Wani Yugusuk, Benjamin
His Grace Benjamin Wani is a retired archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
Wani was born on January 1, 1928, the fifth of six children, in Lomega village, Juba Town, Bahrel Jebel Province, Sudan. His parents, Yugusuk Meja Wani and Moyok Pitya are of the Lulubo ethnic group, Lumbari clan and worshiped the ancestral spirits in the mountains of Lulubo country, about 50 miles east of Juba.
He started school in 1939 in his village and in 1941 he went to the Church Missionary Upper Primary School in Juba. Bishop Oliver Allison baptized him on Christmas Day 1941. In September 1942 he married Raele Poni, the daughter of Tira Luwala and they had 9 children, two of whom died in infancy.
After his primary school studies, he was asked to teach at the school from 1944 to 1945. In 1946 he went to study at the intermediate level at Yei where he was converted a year later. Upon graduation in 1947, Wani returned to Juba to continue teaching at the CMS School from 1948 to 1949.
In response to God’s call, Wani attended Bishop Gwynne College in Mundri for theological training from 1950 to 1953. He was ordained a deacon by Bishop Oliver Allison in December 1953 and served in Yei Parish Church under the pastoral care of Rev. Tadayo Yaone Waiwai. Two years later Bishop Allison ordained him a priest. He then worked in Lomega Parish as a priest from 1955 to 1958 and then in Lainya from 1959 to 1961. From 1961, he worked in Juba as a Diocesan Secretary for Southern Sudan for seven years.
In 1968 he was sent to England to take a one-year course in theology at the London Divinity School. Upon his return to Juba he resumed his position as the Diocesan Secretary. On January 25, 1971, he was consecrated bishop and sent to Yei. When the Dinka Christians protested, saying that all the present dioceses were concentrated in the equatorial region, Wani was sent to Rumbek in Bahr El Ghazal Province to establish a diocese in 1976. He served here until 1985 when he was forced out by the civil war between the Sudan Liberation Army and the government of Sudan.
Raele died in 1978 and he married Miriama Karibuni two years later. He lived in Juba until he was elected archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan on January 19, 1988.
Wani was instrumental in reunifying a divided church and served as a mediator in the peace initiatives between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. He supports the government, affirming that only God has the power to overthrow oppressive leaders. He retired in 1998.
He died suddenly on May 23, 2000 in Kosti. He was buried on May 28 at All Saint’s Cathedral, Juba.
Martin Simon Wani, student at Pan Africa Christian College, interview with Archbishop Wani on February 20, 1999, Nairobi, Kenya.
Victor Lugala (ed.), Hope: Profile of a Retired Archbishop, no.1, (Nairobi, Kenya: Spinmark Creation, December 1999).
Kuyok, Abel Kuyok. South Sudan: The Notable Firsts. Bloomington, IN : AuthorHouse, 2015.
This story, submitted in 2000 and later updated, was researched by Dr. Francis Manana, Professor of Evangelism and Missions and DACB Liaison Coordinator, Pan African Christian College, Nairobi, Kenya.