Editorial

Planting an Olive Tree

The Olive tree is one of the most beloved and sacred of trees. It is known as the tree of life and has its place firmly rooted in ancient Greek mythology going back as early as the fifth century. Traditionally, the olive tree is a symbol of peace and friendship.

It is first mentioned in Scripture when the dove returned to Noah’s ark carrying an olive branch in its beak (Gen. 8:11). The olive branch has been a symbol of “peace” to the world, and we often hear the expression, “extending an olive branch” to another person as a desire for peace. The wild olive tree is mentioned only in Nehemiah 8:15 and Romans 11:17. In the New Testament the Mount of Olives is frequently mentioned as part of the route from Jerusalem to Bethany and the place where Jesus stood when he wept over Jerusalem.

Several key events in the life of Jesus, as related in the Gospels, took place on the Mount of Olives, and in the Acts of the Apostles, it is described as the place from which Jesus ascended to heaven according to Acts 1:9-12. Because of its association with both Jesus and Mary, the Mount of Olives has been a site of Christian worship since ancient times and is today the site of pilgrimage for Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants. There is an olive tree on the Mount of Olives said to be 2,000 years old.

According to information released from the Vatican embassy in Juba, I have read the news in international news bulletins and in the Juba Monitor, that the Holy See Pope Francis and his accompanying delegation, will be visiting Juba on July 5 – 7, 2022 after his visit to the neighboring country Democratic Republic of Congo where he will reside between July 2-5, 2022.

I was very happy to hear that Pope Francis will be visiting South Sudan and to read about the significance of his visit for the government of South Sudan and its citizens who are very excited about this historical visit.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit has directed his government to start the preparations of Pope Francis’s visit to make the visit one of the most remarkable events in the history of his war-torn nation.

At the same time, President Salva Kiir Mayardit appealed to the citizens of South Sudan to come out and show their love and appreciation to his Holiness the Pope when he arrives, and to make it a joyful reception. This visit is one of the most important and significant moments in the history of the new nation Republic of South Sudan.

In 2019, Pope Francis hosted President Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar, Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabiorand and Vice President Taban Deng Gaiat at a Vatican retreat where Pope Francis knelt and kissed their feet as he urged them not to return the country into civil war.

I was wondering when was the last time a pope had knelt and kissed the feet of the president and vice presidents to beg them not to take their nation back into war?
Personally, I don’t know, but never the less, Pope Francis knelt and kissed the feet of the South Sudanese leaders to encourage peace in South Sudan.

The peace process in South Sudan takes it to the core of its values in a slow process, but with the hard work and contribution of the involved parties’ peace in South Sudan is attainable.

I do not know what the protocol of this visit will be, but my suggestion is, that by adding the planting of a tree to the protocol with his Holy See Pope Francis and President Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the vice presidents, it would be a great symbol of peace for South Sudan and an acknowledgement of the historic event.

If it would have more significance for the people of South Sudan to plant an Acacia tree or Tamarisk, which are both indigenous to the country, it would carry the same message of peace for the nation. The planted tree in Juba would stand as a sign of hope and prosperity for South Sudan. Planted in a special place as a memory of the importance of the occasion, it would remain as one of the landmarks in the history of the Republic of South Sudan forever.

My intention is not to step on any boundaries or to be misunderstood by the government of South Sudan, but as a good friend of South Sudan, it is just a pure and sincere suggestion for the South Sudanese government, if it is considered suitable for the protocol of Holy See Pope Francis visit to Juba.

Until the next article, stay safe and sound and God bless you all.

Robin SABAN
UPF Peace Ambassador.
robinsaban@hotmail.com

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