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A new country is born

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Rajan Datar | 17:50 UK time, Friday, 1 July 2011

This week's Over to You marks the birth of a new country.

In January 2011, a referendum on the independence of the southern region of Sudan was overwhelmingly passed, with 98% of the vote.

On the 9th July - just over six months later, the time will come for South Sudan to declare its independence, and with it, to step out of the shadow of the north.

It's a momentous event for Africa, and one that the World Service is marking with a series of programmes from 4th July to South Sudan's own independence day on 9th July.

In this week's programme, I speak to Vera Kwakofi, planning editor for the World Service's Africa output about the season of programmeswhich explores what secession means to both north and South Sudan, as well as its neighbours and the wider world.

We also discuss how the World Service and the Africa Service have long followed and reported the tumultuous history of Sudan and the South's long road to independence.

Before I met Vera, I talked to MathiasMuindi of the BBC's monitoring service, from his office in Nairobi about how the media landscape in South Sudan is beginning to take shape.

Traditionally, the government of the North has heavily restricted and censored the press, and Mathias told me of recent moves in the south which suggest that this isn't a situation that's likely to change when the Republic of South Sudan is born.

He told me about how, despite the poor infrastructure in the region, the internet and social media is slowly helping to assert journalistic independence, and put the reporting of news in the hands of the people - not the political powers intent on strict restriction of the media. But we also discussed the climate of censorship in the region that extends even to private media outlets, of which there are many.

Also on this week's programme, in the week the BBC Hindi Language and Arabic services were handed lifelines from the cuts affecting the World Service, we hear from one listener who believes the network now bares little resemblance to the one the Foreign Office originally agreed to fund, and as such, it should operate like a commercial broadcaster.

The cuts and the latest reprieve are issues we get a great deal of correspondence on, and please, keep telling us what you think of this and of World Service programmes.

Rajan Datar is the presenter of Over To You.

Over To You is your chance to have your say about the BBC World Service and its programmes. Broadcast times can be found by clicking here.

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Send the team your feedback by email (overtoyou@bbc.co.uk), telephone (44 144 960 9000), SMS (447786 202006) or by leaving comments on this blog

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