ANALYSIS - Southern Sudanese's 100 days of keenness

(Calgary AB NSV) - The inevitable break up of Sudan is about southchild100 days away, and southern Sudanese everywhere are taking notice. One might be tempted to call this sweeping phenomenon south Sudan-mania, were it expressed only out of sheer adulation of a soon-to-be birthed country—call it what you will—I say maybe “Cush Republic” (The United States government, in its parlance, calls its recent beefed up efforts in Sudan ahead of the referendum vote “Juba Surge.”)

But this prevailing atmosphere among southerners, exactly three months before independence, is unmistakably out of concern for the fate of the referendum. One comes head on with this reality whenever one talks to southerners or when one observes southern Sudanese's status updates on social network sites like Facebook.

Maybe Hon. Bashir Bandi of the SPLM comes close to defining what am trying to describe. In an apparent show of democracy in Khartoum this month-- during a debate on 'unity and separation' of the country-- he had this to say:

“If there is any time in the history of southern Sudan that the people of southern Sudan are united, it is this time.”

He went on to to say that “we are united and we have already decided our destiny” to be 'confirmed on January 9th.' “Anything short of that will not be accepted,” he said.

 That seems to capture the sentiment of the hour. The weight of history the people of southern Sudan attach to the vote is immense—to comprehend this is to witness how they rip into politicians who make offhand or outlandish statements they see as antithetical to their cause.  

It might be needless to reiterate Bandi on the south's pre-vote consensus on the outcome of the vote—even long before the people have taken to the polls.  However, the expectation for that seemingly pre-ordained destiny is palpable. For southerners, independence is a forgone conclusion. The only obstacle to that vision is Khartoum, they reason, and many of them are genuinely fearful of Khartoum's tract record of abrogation.

“The referenda must take place on time, for the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei to exercise their right to self-determination,” said southern Sudan President Salva Kiir last week at the UN high level meeting on Sudan. “This is the bottom line and a hard won right whose ultimate price is more than 4 million lives lost during the long two civil wars since independence in 1956,” he said.

What's more, the feeling that am trying to highlight is being championed in so many ways, by so many ordinary citizens. There are signs of hope everywhere on the horizon. From Valentino Achak's inspiring Marial Baai project to Daniel Akeny Thiong's Sudan Scholarship Foundation to Simon Deng's Freedom Walk 2010, and countless other individual initiatives-- the south is writing its own destiny.

When 12 year olds express alarm on their Facebook statuses at the delay of the registration for the referendum, then it gives one strength to note that we are all in this together.

Is it readiness? Is it excitement for the new country? Is it confidence?

Whatever it maybe, the people of southern Sudan are embracing that change, and they are saying “It's been a long time coming.”


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