How I Lost My Profession as a Journalist in South Sudan
Let me be clear again,
By Nhial Bol Aken,
Aug 2, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —— Fellow citizens, friends and relatives have been repeatedly questioning me about why I left journalism and also why I joined IO and later on resigned from it. Honestly I will deal with the first part, journalism. The issues which pushed me out my profession are related to my relations with authorities especially with the circle of the ruling elites.
My crisis started in 2013, few months before the alleged court of 2013. It happened that the former chief administrator in the office of the President paid a visit to my office and suggested he is considering that I should accept with to work with them, I promptly asked who are they (them) he wanted me to work with. He replied, the office of the President. I looked at him and politely suggested that we put off the issue for another time because it is approaching evening hours and I am alone to do editing but he insisted that I should agree with him so that he could push for the post. Then I asked him what job he thought I will take, he said, “the media”.
I thanked him and suggested that he should look around for another person because I am not feeling like I would handle issues of the presidency. He asked me to clarify the meaning of word issues. I explained that I worked as a journalist in the former Sudan Presidential palace and I have observed the system that the officials there were seconded from various government institutions and not from the street. This last argument set me in fire like situation. He immediately asked me of being arrogant to the system, rude and many others.
He threatened that I better withdraw the word street but instead I suggested that he should focus on the future of his post in the Presidency rather than wasting time on my sins. He walked out and I went back to my job but with concern that he is going to steer up crisis which rightly later happened.
Within a week, I was summoned to security office for two articles which were three months old. I got the first warning followed by many others. When the crisis of alleged coup took place, I was receiving phone calls with pattern of threats against my life. My mother suggested that I better joined her in the village in South of Gogrial East county and I responded her by going there and I stayed there for three weeks but I decided to return to Juba because there were issues related to administration. The whole of 2014 was like a hell to me because the mounted pressure on me by the elites was great.
The state owned petroleum company (NilePet) ceased to supply fuel to my media institutions, the press and the Citizen Television the action which forced me to stop the CTV broadcasting and the printing press to stop printing. The 78 employees lost their jobs simply because of the state attempt to isolate me.
In 2015, the national security ordered the closure of The Citizen newspaper for unknown reasons; no legal or administrative charges are framed until today. The Citizen newspaper employees too lost their jobs, some of them left the country, others became refugees.
Considering all these challenges, I decided to quit the media because my company was forced to collapse, the action which have driven me into street life. When I decided to join politics, the dust followed me and I also had to quit it. My children are out of schools and life seemed to be a challenge in the long run.
Traditionally, if you happened to be a Dinka, the tribe of the current President from Bahr El Ghazal region, your loyalty to the presidency is like obligation. Those of us who are suspected to oppose the poor governance of our government, we are considered like those Muslims who oppose Islam.
With this explanation, will my being journalist helps any issue since I have no paper to edit? My television station is off air and my life is at potential risk. I would like to ask for pardon on the ground that I am forced to abandon my profession by those who think too much about ruling us and believe very little about the survival of the citizens.