George Clooney never fails to deliver as a Hollywood heavyweight and as a great humanitarian. Commenting to the world’s media on his international activism in Sudan in the lead-up to a referendum regarding the secession of the southern province, he noted: “I’ve been committed to [Sudan] since 2005 and you don’t abandon a place when it’s going through its changes.”
Shifting cameras because of his celebrity to Abyei, the autonomous region that acts as an oil rich conduit between the north and south of Sudan, Clooney has managed to shed light upon an otherwise forgotten country that has been gripped by civil wars since its independence in 1956.
Yet, beyond these benevolent sentiments displayed by Clooney and other international celebrities, politicians and journalists who have been supposedly experiencing the poverty of Juba (capital of South Sudan), what will be left of this newly created nation after the feelings of independence euphoria will wear off?
The Arabised/Islamised Sudanese government based in Khartoum under the tyrannical leadership of Omar al-Bashir has managed to disenfranchise most of the provinces of this vast country through decade long policies of political repression and n-ked robbing of the country’s natural resources.
Since his arrival in power in 1989, civil war has become an almost daily occurrence for the past two decades with high estimates of 2 million dead over this sustained period in his government’s battle with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Cameroonian philosopher and political scientist Achille Mbembe defines this haunting state as necropolitics. He explains “death is therefore the point at which destruction, suppression, and sacrifice constitute so irreversible and radical an expenditure” that it becomes normal (2003: 15).
It is hard to predict if stability in South Sudan will be a lasting feature with the international community still intently observing Abyei in the coming period. What must be put forward is a democratic and more importantly secular polity that will be a safe haven for all Sudanese not just its southern citizens.