs peace and we need always to speak about peace. Especially our hostile country South Sudan need peace at all. Having workshop on peace building is also very important for our community. Preach the God’s word to the people and the love Jesus Christ. Signing songs that can bring peace and people together peace is what we want in this country South Sudan.
Abraham, high school graduate from New Life Ministry, now helping at NLM Primary School
I am glad to write about South Sudan Independence Day celebration usually done every year on 9th of July. First of all, the word independence means the state of being free and not controlled by another country. Therefore, the event we celebrate here on this day means the day our country got her rights from her colonialists. Despite recent looming catastrophes in the country, South Sudan had great and positive advantage from the independence. Key things that we recall each time we celebrate this important occasion like:
- Enables us to glorify the Lord for our Country
- The feeling of freedom of our people who were once forced to believe in Islam
- Citizens are able to be self-governed
- New system of governance is being introduced
- The day also enhances the citizens to remember the great patriots of the Nation
Bona, grade 10 at New Life Ministry
South Sudan raised its national flag in 2011 giving us a full state sovereignty. We really feel the freedom and joy of God. We finally got back our land from Arab Islam rule and freedom from persecutions and human violations. We have now every right of citizenship. Rights of freedom of speech, freedom of movement and freedom to own a property. Here freedom and our flag in the air fully describe the importance of Independence Day celebration. Independence Day falls at the first rank of importance compared to other occasions but more things are enjoyed most during NLM day and Christmas festivals. I am glad to talk about this day in our history and thanks.
Iwe, grade 7 at Hope For South Sudan
Some of the greatest challenges facing our country today are the insecurity. South Sudan has been considered as one of the countries that creates fear in the lives of many people living in. It’s a warzone country that has rampant killing of human lives and war keep exiting in this country even as we talking now there is killing going on in the parts of this country South Sudan. Some South Sudanese who have fled the country during the war actually swears not to come again to the country because the war has traumatizing them.
Isaac Lual, Child Welfare Coordinator at New Life Ministry
Sudan got her independence in the year 1956 and since that time before any permanent peace was negotiated and signed, the Southerners were extremely harassed, enslaved, killed, their properties looted and houses burnt to ashes. The Southerners did not taste any sweet part of their natural resources nor did they know what was going on in the central government. The central Government political wing offered few chances to those who tended to betray their country. Despite the unexpected change in political structure in Sudan, our late hero Dr. John Garang, who was the rebel leader, persuaded his rival party of National Congress to commit to peace talks. An initiative Arab Sudanese regretted afterwards but never had a chance to pull out from the table as world super powers intervened. The peace process had several protocols to be signed before final complete round of talks compiled as Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The process was facilitated in East Africa, Nairobi Kenya. In the Agreement, Sudan would be under one government but different power sharing i.e. Government of South Sudan and Government of Sudan (North). There would be Central Government of Sudan with the President from North and Vice President from South. Meanwhile the Vice President would be the President of South Sudan. The two parties had Joint Integrated Units until Referendum vote to take place in 2011 according to the Agreement provisions.
Sudan government undermined Southerners just because they are Christians and had very much low equality towards them. Several Agreements were violated and turned to deadliest civil war but people of peace in the world did not allow any chances of breaking the peace agreement. Just after CPA was signed in 2005, the Liberator Leader Dr. John Garang died in Helicopter crash from his short trip to Uganda after 21 days of taking over Office. The current President of South Sudan preceded him and led people to referendum in 2011 which was unanimously voted separation and South Sudan was declared an independent state on the 9th of July. The inauguration was attended by many diplomats around the world and several Presidents. The day remains to be celebrated every year on 9th of July countrywide to remember the event and cherish the freedom gained. Before ethnic and political war broke out in 2012, South Sudanese people stayed in great harmony and joy. Death toll to high rate unexpectedly and many homes lost but we cannot compare it with the worst atrocities committed against Southerners in the old Sudan. We thank God for our Country.
Moreover, NLM School participates in the yearly celebration happily and joyfully. Our School goes off and organizes one of the best matching. On the ground, NLM represents poems and drama sometimes. Foods are never provided but only water from borehole and musical dancing from local artists plus women cheering. In the evening hours, football and volleyball matches are organized and our NLM students take part in the play. Many Schools participate in the occasion and government Offices do not work. They all feel optimistic about their Liberation Day.
Ten years ago, the students of New Life Ministry (along the border of Darfur) were just learning their new national anthem. Watch this 2011 video and join the celebration.
Peter Ghop, math and English grammar teacher at New Life Ministry Primary School.
It is with great pleasure that I share with you my views on South Sudan independence Day. South Sudan Independence means a lot of things to me in the sense that it is my national identity and pride; promotes my international recognition and participation in matters pertaining to politics, economics, economy and education of our Country; and a symbol and an occasion of joy among others and me.
My hopes for the future include good governance for all and at all levels of the community; better education for all based on Christian and positive secular values and practices; better development from the household level to the national level; and that peace, harmony, security and stability will prevail at all times.
Deng, grade 8 at New Life Ministry
I would like to point out importance about South Sudan Independence Day celebrations. The event is commemorated with great joy and devotion. People become happy and proud of their country. Sudan gained its Independence in 1956 and structured a very strong central government which only focused on how to loot and destroy southern part. We were completely no people and stayed under dictatorship governance. Southern part of Sudan is more prolific in terms of natural resources which Arabs did not want anybody to exist apart from them. There was one of the Army Commanders from Arabs who one time ordered forces to destroy South of Sudan to ashes and said that he wanted [the] south to remain as a place for collecting fire wood. When the day of invasion came, that Army Commander died at that night without any single illness. You see God Almighty had mercy on us. South Sudan territory was completely occupied by Arabs during the war and only a few civilians stayed with them who they married by force and young girls collected with coercive and taken to soldiers for sexual satisfaction. All those atrocities ended when God put his trust and power on peace mediators who signed permanent peace through CPA in 2005 followed by Referendum vote in 2011 giving South Sudan Independence we celebrate every year. It was not easy to be free but now many things have changed as we are sovereign state. This annual occasion reminds us of the day we became Independent country after 193 Independent countries in the world and a member of United Nations Organization, UNO on 9th of July 2011. We remain as one nation and one people of God. Our hopes against many challenges facing our community lie within our abilities and patriotism.
More importantly, we hope to better education, development and peace with harmony in our beloved country. We also expect good governance from our leaders so that people stay stable and the same. Thanks for reading my special accounts on this topic.
Peter Lomago, Executive Director of Hope For South Sudan (since 2010)
Aledi Duang, New Life Ministry cook.
I attend the commemoration which was so interesting and colorful with many different Schools participating. I felt proud and joyful when speeches and dancing took place. The great achievement of the independence is significantly vital and glorified. We never had any power to generate what a country should have. Our rights were denied and killing with impunity took place. Now we have freedom and little progress in development is there; like roads, bridges, schools and even signs of government. Politicians talked during the occasion which I perceived positively because they mentioned words of courage and their concern for better future of South Sudanese children.
David, 10th grade at Hope For South Sudan
An English saying says, “you cannot climb a tree from the top but from the bottom’’ to answer the question, I would use history to answer the question.
In 1983, the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM/A was formed which led to the rebellion against the northern government. In the same year, the Northern government wage war on one of the Southern town of Bor, where lives were lost from both sides. The war continues with neither the two sides winning or losing for 21 years of war until 2005 when the Comprehensive peace Agreement was sign in Kenya Naivasha.
2010, Referendum was held and also election where Salva Kiir took the 2010 referendum and the election which led South Sudan to be independent on the 9th July 2011 which was a great joy the world`s youngest nation. Therefore, annually the Independence Day is declared a day of celebration over hard times, free from all kinds or forms of torture. Just as the Israelites were celebrating when Moses the servant of God led them out from the slavery under Egyptian pharaoh.
To me, my hopes for my motherland South Sudan and my community at large, I may say that South Sudan one day will be free from tribalism, acts of evil and people will live in and harmony so these are my hope for my community in future. And in terms of development, I am hopping that it be even more than Washington DC and the New York.
One of the challenges that we are facing in our country South Sudan are many and one of them is continuous conflict among South Sudanese themselves. For instance, in 15th December 2013, where there was a clashed between the government and opposition forces which led to loss of lives. I don’t really understand the brains of the people of Country, they like fighting.
As a student raised by the Lift Up the Vulnerable (LUV) We are taught on how to pray, preach, sing and many others, and by preaching the word of god I am able to transform my community. I can also help to transform my community through games and sport, because we are united when we play together makes jokes together as a way of transforming my community. Through education, I can help to transform my community through education because when someone is learned, at least this is improving in him or her, even they will know how solved problems in an intellectual way.
James Lual Atak, Founder and Executive Director at New Life Ministry (since 2005)