Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press

A Term “Refugee”

Posted in Arts, Contributors, Education by KANERE on February 13, 2016

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”.


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  1. […] A Term “Refugee” | Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press […]

  2. Linda Hill said, on March 17, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Dear Addisu,

    I appreciate your view of your tribal ‘roots’. It is your experience that has evolved you to this point, and that is very understandable.
    I am nearly 70yrs old and was born in the UK. We didn’t know we were ever tribal people. Although we live in small communities inside the bigger communities, we never had such a sense of connectedness the way many tribal cultures do, so, we never really knew who we truly were. We were never taught the strength of having Ancestors. I do believe that they haven’t just passed, I do believe they never leave us. I believe they are working toward helping us make the worlds a better place for all of us because on ‘the other side’ or heaven, or what ever you want to call it the ancestors are all connected into ‘One’.
    They are very Powerful, they work for the collective Good, or God. They & we, together can believe in this and want it so much that it will be done. It is being done. The Earth has enough resources for All its children. We need to believe that God WILL give us, not just what we need but also what we want. It’s a promise in our Holy Bible: “Ask my Father what you want, only believe with thanksgiving that you have received it”!
    Also, “if I gave my only Son to die for you, what would I withhold?”
    In order to believe with faith for those promises we need to use our imaginations to the full for the good of all, or our natural minds will focus on the conditions that we DO NOT want. As well as a vision of prosperity we need to feel in our hearts, minds & bodies, what it will feel like when we actually have those things, to enjoy. What will it feel like when men & woman (who, through fear, wanted & took, too much) begin to change there own hearts and minds towards the good. We can all “Love each other into a New Garden of Eden”. Those on the other side can do & are already doing it. Moving conditions and peoples into just the right place, things are ‘automatically’ occurring and “working for Good, for those who Love their God given Life and are called to its purposes”. I believe WE are just two of such people. I know you have enough trust & faith to believe, not just in God & the Ancestors (& the Angels!) but in yourself. My desire is that you will discover MUCH JOY in the unfolding of all the Good that is coming to you. (You have much ‘Treasure stored up in Heaven’ not just that You put there but which others have contributed for you)
    Many Blessings to you and the folks that share your life. LH

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