South Sudan is the newest country in the world, but it does not seem to hold much promise for a bright future. Desperately poor, unstable, and suffering from shockingly high infant mortality rates, the country suffers from problems that are fruit of its colonial roots. Through fear of losing control of the Nile and the Suez Canal, the British, rather than the French, ruled Sudan as two different territories. In the north, civil servants were chosen and trained because the British ruled with a desire for development. The South, however, was deemed backward, and left to the devices of local chieftaincies.
From Sudan’s independence in 1956 until the signing of a peace treaty in 1972, Southern army officers were in rebellion, with a war for independence breaking out in 1963. This war recommenced in 1983, between those who wanted one whole Sudan and the rebels whose ultimate goal was Southern independence. The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement led the mutiny, forcibly training young men to be soldiers, planting mines and attacking towns. Led by the United States, a peace agreement was brokered and, in 2011, 98.83% of the population voted in favour of South Sudanese independence.
The country remains dangerously underdeveloped, with little improvement of infrastructure and education. Ethnic cleansing is rife on the uncertain borders between the North and the South, and the fledgling South Sudanese government remains locked at war internally, instead of devoting time to build in peace.
The country was born in to corruption, economic ruin and destitution, all of which continue to tear through the nation and prolong the suffering. As it takes its first faltering steps, the world should watch to see if this newest of nations can ever met the hopes and expectations of its citizens.