Southern Sudan becomes a new country: what does this mean? by Cherokeetears
Tonight at midnight, Southern Sudan will become its own country. This comes after decades of Civil War between the North and South. After a peace agreement in 2005, efforts began to decide whether Southern Sudan would become its own country, and after an election, it was decidedly so.(1) It’s difficult to be optimistic about such a split though, since the country will be 1 of 54 countries in Africa; this staggering number of small countries is a byproduct of the reality that the continent has been exploited for its resources and separated by tribal differences intensified through imperialist aggression. Many groups have advocated for Pan-African unity: a common language, a common economic system, and a common territory. But history has shown us that the separation of people within Africa has allowed the US to obtain it’s resources for cheap.
Let’s take the diamond trade in Sierra-Leonne for example. The diamond trade is a lucrative business for those in the First World: it is a hard and precious metal that can be used to make jewelry and tools and – if regulated by capitalism – can be held at a labor intensive and high demand industry. Sierra-Leonne has diamonds, therefore, they have the wealth of this industry within their borders, however, this wealth does not go to the Sierra-Leonne people, but rather to the corporations who export the goods for cheap. The result of this exploitation and foreign direct investment is a phenomena called “blood diamonds,” (2) where militant groups fight over the diamond mines and enslave local populations, terrorizing them while they work the mines, severing limbs, enslaving, and killing the local populations. The corporations have little preemptive motivation to stop the purchase of “blood diamonds,” because keeping the factions at war with one another keeps diamond prices low. The wealth of Sierra-Leonne is extracted mercilessly.
So what happens if a country does give economic control to the people? Well in Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Libya, Algeria, Angola, and other countries, we see attempts to turn the economic power to the people, and these efforts are met with crippling sanctions, fierce resistance, and even military occupation. Look at the situation in Libya today, look at the IMF interference in Zimbabwe. It is in the interests of the world market to keep Africa separated and underdeveloped. The rich resources, at the hands of the masses, will simply make the world market incapable of releasing cheap products for the First World. Coltan is a necessary mineral found in laptops, iPods, and all cellphones; it is almost exclusively mined in Central Africa where rival gangs fight civil wars for control over it.(3)
So, it is in the interest of imperialism to keep Africa divided. Tribal differences are hardly an excuse, since the national differences in Europe, Asia, and the US today have posed little problem for solidarity. We support the sovereignty of any people’s fighting against imperialism, but Southern Sudan, when established at midnight tonight, will have the worst economy, lowest standard of living, and worst healthcare in Africa and maybe the world. It will have little electricity or water for its citizens, and will have an economy entirely dependent on oil. This is a breeding ground for imperialism, and it’s frightening to think of the aftermath of this split on the citizens of South Sudan. We have seen the imperialist effects on Africa thus far. Are we really convinced that they won’t keep their hands deep in the pockets of South Sudan and its oil fields? Do we really think that the profits from that oil will go to the people of South Sudan? I’m not optimistic.
(3) RAIM-D: “Your Playstation has real blood on it”