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