The world is seeing its newest country: the Republic of South Sudan. On Saturday the 9th of July, the South Sudanese flag was hoisted amidst tens of thousands people gathered at the Garang Mausoleum, among them 40 Heads of State and about 3,000 special invitees. It was a very special and historic moment, reached after 50-plus years of war and bloodshed , in which 2.5 million lives were lost.
The Independence Day was celebrated from the strike of midnight hour with cheering groups beating the drums, singing the national anthem while moving around town. A free atmosphere and new sense of unity filled the streets on the sun-covered morning of the 9th: masses of people walking peacefully to the celebration grounds, South Sudanese flags distributed to everybody, shaking hands with soldiers in uniform. Ahead of the official start of the program, regular ‘South Sudan Oyee!.... Oyeeee!’ chants by thousands filled the air.
The Official program started off with prayers for the new nation, and soon after an impressive parade, with military units followed by a range of organisations and ethnic groups – all displaying the enormous variety and cultural richness of South Sudan. A bronze stature of the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior was unveiled, only meters from where his body rests in the Garang Mausoleum.
Then the emotional high of the ceremony: the Sudanese flag is lowered, and the South Sudanese flag slowly climbs up in the air, while the crowd’s celebrations come to a climax. Many eyes are fixed straight on the national flag, reflecting traces of unbelief and the pain it has cost to experience this moment. The Republic of South Sudan has gotten a place among the nations of the earth.
After signing the new constitution, congratulations messages and speeches from various international delegates are welcomed warmly. The American representative, Mrs. Susan Rice, captures the moment: ‘Independence is not something the South Sudanese are given, it is a price you have won!’
The last word is from the first president of the Republic of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit. In a humble way, he gives words to the feelings of his people – free at last! He urges for peace and unity in his country, and declares a public amnesty to all those who have taken up arms in one way or another. He also stresses that peace means hard work and needs responsible citizens. And as committed Christian, he ends with asking for God’s blessing on South Sudan. [Full Independence speech of 1st President of RoSS]
As the white smoke from the 21 salutes shots disappears from the Garang Mausoleum, the victory achieved is evident. South Sudanese have proved once again that they are focused as witnessed in the first ever Elections in April 2010 and the well organised and peaceful Referendum held in January 2011. South Sudan has confidently set its first step as a sovereign nation in the right direction of building a nation that was worth dying for.
God bless South Sudan!