On Saturday July 9th, the world had it’s newest internationally recognized country. South Sudan had officially declared it’s independence from Sudan. News reports showed people dancing in the streets of it’s capital Juba, celebrating the end result of a long, hard struggle. The country has been quickly recognized by the United States and many other nations.
In Second Life, a “South Sudan Independence Party” was held the following day on Sunday July 10th at the Saffa Islands sim to commemorate the new African nation. With Sandy Kira as the DJ, the event began at 2 PM. The event was held at a beach club, with thatched roofs and surfboards, but with the South Sudanese flag prominently displayed. People were also waving small flags of the new country.
I only managed to catch the tail end of the event, but it was not boring. People were paying attention to a film being broadcasted on the screen set up at the club. A Emmanuel Jal was speaking out to an audience about his struggle as a child soldier, a “War Child,” in the wars of Sudan following his village being burned down, and eventually making peace with those he once saw as his enemies. One resident couldn’t hep but comment, “Wow they were sooo young. Babies with AK47s. These kids must be damaged in a way I will never know.”
The event went past it’s scheduled end of 4 PM. People thanked Tonny Storm for the occasion, “Thank you for this nice evening, Tony.” Following the video, Tonny had this to say, “I am really thankful to all of you. You celebrate this moment with me here. I am far away from Sudan and South Sudan, but I am happy for this nice time with you guys. And I have a short thing I want to tell you about myself. I am not from South Sudan. I am from the north, actually. But I have been working with many groups in the north for people of South Sudan and (the) whole (of) Sudan in general. ... I am happy for (the) south, but also sad because our efforts to keep one country that respects all it is citizens and lives with democracy and respect (for) human rights (is) gone now. Yes, South Sudan’s people get their Independence, they can shape their own future now. But I still have commitment to the other people in Sudan whom still suffer, to get the country we dream to have one day.”
“I had (a) Sudan sim for a while. I tried to tell the different story about Sudan, the story (the) media never tell. (The) media always tells a single story and stereotypes people to it. So today give proof by South Sudan’s independence that besides suffering, there is always hope. And there are always people whom work hard for a better future. They can succeed or lose, but the struggle must continue. Thank you everyone.”
Tonny’s remarks were met with applause, “Tonny, you make me cry now.” “Thank you, I am crying also, trying to hide the tears.” “We pray that the people in Northern Sudan find strength in the victory of the Southern Sudanese, and continue to work for the good of the community.”
Tonny told me, “I must thank my awesome DJ Sandy. She did some great tunes. Sandie Mistwallow, she built the club. She did an incredible job in no time, gathering everyone.” He passed over a notecard with several links, as well as one to South Sudan’s wiki entry, “please watch the videos, they tell the whole story.”
I asked about their opinion about the country’s lack of paved roads and how hard would it be to attract international investment. One of the women there, Karima Markova, answered, “Building infrastructure is a critical concern to be sure. If the government cannot organize it, roads will be build to extract resources. The people will lose. Africa has seen too much of this in its history.”
The links Tonny Storm provided were Youtube clips, “Introduction,” “Independence Day” (Al Jadzeria), “Dr. John Grang,” “Emmanuel Jal: The music of a war child” (the video shown at the end of the event), and “South Sudan song,” in addition to the country’s wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Sudan.
"Thank you very much."