22 September 2010

Sudan: Siham Moussa Abdelatti, 'I Am a Mix of North and South'

Renk — Siham Moussa Abdelatti sells tea and coffee with cardamom at the market in Renk, 50km from the North-South Sudan border. Renk, in northern Upper Nile State, is a large town connected by paved road to Khartoum. It has a 24-hour electricity supply from the national grid.

Abdelatti spoke to IRIN on 15 September about her identity and hopes for the future of Southern Sudan after the 9 January referendum:

"I am from the village of Megera near the border, before Gerger [one of the few small towns between Renk and the border]. My father's parents are from the Zaghawa tribe of Darfur [western Sudan]. They were fleeing slavery in Darfur when they came here. They were suffering from [militia] raids and they ran far away. They established themselves in Megera and started mixing with the people there.

"My mother's parents were Bor Dinka from Jonglei State [in Southern Sudan], who also settled in Megera. So I am a mix of North and South Sudan. During the war, people from my village were displaced to Renk and also outside of the South into Ethiopia and Northern Sudan. When peace came, people moved back.

"I started working as a tea seller during the war, after my husband went to the army in the 1990s and left me with seven children. I needed to do this work to support my children. After the war ended my husband came home to me, but then he was transferred to Juba. We recently heard that he had died, but we are not sure if this is true.

"It will be easy here for me after the referendum because my family is all here in the South. I am not expecting problems, maybe for others. I am Muslim and here in Renk I am free to practise my religion. I pray and fast and no one interferes.

"I support separation because I want to feel like a human being. [But] people are suspicious of the referendum the same way they were suspicious during the [April] elections.

"I want my children to study English so that they can be good citizens in the new Southern Sudan."

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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