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'I never dreamed this day would come'

"Poverty is a huge problem in this area. It is because of the oppression we faced under the Arabs," she said. "Now, we are praying that there will be change, so that the government will bring more teachers."

Everyone in the village has expectations.

"I want to start my own business," Loku said. "Our life is going to change. We will dance."

"I hope I can open a roadside stall," Pitia said.

But they also have fears. Many villagers questioned the public pledge made by the north's president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, to recognize the south if it becomes a new nation. "We don't trust the Arabs," Pitia said.

"There will be no co-existence," Kaji predicted. "They mistreated the southerners. We cannot deal with them again."

For now, the villagers are expecting a new wave of arrivals from Khartoum. They include Loku's nine other grandchildren.

"They are finally coming home," he said.

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