Saturday, July 25, 2009

Archbishop urges unity

The Most Rev. Daniel Deng Bul, Episcopal archbishop of Sudan, visited Roanoke on Thursday to deliver a stern message to the area's Sudanese Christian community.

"I am challenging you, you have a problem and you need to solve it. You are not speaking together," he told an audience of about 17 men and women at Roanoke's St. James Episcopal Church.

Sudanese expatriates need to organize their efforts to draw attention to the plight of people in the southern part of the impoverished and war-torn African nation, he said. Too often Sudanese get caught up in tribal allegiances that make it difficult to speak with a unified voice.

That message resonated with Nelson Walla, who has lived in the United States for about five years and who has tried desperately to get the Sudanese community organized.

"We have to unite and be one nation," he said after the archbishop's talk. "Even within the Sudanese community in Roanoke, wherever you go, this issue [of tribalism] is there. We need to bring all the people together despite all the differences."

The archbishop's visit was a momentous event for the area's Sudanese, who probably number about 120, according to Walla. At first, Bul hadn't planned to visit the area, choosing instead to spend time in more populated places where he could call on American leaders and Sudanese expatriates to pay attention to the plight of southern Sudan, which is today often overshadowed by Darfur, a war-torn area in the west of the country.

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