The day before the first anniversary of South Sudan's independance, in July 2012, Cédric Gerbehaye pursued a body of work that he began two years ago. It bears witness to the time of birth of a new nation. From referendum preparations to instated independence, this story is writing itself out to be a literal illustration of clash and conflict.
In January 2005, a peace treaty was signed between North and South Sudan, putting an end to the longest African civil war until now. Following its terms, the South Sudanese were then able to vote in a historic referendum held in January 2011, pronouncing them to be 98% in favor of a separation... however challenges still remain.
The Khartoum regime keeps waging war against South Khordofan rebels as well as Blue Nile rebels in Soudan. Access to these regions is still prohibited to humanitarian aid organizations and journalists. Humanitarian disaster, war crime, crime against humanity, ethnic cleaning and new Darfour are the terms or parallels employed by observers and analysts addressing the situation. Air raids, land battles, mortar fires, massacre and sexual violences are facts. It was recently estimated that 100 000 were fleeing a hidden war to find refuge in the impoverished and remote area of the border between Sudan and the newborn South-Sudan.
Sudan, the largest country in Africa is hurtling towards a crucial moment in its history. In January 2011 southerners will hold a referendum to determine if Africa’s largest country unites, or splits – giving birth to the world’s newest nation. But it remains unknown whether this will occur by way of war or peace.
In January 2005 a peace treaty ending the longest African civil war, was
signed between North and South Sudan. Today, it looks like the self-determination referendum will not be ready on time. Mortality rates remain high, malnutrition is chronic and regular outbreaks of preventable diseases persistently threaten the lives of the population - 75% for whom basic healthcare is not accessible. A unilateral declaration of independence by the South would inevitably be followed by war, with as main issue the delimitation of the North-South demarcation.
A new war will surely spill across borders quickly, given the stakes: oil resources - 80% of which are located in the south , access to the Nile, agricultural land and religious rivalry between Christianity and Islam.