Most people know Luol Deng as a basketball player for the championship-contending Chicago Bulls. As a Celtics fan, it pains me to acknowledge that is a very good basketball player, and I wish the Celts had him. But Luol has even bigger things on his mind these days than a run at an NBA championship.
Luol hails from the southern part of Sudan, which on January 9 is going to commence voting for its long-delayed chance at independent statehood. More than a half-century ago, colonial administrators from Britain and Egypt ensured that North and South Sudan were rammed together to create a new Sudanese nation, which since then has been completely dominated by northerners. For pretty much the entire time, southerners have fought for their right to independence.
For their freedom.
Last Friday, my friend Luol got a chance to register for this historic vote. He registered in Chicago as part of a world-wide effort to allow as many southern Sudanese as possible to participate.
Luol talks about the importance of this moment in South Sudan's history in this video.
As someone who has been in and out of southern Sudan for nearly 25 years, it is amazing to watch the resolve of the southern Sudanese people as their moment on the world stage nears. A peaceful, efficient registration process yielded millions of voters eager to express their sentiments about the future of the South. We can all support the birth of this new nation by making our voices heard for peace.
Visit www.sudanactionnow.org to see how you can get involved and cast your own vote for peace between North and South Sudan.
John Prendergast is Co-Founder of Enough, the anti-genocide project at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.