By Opio Jackson
On Saturday Juba Monitor staff and friends marked the seventh anniversary for the establishment of the newspaper in Juba right after the declaration of South Sudan independence. The event was two in one-the celebration of the seventh anniversary of Juba Monitor and blessing of the vehicles that were obtained by Hon. Alfred Taban through the car-loans that were given to the Members of Parliament at the Transitional National Legislative Assembly months ago.
As one of the long serving staff of Juba Monitor, the seventh anniversary celebration has a lot of connotations in my profession as a journalist. I have learned a lot of skills from Juba Monitor and particularly form Alfred Taban as the first Editor in Chief right when I joined the print media after completion my studies from the university.
I came to know about Alfred Taban when he was still reporting for the BBC in Sudan and that time I was in the refugee camp in Uganda. His reporting for the BBC focus on Africa inspired me to become a journalist although I did not know about the challenges ahead of me.
I am very happy and glad to work together and be trained by the veteran journalist Alfred Taban. I remember time just a few days when I joined Juba Monitor, he said to be a successful journalist one has to be brave. But he also said “No story is worth than your life”. These were two strong words which implies that you neither be too brave nor coward.
His wise words enabled many journalists who have the love to serve this nation by telling the truth to the community had to persevere the hash situation in the country.
I want to testify that working for four years as a journalist in this country has not been easy for me especially for some who joined the media right after the conflict broke out. These challenges had nothing to do with the Juba Monitor but rather the perceptions of the general public towards the media. I joined the media in 2014 and only four months after the outbreak of the December, 2013.
South Sudan is not an exception, in any conflicting situation everyone would prefer to protect his or her life. Down years, this was a common thing in South Sudan. Most people did not want to talk to the media or be quoted. I personally faced some challenges in which some would make statement then the following day the person come to deny his own statement after it had already been published . The person forces you to write an apology admitting that you quoted him or her out of context.
This was actually so embarrassing and discouraging to admit that red is black while the two colors will never be the same. Unless or otherwise Black and Red will always remain with their color. However, sometimes I accept to apologise for the sake of peace but to my consent I knew I was right before God and I was always say “Christ is my witness” because God is the God of Truth and He knows what we said yesterday and what we will say tomorrow.
For the sake of peace, sometimes you will have to admit the mistakes although you know you are right. That was the situation we have been living in for the last five years as journalists and I pray for all departed colleagues who have gone ahead of us while in line of duty. May they rest in eternal peace!!!
We need to open new Chapters in our lives as South Sudanese, leaders and children of God. We should be merciful as our heavenly Father. We need to forgive all those who have wronged against us in one way or the day. We need to see a free society where everyone respects other people’s rights. There should be full right to freedom of speech as access to information.