South Sudan one year on

A time of celebration for (back) Amakon Marial, David Chadar, Akeer Dut, (front) Matur Maluach, Martha Marial, Makuach Maluach, and Mangarchot Maluach. They are pleased that South Sudan has marked one year of independence.One year after South Sudan’s independence, David Mabor Chadar, his wife Victoria Panda Kodi and their six children have much to celebrate.

“I feel very happy about it, last year it didn’t seem real and now it does,” Mr Chadar said.

The referendum, which passed on July 9, 2011, separated the south of Sudan from the north, making it the newest country in the world.

Mr Chadar said his family, along with the majority of the Armidale South Sudanese community, were attending a relative’s wedding in Newcastle this week, where they are having a double celebration for their homeland.

The referendum came at the end of a 20-year war between the north and south, which began after British rule ended in 1956.

The north found itself in a position of political and economic power and imposed Arabic identity and Islamic religion on the south. This marginalised and exploited the African majority.

About two million people died in the civil war, which ended in 2005.

Today, South Sudan is still facing a humanitarian crisis as the one-year-old country struggles with an ongoing conflict against the north.

“It’s still too early to see results in South Sudan,” Mr Chadar said.

“The nation is still not developed like a nation, the people come from different backgrounds and the economy has not evolved.

“But they have been through worse stages in their history. Since 1956 they have had only 15 years of peace, so if they have been through that and survived I’m sure they can evolve and become a stronger nation.”

Conflicts in Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states have meant South Sudan is now host to 170,000 refugees. On top of this, up to 400,000 southerners have returned from Sudan since late 2010, putting further strain on scarce resources in one of the world’s least developed nations.

With the country facing a long climb out of crippling underdevelopment there have been calls for those who found refuge abroad to return and help build the nation again.

“I am in great pressure now, the governor of my state is my friend and he is very upset I have not finished my study and gone home to contribute,” Mr Chadar said.

“I want to work in Australia first. I feel indebted to Australia because they accommodated me, my family and my community in difficult times so I want to serve both.”

Mr Chadar, who speaks and writes in Arabic, English and his mother tongue Dinka, is in his second year of a secondary school teaching and arts double degree at UNE.

“What I hope is that Australia will establish better links and contribute more to the development of South Sudan, and I hope that in the future there will be an agreement to have students from South Sudan to study in Australia,” he said.

“Education is a very big need in South Sudan, there are only three universities and they are not very established.

“If we can establish our economy and more education there will be togetherness in South Sudan.”

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