News / USA

NBA Star Registers to Vote in Southern Sudan Independence Referendum

NBA star Luol Deng
NBA star Luol Deng

Multimedia

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.


Kane Farabaugh

Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs