Chants of “Republic of South Sudan Oyee” will forever be etched in the minds of many South Sudanese as they reminisce over their independence -- today, only four days old.
An overflowing crowd of people, both young and old, showed up at the John Garang Memorial to mark the historic event on July 9. Tens of thousands of South Sudanese endured the blistering sun, all along energized, as they erupted into song and dance when the country became the world’s 193rd country and Africa’s 54th.
I saw men and women faint as the declaration was made. Others openly broke into tears as the new flag was hoisted.
Editor's note:South Sudan, a region left devastated by decades of civil war, held a referendum last January in which voters decided to split from the northern part of the country and become an independent state.
Preparations are in full swing for festivities to mark the upcoming independence of South Sudan. The mood is upbeat. On July 9, some 30 heads of state will travel to Juba, the acting capital city, to witness the birth of this new country.
The history behind this event
The region's path to independence was preceded by 21 years of conflict between rebels in the South and the government based out of Khartoum, Sudan's capital city in the North. This created a massive humanitarian crisis, with large populations displaced and left without access to essentials.