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VICTORY-South Sudanese wins US seat

By Okan Thomas Onyango

South Sudanese community in Juba have celebrated Oballa Oman Oballa’s victory for becoming the first black young man to win a city council seat in the Southeast Minnesota city of Austin.

Speaking during the ceremonial event, Ojulu Akwor Harun said that Oballa was born in 1991 in Pochalla and left for Pinyudo refugee camp two years later with his mother.

After staying for eight years in the camp, Oballa’s family were forced to go back to Pochalla due to the Ethiopian genocidal attack on his community in 2003 and later moved to Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya leading to their success in a settlement process and travelled to the United States of America in 2013.

Harun described Oballa as a young gentleman with ambitions of becoming a great leader in the near future.

“Oballa is young in age but he managed to make a great history that we the sixty four tribes of South Sudan are very proud of,” Harun said.

Othow Okoti, an Anyuak youth leader and an organizer of the event said Oballa’s victory is a source of joy to all South Sudanese and every youth should learn from it.

“He made a history of being the first black man to win a city council seat in the US which had never happened before. The victory of Oballa gives the youth hope to rise and I encourage them to always try their level best to breach in all the societies so that they can get many votes during the election,” Okoti said.

Okoti urged the youths to fight against tribalism and support each other despite the place of origin.

“We need to learn from Oballas footsteps, not only the Anyuak community but also the other youths across the country,”Okoti added.

James Apay Ochalla,  an uncle said Oballa is an intellectual hardworking man, it’s a victory to the Anyuak community and South Sudan at large.

“Oballa has opened a way forward for the young people, what he has done is a great step and we should follow his steps. It is a pleasure to all of us as we are now celebrating together as South Sudanese,” Apay said.     

Oballa is the first black, refugee, immigrant to be elected as the City Council of his adopted hometown of Austin, Minnesota to serve.

Oballa served as president of the student senate at his college and helped pass state Legislation to address food insecurity on community college campus and that made him a familiar face when he began knocking on doors and asking for votes.

Oballa is just one example of how immigrant communities are shaping Minnesota politics well beyond the Twin cities and are now starting to win seats for public offices.

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