There has been something of an explosion of books on South Sudan in the last year, with perhaps half a dozen different titles either currently or nearly published. In part, this is the time-lagged result of an attempt to make sense of what went wrong after the country gained independence in 2011. Did the international community fail, in its hubris, to build a country with all its initial surety? Did South Sudan’s leaders, flush with oil wealth, betray the country out of sheer venality? Or is it another instance of a war-of-resistance military failing to make the transition to transparent democratic politics?
This is the moment Peter Martell is trying to understand in First Raise a Flag: How South Sudan Won the Longest War but Lost the Peace. Martell has spent over a decade living in and reporting on South Sudan, from its independence right up to and past the ‘formal’ outbreak of a civil war that caused the continent’s largest displacement of people since the Rwandan genocide. As a longtime journalist in the country and later as AFP’s East African bureau chief, Martell skillfully weaves together personal experiences of working in South Sudan during key moments in its post-independence history with detailed stories from people intimately involved in the country’s earlier war with Sudan, its later war with itself, and many moments in between.
The extent of Martell’s dedication to telling the story of the country’s independence, and subsequent dysfunction, is impressive. It would be easy to have written a book full of war stories by international interveners, diplomats and Nairobi expatriates and exiles. Instead, Martell tracks down the soldiers who fired the first shots in the Bor Rebellion, the Israeli commando responsible for training and equipping South Sudanese forces in their war of independence, and many more men and women who helped build, were preyed on by, and continue to work for the country’s future.
The result is a journalist’s history of South Sudan, told largely through sequences of vignettes of those who lived through (and were occasionally responsible for) major moments in South Sudanese history. First Raise a Flag invites comparisons to other such contemporary-histories-written-by-journalists of places like the Democratic Republic of Congo or Rwanda. This style – marked by a meticulous eye for human detail, and the ability to teach and anger the reader simultaneously – is one that First Raise a Flag executes well.
Newer news items:
- South Sudan appeals for more funding in new robust plan to keep Ebola at bay - 13/06/2019
- Prevalence of trachoma within refugee camps serving South Sudanese refugees in White Nile State, Sudan: Results from population-based surveys - 13/06/2019
- US Episcopal Church builds on tie with South Sudan - 13/06/2019
- Sudan must come together to face its terrifying violence - 13/06/2019
- European Union sends millions to Uganda and South Sudan to fight Ebola while tourism remains safe - 13/06/2019
Older news items:
- UNMISS repairs 2500kms of roads to encourage economic growth and peace in South Sudan - 13/06/2019
- US envoy pushes for 'peaceful' Sudan solution - 13/06/2019
- Sudan: From brutal crackdown to planned talks - 13/06/2019
- US Joins Effort to Salvage Agreement in Sudan - 12/06/2019
- South Sudanese president appoints new oil minister - 12/06/2019
Popular news items:
- No oil in troubled waters - 25/03/2014 - Read 19432 times
- School exam results in South Sudan show decline - Bikya Masr - 01/04/2012 - Read 15894 times
- Former Lost Boy Gives Back to South Sudan - Care2.com (blog) - 31/05/2012 - Read 14819 times
- NDSU student from South Sudan receives scholarship - In-Forum - 29/09/2012 - Read 14344 times
- With prisons full, South Sudan to introduce mobile courts to clear backlog of ... - Washington Post - 11/10/2012 - Read 11878 times