It was no surprise when the news came out that the Egyptian government has granted scholarships to South Sudanese to study there. It is not news for the obvious reasons.
Any common man in the streets of South Sudan knows what Egypt was after: the Nile. Egypt was so nervous about the Nile waters that it can do anything to avoid people use the water! The Egyptian involvement in South Sudan goes far back in history.
Following the Addis Ababa Agreemnt in 1972 that brought an end to the first civil war, Egypt offered hundreds of scholarship for South Sudanese. This was also in order to secure the digging of the controversial Jongule Canal. It was controversial because of the environmental impact to the ecoystem in the sudd region.
What is new this tme round? With the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005, South Sudan has for the first time the right to vote in a referundum for unity or separation. Egypt was openly opposed to the separation of South Sudan and initially opposed the article on separation during the peace negotiations. Now that it is already signed, Egypt wants to strengthen relationship with South Sudan and influence the results of the referundum.
It will take more than Egyptian meddling and Arab World interference to change the course of history. The drive to make "unity attractive" is never going to work. South Sudanese need genuine effort of reconciliation, not thinly veiled attractive packages.
It was only last December 31, that many South Sudanese refugees died in the Egyptian capital at the hands of their notorious police. It is still fresh in the minds of the people.
Our sons and daughters can go to Egypt for education, but that will never be an influence during referundum come 2011! Like a beautiful maiden, it will not be easy to win the heart of South Sudan.