Following on from dramas earlier this week the second First Vice President Gen. Taban Deng Gai continues his role in heading the 72 United National General Assembly (UNGA) on behalf of South Sudan. He leads an entourage of over 30 persons, including Foreign Minister Deng Alor and Presidential Advisor Nhial Deng Nhial
FVP Deng bragged about his meetings with leaders from different countries around the world to discuss peace widely seen on his facebook timeline sharing his pictures shaking hands with Presidents, Prime Ministers, Sheikhs and Kings as well.
However, one incident is conspicuously absent from his posts, something we only learnt later from leaks within his inner circle.
Saakam learned from several sources that FVP Deng was blocked from attending the African Leader’s luncheon with the US President Donald J Trump on the sidelines of the UNGA.
Dressed in a brand-new tuxedo and accompanied by an un-unidentified female companion, FVP Taban Deng turned up for the event only to be refused entry by the US Secret Service. He was told that his details were not in the list, and the only person described in the invitation list as the leader of South Sudan wears a Texas-style cowboy hat and has a rough moustache – both features were apparently absent from the neatly dressed FVP.
Several attempts to explain who the FVP actually was failed to sway the organizers.
“They then tried to explain that [the FVP] Taban Deng was in-fact the leader of a rebels-in-opposition movement that has surrendered to Kiir’s government after trading in violence against Kiir’s army for violence against his former colleagues who refused to surrender and decided to remain rebels-in-opposition in the bush….”, one witness tried to explain.
However, the South Sudan delegation was not ready to give up and was determined to have the FVP be among the African leaders meeting Trump in that luncheon. Three different groups were dispatched who frantically zipped downtown New York City to buy a cowboy hat similar in size, shape and form to the one that President Kiir sports. Reportedly by the time the cowboy hat was bought and brought, the lunch was already over and Trump had already left the building.
Those African leaders who attended said President Trump praised Africa and said that he has a lot of friends going to Africa to ‘hunt simbas’ and try to get rich, alluding to the huge natural resources on the continent, yet Trump appears to know of some additional African countries that have not been discovered yet.
Saakam has also learned that President Trump’s original speech was to include a section about American generosity, gifts given by American Presidents to African leaders and what that means, and why African leaders should embrace modern American values like wearing cowboy hats, listening to country music and having a lot of fire-arms in the hands of civilians.
That was why it was vital that South Sudan be represented at that luncheon by a cowboy-wearing leader!
It is unfortunate that Taban Deng was not able to ‘fill the hat’ of President Salva Kiir who is known for wearing the cowboy hat given to him by former US President George Bush. As it appears, American now demands that hat be worn every time any of its leader is met.
When President Trump heard the news that FVP Deng was denied entry, he praised their work and said: “We don’t recognize any leader from South Sudan without the cowboy given as a gift from one of our Presidents. Anyone representing South Sudan should always wear that hat. Believe me, I would sign an executive order to that effect…they should wear what we give them to wear!”, he added.
On his part FVP Taban Deng has vowed to grow a beard, moustache and constantly wear the cowboy hat from now onwards (or have one within reach) to avoid further diplomatic embarrassment.
The is not the first time the US has locked horns with South Sudan. A few years ago, Vice President Wani Igga decried his ‘treatment like an ordinary traveler’ after his was detained by Immigration Officers for some minutes while his diplomatic passport was being checked, frisk-searched, and told to waited to collect own luggage.
It is not yet clear how the President Salva Kiir reacted to the latest development. Saakam will continue to provide updates from the sidelines as we learn more.