President attends South Sudan 2nd independence anniversary celebration

Wednesday 10th July 2013

His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni arrived in Juba yesterday morning to join the people of South Sudan celebrate their country's 2nd independence anniversary. He was received at Juba International airport by His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President of the Republic of South Sudan. President Salva Kiir was in the company of children who handed over doves to President Museveni. Doves are a symbol of peace and friendship in South Sudan and are normally used to welcome distinguished persons, the people of South Sudan regard highly.

South Sudan achieved independence on 9th July 2011 following a referendum between 9th and 16th July 2011 to determine whether the country should declare independence from Khartoum. 98.83% of the total population of over 8 million voted overwhelmingly for independence. President Yoweri Museveni, a renowned Pan-Africanist, played a pivotal role in the struggle for freedom of the South Sudanese. He was greeted by cheers of an ecstatic crowd as he addressed the thousands of Sudanese who turned up for the anniversary.

Speaking at the celebrations which were held at John Garang Memorial Gounds, President Museveni said:

"I don't refer to Africans as friends. Friends are Europeans and Chinese. Africans are brothers and sisters. I congratulate the brotherly people of South Sudan on attaining independence. You were engaged in an unnecessary war for a long time. I say unnecessary because the issues for which you were fighting were very clear. Your brothers in Uganda have a proverb in one of the languages, Runyankore: Owakukyiza amani akwaka nenkoni yawe aba niyo yakuteza. It means a person stronger than you can get hold of your own stick and use it to beat you. That's what has been happening to Africans.

There is another proverb that translates thus: somebody can kill your father and inherit your mother. Our Lord's prayer puts it in very meaningful perspective: "Thou shall not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil." Africans are also to blame. We lead outsiders into temptation by being weak. How do we weaken ourselves by religious conflicts, sectarianism and lack of organization? Those internal weaknesses invite foreigners to oppress you.

One of our other language's proverbs applies to the way forward: Agali awamu gegalya enyama. Time has come for us to work together and transform our continent into a developed part of the world. I commend you for efforts made to develop your country. The hills have all changed. I almost forgot the place."

Other Heads of State who attended the anniversary celebrations include Presidents, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Ian Khama of Botswana, Hassan Sheik Mohamud of Somalia and Thambo Mbeki, former President of South Africa. Kenya's Foreign Affairs Minister Amina Mohammed represented President Uhuru Kenyatta. The Minister of Agriculture and Deputy Minister of Sudan represented President Omar Hassan El Bashir.

President Salva Kiir thanked President Yoweri Museveni and other friends for supporting their struggle for freedom that enabled South Sudan attain independence. He wished muslims Ramadhan Karim and ended his speech with Asalaam Alaikum. He was later joined by his guests for a luncheon at the freedom hall.

President Salva Kiir invited President Museveni to J1 State House for bilateral talks held at 7pm this evening.

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