A Term “Refugee”
By Addisu Aznato – Kakuma
One day I asked my students in Intermediate English Language class if they had known the English word “beauty”, but they said they hadn’t. I asked, “What about beautiful?” This time the whole class said, “Yes!!!” in unison. Then I asked the nearest student how long he had known the word. After a short pause he said that it was about five years.
Every one of us may have a special word that we have learnt in a unique way and always keep remembering it.
I have a long-lasting memory of the word “Refugee”. It was in September 1990 that I came across this word that has now become the “Identity” and the “Title” for tens of millions of people around the globe.
After I enrolled in Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, for my first year, first semester degree program, I went to the university library periodicals sections to read some journals. As I was reading the New African magazine, I glimpsed the word “Refugee” and not knowing the meaning I took the advanced learner’s dictionary and looked it up. I read the definitions which are now used by the UNHCR as a standard for determining refugee status. At that moment I never thought I myself would become a refugee one day in my life.
The following year for two or three reasons included in those definitions I read in the dictionary, I found myself on the Kenyan side of Moyale, a border town, to be called a refugee. Today, I don’t only have a memory of learning the word but also I lived as a refugee for two decades, “refugee” being my “identity”.