They fought for dignity. They also fought for new shoes -- a better life in impoverished South Sudan after decades of devastating warfare. But explosive border conflicts threaten the stability of the world's newest nation.
The Republic of South Sudan is born, on July 9th 2011, amidst much celebration, dollops of hope and a real undercurrent of apprehension. The world's newest country suffers from abysmal human development indicators.
More than 8 million people in the Republic of South Sudan will celebrate their first Independence Day on July 9. It is only a beginning of a long road for this new nation's people to live up to their potential.
The northern Sudanese army has occupied Abyei, a disputed territory that sits on the north-south Sudanese border, forcing thousands of residents to flee, increasing antagonism between North and South, and risking renewed conflict.
In January, Emmanuel Jal and millions of southern Sudanese voted for independence, and on July 9 the Republic of South Sudan will become the world's newest internationally recognized country. But southern Sudan is not out of the woods yet.