Dr. John Garang was born on June 23, 1945, the sixth of seven children in the small village of Wagkulei in central South Sudan. From 1952 through 1960 he conducted his studies at Tonj Primary School, Buseri Intermediate School, and Rumbek Senior Secondary School. His early academic achievements were recognized in the form of a scholarship to Grinnell University in The United States where he received a B. A. in economics in 1968. Garang was offered another scholarship to pursue graduate studies at University of California at Berkley, but instead he chose to return to Tanzania where he studied “East African Agricultural Economics” at the University of Dar El-Salaam. Here he befriended Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, now the current president of Uganda.
He started his career as a political activist in 1968 when he joined the Anya Nya One liberation movement, led by General Joseph Lagu Yanga. Despite conflict between the Sudanese forces and the opposition, they drafted Addis Ababa peace agreement. As a result, he ultimately became member of the Sudanese Army. He then returned to the United States to continue education by earning his Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Iowa State University. John returned to Sudan in 1976 where married the love of his life, Madam Rebecca Nyandeng, disregarding tradition prearranged marriage customs. The two shared a passion for political and social activism. The newlywed couple traveled back to Iowa State University where he earned his Ph.D. He then became a professor of Agriculture at the University of Khartoum.
After achieving the rank of Colonel in the Sudanese Army in 1980, Dr. Garang defied orders instructing him to eliminate a liberation movement similar to that of the Anya Nya One. Instead, he joined Samuel Gaitut, William Nyuon, and Karibino Kuanyin Bol in the creation of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and was named its first chairman. For the next twenty-two years, Dr. Garang and his colleagues fought for social equality and a free state of South Sudan.
The Sudanese government and the SPLM ultimately achieved written peace. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed on January 9, 2005, ending over two decades of war. The agreement was founded on power sharing principles, allowing Dr. Garang to become the first southerner to hold the position of First Vice President of Sudan. It also established him as the first President of the South Sudanese government. The CPA was a result of his undying will to liberate the people of South Sudan, and was the first step on the path leading toward the birth of South Sudan as a sovereign nation.
Unfortunately, Dr. Garang died before the Republic of South Sudan was officially established. A helicopter crash in the Imotong Mountain range prevented him from seeing his work develop into fruition. Nevertheless, his legacy lives on. His efforts to end inequality and foster peace in his homeland continue today. He is survived by his wife and their 6 children, 2 sons and 4 daughters.
Barely two years old, South Sudan is joining the modern world by emphasizing the role of digital media in its international politics. It is with this emphasis that the Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan in Washington DC has decided to go digital in hopes of providing basic information and answers to some of the frequently asked questions regarding South Sudan.
South Sudan is ready to make its imprint in the digital world and the launch of this website is a major step towards achieving that goal.
Akec Khoc Aciew
In August 2010, South Sudanese were invited to compose a national anthem.
After three rounds of competition, University of Juba students won with their lyrics titled "South Sudan Oyee" (Hurray)