The Day Indy Died
His name was Independence Moses Nono.
A new child born on the new country’s first day.
The first child born at a Juba hospital shortly after midnight.
July 9, 2011
All full of hope and promise.
His parents, Moses and Josephine Nono gave him the full name of Moses Independence.
The mother shared in news reports of her high hopes for both her new son and the new country.
In fact, many South Sudanese refer to their nations as “New Sudan.”
Independence was the first new baby in New Sudan.
A fresh start.
A new beginning.
Sadly, two and a half years later, fighting has broken out in New Sudan. A tenuous ceasefire has
stopped the fighting. The future is uncertain.
Baby Independence’s story is even sadder.
He died before his first birthday.
The details are sketchy.
He became ill, got sicker, and the doctors and hosptials couldn’t help him.
Less than seven months after the birth of this special baby, he was dead.
“I was so very happy. I even took the flag and put it on my house to show the neighbors,” says Moses of the day they brought Independence Moses to his home on the outskirts of the capital.
“But God just took it down, and all that happiness went,” he says.
Baby Independence will never see his country grow into a true land of freedom and peace.
It shouldn’t surprise us. Infant mortality is high.
A man or woman of age 60 is considered old. That’s about the expected life expectancy here. Sadly, the events occurring now will only bring that age number lower.
That’s what war, poverty, and famine do to the health of a nation.
In Africa, the stats of those dying in war zones are not limited to mortars and machine guns. Many more die from malnutrition, opportunistic diseases, and famine.
Dead is dead. It doesn’t have to be a bullet.
Since the December (2013) fighting broke out between the rebels and government, many have written the obituary of New Sudan. “If they can’t get along for no more than two years, what hope is there for this country.”
They fought the Arab north, thousands died to bring this opportunity to become a new free nation, and now the selfishness of power-hungry leaders, has resulted in prediction of continued war.
My home country, America, is known as the “Midwife of South Sudan.” Our government and aid organisations worked hard to broker the peace deal in 2006. The United States has poured tens of millions of dollars into South Sudan.
America the Midwife is now watching its baby on life support.
Probably like the midwives who delivered Baby Moses Independence felt as sickness took his life.
Wondering what went wrong.
What could we’ve have done different.
South Sudan is on life support but where there is breath, there is life. Her breathing is shallow and fitful.
But she’s alive. David Deng, the son of a Dinka chief and American mother, said it well, “If you’re not an optimist, you have no business being in South Sudan.”
Things can change.
Things can get better.
Even if Africa seems cursed, things can turn around.
It won’t happen overnight and it won’t be easy.
Progress is seldom easy nor free.
I come from the rural South, the state of Louisiana
My homeland was probably the last part of America to move beyond the scourges that hold people back.
In the latter nineteenth century, malaria, yellow fever, measles, and smallpox killed people.
Infant mortality was high.
This was brought home to me one day at the oldest part of Dry Creek Cemetery. Mr. Frank Miller pointed at the weathered headstones. “Look how every big tomstone is surrounded by small ones.” He shook his head. “Most of the old timers buried at least one child. Some buried many.”
He then directed me to a headstone. “She died in childbirth. That was all too common.”
I thought about Mr. Frank’s words when a African researcher said, “In parts of South Sudan, women still view pregnancy as a possible terminal condition. They know some will not survive.”
* * *
South Sudan has a long list of problems and challenges to overcome.
The recent conflict has set this back.
But there’s still life.
There’s a belief (held by those optimists like our Chadan team) that things can and will improve.
I believe it’s through changed hearts and minds that the nation will step beyond despair.
Without apology, I believe hearts and minds are only changed by the Spirit of God coming into a person.
That’s why we forge ahead.
As another tough optimist/jailbird named Paul said, “Forgetting the past and striving for the future . . . ”
I can honestly say that there’s no part of the world I feel that we can make a difference more than in South Sudan.
We cannot take our hands off the plow.
We will not look back.
The way forward is the only way to go.
Read more on Baby Independence and our country of South Sudan:
Evergreen Cedar in Dry Creek Cemetery Louisiana
Both Sides Now
So many of our American experiences take me back to Louisiana.
I call it “Both Sides Now.”
Thinking of home makes me smile and sometimes brings tears.
But I’m always thankful for my roots back home.
At the same time, DeDe and I feel so blessed to be where God is working in our “New Home” of Africa.
Yes, we’ve looked at life from both sides now.
Read about our beloved Dry Creek Cemetery and its iconic tree in “An Evergreen Cedar Tree.”