'The Nation Makers'
Africa's largest country has officially split in two. The Republic of South Sudan is the world's newest nation, achieving independence on July 9th 2011, following Africa's longest-running civil war. South Sudan has become the 193rd country to join the United Nations. Optimism is high - 98% of voters chose secession - but the new government has almost no capacity to run a small town, let alone a country. Every South Sudanese knows that the new state, the least developed country on earth, faces immense challenges.
Many of South Sudan's political bosses are former rebel fighters who have lived through a lifetime of war. The long-suffering population are mainly poor, completely uneducated, and living in conditions described by the UN as ‘the least developed place on earth’. The country has oil reserves promising vast revenues which could kick-start development, but $20 billion dollars in oil revenue is already unaccounted for. The capital has grown from little more than a village to a booming city over the past few years. Deals are being made in South Sudan's new, inexperienced ministries, and the future of South Sudan is up for grabs. Foreigners here are either running charities trying to give money away, or oil companies and entrepreneurs trying to suck profit out of the country as quickly as possible.
Zed Nelson's acutely observed environmental portraits reveal the new power structures of South Sudan’s inexperienced ruling elite, and the adventurers, businessmen and aid workers who have descended on this fledgling nation. Capturing an unsettling mix of optimism and brooding menace, Nelson takes us behind the scenes with those who help create and exploit a brand new country. Newly appointed government ministers, diplomats, UN chiefs, World Bank representatives, Chinese entrepreneurs, national beauty queens...everyone contributing to and feeding off the birth of this fledgling nation.