On 9 July 2011 South Sudan separated from the North and became the world’s 193th country and Africa’s 54th state. But internal division is pretty much alive, despite a landslide vote for independence in January’s referendum.

Ethnically clashes have always been a source of instability in this area, that’s why clan chiefs of the Dinka and Nuer tribes – the two largest ethnic groups in South Sudan – held peace talks in Kuajok, Warrap state, in March.

Dressed in western suits topped by cowboy hats, with striped sashes indicating their rank and impressive scarification patterns on the face marking their ethnic identity, the 54 clan chiefs agreed to suitable compensations for the loss of cattle and human lives in recent ethnic clashes, and signed a peace resolution in the name of the common future awaiting both the Dinka and the Nuer people in an independent South Sudan.

Even though ethnic peace is fundamental to the new state, officials come to attend the peace talks from the neighboring states have little hope that this resolution will be effective in stopping the hatred that divides the country. As one of them put it: “The devils from outside brought it here”, referring to the North Sudan regime. The recent attack by the North Sudan armed forces to the contested border town of Abyei looks like a confirmation of how complex the separation between the North and the South of Sudan is going to be.

text © Valentina Tordoni