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Planning for a New Sudan, with a New National Anthem

After independence there will be lots for southern Sudan to do, but they already have a soaring national anthem. They planned for that six months ago.

After independence there will be tons for Southern Sudan to do, but they already have a soaring national anthem.

After 23 brutal years of civil war, 2 million lives lost to ethnic violence, and a brutal revolution, southern Sudan is having its moment: this week they vote on a referendum for independence.

It is almost certain they will vote yes and Africa's largest country will split in two. After that, predictions are less certain. We don't even know what the new country would be called. Possible names in contention: South Sudan, Southern Sudan, New Sudan, Kush Republic, Nile Republic. The Nation branding blog has a good discussion of this choice.

The official break from the north wouldn't take place until summer. Before that there is a long to-do list. Borders would have to be settled, assets, or more accurately, $21 billion in international debts, have to be divided between north and south, oil revenues will have to be shared—the oil lies in the south but needs to be piped through the north for export. Among all this though, one task is complete: the national anthem is set.

Six months ago, leaders in the semi-autonomous region of southern Sudan established the South Sudan National Anthem Committee. They established a contest for musicians and writers to compose a new anthem along with local government. The BBC reported at the time:

The committee has ... told those taking part in the competition that the anthem should be about freedom, peace, equality and prosperity and also praise those killed during the conflict between southern and northern Sudan.


The anthem, "Land of Cush," a biblical reference to an ancient kingdom in the region, is already being played in the streets. Noel King recorded some of that for the public radio show The Takeaway and explained how hard it was to track down the specific winners and authors of the contest:

Perhaps the most interesting part: the lyrics were written by a committee that included members of the government and military. Imagine, in the US, if our Congress and Marine Corps were tasked with writing the national anthem.


This video has the lyrics as well as the tune. What do you think?


Image: (CC) by Flickr user folkehjelp of Belinda Juaw on a Sudanese radio station in April.

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