Separating Sudan

Independence for Sudan has been something of an ordeal. It took 55 years and led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands. But despite this what both North and South Sudan has won is special. What a ridiculous notion combing the two countries was. Thanks for that, Churchill (*). But good on you for defeating Hitler.

What I didn’t fully appreciate, until a few days ago, was just how much of a stir “uniting” the two countries in our Sudan book would cause.

It has been suggesting to me that certain people close to the Khartoum government aren’t all that enamoured with our guidebook – not because it isn’t pretty good, but because we took the decision to cover both North and South Sudan as two independent nation states. This is why, in some circles, ourguidebook has not been doing quite as well as we expected.

In the foreward to our guidebook, I took every step to wish both North and South Sudan well in their respective futures, acknowledging (which many people do not) that the North was becoming a new country as well.

This is what I said:

“There are challenges ahead. Not only for the newly-independent South, but also for the North, which has itself become a brand new country.

There is a whiff of optimism in the air, though. Both the South and the North buzz with a fresh sense of ambition and opportunity, and a realisation that anything has suddenly become possible.

We would like to dedicate this edition of the book to the memories of those that have struggled so hard for the future that now lies ahead of both countries, and express our sincere hope that the countries’ leaders make the most of it.”

Pretty spot on, I felt.

So why on Earth is our decision to combine the two countries in a single volume (for pragmatic reasons more than anything else: South Sudan is not yet ready for a guidebook of its own) hitting sales. That seems startlingly unfair.

A little like, perhaps, British and Egyptian colonialists deciding that the two colonies should be a single entity when granted independence in 1956, with all the needless bloodshed that entailed.

Juba. Khartoum. For God’s sake, grow up.

* Winston Churchill was influential in pushing for North and South unity, even though it wasn’t ultimately his decision.

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2 Responses to “Separating Sudan”

  1. Jim Says:

    How do you know that is what they think?

    Did they want you to ignore the South?

  2. blakerig Says:

    They’ve talked to contacts of mine about this. I think that some of the people close to the government – perhaps a minority, I don’t know – would have preferred the book to just have focused on the North.

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