Tributes to Alfred Taban: Remembering South Sudanese Veteran Journalist, Alfred Taban Logune

Posted: May 1, 2019 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan, Mangar Amerdit, media

By Mangar Marial Amerdid, Juba, South Sudan

Alfred Taban Logune
Alfred Taban Logune, South Sudanese veteran journalist and politician

Wednesday, May 1, 2019 (PW) — On Saturday, April 27, 2019, South Sudan lost one of its pioneer journalist; Alfred Taban, the founder and former Editor-in-Chief of the Juba Monitor Newspaper. Taban was born in Kajo-Keji in 1957. In 1976, he joined the University of Khartoum as a medical student majoring in medical laboratory sciences. He studied for the duration of three years, but then his education was interrupted by political problems.

Due to his love for writing, Taban had begun writing articles for the Nile Mirror Newspaper and the South Sudan Magazine. He extended his writing to advocacy work by becoming the chairman of the Kajo-Keji Student Union. Due to his advocacy work on behalf of the people of Southern Sudan, this created conflict between him and the Sudan government.

Alfred Taban Logune, South Sudanese veteran journalist and politician

According to Taban, “They didn’t like my politics and I didn’t like their politics, so conflict was inevitable.” While problems persisted in his life, Taban continued to focus on his studies and received high marks. When he sat for his final third year exams, the School of Medicine at the University of Khartoum informed Taban that he had failed the exams and would be required to repeat his third year.

The Sudan government had intentionally lowered his exam results to make attaining an education difficult for him. Upon hearing what the University faculty had stated, Taban was surprised given he was a bright student. As a result, he refused to repeat his studies and left the University of Khartoum.

Taban then decided to become a journalist. In order to develop his journalism skills; for the period of one year, he studied by correspondence through a British institution for creative writing and journalism. Meanwhile, he also worked as a journalist for the Sudannow magazine in Khartoum. As the years progressed, he became a senior reporter and in the 1980s, became a reporter for BBC in Khartoum.

In 2000, alongside two colleagues, Taban founded the Khartoum Monitor Newspaper which was published in Khartoum. The newspaper was to serve the needs of South Sudanese. According to Taban, “The struggle of the people of South Sudan has been at the heart of my life. As I was already a journalist, I found that Southerners were not contributing as much. They tried to write for Sudannow, but it was owned by the government.

They did not allow the independent views of South Sudanese. So me, Albino Okeny and Nhial Bol Aken, decided to provide a vehicle for our people to express their views freely.” From the start of the publication of the Khartoum Monitor, the newspaper faced immense scrutiny from the Sudan government and its security officials. The security officials read each article published in the newspaper and if they disapproved of an article, they immediately removed it.

Taban also faced harassment, imprisonment, solitary confinement and torture. He spent six months in Kober prison with the likes of renowned Northern Sudanese politicians Sadiq al-Mahdhi, and later on Hassan al-Turabi. He also met many South Sudanese freedom fighters and political leaders like Arob Madut.

In one instance of torture Taban experienced was when the security officials picked him up in the early morning hours from his home and brought him to their detention facility where he endured hours of extensive questioning. At around midday when the questioning ended, Taban was paraded outside the detention facility. Then the security officials ordered him to raise his face and look up at the hot sun.

They forced Taban to follow the movement of the sun without flinching while repeatedly stating the words “Ana Kadhab, Ana Kadhab, Ana Kadhab” which means in English, “I am a liar, I am a liar, I am a liar!” For hours, Taban stood outside looking at the hot sun while repeatedly chanting, “I am a liar!” until the evening sun almost set. The experienced caused Taban to develop permanent vision problems which lasted for years.

Due to his remarkable journalistic skills and advocacy work, Taban was the recipient of numerous prestigious awards which included; the 2005 Abbot Speaker Award for reporting on the genocide in Darfur and in 2006, the National Endowment for Democracy Award which was given to Taban by U.S. President George W. Bush for his advocacy work to promote democracy in Sudan.

In 2011, when South Sudan gained independence from Sudan, Taban returned to the South and re-established Khartoum Monitor as Juba Monitor, an independent and civilian owned English newspaper. He also became the chairman of the Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), which advocates for press freedom in the country.

In relations to his political work, in 2010, Taban sought to join politics by contesting for the position of governor for Central Equatoria State, however, he lost in the general elections. A few years later in 2017, he was appointed as a Member of Parliament in the National Legislative Assembly and also joined the National Dialogue Committee.

After experiencing a month of deteriorating health, Taban was admitted to a hospital in Kampala and suddenly passed away. South Sudan has lost a great son and leader whose love for his people caused him to endure many hardships.

We honor Alfred Taban and all the contributions he made for our people, the Republic of South Sudan and the world at large. May you rest in eternal peace, Comrade Alfred Taban!

The author, Hon. Mangar Marial Amerdid, is the National Coordinator of Northern Corridor Integration Projects (http://www.nciprojects.org/) for South Sudan, the Chairman of SOS Children Villages International for the Republic of South Sudan, and the Founder of the Leadership Institute of New Sudan (LIONS). He graduated with Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance and a minor in Economics from University of Colorado, USA. You can reach him via his email: mangaramerdid@gmail.com

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Comments
  1. kailoor says:

    May his soul rest in peace. You have made many enemies because of nationalistic defend of your home land which resulted to your suffering and might have caused your early dismiss, that great achievement will live on and on.
    Thank for being strong voice of South Sundanese people when you were alive.

    I hope the government have arrangement for decent burial for great MAN who hold national honor.

    Thanks once again steadfast struggle.

    Like

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