At church we spent the service in prayer for this nation’s leaders and especially for peace. It’s a historic moment. I’m glad I get to be a part of it.
This afternoon, I was able to visit the voting stations and see history unfold for myself. In spite of the afternoon heat, dozens queued happily for their chance at the blue inked ballot. Since most of the Southerners are illiterate, they are casting their vote by putting a fingerprint beside one of two images. If they want to stay a part of the North, they must choose two hands clasped together in unity. If they want independence, they must put their mark beside the hand waving goodbye. And as they leave the polling station, they must dip their finger in permanent blue dye, to prevent them from voting over and over again.
Snapping off a few pictures of the crowds, I could feel excitement and hope hanging in the air. The day had finally come....and it only took 55 years.
|Polling station at neighborhood school.|
He explained that the Southern Sudanese wanted independence in the 1950s but it was denied them. In 1955, a group by the name of “Anyanya” (Rebellion in Dinka) declared war and started fighting the North for freedom. War continued until 1972, when a peace agreement was brokered.
In that agreement, the South was awarded semi-autonomy and a budget to run its own affairs. For this concession, they agreed to remain a part of Sudan and not insist on secession anymore. However, it only lasted 10 years.
|Women waiting in line to vote.|
In 2005, a powerful and well educated SPLA director, John Garang negotiated another peace agreement with the North. But this time the South refused to settle for autonomy. Independence and nothing but independence would do. They would put it to a vote -- thus today’s referendum.
|Excited to cast their votes in this historic event.|
I’m told he was not asking for independence as we see it today. He was pushing for Sudan to remain one country but with a new constitution that protected religious freedom. He no longer wanted Sudan to be considered a ‘Muslim’ country; but one where even a Christian could be president.
|Hanging around after the vote, holding registration cards. |
A nation’s hopes, fears and future rest on what happens this week in the polls. Everyone believes independence is assured, so long as Bashir keeps his word. Pray that he does. Also pray that with independence strong, godly leaders will carry this neonate of a nation toward peace. May it one day be called a Christian nation.
Here is an inside peak at the voting process...
|Police guard monitoring that voting goes unmolested.|
|After voting, he dipped his finger in blue dye.|
|Evidence that his vote is cast.|