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The long wait for freedom: How a 115-year-old woman was delighted to vote in Sudan referendum

28 Jan 2011

Mama Rebecca votes in the Sudan referendumA defining moment for the South Sudanese people, the Sudan referendum is bound to have major implications for the African continent and rest of the world.

Steering away from the usual political and social analysis of what could soon be the world's newest nation, this post celebrates the spirit of the voters and of one voter in particular.

Mama Rebecca Kadi Loburing Dinduch, a 115-year-old woman voted for separation in the Sudan referendum on 12 January, in Juba, capital of the Republic of South Sudan.

Speaking to the Press in Juba Arabic, Mama Rebecca Dinduch said: "I give thanks to God for keeping me alive up this day so that I can vote for the freedom of this country".

Oldest voter in the Sudan referendum

Thought to be the oldest person to vote in the referendum, Kadi has seen many changes in Sudan in her lifetime.

The country has gone from colonial rule to a long and devastating civil war...and now, she hopes to independence.

Mama Rebecca said: "Let us separate. It is better after separation because everyone can live in peace. If I die now I will be very happy".

Waving a secession flag at the crowd gathered around her and wearing a white lace glove in her left hand, Mama Rebecca joins the rest of the millions believed to have voted for separation from the North.

"Let Salva Kiir lead people as God wants because there is no other way we can stay with Arabs. I want to tell him that he is put in power by God, because God chooses good people like Salva Kiir to take his people to the Promised Land," said Mama Rebecca.

Her granddaughter, Sarah Modi, says Mama Rebecca has always talked about the importance of independence from the north.

Translating for Mama Rebecca she adds that "she is not voting for herself but for the young ones".

It might be too early for celebrations and the road ahead is going to be tough, but this cannot and should not invalidate the spirit accompanying the voting process.

South Sudan's day has been long overdue and Mama Rebecca is surely a symbol of this wait.

The results of the referendum are due on February 14.

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Navdha Malhotra
Job title: Media assistant

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