Monday, January 10, 2011

A Vote for Freedom

Sudan is the largest country in Africa and one of the most plagued with ethnic, religious, and economic conflicts. This week a referendum was held to determine if the southern part wishes to form an independent country. Western observers like former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, Koffi Annan, former UN Secretary General, and celebrities like George Clooney attended the vote.

"Many people here spoke in almost biblical terms about lifting themselves out of bondage. Sudan is a deeply divided country, and for decades, the southern third, which is mostly Christian and animist, has been dominated by Arab rulers from the north.

The Arab government prosecuted a vicious war against southerners, who have been chafing for their own separate state even before Sudan’s independence in 1956. The government forces and their proxy militias burned down villages, slaughtered civilians and even kidnapped southern children in slave trade for a life of involuntary servitude in the north. More than two million people were killed and many of the tactics used to suppress the insurrection in the south would be repeated in Darfur, in Sudan’s west."

Most polling places were packed, with lines thousands of people long. Election officials said the turnout was enormous.

“Today will go down in history,” said one participant, who arrived before dawn decked out in a natty gray suit, bright green shirt and purple tie. “I didn’t want to be left out.”