It was the inevitable separation.
It was a marriage dominated by control, manipulation and religious fanaticism. It was a marriage born through design and convenience, rather than a natural, human love to be together.
Even with the fanfare that accompanied the union, those on the inside knew it for what it really was. Most of us said it would never work and really, it is a surprise that it lasted as long as it did.
In the end, the animosity, the ill feeling and overriding desire to split, was so great, that the division of property and ownership of what they each value most was unresolved and is now causing untold damage.
But nobody is listening.
As South Sudan marks its first anniversary of independence and let’s face it, if it wasn’t for the anniversary nobody would really be talking about it, the world’s attention is held hostage by the divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. It is one situation where as a hostage I would like my head cut off, save me from hearing anymore about the TomKat split.
When Africa’s largest country divided in two last year, hopes were high. South Sudan – oil rich, finally free from the tyranny of the north and with international donors lining up to support it – was earmarked as the future bread basket of the region. Now, twelve months on, the anniversary is passing with little fanfare or celebration and both Sudans are facing crises.
The South, having shut down oil production in January of this year, is not only facing an economic crisis, resulting largely from that decision, but also food and water shortages, rapid inflation and an influx of refugees from its northern counterpart.
In Khartoum, Omar al Bashir’s government has been slowly rotting from the inside for a long time. In May last year, the International Crisis Group reported on the divisions within his ruling party and there is now a steadily growing opposition to the regime, prompting speculation of an Arab Spring style overthrow. Despite al Bashir’s dismissal of the ‘elbow lickers’, the movement is growing stronger and more organised by the day.
Adding to Khartoum’s woes is the disintegration of the outlying states. Darfur, despite the best efforts of George Clooney and his horde of world saving celebrities, is still a long way from anything resembling peace. Elsewhere, the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile are facing mass starvation, ongoing conflict and famine. The resulting refugee population is now flooding into South Sudan, straining the resources of an already haemorrhaging nation.
As Guardian journalist Simon Tisdall wrote so eloquently back in April of this year, ‘Sudan burns – and the world yawns’. Once again, a humanitarian crisis, with the usually salivating mix of the political, religious and economic, is lost in the minutia of celebrity relationships and other 21st century ‘news’, simply because it is an African crisis.
Amongst the celebrations in Juba last year was the above t shirt.
While Bashir may no longer be a problem of the South, the world’s attention, or lack of it, is.