Starting Over in Sudan

June 27, 2011  |  

(Newsweek) — Nyagoa Nyuon is a willowy, striking woman of illustrious stock. Her father was a leading rebel commander; her mother one of the first women to join the militia that sought the independence of South Sudan. In 1986, when she was just 5 years old, her father sent her family into exile to protect them from a raging civil war, a conflict that over time killed roughly 2 million people. William Nyuon Bany, one of the founders of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, knew that because of his profile, his family was particularly at risk, and so he dispatched eight of his nine wives abroad, along with dozens of his children. Some landed in Kenya, but others went as far afield as Cuba, Australia, Britain, and the United States.  When her father was killed 10 years later in circumstances that remain unclear, the plan for a joyful reunion with his family died. But for Nyagoa Nyuon, her father’s legacy was one of the main motivations for returning to South Sudan. “I told my mom I would come back…for the celebration” of the peace agreement that ended the civil war, says Nyuon. “My mom said, ‘You should be here. This is what your father started.’?”

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