9 July 2011 – Thousands of Northern Bahr El- Ghazal State residents gathered to celebrate South Sudan's Independence Day with joy and cheer at Freedom Square in the state capital Aweil.
The colorful event attracted government officials, military and police officers as well as representatives from UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, civil society, students and youth, women and religious groups.
State Governor Gen. Paul Malong Awan said the Republic of South Sudan was achieved through the united and firm determination of its people. "Had it not been for the determination of our people, peace would not have been realized and we would not have seen this day."
Gen. Awan urged the populace to invest in agriculture to safeguard food security in the state. "I hereby urge all of you to go and cultivate your land so that our state will achieve food security and prosperity. The new nation requires many efforts from all of us in order to be peaceful, stable and self sufficient."
But the governor noted that there were still unresolved issues from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement era facing the new nation. "While we have attained our independence, many challenges lie ahead of us, including border demarcation, Abyei protocol, national debt, and distribution of resources."
During the event, different congratulatory messages were read from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the United States and Ethiopian, Eritrean and Ugandan residents residing in the state.
The people, who began celebrating at midnight today, converged in the main streets of Aweil cheering, drumming, chanting slogans of freedom and justice and waving the Republic of South Sudan flag.
"The day is a very historical day in my life as well as in others lives, as it enables us to have our own nation for the first time in life," said Juba University graduate and Aweil resident Angelo Akok Deng.
The 27-year-old said he hoped for a stable and prosperous nation. "Today as we raised the flag of our newly born nation, we hope that we will overcome all our problems."
Stephen Ayanga, a 43-year-old government employee said that independence of South Sudan meant a lot to the people of South Sudan.
"Today is a special and historical day for the people of South Sudan, who have been struggling to achieve independence for a long time," the Mr. Ayanga said.
Governor Gen. Awan urged all residents to unite and work for peace and development.
"I call on the people of Northern Bahr El-Ghazal State to put behind all their differences and open a new chapter for a new nation," he said. "Let us forgive each other and unite for the sake of our country - the Republic of South Sudan."
The state government thanked neighboring countries as well as the international community for assisting the people of South Sudan during their independence struggle.