JUBA, South Sudan — Sitting in fading daylight in the front yard of a small hotel in Africa’s newest nation, Jimmy Makuach recounts a life torn apart by civil war.
At the age of 6, he fled the conflict that claimed the lives of both his parents. He traveled between refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya before eventually grabbing an opportunity to study in the United States.
Today, he is among hundreds who have returned to the new Republic of South Sudan, bringing with them the skills they learned in exile to help build their new homeland.
“Most of us who went to the U.S. are back home now,” said Mr. Makuach, 30, an aide to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit. “I wanted to be part of history, a part of those who helped rebuild the country.”
In 2006, he traveled from his adopted home in Knoxville, Tenn., to Juba, which would become the capital of South Sudan five years later.
The war that claimed about 2 million lives from 1983 to 2005 had ended in an uneasy truce between the Arab Muslims of Sudan’s north and the black Christians and animists of the south. A referendum in January resulted in independence for South Sudan on July 9.
As boys and girls, they walked for weeks and months across unforgiving terrain and waded through treacherous rivers to get to refugee camps in countries that were willing to accept them.
Its fledgling government also faces immense security challenges posed by armed rebels, rampant cattle rustling and unresolved issues with their old rulers in Khartoum.
“What we have seen outside is very exciting, and we wish we could do it in our country in two months, but that is not possible,” Mr. Makuach said as he talked about the massive challenges facing South Sudan.
“It will take time. But we have a lot of experience, and we have the opportunity to make things right.”
Growing up in California, Ms. Riak was raised on her father’s stories about his distant homeland, which he fled at the age of 15.
“Every single conversation at the dinner table since I was a baby was about South Sudan,” she said.View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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