Should Southern Sudan Keep Their Name Or Adopt A New One?
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Written by Erick Colman
Voters in Southern Sudan have approved the region becoming an independent country, which is no big surprise. What was a surprise to some was the percentage who voted in favor– 99.57%. On July 9, 2011, the country will formally be separated from the “original” or “North” Sudan to become the 54th African nation, and the world’s 193rd. It is a wave of relief for a country that was decimated by civil war and has lingering humanitarian issues. Southern Sudan’s capital is Juba.
Debate has now sprung up over what the new country should be called. The proposed names thus far are: Republic of South Sudan – a logical progression. Deng Riak Khoroyam of the South Sudan News Agency advocates simply keeping the name. Kush Republic – Chol De Kwot’s January 25 column in the New Sudan Vision advocates for this, from the ancient Kingdom of Kush (or Cush). Wunjubacel – Alier Ayom’s January 21 editorial in the Sudan Tribune advocates for this. “Wunjubacel” is an acronym of each Southern Sudanese region. Nile Republic – The White Nile River, a branch-off from the main Nile River, flows through the region. De Kwot argues this may cause confusion, since the main Nile River branches off in Khartoum, the capital of the original Sudan. Imatong Republic – referring to the Imatong Mountains in the region’s eastern half. Azania – this name is actually part of South African politics. As in, South Africa the country. It has also been used to refer to the sub-Saharan African region.
Personally, I prefer the country establish a new name, without “Sudan” used in any way. The region needs to have an identity that is all its own. Keeping the name Southern Sudan, while original Sudan keeps their name at the same time, will continue to associate the countries. The entire point of the referendum was to establish that South Sudan has its own political, cultural and social landscape.
Khoroyam reinforces his Southern Sudan same-name argument by saying that when Korea split into North and South, both countries retained the name “Korea”. But that example, to me, should inspire Southern Sudanese people to consider something completely different. A Korean-American friend once explained to me, “When Korean-Americans talk about Korea, they’re almost always referring to South Korea.”
Come to think of it, has anyone without family ties to North Korea ever met a Korean from the North?
However, in Germany, when the countries were split into West and East, all were still German people. The same is true for Vietnam when it was split into North and South.
So the question anyone living in Southern Sudan should ask now is: when you become independent, are you still Sudanese?
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of The Leader World