Southern Sudanese now living in Australia, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, United Kingdom, or the United States, if they meet all qualifications, may vote in the Referendum.
AYUEL LEEK DENG VOTES FROM THE DIASPORA:
Finally I voted for secession.
Sudan’s historic referendum successfully concludes as many Southern Sudanese people cast their votes on January 9, 2011 with confidence of secession for independence of Southern Sudan. The outcomes of the voting and the voices of Southern Sudanese people are predictable that the South will secede from the North. Comments and voices within the international community are promising and encouraging to the people of Southern Sudan. Our suffering during the oppression was a painful endurance for many years. Now it’s good that people all over the world have seen and witnessed our struggle and the need for our rights. We people of Southern Sudan, especially the Lost Boys of Sudan, were mistreated by our own government at an early age. We were bombarded from planes that destroyed our villages. Today most of us are internally and psychologically wounded due to the war. We witnessed horrible images and experienced seeing our friends die at such a young and innocent age.
On January 8, 2011 some of my fellow Southern Sudanese friends and I drove from Kansas City, Missouri to Omaha, Nebraska where a polling Centre is located. Although the weather forecast was for severe cold and snow over the weekend, covering the Midwest region, we sat down and prayed, asking God to guide all those Southern Sudanese People who would drive to vote in Nebraska. We stayed that night at a motel in Omaha, and early on Sunday morning at 5:45 I was shocked to get a phone call from one of my friends, Manyok Ajak. He said that he and his wife were waiting outside the polling Centre in the snow. The temperature was 14 degrees and the polling door for voting wouldn’t be open until 8:30 am. I believe that was great patriotism, and it simply shows how much Southern Sudanese people outside the country are concerned for the Referendum procedure.
At around 11: 45 am, I arrived at the polling Center and I have never seen such a population of Sudanese people together. Some were online and others singing freedom songs that were composed during the SPLA/SPLM movement. It was snowing heavily on them and the temperature was dropping but a spirit of loving and caring for their people in the South empowered and encouraged them to endure the severe weather. Some of the people spent almost 10 hours in the waiting line to vote outside the building. The American police have done an incredible work by helping people form lines and remain organized. I have seen and heard so many voices of concern and willing sacrifices among the southern Sudanese women and Lost Boys of Sudan outside the polling center. For example, one of the Lost Boys told me after he voted that “even if I die today, I will remain happy because I have cast my ballot on behalf my people and our late Leader John Garang.” I said to him, “Brother Dhel, please let our hopes remain strong so that we can rebuild Southern Sudan to make it better place for the next generations.”
I was so glad that the Referendum gave me a choice to decide, since I knew that my vote would count and it will make difference. I was thrilled and moved by my emotions. I was overwhelmed and very excited to be given a right as a US citizen to vote on behalf of my people. While I was sitting across the registration table face to face with the registrar, I almost collapsed, as the feeling inside me was getting stronger. While I held that voting card in my hands, it refreshed my memory. In my mind were my beloved cousins and brothers, young men, the heroes who have died in the struggle during the civil war, whose contributions gave us a chance to vote for our rights. To mention a few of them who died: Deng-Majok, Aleer Deng, Deng-Madot Leek Deng, Ayuel Deng Malual, Deng Chol Leek, Ayuel Aleer Deng, Jogaak Malual Deng, Malual Aleer Deng, Leek Malual Deng, Aleer Ajok Deng, Deng Youl Ader, Ayuel Leek Deng-Akol, Garang Deng Malual, Deng Gak Leek, and so many others. I did place my voting card as my tribune and respect to their sacrifices for our freedom, because I believe their bloodshed and struggle did not end in vain but for the freedom of our people. Without their sacrifices and struggles there would be no choice or idea of a Referendum, and it’s now best to remember them. Also, thanks to all of the SPLA fallen heroes for the cost of their bloodshed in sacrifices for us. We will remember them now and forever, and since from the day of January 9, 2011 on Sunday in Omaha, Nebraska, I have seen the flashing light of freedom in our country.
Ayuel Leek Deng, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . He lives in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.
BENY NGOR CHOL TELLS HIS EXPERIENCE
Both Ayuel and I went to Nebraska yesterday to vote. There was a long line standing outside in the snow and coldness, but our hope in freedom kept us warm. Like us, many Sudanese were excited to cast votes for the first time in their lives. Many of us looked into each other’s eyes and read the memories of those days long ago. We seemed to read that here we are casting votes that we all hope will bring a lasting peace to the big country known for genocide and human rights abuse. As we dropped the ballot in the box a tear dropped as well, for we missed the 2.5 million people who died in the civil war—many of them children as we were—that are supposed to enjoy this peace. However, the exercise brought smiles to our faces, and I hope it will continue to bring lasting happiness to my fellow Sudanese in the Diaspora and at home in South Sudan.
(Both Ayuel and Beny tell their experiences during Sudan’s civil war in Courageous Journey )