FRED DE SAM LAZARO: It was an unusual sight at Mass last Sunday [January 9] in the dusty regional capital of Bentiu. There were empty seats. But Father Samuel Akoch didn’t seem to mind, because this was an improbable historic day in Southern Sudan. Most of the absentees were around the corner, lining up for the chance to vote for secession, to create their own nation
REV. SAMUEL AKOCH (Saint Martin de Porres Catholic Church): I know that each of you came here to pray. I also know that each one of us is carrying our voting card in our pocket.
DE SAM LAZARO: And as the service concluded, it took on the fever of a campaign rally. Those voting cards came out and Father Samuel led a bee-line to the polling center, joining hundreds already there. Their ballot choice was as simple as the set-up of this polling center under a tree: Stay as one Sudan or separate into a new republic of South Sudan. That was the overwhelming favorite here. Father Samuel imagined that nation.