Juwama vs. the Nile Republic – South Sudan searches for a new name

June 14, 2010

salvakiirWhat’s in a name? An entire cultural and national identity if you are from Sudan’s oil-producing south.

The region of southern Sudan is now less than seven months away from a referendum on whether it should split away to form Africa’s newest country.

One of the biggest unanswered questions hanging over the vote is what the new nation should call itself if, as widely expected, embittered southerners choose to secede.

The easiest option would be to stick to what people call it now — South Sudan or Southern Sudan.

But there are some serious branding issues. Say “Sudan” to most outsides and they will immediately think of a list of nasties — Darfur, the never-ending north-south civil war, military coups, militancy and crippling debt.

A new nation might be grateful for a new name with a clean slate.

Equatoria has a nice ring to it. But that would associate the entire diverse territory with just three of its current states — Western and Eastern Equatoria, together with Central Equatoria, the home of the capital Juba.

New Sudan is catchy but perhaps a little presumptuous. Old Sudan would not be happy.

Steve Bloomfield, author of the recently published “Africa United: How Football Explains Africa” has already plumped for The Nile Republic, after the White Nile that cuts through the territory and seeps through its vast Sudd swamplands.

Calling the new country the Nile Republic could instantly transform its image. It is a positive, popular brand known all around the world … The Nile Republic would also have to come up with a way of describing its citizens. The word “Nilotic” already refers to ethnic groups in Sudan, Uganda and Kenya.

Not bad. But, as Bloomfield points out, it might create a few jitters downstream in Egypt where the authorities are growing increasingly paranoid about other Nile-side countries’ efforts to take some their share of the river’s water.

Benjamin Goro Gimba on Monday threw a whole list of options into the mix in a column in the Citizen newspaper. Kush, the Nile State, the Anyidi Democratic Republic all had differing historical precedence. He wrote:

I came across an underground name for southern Sudan – Juwama. This name was derived from the first two letters of the regional capitals of Juba, Wau and Malakal … I will personally go for the Democratic Republic of Juwama.

Any other ideas? The debate has just begun.

(Photo: South Sudan President Salva Kiir casts his ballot during election in Juba, south Sudan, April 11, 2010. Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)


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this good to hear that my christian brothers will soon be on her feet.GOD bless the nile republic,God bless JUWAMA.it will soon be a story for us BIAFRA’S in Nigeria.

Posted by ifydechu | Report as abusive

Juwama!!! Now that is a name you can get behind…

Posted by gigglingbob | Report as abusive

I am personally very series and demanding about what S.S’s new name will be.I second to the name The Nile Republic.However,my appeal goes to those citizens who might suggest for a more better name to reserve our identity of the Nile.Good luck.
Isaac Khamis

Posted by AMOSSON | Report as abusive

In what constitutes (North Sudan) today, there is a Blue Nile State and a White Nile State already. Jawama and not (Juwama) is a tribe in Kurdofan, but even if that Name was available it is very generic and has no character what so ever and Wau or Malakal might change name and leave the country’s Name stranded and render it meaningless. Also, we have North and South Korea and we had East and West Germany, they exist and existed side by side with issues – So North Sudan and South Sudan will not be mistaken or associated with the current Sudan stigmas which I guess is already decided that will ALL be inherited by the North Sudan like the foreign debts and past North/South war. What makes anyone thinks all troubles will end by a vote for cessation really surprises and troubles me greatly!!! I hope the Sudanese politicians come to their senses and evaluate the costs/benefits of staying together or go their separate way carefully as both people stand to lose on this one. I say the politicians and not the people since I know many of the people in Sudan (both North and South) do not have sufficient information or the technical knowledge to decide on the ramifications of the birth of a new landlocked country in Africa!.

Posted by Magdi | Report as abusive

[…] (za Reuters – Africa Blog wed?ug Andrew Heavens) […]

Posted by Nowy Sudan – Republika Nilu! « Sudan / Sudan Po?udniowy 2010-2012 | Report as abusive

I have an idea. How about you take the names of the three territories that make up South Sudan ( Equatoria, Bar El Ghazal and Upper Nile)and combine them to make up a name for the would be new country.
1. Equatoria===== Equa
2. Bar El Ghazal==Bah
3. Upper Nile==== Unile

Step 2: combine them and you will get;


Step 3: reduce wording and you will get;

Quabahunia….The Republic of Quabahunia

NB: Off course, this is just my suggestion. Let see where it will go………

NB: Off course this is just a suggestion.

Posted by Ramkel | Report as abusive

I think Janubia is the best name.

janub = “south” in Arabic. It can also be interpreted as having a connection to Nubia, or to being “South of Nubia.”
Plus, it’s fitting with the capital being Juba.

Posted by VoronX | Report as abusive

[…] One is the name of the new country itself – the popular shorthand has been South Sudan, but a range of other possibilities exist: “The easiest option would be to stick to what people call it now — South Sudan or Southern […]

Posted by Pressing reset on new states « Nick Chan | Report as abusive

IMHO, the name has to be simple, easy-to identify, and geographically anchored.

amongst its very advantages, “Upper Nile Republic” holds easily the line with this ‘upper’ temper, that can be seen as a switch to progress from a lower state.

Everybody connects with the name of the Nile, and there is absolutely no chance that Egyptians would take an option on “Lower Nile Republic”, nor Sudanese with “Middle Nile Republic”, so South sudanese are on the way to benefit of the great Nile name for their own.

Apart from that, Darfur (on the West side of Sudan) should be connected to Chad, because of its geographical identity which has no connections with the Nile Valley.

And North Sudan should keep the ‘Sudan’ name.

Posted by tdebout | Report as abusive

I do not like “Republic” nor “Democratic” in a country’s name. Neither of the above names suggested is not good. Forget about Juwama, Nile republic, forget about anything “South”, “New” or “Sudan” or any abbreviations. Do not make a big mistake and do not call it “South Sudan”! Southern Sudan is going to be a completely new country dominated by Africans. Call the new country – SHAMBE after the National Park. It sounds African. Or the best of the offered names otherwise would be JANUBIA. Another quite good one would be NILOTIA. I would also propose: CHRISTIANIA or AFROCHRISTIA. Also if you like to still use “Sudan” in the country’s name then name it: SUDANOAFRA. I hope to become a birth father for the new country’s name 😉

Posted by STOP-CHEMTRAILS | Report as abusive

Isn’t it obvious? JEBELIA, of course, after the Bahr el Jebel, which runs through the country. It sounds much more like a real country name than those other names. Nile Republic sounds unimaginative, and Equatoria sounds way too much like Ecuador.

Posted by 54markl | Report as abusive