The Republic of South Sudan, colloquially known as South Sudan, is located in the eastern region of Africa, landlocked by amidst Ethiopia to the east, Uganda and Kenya to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic to the west, and Sudan to the north. Approximately 12. 05 million people live in the country, and most of its populace are between zero and fourteen years of age, meaning that the country’s population will see a lot of growth when their youngest generation reaches birthing age. South Sudan split from its northern counterpart, Sudan, in July of 2011, and since that division the country has faced great turmoil, between different ethnic groups, governmental instatement, and the institutionalization of economic policies and reforms.
The geographic territory of South Sudan is home to over 18 different ethnic groups, dozens of languages spoken, despite English being the official language, and most of the population living in rural areas, as opposed to urban areas. Recently, the country has been facing blights of disease and violence, which has impacted the country and its young population in many ways, and the South Sudanese government has been trying to thwart these troubles with economic and political policies. South Sudan is a new country, but already it is one of the least developed countries in the world. * Directly following South Sudan’s independence, there was approximately a year of relative peace amongst the people of the country.
Much of the country was in the revelatory dawn of their independence, and there was a sense of hope that neutralized the fighting for a brief moment. * From 1955 to 2005, with an eleven-year ceasefire in between, the northern and southern regions of Sudan had been fighting two civil wars – the First Sudanese Civil War and the Second Sudanese Civil War. in 1946 British colonists had merged what was once considered the northern and southern regions of Sudan, north being where Muslims and Arabs lived and south being where Christians and Animists lived, as a political strategy.
This merge was done without the consent of the southern leaders, who did not wish to be merged with the bigger north and gobbled up by their political prowess. When the British colonists finally left Sudan, which was a newly independent country, power was given primarily to the northern government, who started to go back on its word to create a federal government that would allow the south to have its own rights and identity.
From 1955 to 1972, the First Sudanese Civil War, the north and south fought over this, and by the time the war ended there were still heated conflicts going on between the two regions. When the Second Sudanese Civil War erupted in 1983 it was to reassert those concerns from eleven years prior and to gain independence for the southern region of Sudan, which was granted about six years after the war ended in 2005. Already, in recent history, we can account for over 50 years of violence and fighting in the country, so it makes sense that the issues we see in South Sudan today – constant violence, military intervention, and ethnic disputes – are products of at least a generation of turmoil in the country that cannot be simply fixed in a matter of years. Since South Sudan’s independence, the country has experienced a period of relative peace for approximately a year.
The real issues that laid under the surface of the schism with Sudan were shown, though, in time, and fighting began again. South Sudan’s current state of affairs is seen as a civil war yet again. Much of the political climate is affecting the whole country and not just Juba. President Kiir, a Dinka, which is the largest ethnic group in South Sudan, and Vice President Machar, a Nuer, which is the second largest, were at odds, until their struggling resulted in the president firing Machar and the rest of the cabinet, suspecting a coup on his life was imminent.
Since tribal ties are of utmost importance to the identities of the South Sudanese, this divide has been reflected in the disputes seen throughout the country. The military took sides, and violence between factions have made the country a war zone – which it still is today. After his firing, Machar even decided to run against Kiir in the next election, which was due to be in 2015 but was pushed back to 2018 due to the extreme conditions of the country. There is currently in place a ceasefire between each side, for the next 30 months, so the South Sudanese government can try to refound its government.
Despite the ceasefire, there is still violence, and refugees of South Sudan flood nearby countries because access to food is inconsistent in the country and humanitarian aid is constantly threatened by the fighting. * While South Sudan’s government model is in the process of being changed, their current plan has taken a Republican model. The country currently has three branches of government, Judicial, Legislative, and Executive. In the Judicial branch there is the South Sudan Supreme Court, in the Legislative branch there is the Council of States, with 50 seats, and the National Legislative Assembly, with 332 seats.
In the Executive branch there is the Chief of State, which consists of the President, First Vice President, and Second Vice President, and the Head of Government, which is the President, and the Cabinet, which is the National Council of Ministers. The President is election by majority rule every four years, except in 2015, because the election was postponed until 2018 due to violence in the country. There are three major political parties in South Sudan: the National Congress Party (NCP), the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC).
The SPLM is the main political party, under which Kiir and Machar have been disputing with each other most frequently. * Currently, the country is in a dire state of poverty, as much of the funds that should be going toward the development of South Sudan is being funneled toward humanitarian efforts to aid those affected by the civil war. Additionally, South Sudan’s economy is largely dependent upon oil, since it is the country’s largest export, creating 98% of its revenue.
In response to this concerning dependence, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has instituted a three-year plan, set to last from 2015 to 2018, which would provide the country with money from other non-oil sources. Of the many goals the Plan aims to achieve, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning aims to get out of this plan peace and reconciliation, stronger justice, better governing, and better security and conflict resolution. * The goal is to make South Sudan a more peaceful place so as to attract investors to the country and boost the country out of the poverty in which it currently suffers.
The South Sudan government wants to steer away from its oil dependency, so, if something were to happen and they would not have any oil left, they would not be irreparably crippled by that pitfall. Overall, South Sudan’s economy is suffering from the events going on in the country, and the government is trying to boost the economy to combat such pitfalls. The fall in oil prices has led to less revenue generation, which has then led to fewer dollars in circulation and inflation, and that ends up making the cost of living higher.
It is unsustainable. Most of South Sudan has little to no infrastructure, meaning that a lot of the roadways in the country are non-existent. There are no paved roads, cutting off much of the country from leaving. Only about 22% of the people in South Sudan live in urban areas, while the other 78% live on rural lands and partake in subsistence farming in poverty. * Most of the ethnic groups in South Sudan live in a particular region and stick with each other, except for in the capital, Juba, where diversity is prevalent, so the country is segregated in that sense.
The biggest conflict seems to be not between the tribes themselves but between the civilians and the military. A sense of identity is important when talking about one’s tribe, but when referring to the military and the government there is a schism. This is likely as a result of the way in which independence was practically forced upon the Sudanese. Many of those living in South Sudan were forced to leave their homes when the country seceded from Sudan because of the way the borders were drawn for the two countries.
Though these people had been living where lived for a while, their government had forced them to move, and they started a new life where people did not think as they did and did not know each other. * We can see that lack of resources is detrimentally affecting the population, especially. The country has the second worst literacy rate in the world, and only 27% of the population over the age of 15 can read. This low literacy rate in the older populace is a hurdle for creating a system of education in the country. *
From an interview with Lee Van Iderstine, who worked with Medair, a humanitarian group that provides non-food essentials to developing countries, directly after South Sudan had gained independence, we can see that, as a result of the years of violence and fighting that South Sudan has seen, the country’s culture has been deeply impacted by the violence that has shaped their country from its regional roots to its independence.
Death is so present in the lives of the South Sudanese that there have been instances where live grenades have been used as a form of conflict resolution for common disputes, killing people in the process. Many people have known someone who has died of violence or hunger or disease, which are also significant causes of death in South Sudan. The life expectancy of people in South Sudan is approximately 55 years, which is below the global average of approximately 71 years. Lee Van Irdinstine says, “Death is a part of the culture. ” In fact the very prevalence of death in South Sudan’s culture can be seen in the linguistics of its people. For example, the word machut means “the child born after the death of the previous child”. This word is used to refer to those who have died of disease or violence.
The implications of its poor economy, can be seen in the country, where medical supplies are heavily brought in through humanitarian work as opposed to governmental intervention. This lack of resources allows to thrive diseases like malaria, guinea worm disease, African sleeping sickness, and other vicious illnesses. * To add onto the plethora of other issues South Sudan faces everyday, the people in the country see death every day, are desensitized to it, and have all that more of a struggle when it comes to not only providing for themselves but for facing the repercussions of losing loved ones to the prevalence of death in their society.
The Republic of South Sudan has reached a point where its current developments are hindering its future developments. South Sudan has a growing population, with most of its citizens under the age of 15, meaning that in the coming years its population will continue to expand. This expansion will breed further destruction if the country continues down the path it is going because, right now, there is little to no infrastructure spanning the country, the government is divided, and disease is running rampant because humanitarian aid is being thwarted by the before-mentioned obstacles.
In fact, much of the humanitarian aid brought to the country just a couple of years ago may no longer be accessible with the state that South Sudan is currently in, making it hard for any real progress to have the chance to thrive and expand and make a significant impact. * Without a strong government that focuses on building a sustainable infrastructure, a sustainable economy, a sustainable political framework, the country will be hindered from developing in a way that will keep its inhabitants alive and thriving.
This country has near-constantly been involved in violence for the better part of 50 years, and it is one of the least developed countries in the world. * South Sudan is not a nation because its people are segregated and are only in agreement over their displeasure with the government. If the Southern Sudanese government cannot fix the open wounds that litter South Sudan’s soil, they will have another uprising on their hands. Overall, the Republic of South Sudan is facing developmental obstacles.
Though the government is trying to implement programs that will stimulate the country’s economy, the political climate is caustic and must be managed in a way that is acceptable to everyone. These political and economic struggles also play a role in the social evolution that the South Sudanese people face, constantly knowing and living violence, so much so that it has become central to their culture. * Since independence one could argue that South Sudan has not really been free, but has been working in a facsimile of that dream that has cracked and broken and exposed the truth underneath.
If the struggles in South Sudan can show us anything, it is that politics and economics are not the only important things to making a thriving country. A social component creates a triumvirate to nation building, and if all three are not present in the creation of a nation there will be struggles. The violence and turmoil we see in South Sudan is a discussion on what it truly means to be part of a state and whether or not that can exist without a nation to glue it together. It truly says something that the newest nation in the world is also one of the poorest, is also one that is filled with such constant violence.