I took this pix in 1992, when making my very first trip into S. Sudan. At the time, civil war was raging. We drove for 11 hours north by northwest over the border from Kenya to Torit. Our Land Rover was stopped every hour or so at checkpoints by barefoot boys carrying AK-47s, guarding the dusty, rutted road. We saw burned-out military tanks now and then, but not much else, until we stayed overnight in Kapoeta, the rebel stronghold, where hundreds of tall recruits marched at dawn to the orders of their commander. I'll never forget their strong voices singing in unison as their bare feet thumped the ground outside our tent.
In some ways, not much has changed in S. Sudan since 1992. The land is still undeveloped. The roads are not yet paved. The people are still poor. In other ways, everything has changed! The war is over; the rebels have formed a legitimate government; a peaceful referendum vote signals independence on the near horizon. Hope is in the air!
For another first-hand perspective on S.Sudan, check out the new blog from MBB volunteer Alison Staab: www.southsudanreflections.blogspot.com.