First Raise A Flag
How South Sudan Won the Longest War but Lost the Peace
A beautifully written first-hand account of how bitter and deadly rivalries dashed the hopes of the world’s newest nation.
When South Sudan’s war began, the Beatles were playing their first hits and reaching the moon was an astronaut’s dream. Half a century later, with millions massacred in Africa’s longest war, the continent’s biggest country split in two.
It was an extraordinary, unprecedented experiment. Many have fought, but South Sudan did the impossible, and won. This is the story of an epic fight for freedom. It is also the story of a nightmare. First Raise a Flag details one of the most dramatic failures in the history of international state-building. Three years after independence, South Sudan was lowest ranked in the list of failed states. War returned, worse than ever.
Peter Martell has spent over a decade reporting from palaces and battlefields, meeting those who made a country like no other: warlords and spies, missionaries and mercenaries, guerrillas and gunrunners, freedom fighters and war crime fugitives, Hollywood stars and ex-slaves. Under his seasoned foreign correspondent’s gaze, he weaves with passion and colour the lively history of the world’s newest country.
First Raise a Flag is a moving reflection on the meaning of nationalism, the power of hope and the endurance of the human spirit.
Peter Martell has reported from South Sudan for more than a decade, including as the BBC correspondent in Juba for the three key years around independence. He later ran AFP’s East Africa bureau as its news editor.
‘Peter Martell arrived earlier and stayed longer than any of us who covered South Sudan’s independence and the bloody catastrophe that followed. Here he reveals the foundation of his insightful, precise reports: a deep, first-hand knowledge of the centuries of history of how the world’s newest nation came to be, stuffed with insightful research, delightful details and searing lessons for those bright-eyed foreigners of yesterday and today so in love with their own idea of freedom that they feel they must impose it on others. Lyrical, revelatory, quietly outraged and deeply moving.’ — Alex Perry, author of The Rift: A New Africa Breaks Free