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South Sudan Oyee!

July 9th, 2011 by Daniel Sullivan

Last night as the clock struck midnight in South Sudan, the newest nation in the world was born. I was in Juba to take in and be taken up in the moment.

Around 10pm people began pouting out into the streets, which gradually filled with waving flags, smiling faces, and the sounds of cheers and honking horns.  “Sudan Oyee!” they yelled in celebration.  By midnight, the streets were packed.  The mood was electric, the excitement palpable; so much positive energy pumping through the streets.  “Sudan oyee!”

From where I stood, elated Southern Sudanese found a tub of water and began to fill up water bottles and buckets to drench the slowly passing cars trying to move through the crowds jubilant bodies clinging to their sides.  I was drenched three times by the same smiling man.  Another man with a palm branch began shaking it over me and told me that in his culture water and palms are a sign of blessing.  He was blessing me, blessing everyone, blessing the new nation of South Sudan.

Even past 3am as I write this, I can still here the honking of horns in the distance and the shouts of “Sudan oyee!”  It is a memory that will live clearly with the many children still running through the streets well past their bedtimes.  It is a memory that, I have no doubt, will live with me for the rest of my life.

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