Southern Sudan Feels Freedom Close at Hand

By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

This is a dream,” Mr. Nyuol said, “a dream we always hoped would come true, even if it took one thousand years.”

JUBA, Sudan — Philip Geng Nyuol started fighting for independence with his hands.

He eventually graduated to a machete, then Molotov cocktails, then a gun.

“I crossed rivers full of crocodiles,” he said. “And slept in camps in Congo. And ate wild fruits in the bush.”

That was nearly 50 years ago — Mr. Nyuol was on the ground floor of southern Sudan’s independence struggle, before the rebels even had proper weapons. The memories come flooding back to him, bright but patchy, like sun streaming through the trees.

After decades of war and more than two million lives lost, southern Sudan has arrived at the moment it has been yearning for, a referendum on independence. Polls opened on Sunday just after 8 a.m. local time. All signs point to the people here voting overwhelmingly for secession, and the largest country on the continent will then begin the delicate process of splitting in two. …

Read more : The New York Times

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