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Celebrating Alfred Taban the hero

 

By Paul Jimbo

Martin Luther King Junior once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.

And as if to echo these words, in July 2005, Speaker of the British House of Commons Michael Martin presented the Speaker Abbot Award to one outstanding African journalist.

Little did participants believe that an Africa journalist could win such a prestigious award. To the astonishment of many, one brave South Sudanese journalist was the man of the moment.

It was in recognition to an outstanding work by Alfred Taban Logune in exposing the slaughter in Darfur, Sudan.

Alfred had won the hearts of world leaders including champions of human rights and freedom of expression.

During the award winning ceremony, Alfred received a standing ovation, after all this award is to outstanding journalists who has made the greatest contribution internationally to the “protection, promotion and perpetuation of parliamentary democracy”.

As if that was not enough, in 2006, Alfred was one of three recipients to be presented with the National Endowment for Democracy award by US President George W. Bush.

Journalism is a humble career and the late Alfred lived that simple life.

In a world where tools of trade are basically a pen and a note book, the late Alfred explored the trenches to ensure freedom of expression for all.

The seasoned journalist had bravely battled diabetes and blood pressure for a while, before being flown to Kampala, Uganda for further medical treatment.

On Saturday April 27th 2019, news of Alfred’s demise hit social media forums besides spreading like wild bush fire.

The untimely death of Alfred robbed the entire media fraternity of a mentor and a true fighter who knew when to say what and when to stay put after all to Alfred, silence was a great strategy.

Family, friends and relatives thronged Juba Monitor offices with messages of condolences while in some cases, groups of close associates discussed the untimely move by the greedy hands of death.

Yesterday, a somber mood engulfed Juba City with family members, friends and colleagues turning up to pay tribute to the departed hero.

Alfred was a South Sudanese broadcast journalist born 1957 in Kajokeji in the greater Central Equatorial State.

He was a former BBC‘s correspondent in Khartoum, the founder and former editor in chief of the Juba Monitor, the leading independent newspaper in South Sudan, formerly known as Khartoum Monitor, the 1st independent English-Language Newspaper in the Sudan.

Juba Monitor is the largest circulating English daily newspaper in South Sudan and has recently gone regional.

Alfred previously served as Chairman of The Association for Media Development in South Sudan [AMDISS].

Having trained as a laboratory technician, Alfred shifted gears and embarked on a career in journalism.

He was detained by the authorities in Khartoum for 5 days in April 2001 while covering a news conference by church leaders in Khartoum, who were protesting against the cancellation of a service and the arrest of up to one hundred Christians.

Until his demise Alfred was the Honorable Member of Parliament in the South Sudan Transitional National Legislative Assembly.

Drawing from his influential career in South Sudan’s media. Mr Taban was a broadcast journalist and former BBC correspondent.

Alfred previously served as the Chairman of The Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS), where he was a strong advocate for the freedom of the press in South Sudan.

He would later resign from both the Juba Monitor and the AMDISS to focus on politics and civil service.

Alfred also became a member of National Dialogue Steering Committee in June 2017.

 

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