South Sudan will celebrate its independence from Sudan on July 9, the end result of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the long-running civil war in the African country. The Republic of South Sudan’s independence celebration, termed the “Birth of a Nation,” has brought thousands from across the globe to the world’s newest country.

SiriusXM radio host Joe Madison, special guest of South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit during the celebration, explained that the battle for independence was a long one that cost the lives of millions.

According to Madison, whose involvement with South Sudan began eight years ago, the struggle for the new nation’s independence stems back over 50 years when the North African country received autonomy from the United Kingdom.

At that time, Northern Sudanese leaders refused to allow Southern Sudanese–Black Africans– involvement in government and policy-making decisions. “Those in the North began to marginalize and discriminate against those in the South,” said Madison.

Refusing the continued abuse, the Southern Sudanese, which included approximately 150 African tribes, decided to fight for their sovereignty, leading to a 25-year-long civil war that eventually ended in 2005 with the signing of the CPA.

After the CPA was signed, a January, 2011 referendum for South Sudan to separate from North Sudan and form its own nation was voted upon by the Southern Sudanese. In a majority vote, the consensus of the South Sudan citizens was to split from North Sudan.

As the new nation prepares for its independence celebration, which includes the unveiling of the country’s new flag, leaders and representatives from countries all across the world have come to Juba, the country’s capital. Representatives from Israel, Germany and South Korea are part of the contingent of global delegations present for the creation of the new country.

President Obama announced a presidential delegation to attend the independence ceremony. The delegation will be led by UN Ambassador Susan E. Rice, and will include former Secretary of State Colin L.Powell.

Madison notes that that while there is a celebratory mood among government officials and citizens, they realize that they face a huge challenge.

“We’re looking at a new country, a nation that needs everything – roads, health care, education systems and security,” said Madison.

The United Nations has pledged its support to work with the new country, but Kirsten Hagon, head of the Oxfam International New York office is concerned that it might not be enough.

“While the Council’s commitment to South Sudan, especially to protect civilians and human rights, is very welcome, as we saw with the previous missions, words need to be turned into action,” said Hagon in a statement. “South Sudan needs durable peace and security and the Mission should stand by the South Sudanese until there is clear evidence that this has been achieved.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement that the United Nations would be ready to assist the two countries during the transition.

“I know the secession is painful, emotionally and financially. But I believe Sudan will have a bright future and continue to be a leader in the region,” said Ban. “I can assure you that the UN and its agencies and peacekeeping operations are ready to assist…”

Madison stresses that this is an excellent occasion for Americans, especially African Americans to work with the new nation. He also notes the importance in raising awareness of the events taking place in South Sudan to African-American communities.

“It is really important as African Americans to really focus on helping this country,” said Madison. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to really help and build a new nation on the continent of Africa.”


Ashley Crawford

Special to the AFRO