Anna Nimiriano off to Washington for fourth Award
By Elia Joseph Loful
She has bored severe turmoil in her profession as a journalist while serving for a nation where Journalism is considered risky.
She insisted in carrying out her duties despite the deadly threats that she received directly at work or away from work.
Many media practitioners in South Sudan quit Journalism however; Anna remains resilient to the career that most of her colleagues fear to pursue.
Anna received two awards earlier from Women in News Editorial Leadership 2019 Africa and the second one from WAN-INFRA World Association of News Publishers Glasgow, a UK based Magazine Publisher.
Her fame has gone viral and on 17th of October she will be travelling to United States of America (USA) Washington (DC) to receive the fourth award.
“I am travelling to get an award with International Women Media Team and the award will be given to me in Washington DC and in New Yoke City I will be honored there and afterward I will be traveling with them again to Loss Angeles where the celebration will be with Some South Sudanese,” Anna said.
Anna said the year 2019 has been a blessing to her given the International recognitions she has received so far in March. She was ranked the 8th best winner among the 50 greatest leaders by Fortunes Magazines Publishers.
“I will just say specifically that this year is a blessing to me, Juba Monitor and South Sudan at large. Early this year on February, I was recognized by the same Institution that I am one of the top 10th leaders recognized worldwide, and in March even I was number 8 among 50 great leaders in the world, a recognition by Fortunate Magazine in the world; so on the second of June this year again I got African Award, I won that from Glasgow so now I am going for another award, the third one or the fourth one,” Anna expressed.
The Editor In-chief emphasized that it was not easy to win international recognition despite the struggle the country like South Sudan is undergoing given the conflict at hand.
“Particularly, for me it is an honor because it is not easy to reach to that level to be recognized when you are in a poor country like South Sudan. So, it is not for me but also South Sudanese and the government, that among the citizens there is some recognized worldwide, although we are known outside by conflicts and for the bad things the country is doing but out of this one there is something even going on,” she emphasized.
She said the award was a great honor to the staff of Juba Monitor and the Institution in general saying it was because of hard work portrayed by all the staff.
“And for Juba Monitor I think is even an honor when an institution among others is recognized that even gives credit to Juba Monitor staff. But this one requires hard work because a lazy person cannot get this,” she stated.
Anna called on the media houses in South Sudan to carry out their work professionally without getting discouraged whatever it may come.
“Being a journalist working in the conflict zone like South Sudan is not easy but above all God is the one helping us. For me practically all this conflict got me in South Sudan and I am putting God ahead because I know He protected me, Anna explained.
She revealed that during the 2016 crisis she stood fearless to defend the late Alfred Taban Logune at the time he was detained by the security personnel in national security office.
She however, advised all the female journalists not to give up in their profession saying they should take the career with desire to expedite the work.
By Jacky Achan [New Vision Uganda]
She is the only female newspaper editor in a country where dozens of journalists have been killed in the line of duty. Many times, she has come face to face with intimidation and threats to her life.
She has fought a long battle to raise the voice of female journalists in South Sudan, a country which has been a hotspot of conflict since it gained independence in July 2011.
For her resilience, Anna Nimiriano Nunu Siya has scaled the ladders of women in leadership to feature among the top 10 greatest leaders in the world. Nimiriano is ranked 8th on 50 World’s Greatest Leaders for 2019 by Fortune Magazine.
Namiriano, the Editor-in-Chief of Juba Monitor, one of South Sudan’s popular English language newspapers, is also the winner of the Women in News Editorial Leadership Award 2019 Africa. The award was announced in April. Women in News is a programme run by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
The programme empowers women in media leadership and advocates the voice of women in news to be allocated the desired space. For those who know Nimiriano, her win was not a surprise.
In 2016, as war raged on in South Sudan, Nimiriano and another female journalist, Irene Ayaa, stormed a prison in Juba, to demand the release of the then Juba Monitor Editor-in-Chief and founder the late Alfred Taban. Taban was in jail because of an editorial he wrote, calling for a rethink of leadership in South Sudan.
He was confined without access to medical care, yet he was diabetic. Nimiriano and Ayaa wanted to ensure that Taban had his medication, but ended up successfully negotiating for his release.
In a tweet shortly after the announcement of Nimiriano as a WAN-IFRA winner, Ryan Brown, the Johannesburg Bureau Chief for The Christian Science Monitor, said South Sudan’s journalists are brave and big-hearted people working under difficult circumstances to tell important stories, adding that Nimiriano, the country’s only female newspaper editor, is no exception.
Colleagues say Nimiriano is a jolly and serious woman who takes life at her pace. She is not in a hurry, but she is a serious journalist and editor. Vision Group Editor-in-Chief Barbara Kaija, who is also the 2018 winner of the award from sub-Sahara Africa, described Nimiriano as a true reflection of resilience and one who has love for her job, even under very difficult circumstances. “I have met Nimiriano three times.
We always talk about how it is a dangerous job to work in South Sudan as a journalist,” Kaija says. She recalls one particular incident when Nimiriano got into trouble for writing about garbage in Juba because somebody thought that it was painting a bad image of the country, yet the garbage was there for anybody to see.
In an interview with Sally Armstrong, a Canadian journalist, Nimiriano recalled the harrowing meeting with the mayor of Juba and his henchmen, a meeting that included accusations and threats.
She confronted the mayor with the facts, offering to go with him to the site in question so that he could see the heaped-up garbage and assess the health risk himself, as well as question the residents about who was asking them for money.
Eventually, the issue was resolved. Overcoming trials of a female journalist Documented reports show that female journalists are facing a “relentless” barrage of attacks and harassment, with nearly a third considering quitting the profession as a result.
A survey by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) and TrollBusters, which supports harassed reporters, found that more than half of the women in the media have suffered work-related abuse, threats or physical attacks in 2017. These are challenges that Nimiriano has faced throughout her career. “I pay the price for my work in journalism.
People have called me a crazy woman for risking my life to save a colleague, but I was a witness to his arrest and I needed to stand up for him,” Nimiriano said of her work while receiving the award in Glasgow, Scotland, last month. In an interview with New Vision, she said winning the award was an honour not only for her, but also for her country.
“I dedicate the award to journalists in Africa, especially the female journalists. I would like to tell them that journalism requires hard work, speaking the truth and being determined.
The challenges we face in the line of duty are part of our work. Take it on courageously,” she said during a phone interview with New Vision. Nimiriano added: “Face the challenges, but do not surrender, ours is to find solutions to the numerous challenges that our people face. There are threats, no safety, only God protects us.” Referring to the award, Nimiriano said though recognition of one’s work may not come quickly, “at one time, your hard work amid all the challenges will be celebrated”. Kaija echoed Nimiriano’s call and urged female journalists to aim higher.
“It does not have to be just for this award. It could be something different — even better — but even if you do not get an award, serving your community and your people and being true to journalism, is itself, satisfying,” Kaija added. She explained that as a journalist, when one writes a story about a need in a community and it is met, or somebody comes up to sort it out, that, in itself, is satisfying.
“When you expose something that has gone wrong in a society, for example people’s drugs being stolen and then action is taken, that, in itself, is a big contribution.” What next for Nimiriano? Winning the Women in News Editorial Leadership Award comes with a lot of responsibility. It means one can do more to lift fellow women in the profession.
“It means you can do a little more, to lift the other journalists as well. I do not know how much Nimiriano will be able to do in her situation, but even just being there alone and us talking about her and saying well done, Nimiriano, is a good thing. “It shows that there is a woman who is surmounting diffi culties to achieve, and it means that others can do it,” Kaija states.
Recently on a trip to India, New Vision journalist Geoffrey Mutegeki met Nimiriano. “She was interactive and inquisitive. She asked me about the media in Uganda and how women were doing. Nimiriano also asked me about the newspaper industry,” Mutegeki says of their encounter.
“She loves her job because of all those who travelled to India, it was only Nimiriano who carried her product. She had copies of the Juba Monitor, which she distributed to everyone, “saying this is what we do”. “However, from the conversation we had, I realised the government has a lot of influence on them. Sometimes, they have to withdraw stories from print, it is a bumpy journey, but she seemed to be managing,” Mutegeki adds.
Her journalism journey
She is the first female Editor-in-Chief of Juba Monitor. She was appointed to the position in 2017, when Taban sought to become a member of the South Sudan National Dialogue and accepted nomination into Parliament to represent Kejokeji.
She has hair-raising stories about her job and career journey. She escaped rape and has been in prison because of her work. For Nimiriano, it all started when she was young. She says her elder sister used to tell her how she was good at narrating to their parents any incident that could have happened in their absence.
Also, after joining intermediate school, Nimiriano developed more interest in the school’s weekly review, where every pupil was encouraged to report events that happened in their area over the weekend. The stories would be displayed on the noticeboard for the pupils to read.
She was active in giving her story reviews. In secondary school, she developed more interest in photography. Her uncle bought her a camera to pursue her passion. At university, Nimiriano developed her journalism career and after completing her studies, she joined Khartoum Monitor which was renamed Juba Monitor.
Taban, was interested in Nimiriano’s writings and asked her to join the newspaper in 2006. Since then, she has not looked back.
SPECIAL FEATURES, NEWS ANNA NIMIRIANO NUNU SIYA, WOMEN IN NEWS, WORLD ASSOCIATION OF NEWSPAPERS AND NEWS PUBLISHERS (WAN-IFRA)
Essential networking events for publishers across Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa, Middle East and North America.
Anna Nimiriano Nunu Siya is a veteran South Sudanese journalist with more than fifteen years of experience in print and broadcast journalism.
Besides being one of the founders of Juba Monitor, a daily English publication, Anna currently serves as the Editor In Chief of the Juba Monitor and has previously worked for the now-defunct Khartoum Monitor as Editorial Director and subsequently
Monitor as Editorial Director and subsequently Managing Editor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from college of Community Studies and Rural Development, University of Juba and a Diploma in Theology, Institute of Theology for the Laity.
Anna has attended several local and international media training workshops in Kenya, Uganda, Washington DC, Sierra Leone, Djibouti, Tanzania, China and India. She is a member of the National Editors’ Forum in South Sudan.
The Christian Science Monitor
She bears witness to South Sudan’s turbulence, one headline at a time
By Ryan Lenora Brown, Staff writer / October 4, 2018
Anna Nimiriano leads a morning news meeting at the Juba Monitor. She is the first female editor in chief in the South Sudanese newspaper’s history.
Ryan Lenora Brown/the Christian Science Monitor
JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN
On the bottom shelves of a slumping metal cabinet, beneath a wad of receipts and a lifeless old laptop, sits a first draft of South Sudan’s history, told in bold print headlines.
Like the history it has recorded, the archives of the Juba Monitor are jumbled and missing crucial pages. The issues jammed into the cabinet lurch between tales of civil war and stories of peace agreements being hammered out in faraway cities. Some copies are ripped. Some dates are missing outright. But those that remain tell the story of a brand-new country’s brisk undoing, observed from the inside.
GOVT: NO FAMINE IN SOUTH SUDAN
WOMEN: WE WANT PEACE NOW
CEASEFIRE FAR FROM CONCLUSIVE
These are not the headlines Anna Nimiriano imagined writing when, as a young reporter in July 2011, she wandered through downtown Juba the day South Sudan became independent from Sudan, asking anyone who would stop for their views of the country’s future.
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Strange women hugged her. Men wept. Her notebooks filled with an earnest, unpunctured optimism. This will be a great country, they said. I am proud to be a South Sudanese. The future is beautiful.
The archives of the Juba Monitor, stored in a cabinet in the paper’s offices in South Sudan’s capital, hold the first draft of the young country’s history.
Ryan Lenora Brown/the Christian Science Monitor
But seven years later, as the editor in chief of one of the country’s most circulated English-language newspapers, Ms. Nimiriano sits watch over a paper that is both a record of the country’s immense turmoil and an institution struggling to withstand it.
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Some days, that means bartering with soldiers to let her colleagues out of jail. On others, it means haggling over the price of petrol needed to keep the office generator running. Sometimes, her biggest fight is to drive home in the evening without being stopped by soldiers at roadblocks, who are sometimes swaying and smelling of alcohol. She must be a prostitute, they taunt – no good woman would be out so late on her own.
Five years ago, a rivalry between President Salva Kiir and his deputy, Riek Machar, spiraled into a brutal civil war which, by one count, has killed 380,000 people in a population of just 12 million. One third of the population has been displaced.
“Sometimes, when you see so much going wrong, you realize there is nothing you can do but write it down,” she says. “Every day, you must write it down.”
RAPE AND MURDER IN BOR
3.7 MILLION PEOPLE NEED FOOD
SOUTH SUDAN ON THE PRECIPICE OF CIVIL WAR
But writing down what is happening in South Sudan is not a simple task. Despite a constitution that provides for press freedom, in practice the country’s government has had little patience for its critics – especially when they come armed with microphones and notebooks. Today, the country ranks 144th out of 180 countries on the Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders. At least seven journalists have been murdered – either in the course of their work or in targeted assassinations – since the start of the civil war in 2013.
“Freedom of the press does not mean you work against the country,” Mr. Kiir told journalists in August 2015. “If anybody among them (journalists) does not know that this country has killed people, we will demonstrate it one day, one time.”
Some mornings, the Juba Monitor staff would arrive in the office to find that one of their stories had simply been cut out of the paper, a mute, blank page left in its wake. Most of the time, that meant Nimiriano had received a call late the previous night from the country’s security forces, who waited each evening at the printer’s office to read the next day’s paper. When they didn’t like something, they’d tell her it was out. No discussion.
There was no discussion either when Nimiriano, then the paper’s managing editor, and her boss Alfred Taban were summoned for questioning by the country’s security forces in July 2016. The article that had drawn their ire was an opinion column by Mr. Taban that called for the resignation of the country’s president and vice president, after fighting between forces loyal to the two left dozens dead in the capital the week before.
By the time the meeting was over, Mr. Taban had been arrested. And Nimiriano was told to shut the paper down immediately.
Outside, rebels were spraying the walls of the presidential palace with bullets. On the city’s edge, government soldiers swarmed a hotel complex, gang raping several women and executing a young journalist named John Gatluak Nhial – allegedly for his ethnicity.
But two days later, Nimiriano marched back to the prison. “It doesn’t help anything to close the paper,” she told the officials who had arrested Taban. “And our editor is a sick man. If he dies, that will be on your conscience.”
Soon after, the government gave the go-ahead for the paper to re-open. Ten days later, Taban came out of prison. (The following year, he left journalism for politics and is now a member of parliament.) The fighting, meanwhile, slowly receded from the capital.
And so, as always, the paper carried on.
ALFRED TABAN OUT ON BAIL
CEASEFIRE HOLDING IN SOUTH SUDAN’S CAPITAL
JOURNALIST MURDERED, FAMILY DEMANDS JUSTICE
Day-to-day, however, the paper’s more prosaic problems continued.
In August 2017, a massive fuel shortage gripped Juba. No petrol meant no generators, and no generators meant the Monitor’s printer couldn’t print. For several days, the paper stopped production. Soon after, Nimiriano was appointed editor in chief.
Meanwhile, the country’s currency continued a long tumble. By June 2018, the paper cost 100 South Sudanese pounds – 50 times the price at independence seven years earlier. To keep up with rising costs, Nimiriano cut circulation from 2,000 copies daily to 1,500.
“Sometimes there is a risk of focusing on all the problems around you instead of the work at hand,” she says.
The Juba Monitor takes strict security precautions, including 24-hour security, to discourage individuals and government officials from threatening its reporters.
Ryan Lenora Brown/the Christian Science Monitor
And so, as best she can, she tries not to think of the five men with pistols who came recently to her office to threaten her over an error in a story about the military. She tries not to think of the time, driving home, when a soldier forced her from her car on a black stretch of road and made her kneel in the mud, demanding to know what kind of woman she was. She doesn’t think, either, of the whispers that ran through the newsroom when she became the Monitor’s first female editor a year ago. Or of the incredulousness that courses through her daily as she reads incoming stories about the hunger and death that stalk the civil war, as she thinks of her own childhood memories of fleeing, of life in tented camps, of praying for independence. She tries not to wonder too often, is this what our country fought for, when we battled for decades for independence?
Instead, Nimiriano does her best to keep her eyes on what’s ahead of her. On a recent morning in August, at the daily staff news meeting, there were stories about the Muslim festival of Eid and the government releasing results for secondary-school exit exams. Twelve hundred miles away, in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, South Sudan’s leaders were negotiating for peace. There would be a story on that, too. And after that, on whatever came next.