The year 2016 saw a lot of South Sudanese figures springing up from nowhere to be the talk of every South Sudanese. Hot in Juba looked back to the year that was 2016 and picked some of the most popular or rather most talked about South Sudanese figures in 2016.

Whether these people made headlines through good or bad, these individuals have dominated South Sudanese social media and other South Sudanese discussion forums for the better part of 2016 and they have impacted lives in one way or the other.

Although, the list is dominated by political figures, some individuals from entertainment industry found their way into our list.

Below are the ten most popular South Sudanese figures of the year 2016.

  1. Aguil Akec

The south Sudanese elderly woman in Diaspora with poor command of English language whose rant video went viral in 2016. The video she recorded addressing her rivals who she said were gossiping about her and talking about her bad command of English Language. The video was shared over a thousand times and viewed by more than 100k people. She was a subject of memes with one popular meme quoting her words in the video which says “Stay away to me”. She obviously meant to say “Stay away from me”.

  1. Crazy Fox aka Ladu Bishop

The upcoming dancehall singer’s popularity was catapulted by his smash hit “Ana Gaid” which was released soon after the July Juba skirmishes where some hundreds of people died in clashes between government and Riek forces. The song which urges South Sudanese people to be resilient to the war in the country and stop seeking refuge in foreign countries where they endure unbearable sufferings as refugees later became an anthem for people who couldn’t escape the fighting but chose to stay despite the raging war.

Crazy Fox’s “Ana Gaid” was nominated in the 2016 STA Awards in the song of the year category but unfortunately couldn’t take home the award.

  1. Martin Koryom aka Maduool

Popular stand-up comedian touched souls and made many South Sudanese people smile in 2016. His hilarious and educative online comedy skits were widely shared by South Sudanese online. The comedian was a household name for most Junubin when he teamed with actress Ijur Agok for his monthly skits.

In 2016 Maduool also added one more tag on himself. He was one of the most sought after event MCs. He hosted STA Awards together with radio presenter Sambro Lupai. He also won best comedian of the year award at the 2016 STA Awards beating many other South Sudanese comedians.

  1. Daniella Valantino Wol

Daniella Awut Akol, a UK based staunch supporter of Salva Kiir’s government has been one the most controversial South Sudanese personalities of 2016. Daniella a women rights defender has never shied away from confronting his male counterparts from SPLM-IO rebel movement.

She records live Facebook videos on regular basis to air her political opinions which are always characterised with vulgar and lewd language and I’m favour of Salva Kiir.

Her politically charged Facebook videos are often addressing various trending political topics in South Sudan.

  1. James Gadet

Riek Machar’s personal spokesperson has been one of the most popular South Sudanese figures in 2016. In July, James Gadet who was then based in Nairobi, Kenya made a Facebook statement which is believed to have played a major role in July’s fighting. In a Facebook post which he later pulled down, Gadet had alleged that IO troops that had accompanied Riek Machar to J1 for a meeting with Salva Kiir had thwarted a plot by government to assassinate Riek and that he was rescued by IO troops, only for Riek and Kiir to emerge later to make a joint statement after the gunfire had subsided. Gadet went on to release numerous propagated statements on behave IO while in Nairobi. He at one time alleged that Juba was surrounded by their IO forces and would soon be captured, a statement that was far from truth.

Gadet was eventually arrested and deported to Juba by Kenyan government when he welcomed the dismissal of Kenyan U.N. Peacekeepers force commander in South Sudan by UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon.

  1. Slate Nation

Ngot Aldou Mou better known as Slate Nation took the fifth slot in our ranking of most popular figures of 2016. The young afro-dancehall singer has made tremendous achievements in 2016 like no other. He has won awards more than any other South Sudanese musician in history.

The Ugandan-based singer shot into limelight after remixing Cynthia Morgan’s hit song “German Juice”. The singer made his own version of the song entitled “Juba Juice” which topped music charts in the country. The song earned him 5 and 4 nominations in South Sudan Youth Talent Awards (SSYA) and South Theatre Academy Awards (STA Awards) respectively and won all making him the most awarded South Sudanese musician so far. The Silver X-affiliated singer in 2016 co-signed to Dynamq’s Ruka Nation and River Nile Entertainment record labels.

  1. Mabior Garang

Former Transitional Government of National Unity Agriculture’s Minister Mabior Garang made international headlines in 2016 after he was expelled from cabinet meeting allegedly by President for wearing a bow-tie. The flamboyant politician has always been accused of being an alcoholic or a drug addict for his lavish way of living which is publicly displayed on his Instagram page. His Instagram page displays pictures of expensive alcoholic drinks and pictures of him clubbing in high-end night clubs in Nairobi.

The controversial rebel politician doesn’t take criticism on social media. He is ever responding to mean comments by critics regarding his looks and his political decisions on Facebook.

He was sacked as minister after Riek Machar fled Juba to exile in July. The youthful minister had only been in office for 3 months.

  1. Taban Deng Gai

Taban, a former ally of Riek Machar ousted his boss in July after Riek fled to Congo following the fighting in J1. Taban and IO members who chose to remain in Juba after July clashes replaced Riek in a meeting that was held at Crown Hotel. Riek and his group who fled Juba and declared the “death” of peace agreement and said Taban and his group have been dismissed from SPLM-IO.

He was appointed as FVP by President Kiir in August as SPLM-IO rebel group splintered into Juba and bush factions.

  1. Riek Machar

Exiled rebel leader Riek Machar Teny is our second most popular South Sudanese figure of 2016.

The former FVP and the Chairman of SPLM-IO escaped death in July 2016 following deadly clashed between his forces and the government troops in Juba. He escaped in DRC on foot through forests of Equatoria region and was finally rescued by UN with hundreds of his fighters. He was then flown to Khartoum, Sudan where he was treated for swollen foot and again flew to South Africa for an eye sickness treatment.

In Khartoum, before flying to South Africa, Riek Machar had declared return to war after he was replaced with Taban Deng as FVP.

He returned from South Africa in November but he was denied entry into Sudan and Ethiopia and deported back to South Africa where he is currently being held under house arrest by SA’s authorities. He has recently been making appointments and changes in his IO rebel movement while in his South African home. Many of his rebel officials have switched their allegiance to Taban Deng and returned to Juba.

  1. Salva Kiir

President Salva Kiir Mayardit takes the top position as the most popular South Sudanese figure of 2016.

The president of the republic together with Riek Machar in April 2016 formed the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU) as stipulated in the 2015 Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS) giving hopes to many South Sudanese people, only for these hopes to be dashed again when another fighting erupted in Juba in July.

Since the war started in 2013 Kiir and his rival Riek Machar have shared blame for plunging the country into war causing the mass suffering of South Sudanese innocent civilians. Kiir’s government has survived many US government sponsored attempts of sanctions and arms embargo at the UN Security Council over the war and killings and human right abuses allegedly committed by government troops across the country.

Salva Kiir in December announced a national dialogue to end civil war in the country. The announcement was applauded and earned him praise for the first time since war broke out in 2013.

Other figures who made headlines in 2016 are SPLA chief of staff Paul Malong, South Sudanese – Australian teen model Adut Akec, Information Minister Michael Makuei and Miss Grand South Sudan Teresa Anyier Yuol.

Happy Peaceful and a Prosperous 2017.