South Sudan gained independence from its northern neighbour on the 9th of July 2011, following decades of conflict between the north south. As part of a peace accord the South Sudanese voted in a referendum to secede from the north and set up their own government. Despite seceding, South Sudan still faces many social and political problems. They are in the midst of a dispute with Sudan over who should profit from the potential oil wealth available to the country and also have on going disputes over the ownership of two border areas.
Sudan gained independence from Britain and Egypt in 1956, after centuries of colonial control. Independence was followed almost immediately by civil war, as forces from the south fought for autonomy, fearing the imposition of Arabic rule from the capital Khartoum. Successive attempts to broker a peace deal failed and in the early 1980s renewed fighting erupted, which was to last for the next two decades. This led to the death of over a million Sudanese and a substantial displacement of the population, who were forced to flee the fighting. South Sudan still bears much of the legacy of this prolonged period of violence, with a weak economy based primarily on subsistence agriculture. This is depicted in great detail in Robert O. Collins’ A History of Modern Sudan.
South Sudan is linguistically, ethnically and culturally a very diverse country, with the majority of people coming from the ethnic groups the Dinka, the Nuer and the Shilluk. The indigenous culture reflects that diversity and the strength of traditional customs and beliefs in the region. The refugee crisis caused by so many years of violence has led to a thriving South Sudanese diaspora throughout the surrounding African countries, and in the West, and it is from this group that much of the literature about South Sudan emerges. Several books have been released which depict the Sudanese civil war and the ensuing breakup of the country. These include Mariak Machok Chuor’s South Sudan Long Journey to Freedom, Hoth Giw Chan’s South Sudan: A Legitimate Struggle, P.A. Nyaba’s The Politics of Liberation in South Sudan and Peter Lam Both’s South Sudan: Forgotten Tragedy.