My first impression of Mrs Garang

It will take time to overcome the challenges southern Sudan faces - but Mrs Garang seemed confident it can be done.

     The name Garang is a big deal in southern Sudan. The late John Garang seems to be loved by so many people here. I visited is gravesite recently and there was woman praying.

    It turned out her husband was one of Garang's body guards. She said she would vote on January 9 - otherwise Garang would have died in vain.

    I wasn't expecting such love. It took me by surprise. I've met people who've said the man had his faults but credit him with getting the south to where it is today.

    For many he is a leader - even in death - and they will never forget him.
     
    So imagine how I felt when I heard I had been granted an interview with his widow Rebecca Garang. 
     
    The Garang's are like royalty here - I couldn't believe it.
     
    What was I supposed to say to her? Would she dismiss me as another random journalist out for a story?
     
    I was running late because I was filing another story. Surprisingly she called my team and asked where we were! I'm not used to that. Normally journalists end up waiting sometimes hours for high profile guests.

    When we arrived she was sitting in her garden - relaxed and seemed genuinely happy to see us.

    We are a team of five - Cyrus Nhara (producer), Austin Gundani (cameraman), Andrew Allum (fixer) and Arthur, one of the best teams I've ever worked with.
     
    Within seconds we were all relaxed and the interview started. It felt like I was speaking to a friend not a stranger.

    And she was frank about Southern Sudan and what the future holds. While overwhelmingly people want secession, those who know the history of this region knows that there is still a lot of work to be done.

    It's not as simple as getting independence - it's what happens after that. Right now it seems all of southern Sudan's problems are blamed on the north. What happens when the region becomes the world's newest country.

    It will take time to overcome the challenges southern Sudan faces - but Mrs Garang seemed confident it can be done.

    I hope she's right.


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