A Hero for South Sudan

Father Saturnino Lohure, a native of the Torit area in what is now South Sudan, was born in 1921 into the Lotuko tribe and baptised at age ten by the Comboni missionaries. He was subsequently ordained in 1946. In learning about slavery and the slave trade he saw parallels in the way the south was governed. Jurisdiction over Torit and the South was in the hands of Arab leaders in Khartoum who neglected the needs of Southerners, looking down upon them with prejudice.

Father Saturnino made it his life’s mission to protect and secure the religious and civil freedoms of his people. When the Sudan gained independence from Britain and Egypt in 1956, with permission from the Holy See, he represented Torit in the Khartoum parliament. The debate over a federal system for the South fell apart when the parliament was disbanded by the military. Father Saturnino subsequently went into exile where he became one of the mentors of the quest for independence.

He travelled extensively throughout neighbouring African countries and Europe, passionately campaigning for South Sudan; alerting the world to the plight of his people, who were suffering at the hands of Khartoum’s dictatorial Islamic regime.

He was brutally murdered in Uganda in 1967 at a time when, millions were killed or displaced as a result of a brutal civil war. Fortunately the ideals he died for have become reality. Ask anyone in South Sudan and they will say that he is a saint - forging a path towards South Sudanese independence.

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