In the southwest region of Central Equatoria State, which lies closer to the Democratic Republic of Congo than Juba, South Sudan’s new capital, Saturday’s parades and speeches marked South Sudan’s independence with poignant messages of enduring hope in the face of hardship.
Read also Benjamin Majok Mon\'s report about the celebrations in Rumbek
The fragile state of security in Africa’s youngest nation was clearly manifest in the presence of citizens from troubled areas such as Abyei, Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile State. For those who have fled regions wracked by violence, freedom is a relative term.
Bidali Cosmas, Yei County Secretary of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), honoured those who lost lives, limbs and loved ones during Sudan’s civil war, then looked to the future.
“We need total democratic transformation and good governance,” he said. “The will and need of the people must be done.” He stressed the difference between the rule of law and “the law of rule” in the new government, pledging to serve as an advocate of inclusiveness.
Elias Waiwai, Commissioner of Yei River County, called for collective responsibility to push the new republic forward. “This is the beginning of a long journey toward dignity and prosperity,” he said, “which requires all of us to participate.”
He appealed for unity and an end to nepotism and corruption.
Alexandre Ngandu Kamundala, a regional administrator from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), said all Congolese joined South Sudan in celebration of what he called a “God-given gift that must be guarded seriously.”
The Niles newspaper launched on independence day
Recalling a time of war when Southern Sudanese had taken refuge in his country, he praised the friendly relations between the DRC and South Sudan and expressed gratitude on behalf of Congolese currently living in nearby refugee camps. He promised to support trade, security and development projects.
Commissioner Waiwai stressed that much-needed development cannot proceed without established social services. All efforts must be geared toward strengthening education, communication systems, health care and transport, he said.
Adding to a long list of commitments, he emphasised the importance of women’s empowerment, acknowledging the country’s millions of widows, orphans and others deserving of greater support.
“Over the years we suffered so much persecution, with faith, prayer, sacrifice and moral obligation,” said Bishop Hillary Adeba, who represented the Episcopal Church of Sudan’s diocese in Yei. He urged citizens to shelve their differences and unite.
Watch Ojok’s slideshow of independence celebrations in Yei:
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