Sunday, February 27, 2011

A new country is coming and with it basketball stars

Sudan Before the Split
In January 2011 voters in South Sudan voted overwhelming (99.57% in favor) to create a new country known at the moment as South Sudan.  Although the votes have been counted the change over won’t be official until July of this year (2011.   Then, Sudan as it exists today will divide into a two countries.  The official name of the new country has yet to be announced.  But changes and planning are underway for this complex undertaking.

A recent article in Addis Neger, an Ethiopian newspaper, discusses some of the challenges that face the emerging nation (
The writer points out that outside its new borders there are regional conflicts that can spill over testing the new government when it needs to focus on nation building.  Further, internally the leadership will be challenged to create a unified culture within a society that has traditionally been built around clans rather than country.

But for all the difficulties that may be ahead it’s also possible to see opportunities arriving.  In the February 20 New York Times there was an article headlined “Long Arms Reach for the Rim”( telling us of a renewed excitement about basketball in South Sudan.  It tells us that players from South Sudan may now come to join US collegiate and professional teams.    According to the article these players are “versatile, freakishly athletic. ”  They will follow in the footsteps of the few Sudanese players who arrived before. Today only Luol Deng now in his seventh season with the Chicago Bulls represents Sudan in the NBA. Soon he may be joined by others representing country #196 still known as South Sudan.

While it’s easy to think mostly of the struggles ahead for the new country its important to recognize the opportunities will also appear.  Let’s be sure we look for the good news, celebrate it and cheer for the players as they arrive.

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