Release/publication date : June 2013 Published on : 06/02/2013 Source : New York Times
How to Build a Country From Scratch: The filmmakers Florence Martin-Kessler and Anne Poiret present a 12-step program to establish the world's newest country: South Sudan.
In 2011, we embarked on the first of four trips to Juba, the soon-to-be capital of South Sudan. Our mission as filmmakers was to follow the "state builders" - those people in the South Sudanese government and in the United Nations who would be on the front line of implementing, step by step, a road map for the world's newest state.
Again and again, we heard about the "challenges" ahead. This was no understatement: the nascent nation had just a few short paved roads for a territory about the size of France; no infrastructure; no public services to speak of; no justice system, let alone law or order. The area was lush with weapons, rife with ethnic violence and in the midst of a tense divorce with its northern half.
Even in the best of cases, it can be a daunting task to carve new countries out of old ones. You don't just draw new borders on a whim, especially in Africa. But in this case, the United States and the international community strongly supported South Sudanese independence. There were many reasons, not least a sense of moral obligation. The South Sudanese rebels were considered the good guys. They had been the underdogs, winning their war of liberation against an oppressive government in the Arab north. This was a historic moment. Who didn't want to be on the right side of history?