Let us forget together -Bishop Taban
Bishop Paride Taban was the first Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Torit in South Sudan from 1983 until 2004 when he retired from the diocese. He made efforts for sustainable peace in Sudan by setting up the Kuron Peace Village, established in 2005.
Before becoming Bishop of Torit, Taban was the auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Juba and the titular Bishop of Tadamata from 1980 to 1983. He was ordained on May 24th, 1964 and consecrated a Bishop on May 4th, 1980 in Kinshasa by Pope John Paul.
Bishop Paride Taban has received numerous awards including the Sergio Vieira de Mello Peace Prize awarded by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon in 2013 for his work at the Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron and the Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation awarded by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Waldin in 2017 for co-founding the ecumenical New Sudan Council of Churches, building Kuron Peace Village, and chairing the mediation initiative between the Government of South Sudan and COBRA Faction of the South Sudan Democratic Movement/Army, which produced a successful peace agreement on 6th January 2014.
Qn: Bishop Paride, do you know the time you were born?
Bishop: Well young man I was born during those years when there were no hospitals in South Sudan, where our fathers used to relate the time of your birthday to the events that happened in the village. I was probably born in 1936 in Torit in a village called Kuron.
Qn: Which school did you attend since the schools operating in the South were mainly Roman Catholic Church and Missionary Church Society (MCS) School?
Bishop Paride: Good question! I was educated by Roman Catholic Church; that is where I received holistic education. It is very important for you young people to have a holistic education to be absolutely free from worries because you can be able to work anywhere in the world and earn a living instead of joining politics to ruin your future and become a failure in life.
Qn: Bishop, what is Holistic Education?
Bishop Paride: Holistic Education is a philosophy of education based on the premise that each person finds identity, meaning and purpose in life through connections to the community and to the natural world.
Qn: Your Lordship, tell us about your family?
Bishop Paride: Oh yes! I have a lovely family and remember my immediate families are South Sudanese people whom I love so dearly.
Qn: Did you one time work with the government?
Bishop Paride: Yes and No
Qn: Tell me the yes part and the reason why you support the government?
Bishop Paride: I support the High Executive Council government based in Juba as a result of the peace accord signed in Addis Ababa from 1972 up to 1980. Our own people had an opportunity to have a government run by South Sudanese leaders that was why I supported the great people of South Sudan although I did not work in the government personally.
Qn: Tells me the NO version?
Bishop Paride: Well my son, our politicians were not determined to educate the people of South Sudan and prepare them for the independence. Thank God our late Chairman, Dr. John Garang de Mabior, President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the beautiful people of South Sudan did what I expected them to do in the 1972 Peace Agreement.
Qn: What do you like most?
Bishop Paride: I love making peace as a mother of all beautiful things created by heavenly father. I love seeing my people enjoy peace, as one big family and most importantly, I love teaching people the word of God as my favorite daily work. I have been the best teacher all my life.
Qn: What is your message to the citizens and politicians based on the ongoing crisis in the country?
Bishop Paride: Well my message to South Sudanese leaders is to forgive one another and forget what happened in the past in order to move our country forward, let me explain briefly;
I was in Italy where civilization entirely governed everything but there was a time the people of Italy fought themselves seriously using machetes when their level of thinking reached certain limit and they kill themselves despite the education and civilization they had. This means political disagreements are human and the South Sudanese will overcome all these challenges one time. I believe by the grace of God we shall be peaceful once again.
Qn: Amen! Bishop, what is your special message to the youths?
Bishop Paride: Oh yes my message to the youths is to recite these lovely words of God daily and own it all their life:
Love, joy, peace, patience, compassion, sympathy, kindness, truthfulness, gentleness, self-control, humility, forgiveness, mercy, friendship, trust, unity, purity, faith and hope.
Say; I love you, I miss you, I thank you, I forgive you, let us forget together, I am wrong, I am sorry, understand and distinguish the wisdom of almighty God your future will be bright.
Conclusion: Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban many thanks indeed may the almighty God bless you abundantly, Amen.
Bishop Paride: You too my dear son.
By Martin Manyiel Wugol in Kampala, Uganda