Bishop Taban Says His Peace Prize Win Was A “Surprise”

Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban won the 2013 Sergio Vieira de Mello Prize for his work at the Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron, in Eastern Equatoria State. [Waakhe Simon Wudu]

“It was a surprise…all my work was a humble service for the people,” Paride told Gurtong in an exclusive interview.

He said; “It is said anything you do good in this world will never remain unrecognized. I thought this was going to be recognized by God only, but now it came also especially the people of South Sudan could not hide it.”

“I did it in God’s name not for my own benefit nor even to rise up myself or any political ambition, I did it for God,” he added.

Paride said the award should be a challenging instrument to the people of South Sudan, urging them to put God first in everything they do and above all, love.

“Do whatever you do good things to help your suffering brother and sisters in their difficulty and God is love,” he said.

“We would like the sons and daughters of South Sudan now to dedicate them now for bringing total peace in their own country. The South Sudan cannot be South Sudan unless the whole of the population come together as one single tribe,” said the Bishop.

Bishop Paride was on February 9 awarded the Sergio Viera de Mello Price on his efforts and accomplishments in building trust and peace between different communities in the Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron he established, in Eastern Equatoria State.

The United Nations had congratulated Paride for the award and said the achievement of peace in the Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron by Bishop Emeritus ParideTaban is a model to be emulated in other hotspots of South Sudan. Its unifying potential is all the more vital for the future of the country.

The Bishop devoted himself selflessly during two decades of civil war, in some of the most trying situations serving communities, being one of their staunchest advocates, as well as reconciling them and promoting peace between them.

“This is a very well deserved recognition,” said the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for South Sudan, Ms Hilde F. Johnson in the UNMISS congratulatory message.

“This award also illustrates the timely need for all concerned to embark on a nationally owned and broadly represented process of national reconciliation and healing. It is the commitment of the United Nations to support such a process and help foster stability and peace in South Sudan,” added the UNMISS.

Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban won the 2013 Sergio Vieira de Mello Prize for his work at the Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron, in the east of South Sudan.

Set up in 2005, the village brings together people from different tribes and faiths that have been in conflict for years over cattle rustling.

“The fact that this village is now seen as an example of reconciliation and peace will encourage other communities to follow a similar approach in other areas of conflict in South Sudan and beyond,” said Laurent Vieira de Mello, president of the prize foundation and eldest son of the late Sergio Vieira de Mello.

A Brazilian, Vieira de Mello, the U.N.’s former human rights chief, was killed in a bombing in Iraq in 2003.

The prize is awarded annually to an individual, community or institution seen as having made an exceptional contribution to reconciliation of communities or groups in conflict, and whose example can be duplicated elsewhere.

The jury includes the U.N.’s refugee agency and human rights chiefs.

Taban is due to receive the award – which includes a symbolic sum of 5,000 Swiss francs ($5,500, 4,000 euros) – from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at a March 1 ceremony in Geneva. 

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