News / USA

NBA Star Registers to Vote in Southern Sudan Independence Referendum

NBA star Luol Deng
NBA star Luol Deng

Multimedia

Kane Farabaugh

On January 9, the people of Southern Sudan will cast their vote for, or against, independence from the north.  The referendum is part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace agreement between the South and the government in Khartoum.  As many as four million people from Southern Sudan live outside the country, including NBA basketball star Luol Deng, who plays for the Chicago Bulls.

On a cold night in the city of Chicago, an icon in the Southern Sudanese community is preparing for an historic moment in his homeland.

Chicago Bulls basketball player Luol Deng, originally from Sudan, is registering to vote in the January 9 Southern Sudan independence referendum at a polling location in Chicago.

The 2.06 meter tall 25-year-old stresses the importance of the moment he will share with approximately four million other Southern Sudanese living outside the country.

"There's been a civil war going on for a long time, and a lot of lives were lost and a lot of people fought for this day coming up," said Deng.  "It's just really important because the one thing that we got to do right now is put in your input, let your voice be heard.  Make it out and make the decision and let your vote count so we can go forward."

The basketball forward's outlook on moving forward in Sudan is tempered by concerns the voting results could spark increased violence, or another civil war.

"Everyone is thinking about it," said Deng.  "But like I said, that's going to come afterward.  I don't think you can think about that so much right now - that's for other people to prevent it.  That's for the bigger government to watch it and to watch the referendum to make sure the whole thing happens in peace.  But you know as an individual and as every other Southern Sudanese just do your part.  Go out and vote, just do your part."

Concerns of violence in Sudan have not slowed the steady stream of voters traveling to Chicago from across the country.

"This is one of the seven centers across the U.S. and its being facilitated by the International Organization of Migration which is has been implementing the out of country voting for the referendum," noted Agnes Oswaha, a Consular Officer for the Government of Southern Sudan's Mission to the United Nations.  She is an observer at the Chicago location, which was a late addition to the number of centers in the United States where Sudanese could register to vote in the upcoming referendum.

"Given how the Southern Sudanese are spread across the United States, nearly they reside in forty states, so this center has been very crucial to those who live closer to the Chicago area," added Oswaha.

Oswaha says more than 200 voters registered in Chicago, the same location where Luol Deng will return in January to make his mark on Sudan's future.

When he does, he says he will also be symbolically casting a vote for another fellow NBA star who was a transformational figure in Deng's life.  Manute Bol, also from Southern Sudan, taught him how to play basketball, and what it means to be from Southern Sudan.

"I think he would be out there trying to encourage everyone to go out there and vote," said Deng.  "I think Manute showed all of us how much Sudan meant to him.  Just since he started playing he always put Sudan out there and he always tried to put the attention on what is going on and was very successful in doing so."

Manute Bol did not live long enough to see the vote for independence in his homeland.  He died on June 19.

"We miss him and wish he was here to see this happening," added Deng.  "It's up to us now to follow his footsteps to where he started and just do our part like he did his part."

Despite concerns about violence, allegations of harassment toward media covering the process in Sudan, and issues with voter registration, the referendum is on track to take place on January 9.

You May Like

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid