By Ding Lam Yual
March 19, 2010 (Malakal) — Mr. Gabriel Changson Chang was born in 1952.Though his parents or clan are citizen of Wechbuowni Boma of Kuetrengke Payam of Nasir County, Changson was born in Ruplet Boma of Toaloari Payam, Ulang County. If these Counties (Ulang & Nasir) were separate countries, Changson could have obtained two citizenships. At the age of five (1957), Changson attended Nasir West primary school; and by 1960, he completed his elementary school. From 1961 to 1964, Changson joined Obel Junior Secondary School but could not complete his studies due to the closure of Southern schools by the government.
After 1964, the political situation in the South worsened and became precarious. The Sudanese government closed down all the existed schools in the South. Mr. Changson, together with colleagues, decided that it is about time to join the Anyanya Movement. From 1965 to 1967, Changson actively soldiered in the Anyanya I Movement. In 1968 while in Ethiopia, Mr. Changson thought it wise to further his education. He enrolled in JFK Senior Secondary School in Addis and Ras Dergie Secondary School in Assella province, Ethiopia. There, he subsequently sat for Ethiopian School Leaving Certificate in1971, a year before 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement.
Post Addis Ababa Agreement:
Like any other refugee, Mr. Changson returned to Sudan in 1973. With high school certificate, Changson had his first job with the Ministry of Mining and Industry–in Geology section. A year later, he decided to pursue higher education. Between 1975 and 1978, Changson enrolled in the then Khartoum Polytechnic Institute–now expanded into Sudan University of Science and Technology. Right after graduation (1978), Mr. Changson took a position with the Bank of Khartoum. Couple of months later, he accepted employment offer from El Nilein Bank. In 1979, Changson switched to Bank of Sudan and remained there until 2008 when he formally resigned.
Post Graduate Studies:
In August of 1984, an opportunity presented itself to Changson to further his education. Mr. Changson received a scholarship from USAID to study abroad at Duke University in North Carolina, USA. In May 1986, Mr. Changson completed a Master’s degree in Economic. After graduation, Changson returned to Sudan and resumed his work with the Bank of Sudan.
In 2003, Mr. Changson was appointed Minister of Finance and Economic planning with the Coordinating Council for Southern Sudan. Changson held this position up until July 8th of 2005. After 2006 Juba Declaration between SSDF and SPLA/M, Mr. Changson was appointed Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, GoSS. He held this position from the January of 2006 until October 2007. During the hike of corruption spree in Southern Sudan, the government of Southern Sudan sought Changson’s expertise.
In March 2007, the president of GoSS, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, intervened by appointing H.E. Gabriel Changson Chang to serve as a care taker Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, GoSS. But when the elite realized that Changson does not pay lip-services or give-in to predominately whims, they protested and removed him without regard to public opinion. Changson served in this position for three and half months. In October of the same year, the president of GoSS appointed Changson to serve as Minister of Information and Broadcasting, GoSS. Changson served in that Ministry until May 2009 when he was appointed to head the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. To date, H.E. Mr. Gabriel Changson Chang is the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, GoSS.
For the shortest time that the Southern Sudanese publics have known Changson, the overwhelming majority are miraculously happier with his services to the people of Southern Sudan. With a starting professional career in banking, Mr. Changson rose and became a successful politician. From 2006 to 2010, Changson served as Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, was appointed a care taker Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, and now serving as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, GoSS. In all of these Ministries, Changson is dearly missed. He has shown tremendous leadership and vision.
Below are accounts of Changson’s achievements:
With just an humble beginning as a bank employees, Changson worked his way up until he reached the bank’ management level. Apart from his job, Changson also involved in other private entrepreneurial initiatives which let to the establishment of Ivory Bank: Mr. Gabriel Changson Chang happened to be among those who established Ivory Bank–one of the first indigenous banks in the history of Southern Sudan, and is currently serving as the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs:
Before Changson’s tenure, the Ministry of Parliamentary was known to experience lack of cooperation and team work. There were open tensions between the executive and the legislative branch. After Changson took over, he worked very hard to resolve such tensions. Mr. Changson succeeded in creating harmonous relation between the executive and the legislature; formulated and implemented training opportunities for State Legislative Assembly members all over the South; initiated and established the “Speakers Forum” equivalent to the “Governors Forum” — creating a forum for speakers all over the South to discuss challenges and share knowledge; and finally, Mr. Changson devised and put into effect the concept of “Youth Parliament”–as a way of exposing the youth to the democratic processes of governance before actually enrolling into the political arena.
Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning:
Mr. Changson has served in this ministry only for a very short time (3 1/2 months). However, his tenure seemed the longest due to restrictive policies he introduced. Those who are addicted to corruption spree in the government of Southern Sudan can not stand Changson serving in this ministry due to his restrictive stance on all kinds of corrupt activities. Because of that, he was immediately removed after serving three months. While in this ministry, Changson acquired a new name–a name that brought out the true color of those who have deep repugnant towards him. Instead of calling him Changson, the cliques, rather jokingly, referred to him as “Mr. Sanction.”
Mr. Changson introduced and established Financial Control Systems; stopped all government institutions from signing contracts without the consent of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning; introduced an open book of accounts and computerized financial transactions; streamlined payments for government contracts; established inspection committee before any payment is made; suctioned and reprimanded government spending outside the appropriated budget; and finally restored people and international community’s confident in the government of Southern Sudan.
Ministry of Information & Broadcasting:
Before Changson’s appointment to this ministry, no one knew or even pay attention to what this ministry was doing or even its roles. Instead of moving forward, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting was in terrible shape. But when Changson took over: Ministry of Information and Broadcasting took its place–its importance became obvious; South Sudan Satellite TV became operational and viewed worldwide–Americas, Eurasia, Australia, Middle East and Africa; 100 staff in the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting attended professional media trainings in radio and TV programming (45 in South Africa, 45 in Kenya and 10 in Egypt); rehabilitated South Sudan radio facility receiver reaching as far as Khartoum; provided TV satellite receivers to all ten Southern states, the three areas and Nasir County; gave the established stations the capacity to receive and produce local contents and programming; constructed government public information centre and GoSS website; sponsored and drafted government of southern Sudan legislation pertaining to Press Privacy Act, Independent Media Bill, and Rights to Information Bills; rehabilitated South Sudan Radio premises in Malakal and constructed a new TV premises in Malakal; and finally, constructed government printing press which will be operational early this year.
Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sports:
It is obvious that young men and women of Southern Sudan live on the margin. Their aspirations and hopes are secondaries. But with the appointment of Changson to the Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sport, the youth’ fading hopes immediately revived.
This June 2010, the Ministry is working on sending Southern Sudan basketball team to United States of America –this Southern Sudan team will encorporate existing Sudanese American players into its team to play alongside/jointly against American basketball teams in various Universities; the ministry will send Southern Sudanese Cultural Troupe to USA along with the team to act as cheerleaders for the Southern Sudanese team–this will help expose the culture of Southern Sudan to the rest of the world; the ministry collaborated in the organization of a colorful and successful celebration of 5th Anniversary of CPA in Yambio, WES by constructing the second best Stadium in the Sudan with basketball and volleyball play ground; the ministry participated in RIDDU RIDDU–a Norwegian Cultural Festival which was attended by 4 boys and 4 girls representing Southern Sudan; the ministry sent three Miss Malaikas to participate in a fashion week organized in South Africa; it also delegated two young women to participate in International Earth Beauty Peagant in Asia–the two Southern Sudanese contestants ranked the tallest and one earned a recognition in the Guinness Book of Record—was ranked 20 out of 80 contestant in Manila; these events have no doubt put Southern Sudan on the world stage;
The ministry initiated the rehabilitation of various youth training centres; the organization of the Arab Leugue agreed to rehabilitate Juba Youth Centre and committed itself to supporting sporting and cultural projects throughout Southern Sudan; the ministry proposed a training of over 5 millions youth in professional skills both north and south and is due for funding by the Egyptian government; the Ministry proposed a training of over 5 millions youth with skills in self employment (to make youth employable) to the Spanish government; the funding for the Spanish project has already been allocated to organizations ready to train the youth–the training target all the ten Southern Sudan states; the government of Germany pledged to support football activities in Southern Sudan; the ministry is currently drafting Legal Framework to govern youth activities regarding copyrights and will use the legal document to formulate the cultural, youth and sport associations in Southern Sudan ; the ministry has so far issued probational orders to establish sports associations in order to regulate competition all over Southern Sudan;
Secured a one year scholarship to under 12 years old school children in Acrobatic sports–6 boys and 4 girls have so far reached China; rehabilitated Juba Stadium and organized basketball tournaments widely attended throughout Juba city; initiated, designed and supervised the construction of Yambio Stadium–the second best in the whole of Sudan; organized the 2009 Under 17 years CECAFA for countries of East and Central Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, Zanzibar, Uganda)–this is the first time in the history of Southern Sudan; Currently, the ministry is working on sending Southern Sudan basketball team to United States of America –this Southern Sudan team will encorporate existing Sudanese American players into its team to play alongside/jointly against American basketball teams in various Universities.
This profile is compiled by Ding Lam Yual of MatMedia Sudan (MMS)