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Martyrs' Day in South Sudan – July 30, 2023

Martyrs´Day in South Sudan is observed every July 30. This day commemorates the death of John Garang de Mabior, who was a Sudanese politician and revolutionary leader. During the Second Sudanese Civil War, he led the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

Following a peace agreement, he briefly served as First Vice President of Sudan for only three weeks until his death in a helicopter crash on July 30, 2005. The date of his death became marked as Martyr’s Day in South Sudan.

History of Martyrs' Day in South Sudan

Martyrs’ Day began six years ago, one year after Dr. John Garang was killed in a helicopter crash. John Garang de Mabior, born in June 1945, was a Sudanese politician and revolutionary leader. He led the Sudan People’s Liberation Army from 1983 to 2005 during the Second Sudanese Civil War, and following a peace agreement, he briefly served as First Vice President of Sudan for three weeks until his death in a helicopter crash on July 30, 2005.

He is also regarded as the founding father of the world’s newest country and a symbol of unity in today’s South Sudan is a member of the Dinka ethnic group. He was born in Wangulei village Twic East County in the upper Nile region of Sudan into a poor family. He became an orphan at the age of 10, so he had his fees for school paid by a relative. He went to schools in Wau and then Rumbek.

He joined the first Sudanese civil war in 1962, but because he was so young, the leaders encouraged him and other young boys of his age to seek an education. Garang was forced to complete his secondary education in Tanzania due to the ongoing fighting. After winning a scholarship, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics in 1969 from Grinnell College in Iowa, United States.

The Garang accident occurred near Uganda’s border with Sudan on Saturday. He was trying to get back to his base in southern Sudan from a meeting with Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s President. The helicopter belonging to the Ugandan government came down, apparently because of a lack of fuel, in bad weather. All of the people reported to have been on board, were killed. It is said Garang’s death could also expose serious internal “schisms” within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the rebel group Garang led for 22 years.

Martyrs' Day in South Sudan timeline

1945
John Garang de Mabior is Born

He is born in June into a poor family.

1962
He Joins the First Sudanese Civil War

However, he was so young so the leaders encouraged him and other young boys of his age to seek an education.

1983
He Becomes a Leader

He leads the Sudan People's Liberation Army until the date of his death.

2005
Garang is Killed

He is killed when the helicopter belonging to the Ugandan government comes down.

Martyrs' Day in South Sudan FAQs

Who is the hero of South Sudan?

It is said that Benard Nyataya is a real-life hero because he is an emergency responder who delivers food in South Sudan’s most dangerous places.

What is the capital of South Sudan?

The capital and largest city of Sudan is Juba.

Why are elderly people so respected in Sudan culture?

Elders receive the highest respect in Sudan culture because they are also considered a source of cultural knowledge, experience, and wisdom.

How to Observe Martyrs' Day in South Sudan

  1. Attend celebrations

    In Juba, solemn ceremonies take place each year to honor the memory of Garang and also of all who fought so valiantly for South Sudan during the long struggle for independence. A good option to celebrate this day is to attend these celebrations to get to know the culture.

  2. Take the day off

    This day is a public holiday in South Sudan, so many get the day off work and spend time with family and friends celebrating. The main idea of this day is to honor the prize they won and remember the price they paid.

  3. Listen to traditional songs

    Thousands of people sing traditional songs to celebrate this day. They also dance and wave small flags as a military parade passed by in downtown Juba.

5 Facts About South Sudan Culture

  1. Handicrafts

    South Sudan’s various indigenous groups are characterized by producing various handicrafts, such as basketry, net weaving, pottery, smelting, metalworking, and ivory.

  2. Music

    Music is an important part of the cultural traditions of South Sudan’s indigenous groups, as many ritual ceremonies are accompanied by singing and the playing of musical instruments.

  3. Institutions

    There is the Nyakuron Cultural Centre in Juba that hosts many cultural and social events and also the mausoleum of rebel leader John Garang.

  4. Sports

    The most traditional sport in South Sudan is wrestling.

  5. Media and publishing

    Radio is the most popular form of mass communication.

Why Martyrs' Day in South Sudan is Important

  1. John Garang is important for South Sudan

    He was important in building a new government of national unity and easing tensions between north and south Sudan after a 21-year civil war.

  2. It is a day to highlight the culture of South Sudan

    This day highlights the culture and tradition of South Sudan. People gather to sing, dance, and spend the day together sharing their traditions.

  3. It is a day to honor those who fought

    Moreover, the event is held each year to remember the sacrifices made by the two million people who died during the long civil war in Sudan. This war was the antecedent of South Sudan´s independence.

Martyrs' Day in South Sudan dates

YearDateDay
2023July 30Sunday
2024July 30Tuesday
2025July 30Wednesday
2026July 30Thursday
2027July 30Friday

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