Post Sudan referendum: Two states searching for a name

Asmaa El-Husseini in Juba, Wednesday 12 Jan 2011

With thoughts turning to a post-referendum South Sudan, the Sudanese political elite considers what and how to name the two states

Two States

The issue of name is no longer just a dilemma for the new state of South Sudan. Rather, the shadow has spread to the North where some circles in the capital Khartoum have begun to call for a change of the name Sudan which carries racial undertones related to colour.

The calls have been lead by Al-Tayeb Mostafa, head of the Platform for Peace and Equality and nephew of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, who celebrated the South's referendum on secession by offering sacrifices.   

These demands, however, have been met with mockery by the majority who view the name Sudan as being part of the country's culture for hundreds of years. The predominant trend states that there is no justification to change it, with the majority of proposals denied due to an overall lack of seriousness and an inability to express the features and identity of the Sudanese nation.

As for the South, the issue assumes a more serious nature, especially with numerous proposals for naming the nascent state, gaining great enthusiasm by the population which has rushed to ballot stations in unprecedented numbers over the last four days.

The most prominent of the names is Kush, that of an ancient kingdom that emerged around 1070 BCE. A national anthem has been composed under the name "Land of Kush" though some see this name as having connotations of the Old Testament.

There is a proposal to name the new state Republic of the Nile but this hasn't gained wide support. Another possibility is New Sudan, after the project of the late leader of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), John Garang, or the Republic of South Sudan.

With so many proposals, there is an inclination within the southern leadership to put the matter to a referendum, as a high ranking official within the SPLM confirmed to Ahram Online.

Until now, this is a debate among the political elites. As for the people, in Juba, they aspire for the establishment of a national project combining equality, democracy and progress to realise their daily needs.


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