How to Build a Country From Scratch

After half a cen­tu­ry of war, the peo­ple of south­ern Sudan vot­ed in ear­ly 2011 to break away from the Sudan and cre­ate their own inde­pen­dent state. The Repub­lic of South Sudan, formed in July of 2011, has its work cut out for it. South Sudan is one of the poor­est and least devel­oped nations in the world, with only a few paved roads in a ter­ri­to­ry the size of France. In most areas of the coun­try there is no for­mal legal sys­tem. And accord­ing to the Unit­ed Nations, more than half of its 9 mil­lion peo­ple live in a con­di­tion of food inse­cu­ri­ty.

In the year and a half since break­ing out on its own, South Sudan has man­aged to under­mine its rep­u­ta­tion as the “good guys” by arrest­ing jour­nal­ists, shoot­ing down a U.N. heli­copter, expelling a U.N. human rights offi­cer and using its mil­i­tary to seize an oil field in Sudanese ter­ri­to­ry. Mean­while, in a coun­try sat­u­rat­ed with weapons, fight­ing has bro­ken out among var­i­ous eth­nic groups.

So there is an ele­ment of irony in the title of this “Op-Doc” from the New York Times by inde­pen­dent film­mak­ers Flo­rence Mar­tin-Kessler and Anne Poiret. How to Build a Coun­try From Scratch (above) is a nine-minute excerpt from a fea­ture-length doc­u­men­tary that Mar­tin-Kessler and Poiret are work­ing on, called State Builders. The film­mak­ers made four trips to Juba, the largest city and pro­vi­sion­al cap­i­tal of South Sudan, to doc­u­ment the daunt­ing process of cre­at­ing a new nation. “Our mis­sion as film­mak­ers,” they wrote this week in the Times, “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.”

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.