SLPA Day is a holiday that’s observed annually on May 16th in South Sudan. The purpose of this holiday is to commemorate the foundation of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army on this date in 1983. This is a public holiday that’s a day off for the general population, and a holiday on which schools, government offices, and many businesses are closed.

It’s also a day that’s celebrated with various government activities and cultural events. These can include military parades, festivals, musical events, dancing, and food. It’s a day for friends and family to get together as well to enjoy the day.

The History of SLPA Day in South Sudan

Founded as a rebel movement on May 16, 1983, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army was an organization that was led by Commander-in-Chief John Garang de Mabior and is known as the SPLA. The purpose of this organization was to make South Sudan an independent and autonomous nation within a united Sudan.

It would engage in military activities against the Sudanese government that led to the Second Sudanese Civil War. This civil war would last until 2005. The holiday commemorating this event has been observed since 2005, even though the name of the organization was changed to the South Sudan People’s Defense Force in 2018.

Interesting Facts About South Sudan

Let’s check out a few facts about South Sudan that we would like to discuss before moving on to the discussion of how SLPA Day is observed.

  • This country has a low GDP—despite its wealth from oil.
  • South Sudan has a very poor healthcare and education system.
  • Most of the population gets by on subsistence farming and raising livestock.
  • South Sudan has a population of approximately 13 million people.

Observing SLPA Day in South Sudan

As we mentioned earlier, this holiday is observed with parades, festivals of all kinds, and street parties. It’s also observed with concerts, plays, and other events. Mainly, people gather together for this holiday and enjoy communal meals with family members and friends.

Where is it celebrated?
South Sudan (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
May 16 Thursday
Next year (2025)
May 16 Friday
Last year (2023)
May 16 Tuesday