Click Your Heals Together Three Times
The story of the Lost Boys of Sudan is one filled with humor and horror, tears and pain. And hope. Civil war forced 20,000 boys to flee for their lives, not once, but twice. Some made their way to the United States. Most remain waiting in Kakuma for the chance to reunite with their families, while hoping to someday return home. This is their story.
Sudan is the largest country in Africa, about a quarter of the size of the United States; it is also one of the poorest and most troubled regions in the world (Natsios, 25). In 1955, the British were in the final stages of their rule, and needed to choose their successor. Nearly 600 different ethnic groups occupy Sudan, speaking over 100 different languages. The three most prominent are the Arab Muslims, the black Christians, and the black Animists (those that practice tribal traditions and beliefs). The Arab Muslim population resides predominantly in the North. The black Christians and Animists reside primarily in the South in mostly rural villages (Hecht, 16).
The British named the Northern Arab Muslims the future leaders of Sudan, assuming the educated Northerners to be better suited for the job. Prior to the North’s succession, the South had reasonable autonomy, forming its own government. The newly appointed Muslims sought to unite Sudan under Islamic rule, attempting to force the Christians and Animists to conform to Islam. The Southerners chose to fight for their religious beliefs and formed a rebel militia known as “Anya-Nya” (Reeves, 9).
The civil war that followed lasted nearly seventeen years, with both the North and the South searching for a peaceful resolution. “After nearly two decades of fighting, the Sudan’s civil war is Africa’s second-longest continuous conflict, coming just behind Angola for intractability.” (Johnson, 167). Peace came in 1972 when then ruler Jaffar Nimeiri successfully brought both sides together for the signing of the Addis Ababa Peace Treaty. The treaty granted the South the right to self govern and practice their religions freely. In the eleven years that followed the signing of the Peace Treaty, the Sudan finally saw peace. Nimeiri’s alliance with an extremist Islamic group, the National Islamic Front (NIF), opposed the Addis Ababa Peace Treaty, putting pressure on Nimeiri to establish a new Islamic government. This new government would not allow those who were not of the Islamic faith hold government office, or any positions of power. The NIF also called for Sharia, or Islamic Law, which Nimeiri at first resisted. With these religious tensions, it seemed a line in the sand had been drawn (Hecht, 17).
The religious tension caused a constant tug of war between the North and the South, but it was not until Chevron struck oil in 1978 just south of the North-South border that now economic as well as religious tensions grew. Under the Peace Treaty, the South was to receive any revenues generated...