After 10 Years of Self Rule, “there is little to celebrate”: Faith Leaders in South Sudan

Students of Loreto Girls' Secondary School in the Diocese of Rumbek, South Sudan, holding South Sudan Flag on 10th anniversary of independence on 9 July 2021/ Credit: Sr. Orla Treacy, Loreto Sisters, Rumbek

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, forums of faith leaders in the East-Central African nation have, in separate statements, lamented the many years of civil strife, the country’s Council of churches saying “there is little to celebrate.”

In their statement obtained by ACI Africa Thursday, July 8, the eve of the commemoration, members of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) however express hope into the future saying the optimism at independence on 9 July 2011 “can still be rekindled.”

“As we mark ten (10) years of our independence today, with pains in our hearts, there is little to celebrate. Conflict has become the context in which we are evolving with rampant proxy inter-communal violence, increasing cases of sexual violence, revenge killings, land grabbing and child abduction,” representatives of SSCC, which comprise seven member churches, say in their collective statement ahead of the Friday, July 9 anniversary celebration.

They add that the hearts of the South Sudanese who are experiencing a difficult time “continue to groan with pain, anguish, turmoil, despair, and misery as lives are lost every day in every corner of our country.” 

“These conflicts have rendered our first ten years of independence, ‘a wasted decade,’” SSCC officials say, adding that “these protracted armed conflicts have not only destabilized our peace but have also retarded the socio-economic development of our country.”


In the statement signed by SSCC representatives including the Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop of Juba, Stephen Ameyu, the church leaders say the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) is one of the “most  viable framework for peace and a beacon of hope for South Sudanese.”

They regret that the slow implementation of the peace deal signed in 2018 shatters all hopes for restoring calm in the country that remains the world's youngest nation.

SSCC representatives urge all parties to R-ARCSS to “implement this agreement, embrace peace, cease violence and resolve differences through peaceful means.”

They also urge non-signatories to R-ARCSS “to continue in the path of dialogue with the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) to achieve sustainable peace for the people of South Sudan facilitated by the Community of Sant’Egidio in Rome.”

“With collective efforts and responsibility from all citizens, political parties, Civil Society Organization (CSOs) and indeed all sectors of our society, in the country, the glimmer of hope and optimism that the nation exhibited on the day of independence ten years ago can still be rekindled,” the representatives of Christian church entities in South Sudan say in their two-page statement. 

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Looking toward the next set of 10 years, SSCC representatives declare “the Second Decade of South Sudan's Independence as a period of a new beginning of Peace, Justice, Freedom, Forgiveness, Reconciliation and Prosperity for all our people.”  

“In this second decade, we must stop the self-sabotage of our collective future and prosperity. It must not be another lost decade!” they say, adding that the next period of 10 years provides “an opportunity to rescue our people from imposed destitution and sustain their livelihoods.”

SSCC representatives add that all South Sudanese “must reflect on what went wrong in the first decade after independence, not to abandon us in our journey of the next ten years.” 

“We make this declaration in the Name of the Father, of the Son and the Holy Spirit! And together we say; Oh God bless South Sudan,” SSCC representatives say in their statement dated July 9. 

On their part, officials of the Ecumenical Network of South Sudan (ENSS) urge signatories of R-ARCSS to implement the deal “in spirit and bring an immediate end to the continuous suffering of people in various locations of the country.”


“We call upon the national, regional and international community to encourage the government in Juba to implement the peace agreement, to mitigate the looming crises in South Sudan,” representatives of the South Sudanese ecumenical entity say in their statement obtained by ACI Africa. 

“The government must be encouraged to engage the non-signatories to the R-ARCSS in a productive dialogue,” ENSS representatives say, adding that “in order to enable full civilian protection, the government needs to pay greater attention to transform and unify the army to include all the communities in South Sudan.”. 

They also “strongly call” upon the international community, UN agencies and governments to provide increased funding to locally driven, church and women led peace initiatives to comprehensively address the root causes and long-term effects of conflict through Advocacy, Neutral Forums, Healing and Reconciliation.

“This funding should be long-term and flexible to enable communities to respond to changing dynamics and to sustain any progress,” say ENSS representatives in their statement dated July 9.

“We continue to stand with the people of South Sudan. We call upon all in South Sudan to respect the dignity of human life,” they further appeal, and implore, “We lift the nation of South Sudan to God and pray fervently that the people of South Sudan may live inharmony, unity, and peace.”

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Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.