Monday, July 11, 2011

Eyewitness Account of South Sudan's Independence Day

This email from Sr Maureen Limer, describes the excitement in Rumbek, S. Sudan, on July 9th.  The photo was taken of celebrations in Narus, S.Sudan, by Bro Mike Foley:

Sudanese Youth Jump for Joy on Independence Day
A dramatic birth! On the stroke of midnight, some of us on our beds beginning to sleep, Independence ERUPTED!

Drums and whistles, trumpets (buvuzelas), any available noisemakers but, above all, GUNS: AK 47s, rifles, revolvers, I'm no expert but they were ALL there adding to the cacophony and quite impressive after a two year disarmament campaign! Women shrieked with joy, their traditional ululating, children cried and EVERYONE knew the moment had come and the noise did not subside for hours and hours. It was frightening and exciting and REAL.

Just a few hours later, on the way to Mass, you could read it in the eyes of the mamas and children, their fathers, sons and brothers. The liturgical 'Sign of Peace' was so special this morning. I appreciated a special hug from a mama who shared a hollow in the Rumbek ground with me in 2003 during Bashir's last bombing raid on the town.

We spare a thought for Abyei, South Kordofan and Darfur where the attacks continue as we celebrate. It is understandable that Bashir has excused himself from the Juba eremonies today. Last night, concluding the nine days of prayer for the new nation, we gathered with the Bishop and parishioners for a candlelight vigil at the scene of the killing forty six years ago  of Rumbek priest, Fr. Archangelo Ali. We concluded with the first public singing of  the new anthem, "O God, we praise and glorify you for your grace on South Sudan, land of great abundance; uphold us united in peace and harmony." 

It is only 9.15 a.m. as I write but the marching and processions have been in full swing since daybreak and look set for the day. In fact, judging by the numbers, people have walked from far and wide through the night to take part. It is very evident that the teachers marshalling the thousands of schoolchildren are well-practiced in the art… I am typing to the rhythm of "Left, left, left....."  And in Freedom Square, scene of 1997 successful rout of the northern soldiers by the SPLA, everyone will want their turn on the podium; a day for remembering and savoring and full of expectation. There'll be some sore heads and
feet tomorrow but I'm sure there won't be many complaints.

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