By Nangayi Guyson – Juba -Southerner Sudan’s Rebecca Kadi Loburang Dinduch – thought to be the oldest voter who is expected to be between 100 -115 years according to her granddaughter, yesterday arrived at the polling station in a five-car convoy to cast her ballot for independence.
“Praise to God!” Rebbecca cried in the local Arabic dialect, wearing a white dress, a tiara and a chain of flowers around her neck, as she entered the voting room at Sadaka primary school in the south’s capital Juba on Wednesday.
The frail woman, who has watched as the region moved out of colonial rule to the years of war-torn union with the north, was carried into a wheelchair as she waved a secession flag at the ululating crowds who had gathered to watch her vote.
A polling worker guided her by her right hand and helped her place a finger on a tub of purple ink used to vote. On her left hand she wore a white lace glove.
‘Let us seperate’
She then joined millions of voters from the south who are thought to have chosen to separate from the mostly Muslim north in the referendum, a vote promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war.
“Let us separate. It is better after separation because everyone can live in peace. If I die now I will be very happy,” Rebecca told reporters through a translator.
Rebecca was born in Lanya county in south Sudan’s Central Equatoria state and bore 12 children.
“The best time is here today. There is not going to be war, there is going to be peace,” she said, before her friends and family cut short reporters’ questions saying she was tired.
Her granddaughter Sarah Modi told reporters she had memories of the years of British-Egyptian colonial rule, before Sudan declared independence in 1956.
“She says that during the time of the British, the British were not like the Arabs because from the British she could learn everything and the Arabs wanted to cheat our people. Because of this let us separate,” said Modi.
Most expect Rebecca’s wish for an independence vote will be granted. After she finished making her mark on the ballot paper, her wheelchair was carried back down the stairs of the polling centre and she was lifted back into the car.
After a pause the convoy drove off again, very slowly.
The voting is expected to take a full week to choose whether Sudan splits or remains one country.