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Reconciliation in the Sudans

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Stein Erik Horjen

In 2005, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the longest civil war in African history. Stein Erik Horjen argues that although this second civil war was not a religious one, religion still played an important role in the conflict. Ensuring freedom of religion was a high priority for the SPLM and for the Sudanese churches, which were instrumental in preparing the ground for the 2005 agreement in the same way they had been in facilitating the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement in 1972.
Focusing on the pivotal role of the Sudanese churches through a grassroots peace process called People to People, Horjen examines the churches’ work in ensuring the success of the peace talks between the SPLM and the government sealed by the 2005 Peace Agreement. Taking up the role as the voice of the voiceless, the Sudanese churches challenged and criticized the military and political leaders in regards to abuses of power.
In Reconciliation in the Sudans, Horjen details the tremendous suffering of the people during recurrent conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan. Understanding the history will allow the reader contextual insight into the latest conflict that erupted in South Sudan in 2013. The failure of including mechanisms for reconciliation in the CPA can be considered a main reason for this latest war.
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Chapter 2. The People Along the Nile

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THE PEOPLE ALONG THE NILE

A well-known proverb in Sudan says that one who has drunk from the Nile will always come back. I heard it every time I met Sudanese, both in the north and in the south. It was a sign that I was welcome, since it was clear that it was only when I came back that I was acknowledged as a friend, and not just regarded as a chance visitor.

Until July 2011, this was one country. All were Sudanese, and the mythical Nile was the most important source of life for all of them. The Nile unites the north and the south, the east and the west. The White Nile curves like a lengthy serpent from the rapids at the outlet of Lake Victoria, via Lake Albert through Uganda, until it crosses the border to South Sudan and begins its long, tranquil journey northwards through Sudan and Egypt, where it finally pours out into the Mediterranean. Some miles north of Juba, the Nile flows into Sudd, the world’s largest wetland. Enormous volumes of water evaporate in this swamp area; the vapor turns eastwards and falls as rain on the Ethiopian highlands. It is here that the Blue Nile, the other great source of the watercourse, is formed. It is this branch of the Nile that supplies most of the water resources in the river and that keeps the population of Egypt alive.1 ← 4 | 5...

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