This is the final resting place of Dr John Garang de Mabior, who led the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) from 1983 up to 2005, when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed, paving the way for the independence of South Sudan, declared in 2011. But John Garang did not witness it: he died in a helicopter crash shortly after being sworn in as First Vice President of Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan. His sudden death sent shockwaves throughout the country. He was replaced by Salva Kiir Mayardit, South Sudan’s current president.
Under tight control of the Sudanese government during the 1983-2005 civil war, Juba was regularly shelled and even partially captured by the SPLA in 1992. But the rebels never managed to conquer the city. They came into town for the first time in two decades on the occasion of John Garang’s funeral. On July 9, 2011, it’s on this site, next to John Garang’s grave, that his old comrade Salva Kiir proclaimed the independence of South Sudan.
Throughout the years, John Garang Mausoleum has been built up into a complex dedicated to public events, rallies and celebrations. The grave itself sits behind a gate with thick bars, and the vast piece of land surrounding it is fenced, closed to the public and constantly guarded by soldiers. Across the street that passes through the site, facing the structure dedicated to VIPs and official speakers, the public attendance area harbours a large statue of the late leader, his stick raised, showing direction. Behind this vast field, other structures meant for public activities have been developed, among which Freedom Hall, which hosts concerts and events of all sorts. Next to it, plans had been made to erect a National Archives building and a National Museum; civil war has disrupted those plans.
Next to the John Garang Mausoleum, the National Parliament and the Ministries complex were built between 1974-1978, during the rule of the Regional Government established by the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement in 1972.