Southern Sudanese women dance outside a polling station in Cairo, 09 Jan 9 2011
Southern Sudanese women dance outside a polling station in Cairo, 09 Jan 9 2011

An overwhelming majority of southern Sudanese living in Cairo say they are enthusiastic about the referendum on their homeland's separation from the north.

In front of the Sudanese Embassy in Cairo?s once chic, but slightly overgrown Garden City neighborhood, people come and go and the employees appear busy stamping visas, passports and other documents.

The embassy is not a polling station for the referendum over southern Sudanese independence, however, and everyone looks worried or upset when the subject is mentioned.

"No, I cannot talk about that," whispers one man. A Sudanese businessman in the street insists that it is "dangerous to discuss such matters," but that he is from the north, and says he opposes separation from the south.

Up the street, a healthy distance from the embassy, a Sudanese student named Mohammed from the capital Khartoum says he does not want the country to split in two. "It is bad, because we want one people and you want the base of the Sudan."

At All Saints church in Zamalek, Sudanese from the south are holding a church service to pray for peace in their homeland. An overwhelming majority say that they want to separate from the north.

Akur Panchol, a young woman with a two year-old son says that separation is a happy prospect for her. She says that the separation will be a good thing, because people in the south will be free in their own country, and she herself will be able to express herself freely. In the north, she complains, southerners are not able to work, to have schools and are not free to have churches.

Simon, who works in a small hotel up the street, is eager to vote after he finishes work.

"I am going to vote today, in Ma'adi. I am very happy, too happy. [When] I left Sudan, the situation was very bad. No good. No job. And the life is not good, and always killing. You are not able to move even to go to your village. It is terrible. I am from Kalukiya on the border of Sudan.

Maqboul Khamis, whose family is originally from northern Sudan, is also happy about the referendum. He says it is good, because the people of the south are very afraid and have been fighting for more than 50 years. He says it is impossible to keep Sudan together and complains the government has turned the country into an Islamic state. He also condemns the north for forcing other tribes to fight against the south and to kill southerners.

Joseph Danny Mindy, who says he is the chief of southern Sudan?s Moro tribe in Egypt, is also pleased about the referendum and thinks the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

He says the referendum is a beautiful thing, but that he will not predict the results because everyone in the south knows what the outcome will be already, as well as the reasons for the vote. He adds that violence is taking place against southerners, right now, in places such as Jubarani in the north, and northerners have turned out to wreck and destroy their houses. He stresses that unity is now impossible due to all the bitterness on both sides, and for this reason southerners are choosing independence, and he is very happy about it.

A young Sudanese man from the war-torn province of Darfur, Hadi al Mraisah, says he is not able to vote Sunday, but is angry with the government because of the incessant violence. "One day, God willing," he says, "we will throw the government out of Darfur."