by Fayez el-Zaki Hassan
PORT SUDAN, Sudan, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- Sudanese in all over the country celebrated the New Year with their eyes on the upcoming Jan. 9 referendum, which was not just a shift from a year to another, but an occasion that was mixed with complicating aspirations, fear and hopes.
The most prominent feature of the Sudanese celebrations of the New Year was a great number of citizens moved from the capital Khartoum to inner Sudan and some neighboring countries such as Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The phenomenon could be explained as a reflection of concerns over tensions possibly arise, particularly in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, the center of the political movement and decision-making.
Port Sudan city, which lies on the coast of the Red Sea, was the destination of most of the Sudanese citizens who wanted to celebrate the New Year as it is a tourist destination and well- known for its security and stability.
This year the city becomes a resort of all the Sudanese population groups, particular the southern Sudanese who are still living in the city despite the calls by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) for them to return to the south to vote in the south Sudan referendum, set for Jan. 9, 2011.
"We have been living here for decades. It is our home and here are our people from all tribes of Sudan. I cannot imagine how I can live away from this place," Marry Johnson, a southern Sudanese teacher, told Xinhua.
"Until now we do not know our future, particularly if the referendum resulted in separation of the south. It would be a real tragedy. There are deeply-rooted standing social bonds between the northerners and the southerners, but separation will lead to breaking those relations," she added.
"We are celebrating the New Year with mixed emotions. I'm happy with the advent of a new year but at the same time feel sad because it is the year which could witness the division of Sudan into two states," Marry said, adding "we hope that Sudan would remain united and that the referendum would come out with a surprising result of unity."
Adroup Ausheek, a Sudanese citizen from eastern Sudan, told Xinhua that "our emotions are contradicting between hopes of unity advocates and supporters of separation, awaiting the separatists to announce the new south Sudan state," he said.
Salman Sandal, an engineer from north Sudan also express his worries that he could not imagine the new map of Sudan after the separation of almost a quarter of the country.
"We fear that 2011 would be the last to celebrate within the united Sudan. We fear that this year would be the last for a phrase 'the land of the one million square miles' that we have always been proud of," he said.