A man waves South Sudan's national flag as he attends the Independence Day celebrations in the capital Juba, July 9, 2011. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Hope Amid Despair As South Sudan Marks 10th Independence Anniversary

By Denis Elamu

Several South Sudanese are hoping this year’s celebration of their country’s 10th independence anniversary on Friday will pave way for decade of peace and tranquility after years of destructive conflict.

Nancy Victor a 32 –year- old mother of three who teaches at Bishop Mazzolidi Memorial Basic School in Juba despite acknowledging the immense suffering her country has gone through since winning independence from Sudan in 2011, said she hopes this chapter will be over as the parties implement the revitalized peace deal.

“Me as a teacher and a woman I am very happy to celebrate our Independence. You know people are not the same, some are getting more than others people are not on the same economic level if you have something to celebrate with at your home you are happy,” Victor told The Juba Echo in Juba on Thursday.

She said her optimism stems from the recent rebound of the economy after years of hyperinflation caused by conflict that reduced earnings from oil revenue over the past years, despite prices of essential commodities remaining high.

The South Sudanese Pounds has since gained strength against the U.S dollar as it currently sells for 33 SSP with the dollar.

Francis Dimma Joseph, Deputy Head teacher at Bishop Mazzolidi Primary School said they are tired of war and hoping for the parties to fully implement the remaining tasks in the 2018 revitalized peace deal.

“We are now tired of war we are praying for peace to be implemented. Secondly, people are now starving because of lack of food and the sick are not being adequately treated due to chronic shortage of medicines in health centers,” said Dimma.

He also noted that insecurity caused by sub-national conflicts needs to be addressed by the transitional unity government formed in February last year.

Dimma disclosed that refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) need peace and security to encourage them to return home.

Some 8.3 million South Sudanese are food insecure this year, this includes 1.4 million children at risk of malnutrition with humanitarian agencies appealing for more donor funding amid cuts due to COVID-19.

“If the government really implements the peace agreement it will encourage people to cooperate with each other to end tribalism so that we can develop our nation,” said Dimma.

President Salva Kiir recently participated in the recent Communist Party of China (CPC) and World Political Parties Summit where he said his government would borrow lessons from China’s successful poverty reduction policies.

Diima, noted that South Sudan needs to learn from successful countries like China to develop critical sectors, like agriculture that in turn contribute to poverty reduction.

“China is technologically advanced and here in South Sudan we lack technological skills to modernize our agriculture so how is the government going to reduce poverty. We need to invest in agriculture to reduce poverty,” said Diima.

Swada Ali, 45 -year -old woman expressed nostalgia on the first two years of her country’s independence which she said were better times than now.

“We the mothers are now facing serious challenges in bringing up our children, we lack descent jobs we keep struggling to put food on the table for our children,” said Ali who sells eateries to school going children at Bishop Mazzolidi Primary School.

“Most of our children are on the streets eking a living, we even say that when we were in North Sudan before independence we could earn enough to feed our children and buy clothes for them,” added Ali.

Abraham Kuol Nyuon, assistant professor of the Department of Political Science at the University of Juba, said that the dividends of independence were only enjoyed in the first two and half years prior to outbreak of conflict in December 2013.

 “This period was when people would move anywhere without insecurity but in the years after conflict broke out independence has become a nightmare for many South Sudanese,” said Nyuon.

He revealed that years of conflict destroyed the social fabric leaving communities more divided than the years before.

“South Sudanese are more divided now than at the time of their independence, the people’s hope are pinned on implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement. If it is not fully implemented the people of South Sudan will be hugely disappointed with these leaders that brought them independence,” said Nyuon.

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