Monday, 30 July 2012

I am going to Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania. YAY

Sometime in May, I decided that, if by any chance I get a couple of weeks to spare at the end of my project, I would visit another country. Last night I decided that, since I was done with the most import part of my project, I could probably travel somewhere. After, I haven’t had much of a summer vacation because I have been work “hard”.  So, late last night I bought a ticket to travel to Dar-es-salaam (Dar), Tanzania. I would’ve loved to go back home to Democratic Republic Congo (The Congo), but Congo is and has been on top of the red-flagged countries on the U.S National Security website for years. The war that has been going on in the Congo for over 15 years has made the country unsafe to travel to even for a native like me. Since visiting the Congo was out of the question, though it’s right on the border of Uganda, I chose to go to Tanzania. I chose Tanzania because it holds a special significance to me. My history is in Tanzania as much as it is in the Congo.

When the war broke out in the Congo in 1996, my family and I fled to Tanzania where we were taken to a refugee camp called Nyarugusu. In the African tradition, extended families normally live together, either in the same compound or neighborhood.  We lived with my father’s family, so at the time the war started, the entire family fled to Tanzania together since the country had one of the few safe ports that were available to Congolese refugees at the time. I remember fleeing with my parents and siblings, aunts and uncles, grandmother, great-aunts and uncles, and cousins. Upon arriving to Tanzania, we were taken directly to a refugee camp in town called Kigoma. Life in the Refugee camp was a living hell. There was very little food to eat, not enough tents for the entire family to sleep in, no work for the adults, no school for the children; communicable diseases were striking like it was no one’s business. I mean, I was only nine at the time and didn’t know much how life, but I knew life was not easy in that camp. After about six months, my uncles and aunts begin to slow find a living outside of the camp. It was then when the family started to part ways. Some moved Dar-es-salaam, which was the capital city at the time. Others moved other countries, a returned to the Congo regardless of the war, and the rest decided to stay in the camp because the United Nations promised to take care of them. My parents and siblings and I were among the few people who returned to the Congo. My grandma came back soon after. To make the long story short, about 3 years after living the refugee camp, my we found ourselves in the U.S, in Iowa, where we were given a chance to start a new life. My grandma stayed in the Congo with one of my aunts. On February 6th, 2000, I left DR. Congo and parted ways with my grandmother and other relatives. Now, 12 years later, I have a chance to reunite with some of them, including my grandma. I heard she was in Dar-es-salaam for medical treatment. I guess she has some kind of heart disease that I’ve yet to talk to her about. Anyway, I am leaving for Dar tomorrow. I am both excited and nervous about my reunion with my grandmother. It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other that I am not sure she will recognize me when she sees me. In fact, I don’t think any of my relatives would recognize me.

This is all I have for now. Til next timeJ

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