To the extent that the media spotlight is ever directed at Africa, it has focused on Darfur, in western Sudan, where several hundred thousand people have died in ethnic violence since 2003. Just next door, beyond the glare of the spotlight, however, is South Sudan, where an estimated 2.2 million people were killed in two decades of bitter internecine fighting. There, a fragile, three-year-old peace agreement is rapidly coming apart. A new conflagration in South Sudan would engulf Darfur, dwarf the carnage that has taken place so far in the region, and launch sub-Saharan Africa into the age of energy wars.
Both the danger — and its ethnic character — were brought home to me very personally in a single moment on a recent trip to South Sudan as I tried to tell myself that the two-year-old Dinka boy pointing a pistol at my chest meant no harm. But the pearl-handled automatic looked real enough. “Khawaja,” he said. (Dinka for “white person.”)
I was relieved when the man who was perhaps the toddler’s father, a big-bellied lieutenant colonel in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, grinned and held the bullet clip aloft to show he’d removed it from the gun. He was visibly a little drunk.
“He’s very intelligent boy,” he said proudly, “You see, he points the gun at you because he thinks you are Arab.” [complete article]
See also, Part two: the coming collision in Sudan (David Morse).