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Guest Column: What South Sudan needs

I recently had the great pleasure of representing my home nation, South Sudan, at the Mister Africa International Competition, which took place in London.

I competed against men representing countries all across Africa. We started with 30 people, and then we had a top 15, then top 10, top three and after all that, I was the top one.

I came out victorious. I was able to impress the judges with my intellect, creativity and public speaking skills. Only 10 people made it all the way to London and I was one of them along with others such as a fitness models and commercial actors.

All of the competitors had great talent and their eyes on the prize. As I went from top 10 to top five to top three, I told myself, “Wow, we might actually win this.”

When I heard my name announced, I felt shocked and, at the moment, I felt proud. I felt a deep sense of joy and achievement. At that moment, I realized that anything is possible.

I was the youngest contestant at the pageant, but I didn’t let that stop me from going for the win. I prepared for more than three months by working out, following a strict diet, practicing fashion walks and learning more about the fashion/modeling industry.

As Mister Africa International I have ascended into a celebrity status and have a plethora of opportunity to obtain success in the fashion, film and modeling industry. Aside from that, I will have the opportunity to travel to Nigeria and appear on different shows, meet prominent people and use my platform to inspire African youth.

All of these achievements and opportunities have been achieved as I wear the South Sudan flag. Everywhere I go I am representing South Sudan and setting standards for fellow countrymen. South Sudanese have migrated to Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States, all with hopes of opportunity and a better life.

I believe what the community needs is young leaders, young people to take control of the fate of their nation. I am optimistic about the future of my nation even though things are bad right now.

There are so many young adults with talent, intellect and, best of all, a deep passion for their people. The situation in South Sudan is perpetuated by the leaders who don’t care for the well-being of their people and are consumed by greed and power.

We as young South Sudanese have witnessed war our entire lives and realize how this abrogates development and damages our citizens. As the younger generation, we must realize that patience is key and growth is paramount.

What South Sudan needs is:

  • Strong leadership from a broad range of ethnic groups, regions and age groups.
  • A deep understanding of political and economic development to create institutions to change the country.
  • Those of us who have been blessed with the opportunity to come to the West must realize our great responsibility in changing the future of our nation and the world.
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