JUBA, Sudan — On the desk in his office in Juba, the capital of what will soon be the world’s newest country, R. Barrie Walkley, the American consul general, has a telling picture. It is of him and George Clooney shaking hands in a crowd during the independence referendum here in southern Sudan in January.
The photograph offers a unique window into what is happening now. American celebrities and religious groups teamed up with policy makers and helped a forlorn, underdog region finally achieve what very few separatist movements achieve: independence. On Saturday, after decades of guerrilla struggles and intense international pressure, the Republic of South Sudan will officially split off from the north and become Africa’s 54th country.