In 2011, South Sudan became an independent country. Its long liberation struggle was an attempt to right the wrongs of brutal colonial conquest, deliberate neglect and racial oppression organized by governments headquartered at Khartoum. The long struggle has had a violent aftermath. The war of liberation has been marked by looting, raids and massacres that pitted ethnic communities against each other. In this remarkably comprehensive work, Edward Thomas provides a multi-layered examination of what is happening in the country today. Writing from the perspective of South Sudan's most mutinous hinterland, Jonglei state, the book explains how this area was at the heart of South Sudan's liberation. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and a broad range of sources, this book gives a sharply focused, fresh account of South Sudan's long, unfinished struggle for liberation.
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A remarkably comprehensive examination of the politics, history and economic development of contemporary South Sudan.
South Sudan: A Slow Liberation succinctly examines the challenges that continue to face South Sudanese struggling for freedom while at the same time stubbornly refusing to break loose of the archaic social relations and customs that militate against modernity - the essence of liberation - and the emergence of the modern state in South Sudan.'
Peter Adwok Nyaba, former minister of higher education for South Sudan
'This is the most lucid, insightful account of South Sudan's predicament in print. Privileging South Sudanese voices, and threading together social and economic history and political and military analysis with personal testimony, demography and anthropology, it is essential reading for those wishing to understand the current civil war. It is also beautifully written.'
Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation and author of Darfur: A New History of a Long War
'Thomas's insightful review of South Sudanese history, ecology and its multiple societies explodes many of the myths that underlie present explanations for the conflicts in South Sudan. Instead of looking to primordialism or narrowly based cultural explanations, Thomas situates Jonglei's violence-prone history within the context of uneven development, global incorporation and the failure of the ruling SPLM to overcome the resulting contradictions.'
John Young, author of The Fate of Sudan
'This book is a rare achievement as it unfolds the present through the voices of those who live with the consequences of what has happened in the past. Thomas gives us a much-needed fresh understanding of South Sudan that, while uniquely modern, historicizes and moves beyond stereotypes and received wisdom.'
Mareike Schomerus, London School of Economics and Political Science
'A must read for all interested in South Sudan, the world's newest state. Thomas's well-written book expertly documents how statehood came about, its fragility and the lessons from history for South Sudan's future.'
Alex Vines, OBE, head of the Africa programme at Chatham House and co-director of the African Studies Centre, Coventry University
'The book thoroughly examines the predicament of South Sudan, focusing on Jonglei state, where the worst kinds of violence along ethnic lines have occurred. It interrogates the explanations, particularly uneven development, that many authors have used in their works. The work is a must read for anyone interested in a comprehensive treatment of the events that led to the birth of the new country.'
Leben Nelson Moro, director of external relations at the University of Juba
'This is an illuminating account of the contradictions of the theory and practice of liberation in an African periphery. Thomas teaches us how South Sudan's slow and relentless integration into the global market confounds its liberation unravelling chronically in the bloody conflict theatre of Jonglei. From the local contingencies of South Sudan's war zones the book draws universal lessons on the devastations of the nation-state.'
Magdi El Gizouli, Freiburg University
Edward Thomas has lived and worked in Sudan and South Sudan for over eight years. He worked as a teacher, researcher and human rights worker for Sudanese and international organizations. Over the past five years, he has written numerous books, reports and articles about South Sudan and its neighbours.