28 Sep 2011
While the status of transborder families remains unclear in Sudan, where recent legislation reportedly rules out dual citizenship, their fate appears clearer in nascent South Sudan.
The Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan (2011) recognizes dual citizenship and allows non-natives to acquire nationality by naturalization (acquisition of citizenship for legal residents born elsewhere).
Moreover, the document allows every person born to a South Sudanese mother or father an inalienable right to enjoy South Sudanese citizenship and nationality.
But mixed marriages could still pose a dilemma for families now split by the new border or northerners wishing to retain their original nationality.
To learn how people feel about this issue, South Sudan Oyee spoke with Sudanese and South Sudanese in transnational marriages in the Bahr El-Ghazal and Upper Nile regions.
John Macot Manyang, a South Sudanese Dinka from Rumbek in Lakes State, has been married to Afaf Juma Kalo, a Sudanese Nuba lady from Hiban in South Kordofan State. They currently live in Malakal, Upper Nile State, and have seven children.
"(Citizenship) will not be a big issue that can keep my wife away from her family and relatives in the other part of Sudan. My wife deserves the right of citizenship here in the south because she is my wife and also the right to citizenship in the north because she is from there," said Mr. Manyang who works for an international agency in Malakal.
Mr. Manyang felt confident that the issuance of passports would ease movement between the two countries.
"The passport that will be issued in South Sudan is an international document which I can use with my family to visit the relatives of my wife in North Sudan. My in-laws could also come to visit us here, to visit their daughter and her children, using the same means, just like if I want to travel to America I would use (a) passport."
Omer Abdullah from Matama District in Shendi, Sudan, came to Western Bahr El-Ghazal State of South Sudan in 1976. He established a retail business for food commodities in Jau Market, Wau. He is married to Amjuma Fadil Abdurrahman, a South Sudanese from the Furuge tribe of Raja County in Western Bahr El-Ghazal.
"If I am not expelled by the government, I will never leave South Sudan. I am ready to take up its citizenship," said Mr. Abdullah. He appealed to citizens of South Sudan to respect Sudanese who stay in South Sudan. Mr. Abdullah also urged Sudanese traders to abstain from politics and concentrate on their business, while respecting the government and laws of South Sudan.
Suleiman Mohammed Zein Abdin, 42, is a Sudanese from Omdurman who settled in Northern Bahr El-Ghazal State. He runs a restaurant in the state capital Aweil and is married to Abuk Deng, a Dinka with whom he has two children.
"I am more than ready to acquire South Sudan nationality and live here with my children" said Mr. Abdin, whose business interests extend to Wau in Western Bahr El-Ghazal State, where his family resides as well as Nairobi and Kampala.
Kalaf-allah Iddris Al-bala from Gezira State has been living in Wau, Western Bahr El-Ghazal State, since 2003. He runs a motorcycle and bicycle parts shop in Hai Kosti. The 44-year-old is married to Assunta Batista Kpaile from the Balanda community.
"Wau Town is my home and I will live here as a businessman for the rest of my life," Mr. Al-bala said. His wife, who is a partner in their spare parts shop, said her husband encouraged her to get into business.
"I am happy to be his wife and since we got married I have not seen any kind of mistreatment from Kalaf-allah," said Ms. Kpaile.
She called on Wau residents to view all Sudanese married to South Sudanese as citizens of the Republic of South Sudan, now that they are willing to stay in South Sudan.