Loboka, who is the regional superior of the Apostles of Jesus in South Sudan and Sudan, said he was humbled to use his knowledge of Italian to serve Francis and citizens during the pontiff's two-day pilgrimage of peace to South Sudan.
“In the beginning I was a bit hesitant because that was really one of the highest moments one would engage in and was not very sure one would be able to make it to the level expected. But they encouraged me and said ‘No, you can do it.’ I said okay let me try, and thanks to God it went well, and it was really a great privilege to be with Pope throughout his stay,” Loboka told South Sudan in Focus.
Loboka is fluent in English, Italian, classic Arabic and French. He began his primary and secondary education in Juba and later joined St. Mary’s Seminary. He was sent to Rome for further studies and developed an interest in language.
“I was also sent to study interreligious dialogue with special focus on Islam, so I was conditioned to study classic Arabic and for that reason I went to Cairo, Egypt. I studied Arabic for nine months and then in Rome at that institute I studied Arabic for three years also,” Loboka told VOA.
As a child, Loboka’s first languages was child were Luchiga and Pojolu because his mother is Ugandan and his father is South Sudanese. He said his pastoral training helped him learn Kiswahili and Pazande, a language spoken widely in Western Equatoria State.
Loboka also teaches Latin at St. Paul Major seminary in Juba.
“The course of Latin is basic; it changes from year to year. There are some years that students will love it and appreciate it; there are some other years they find it difficult,” Loboka said.
He encourages other South Sudanese to learn new languages to position for potential job opportunities.
While in Rome, Loboka met the late Pope Benedict XVI, who died in December.