Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Rod Mbeki arrived Australia a few months ago, after spending the past 24 years in refugee camps in Congo and Tanzania.

“Life in the refugee camps was difficult”, he said; reflecting on his previous life and times. “There was no security. No sufficient food. No freedom of movement”.

A virtual prison!

And, besides, “You can’t even go outside the camp without police escort”, Rod said. “Anyone who dared to venture outside the camp without official authorization was severely punished”.

Indeed, Rod Mbeki (name slightly changed to protect his identity) has come a long way. He left his homeland, Burundi, after the Hutu Massacre more than a few decades ago; seeking refuge in neighboring countries and never knew what was ahead of him.

How things have changed? Now, Rod appears to be relaxed and comfortable in his suburban Adelaide home in South Australia; making the most of his new environment and learning English as a fourth language. In fact, he already speaks French, Swahili, and kihundi fluently.

Thus, in a characteristic expression of African optimism, Rod is upbeat about his new life; seeing Australia as a “nation of peace, freedom and opportunity”; obviously believing that he can achieve whatever he wants to achieve in his new country.

The sky is the limit!
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