2020 has been a year like no other for South Sudanese. From global pandemic to the intriguing game of basketball in Kigali, Rwanda.
It is said that the toughest battles bring out the bravest soldiers. Well… this is exactly what happened in South Sudan in 2020.
Hot in Juba chooses to celebrate everyday South Sudanese heroes. People who have found a way to shine some light through out the 2020. We honor these heroes and heroines who have made a difference countrywide or in their small community; through headline-grabbing moves or silently working behind the scenes.
The glitz and glamour that comes with being a celebrity has been known to corrupt even the kindest of souls. This makes selfless acts by the likes of George Kenyi and Amy Ropani Lasu even more endearing to South Sudanese.
In governance, the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) and Covid-19 pandemic that hit the world have brought to the forefront leaders that were hitherto unknown.
Ministry of Health officials were thrust into the public limelight by the pandemic. Notably, Health Minister Honorable Elizabeth Achuei Yol and the Incident Manager at the Public Health Laboratory Dr. Richard Laku, who made sure the public was updated on daily basis about Coronavirus.
In sport, we have seen stars that we have never known before carry the country’s flag high at the international and regional sport arenas, while in the humanitarian and human rights sector, heroes and heroines have been made in 2020.
In 2017, Hot in Juba’s editorial team began recognizing “Top 10 South Sudanese of the Year”. For the years that followed, we have listed these 10 South Sudanese who have been the talk of every household all year long.
This year, Hot in Juba has decided to do it differently by only celebrating South Sudanese of good deeds. This year’s list unlike the previous ones doesn’t include people whose integrities are in question, hence the reason for not listing controversial figures like we have had in the previous years.
The editorial team overwhelmingly agreed on these individuals who have had impact on South Sudanese people.
Also this year, Hot in Juba has decided increase the list to 50 people. Hundreds of people were shortlisted but were later screened and cut down to 50.
Ladies and gentlemen the TOP 10 SOUTH SUDANESE 2020:
1. Nyang Wek
2. Anyiarbany Makoi
3. Deng Acuoth
4. Kuany Ngor Kuany
5. Teny Pout
Nyang, Makoi, Deng, Kuany and Teny have been the most outstanding five in the South Sudan’s national team that triumphed in Rwanda during FIBA AfroBasket Qualifiers in Kigali. The performance of team has earned South Sudan’s a top spot in the continental basketball rankings.
6. Data Gordon
Commonly known as Mr. Condomize, Gordon is a champion of the fight against HIV/AIDs in the country. With support from UNDP and other partners, he is found at every youth or social events in Juba dishing out free condoms to youth. He also single handedly founded an initiative Men4Women, a gender equality campaign. He advocates for gender equality and accessibility of sanity towels for every girl.
7. Liyo Lopidia
Liyo is the founder EVE Organisation for Women Development, she is a champion of women rights and gender equality. Her work earned her a prestigious peace award, the “2020 Women Building Peace Award” by United States Peace Institute.
8. Rebecca Nyandeng
A political figure like no other, Mama Rebeca serves as the VP for Gender and Youth Cluster in the R-TGONU. Her office has produced over half a million free face masks in South Sudan to help fight COVID-19. She has been very instrumental in helping thousands of people displaced by devastating floods in 2020 all over the country. Her office together with humanitarian agencies have been doing aerial surveys on the extent of floods devastation in Jonglei and other parts of the country using choppers. This helped humanitarian agencies reach thousands of vulnerable people with relief food.
9. Luol Deng
Former NBA star and now the president of South Sudan Basketball Federation (SSBF), Luol is a champion of basketball development in the country. During the FIBA AfroBasket Qualifiers in November, Luol had to take over as the coach for National team and this has helped the team win 7 games out of all the 10 games of the tournament.
10. Francis Amin
President of South Sudan Football Association (SSFA), Amin is credited with the development of football in the country. His stewardship is crucial in Bright Stars improved performance in the AFCON 2021 Qualifiers in November this year. The team for the first time won against giants Uganda Cranes.
11. Beckie Johnz
The Australia-based South Sudanese singer has made great strives in 2020. She bagged numerous collaborations with top East African musicians like Navio, Andre, Spice Diana and many more. Her EP, “Just The Beginning” dropped in late 2019 and she is currently working on a new album expected early 2021.
12. Hussein Abdelbagi
Since his appointment as The Vice President responsible for Service Cluster in the R-TGONU, Hussein Abdelbagi has worked tirelessly for peace along South Sudan and Sudan’s border in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State. He has initiated peace conferences between Dinka Malual and Rezeigat tribe in Sudan. His efforts saw government paying millions of pounds as blood compensation to the families of those killed in the cross border conflicts.
Poet, spoken word artist and lyricist, Ade has proven to be a prolific poet and is undoubtedly one of the best South Sudanese poets of all times. His poetry and spoken album was dropped this year and it’s a masterpiece.
14. Sarah Cleto
The governor of Western Bahr El Ghazal became the only woman governor in South Sudan after the formation of R-TGONU. She has been instrumental in uniting the divided communities of Western Bahr el Ghazal following her appointment in June 2020.
She has also reconciled hostile SSPDF and SPLM-IO forces in the area.
15. George Kenyi
Probably the most loved South Sudanese in 2020. George Kenyi, a traffic police officer who stole the hearts of motorists and later South Sudanese in general through how he does his work deligently, something very rare to our armed forces.
He was recognized and awarded by citizens in June this year for his great work.
16. ‘Tearz’ Ayuen Panchol
The author of the most talked South Sudanese book this year. A journalist and now author, his first book “Laughter and Cry – Writings of Tearz Ayuen” was published barely three months ago but could so far be ranked among the top 10 books in South Sudan this year.
In his book, he holds those in power – political, military, economic, social, sexual – to account. He exposes them, warts and all. His targets are fair game, those who harm others or themselves. Everyone who deserves a grilling gets one. No topic is too shocking or too sensitive for him to broach. There are no taboos. He rolls up his sleeves and get his hands dirty. It’s dangerous work but he has the guts and the hard-hitting words to do it, through letters, pamphlets, poems – a parable and a farce even.
17. Bullen Chol
He’s a photographer like no other. From beautiful landscape of our country to the devastating floods and poor roads during the rainy season. He has documented South Sudan in 2020 with his only tool that’s his camera. If you haven’t come across his work in 2020, look out for him in 2021.
18. Boutros Ghali
Then based in Yambio, this fast-rising comedian became an household name in 2020. His funny and educative comedy clips made everyone fall in love him. The funny man has since moved to Juba to seek for greener pastures in the capital.
19. Feel Free
One of the most consistent South Sudanese comedians, Feel Free, the creator of the now popular phrase ‘Ita bi feel’ has had an impactful 2020. Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, the comedian took it upon himself to educate masses about the deadly pandemic. His COVID-19 awareness comedy videos earned him a deal with MTN South Sudan. With support from the telecom giant, the comedian ran successful Coronavirus awareness campaigns.
20. Maya Nemaya
The founder of Advance Youth Radio, the newest radio station in the city of Juba gave youth a voice in 2020. Maya’s radio station is a game changer. Since launch, the station airs youth empowerment and gender equality programs. The Advance Youth Radio became the first and only visual-radio FM station with online audio and video streaming.
20. AK Dans
The only South Sudanese comedian that has crossed our borders in 2020. He carried South Sudan’s flag to regional comedy festivals in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho and South Sudan, something that has never been done before.
22. Angelina Teny
Angelina made history in South Sudan in 2020 becoming the first ever female defense minister. Being at the helm of the country’s divided armed groups, Angelina is tasked with uniting all the forces and turn them into one national army a task she is perfectly doing well. Through out the year, she braved the volatile security situation in the country and visited all cantonment centres for different forces including SSPDF, SPLM-IO and SSOA preaching to them about unity and peace.
23. Nhial Deng Nhial
Nhial replaced Mayiik Ayii Deng as the minister of Presidential Affairs in June 2020 and has since brought sweeping reforms to the highest office in the land. A very calm and eloquent politician, Nhial is credited with putting President’s office in order.
He is said to be working on restructuring the office of the president and rid it of corruption and other malpractices that have been the order of the day during the tenure of his predecessor.
24. Elizabeth Achuei &
25. Dr. Richard Lako
These Ministry of Health officials were thrust into the public limelight by the pandemic. Notably, Health Minister Honorable Elizabeth Achuei Yol and the Incident Manager at the Public Health Laboratory Dr. Richard Laku, through out the pandemic made sure the public was updated on daily basis about Coronavirus.
26. John Akec
A vocal and no-nonsense Vice Chancellor of the University of Juba, since his appointment the university has undergone numerous reforms and facelift. Professor John Akec has also been very vocal about many issues affecting the country. He voices his opinions on social media regarding the affairs of the country.
27. Taban Loliyong
Veteran poet, and writer of fiction and literary criticism. His political views, as well as his outspooken disapproval of the post-colonial system of education in East Africa, have inspired both further criticism as well as controversy since the late 1960s
In February 2020, Lo Liyong was suspended from his teaching assignment by the University of Juba, because he had written critical comments on South Sudan’s government in a local South Sudanese newspaper. His latest ‘After Troy’, a booklength poem, is an expansive and engaging elaboration of two classical Greek texts, Homer’s Odyssey and Aeschylus’s Oresteia. Its focus is the homecoming from the Trojan war of two hero-kings, Odysseus and Agamemnon.
28. Aluel Manyok
Aluel is new breed of feminist. Her initiative #GenderTalk211 was launched early 2020. The campaign also hosts a weekly radio program on Advance Youth Radio. Aluel describes #Gendertalk211 as a platform aimed at initiating conversations on gender in South Sudan.
“The need for initiating the platform comes out of the observation that conversations on gender amongst South Sudanese often focus on the aftermath which is sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Given the protracted conflict, there are more efforts towards prevention and response to SGBV but very minimal on the root which is “gender” as a concept in South Sudan. To fully understand the presence of the gender gap or inequality and how South Sudanese get to SGBV, there is need to comprehensively understand the construct of gender in South Sudan, what it was, what it is, how it is evolving and why the evolution is necessary. In the South Sudanese context, discussions (both offline and online) around gender are often charged and quickly explode as soon as they start, leaving very minimal room for dialogues to deepen the understanding of issues raised. Gender Talk 211 is therefore an online space and an opportunity for South Sudanese to constructively and continuously share information, experiences, knowledge, and skills around gender as a concept.”
29. Peter Louis
Peter is a South Sudanese journalist who when most media outlets in the country slowed down on updating the public about CORONAVIRUS continued to let the public know about the pandemic. His accurate daily updates on COVID-19 sourced from the Public Health Laboratory have helped South Sudanese with the vital information on the pandemic.
30. Mary Ajith
Mary Ajith is the chairperson of the Association for Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS). She has been at forefront of fight for the rights journalists in South Sudan in 2020.
31. John Bagara
John Bagara needs no much description. He’s the hitmaker of the most uniting song in country this year. His song ‘Salam Ja’ calls for peace in the country after the government and opposition groups signed peace agreement and formed a new unity government.
Yanas is a singer/song writer who combines jazz, rnb and afro music to tell her story. Her album ‘Yanas Revealed’ was launched in October and became the only significant music album launched in the country in 2020.
33. Peter Lual
The founder of Australia-based publishing house, “Africa World Books” has given hundreds of aspiring and acclaimed South Sudanese authors and writers a voice and an opportunity to have their books published. He has published highly acclaimed novels and literature books like ‘Laughter and Cry’ by Tearz Ayuen and ‘The Wrong Camp’ by Bol Majok Adiang.
34. Abul Oyay
Abul a fine art artist. Her paintings of culture, peace and unity speak volumes. She is also the founder of Boabab House, a social hub in Juba that has given creatives and artists a home where they showcase their work in Juba.
35. Towongo Fred aka Town Far Fredo
When the world focuses so much on European football and other international sports, Fred felt it was important to also promote local sport in the country. Throughout the year, he updated South Sudanese lovers of local sport with latest happenings in the world of sport. It doesn’t matter what corner of our country is a sport tournament is taking place, Fred knows about it.
He founded Sports24.com Facebook page to market South Sudanese sports. He also created “South Sudan Football” a Facebook group which is the largest football forum in the country with 123,000 followers so far. Fred is the co-founder of KurraSports.com, the only sports news website in South Sudan. Fred also works as contributor for CAFONLINE website reporting on South Sudan.
He is a sports news anchor, analyst and commentator at 88.4 City FM. He hosts two sport programs “The City Sports” and “Sports Magazine” both on the same radio station.
36. Dr. Emmanuel Taban
South Africa based South Sudanese doctor, Dr. Emmanuel Taban is the pulmonologist leading a groundbreaking discovery for the treatment of Covid-19 patients and saving their lives, thousands of miles away from home. He made International news headlines in October this year after his discovery. Dr. Taban offers world-class pulmonology care as well as pro-bono primary healthcare to patients in Johannesburg, South Africa
37. Amy Ropani Lasu
After leading South Sudan’s national women football team in a debut International match in November 2019, Amy became a national figure after displaying superb skills in the pitch. She was recently unveiled as the face and the ambassador for women’s football in South Sudan by Football Federation.
38. Manasseh Mathiang
Manasseh is a youth activist. He is the team leader of AnaTaban, a youth and artist campaign collective based in Juba. The group uses street theater, graffiti, murals, sculpture and poetry to foster public discussion about the issues of social injustice and government accountability, and transparency.
39. Emmanuel Lobijo
Lobijo is the founder of an innovation hub called Junub Open Space based in Juba.
40. Adut Bulgak
Adut Bulgak is a South Sudanese-Canadian professional basketball player for the Chicago Sky of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She recently revealed that in 2017 she turned down Angola’s offer of citizenship and a good salary to have her play for the country.
“2017, Angola offered me citizenship to join their national team; w/a generous salary. I turned it down to start advocating & fighting for a 🇸🇸national team. If I’d said yes; I’d likely have to suit up against S.Sudan one day; IMAGINE. THIS DREAM OF MINE WILL PREVAIL,” she said.
41. Sarah Chan
Sarah is a South Sudanese former basketball player and a basketball talent scout manager.
In July this year, she was appointed, Africa’s First Woman Scouting Manager for the 2019 NBA champions, the Toronto Raptors.
42. Peter Maker Manyang
Maker, had a well displayed leadership skills as being captain of the national senior men football team.
43. Tito Okello Odong
Since he joined the Senior Men National Football Team in 2020, Okello has been tremendous after being played in 6 different positions. He scored the lone winning goal against Uganda in November 2020.
44. Ramadan John Mayiik
Mayiik had a great display in both Cameroon and Uganda games in the 2021 AFCON Qualifiers this year.
45. Simon Pitia Justine
Pitia was voted Best U-20 goal stopper after conceding only 2 goals in the CECAFA U-20 Tournament played in Tanzania in November 2020.
46. Nelson Victor Elia
Victor scored the most important goal as South Sudan beat Kenya in the U-20 3rd place playoffs in November 2020.
47. William Gama
Gama was the playmaker for the South Sudan U-20 while CECAFA in November 2020.
48. Phillip Angelo Taban
Angelo is the South Sudan U-20 top scorer with 2 goals with one important goal against Kenya in November 2020.
49. Wani Michael
A staunch youth activist and youth representative in the National Constitutional Amendment Committee (NCAC), Wani Michael has been a defender and advocate for youth in South Sudan. Througout 2020, he has been advocating for youth participation in the government and policy makings. Wani Michael was named among 60 emerging African leaders in 2020.
50. Nyuol Lueth Tong
A South Sudanese student at the prestigious Yale University in USA, Nyuol was recognized on Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30” list in 2020.
Each year Forbes selects up to 30 enterprising young people in 20 categories: entertainment; social media; media; education; finance; sports; venture capital; energy; art and style; enterprise technology; music; healthcare; manufacturing and industry; science; games; retail and commerce; food and drink; social impact; consumer technology; and marketing and advertising. They are considered by judges in a three-tier process that includes the nominees answering an in-depth questionnaire.
Nyuol is the founder and editor in chief of the literature review website ‘The Bare Life Review’