Egyptians recently converged on the streets of Cairo to demand the ouster of a leader they accused of being out of touch and unaccountable to his people. Seventeen-hundred miles to the south, another crowd poured into the streets of Juba to celebrate the January referendum results favoring independence for southern Sudan. The two mass gatherings were radically different, but the southern Sudanese would do well to keep their eyes on Egypt. The overthrow of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak serves as the most recent reminder that the interplay between people and government can make or break a country.
The birth of southern Sudan as a new nation promises to be a historic moment for the African continent. But southern Sudan's leaders have a lot of work ahead of them if they are to disprove many analysts who have already dubbed it "the next failed state."