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Monday, October 31, 2011

South Sudan: The Anglosphere’s Newest Member

By Walter Russell Mead

South Sudan, the world’s newest country, is applying to join the Commonwealth (formerly the British Commonwealth) and to join the East African Community, an economic grouping of mainly English speaking countries like Kenya and Tanzania. English will replace Arabic as the language taught in schools, though presumably that will have to be phased in.

Rwanda has also taken this route, shifting from a French educational system and aligning itself with the East Africa Community. (It isn’t joining the Commonwealth, which is normally open only to former British colonies and dominions; South Sudan was indirectly under British rule during the time when Egypt ruled Sudan and Britain ruled Egypt.)

The potential for a dynamic bloc of fast growing, English speaking countries in East Africa is real. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have their share of problems, but natural resources, a benign climate and steps toward better governance are creating conditions for a possible takeoff. South Sudan is making a smart choice, and the new approach will help aid donors shape a coherent strategy to help the country move down this path.

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