The Referendum...

It could easily be said that I am not a nationalistic/patriotic type of person. Those moments when I am filled with pride for nation are very few and far between and they always take me by surprise. One could argue that this lack of patriotic/nationalistic feeling stems from having moved around a lot or possibly of being the daughter of an immigrant, or maybe being too emotionally invested in multiple nations and cultures to really pledge wholehearted allegiance to just one.

I say this as a preface for you to understand the enormity of the pride and joy that I feel for the people of southern Sudan who began their week-long voting for secession yesterday. Of course this isn't my personal path, but having spent time in Sudan, I am deeply aware of and moved by the importance of this event for the south Sudanese people. To be fair, the referendum is to determine whether the south wants to remain a part of the north or become independent. Yet, anyone who as met a southerner or spent more than five minutes in Sudan knows what the outcome of this referendum will be. I remember being in Sudan way back in 2005 when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which laid the path for the referendum, was signed. At that time, I had found myself surrounded by so many people, old and young, who wept so hard with tears of joy, I was more than a little overwhelmed. Years later, with Sudanese pouring in from all over the region to not only cast their vote, but to start anew, I can only imagine what the atmosphere in the south of Sudan must be and I so wish I could be there to bare witness to this historic moment.

There is no arguing that upon independence, southern Sudan will be among the poorest places on earth with the challenges ahead seeming daunting at best. Yet, just the opportunity to face those challenges on their own terms is right that southern Sudanese have fought very hard to have. Today, my hopes for Sudan feels boundless....

You can click here for some basic information on what is going down in Sudan this week. The "living in Sudan" label to your right will also take you to the early days of this blog which started out as a journal of my time in Sudan.

{Photos: NYTimes + BBC + Enough Project}

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