Sunday, August 28, 2005


The homeless man goes everywhere
But nowhere in particular
He wants a home
But finds none
The park bench is his bed,
And the old bag his pillow.

All alone and lost in the city of light
There is no home but gloom,
Nothing but the dog of despair
A phenomenon that haunts him everyday.

The homeless man is a desperate soul
The poorest of the poor
Struggling for survival in this ancient land
Sleeping under the stars
As providence looks down on him
Watching over his every move,
Out of sight of ordinary mortals!

Yet, beyond the city lights
Darkness covers the land
A sense of loneliness overwhelms him
As he searches in vain for a place
Amongst the refugees and migrants;
In the cold heart of the concrete jungle
Home is nothing but a distant dream. Grim reality!

Not even the sun can warm
His lonely heart (nor dry his tears),
Only true love and care will do!

Copyright © Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo 2005

Friday, August 26, 2005

African Soccer Players in Australia

The White City Soccer Club in South Australia has decided to open its doors to the African-born recruits, in an attempt to break down racial barriers. Consequently, the new migrants and refugees are making their presence felt in the highly lucrative sporting arena.

The new sensibility in the club’s recruitment policy has already yielded some positive results. The new recruits now come from a wide range of countries; including Liberia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

Nevertheless, while crossing the cultural divide may not necessarily lead to nirvana, there is a golden opportunity for progressive clubs to make use of a highly motivated African outfit; and benefit from the experience.

In fact, the talk in the street is that anyone skilful enough to play soccer in Australia will be given a chance to do so. And the gifted and dynamic African players are already queuing up to showcase their skills.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Arrival of the Super Dad

The members of the African community in South Australia were at the Adelaide airport to welcome Paul Sebith Olak, a Sudanese refugee, to the land Down Under.

Paul, affectionately known as the super dad, arrived in Australia with his wife and 9 children (a large family by Australian standards), after years of hardship and deprivation in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Price of Freedom

Today, there is an article in The Australian newspaper about the fate of Cheikh Kone, a refugee from Ivory Coast in West Africa, who has been finally allowed to stay in Australia after 32 months in Port Hedland detention centre.

But his freedom comes at a hefty price. Nine months after his release, he has been hit with a bill for $89,260 from the Australian federal government for the cost of his imprisonment.

You may think it could only happen in Australia. But there are historical precedents.

Come to think of it, the first time in recent memory that the innocents had to pay for their own incarceration was in post-revolutionary France under Robespierre. And the second was under the Nazi regime in Germany.

History has a funny way of repeating itself!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Garry's New Life

Garry Lokang, a Sudanese refugee, has arrived safely in Australia; escaping poverty and distress from one of Africa’s longest wars.

After 15 years in Adjumani Refugee Camp in the West Nile District of Uganda, Garry says he is ready to start a new life in Australia.

Relatives and friends were at the Adelaide airport to welcome him. So were members of the Sudanese Community Association in South Australia.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Lost Boys in Australia

In the fullness of time
The mighty hand of fate guided the lost boys
From Africa to the land Down Under
And changed their lives forever.

It was a journey like no other,
An emotional journey to the world “unknown”!
Yet, the young victims of war kept plodding along;
Weathering the violent storm;
Flying over the hills and the mighty oceans
And finding their way across the sea of change.

Then, as the new day dawns in the silent Land of Oz,
The lost boys of Sudan make their presence felt
And their new life begins in earnest.
“We have arrived”, a voice said, reassuringly.
“Thank heavens…We’ve finally made it to safety”.
Tears of joy spring from their eyes,
It was a wonderful antipodal day;
And a magical moment for all!

The lost boys came with nothing,
Nor parents, nor money; nor worldly goods
But their golden hearts and dreams;
Largely driven by the quest for refuge
In the sun-burnt country
Beyond the distant horizon!

And yet, despite the ravages of time,
The lost boys have survived and thrived,
Under the most difficult circumstances
Sowing the seeds of hope!
And apparently comfortable with the images
Of the modern suburbia.

Now, a promising new life emerges like a spring flower;
Filling their lonely hearts with joy
And healing the deep wounds of war.

Copyright © Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo 2005

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Refugee Children

Africans who came to Australia a few years ago, as refugees, are making a significant contribution to the intellectual and cultural life of the country. But there are challenges along the way.

Having acquired the English language skills in a relatively short period of time, African teenagers and young adults are making their presence felt in schools and university campuses across the land.

In fact, most have taken to vocational education and training like ducks to water; seeing education as a way out of poverty.

Generally, the perception is that formal education is a good thing – a sure means to an end.

Essentially though, there are several motivational factors at work. The refugees are combining the African spirit of enterprise and survival with the best of what Australia has to offer in the form of formal education and training.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Rise of Khadija Gbla: a Life Full of Promise

The road to paradise is not for the tender foot. But Khadija Gbla, a young girl from Sierra Leone, is determined to create a new life for herself in Australia.

“It was a long and memorable journey to the land Down Under”, Khadija says; reflecting on her long passage to Australia. “It took ages to arrive…But we finally made it”.

In fact, it was happiness itself when she touched down in Sydney with stars in her eyes. But her real journey through life had only just begun. The early days of arrival in Australia were the most difficult days of Khadija’s young life, as a refugee.

(She was only 13 years old then, when the civil war in the West African country of Sierra Leone forced her family to seek refuge in Australia. She is now 17 and wiser beyond her years.)

Looking back, there were unresolved problems of adaptation to the Australian way of life. The yearning for Africa overwhelmed her!

“For days I didn’t see any African in this part of the world - not even a soul; only a sea of alien friendly faces. I didn’t know anybody here”, she says.

“Everything was different; including the food, culture, attitudes, values, and even the transportation system”.

The rapid pace of change was just too much for a young impressionistic girl like Khadija to take.

“I became sick and depressed for the first time in my entire life”, she says.

“But it wasn’t sickness from any type of disease; it was just the fact that my own self was trying to make sense of the world around me”, she explains.

“I was empty. I was lost. My whole world fell apart. I didn’t know who I was, as a person, anymore”.

In fact, as far as Khadija is concerned, those were the days of great discontent, of uncertainty and lots of pain. But those days have long gone, forever!

Now, as the new reality dawns, there is a sense of wellbeing, even of confidence and excitement in Khadija’s world as she waltzes into adulthood.

“I was held back by my own thinking during the early days of arrival – probably due to fear of the unknown”, she says.

“Now, I have found myself. I know who I am and what I want out of life”. Nothing surpasses self-discovery! (So, that’s where all the abundant energy and excitement are coming from.)

There is absolutely no doubt that Khadija has turned over a new leaf; excelling in her studies at the Mitcham Girls High School in Adelaide, South Australia. She has a great passion for learning! And a burning desire to make a significant contribution to the Australian society.

“I have accepted Australia as my new home (effectively breaking down the barriers)”, she says, with a broad smile.

“And I have every reason to aim high and achieve my goals; I think anything is possible here in this country”. The sky is the limit, really!

Khadija is a silent achiever; a young girl on the move. Among other things, she is an active member of the “Youth Parliament” program in South Australia. She is also on the verge of joining the Youth Advisory Committee in the Charles Sturt council area; giving African youths a voice in program development.

Meanwhile, she wants to get actively involved in humanitarian work; helping those in need; including fund raising for breast cancer research in Australia.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Racial Profiling in Australia

The security agencies and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) are closely monitoring dozens of Australians who have had links to Islamic terrorist groups overseas. But the government has ruled out racial profiling as an effective means of fighting terrorism.

“Competent authorities do not target people on the basis of their race”, so says the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock.

In other words, racial profiling, the use of race as a major consideration in law enfrocement practice, has no place in a free and democratic society like Australia.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Australian Help for Famine Relief in Niger

The Australians have opened their hearts and wallets to the suffering people of Niger in West Africa. They donated an impressive sum of $140,000 during the first week of an appeal for famine relief in that country; according the Australian Red Cross.

The money will be spent on food distributions in the mobile feeding centres located in Niger and the neighbouring countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Death of the Sudanese Vice President

Today is a very sad day for the Sudanese people in South Australia, as they mourn the death of John Garang, who led the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army for more than two decades and was recently appointed as the Sudan’s first Vice President. He died in a helicopter crash.

“It’s a very sad day for us all”, says Alier Ateny, a Sudanese refugee in South Australia.

“I think there will be a lot of instability and conflict in Sudan”, as the struggle for leadership succession gathers momentum.

Most admit that it will not be easy to fill John Garang’s shoes, no matter who succeeds as the new leader of Southern Sudan.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Growing Support for the African Community

There is an over-whelming public support for the African community in Australia in the fight against racism. As the city of Sydney rallies behind African refugees, a Federal Government Minister has visited the racial hotspot in Toowoomba in a bid to defuse simmering racial tension in the city.

The visit follows the circulation of racist material in the city, which is home to 750 Sudanese. And Toowoomba’s leaders are furious that the actions of a few racist elements have tarnished the city’s proud record in successful refugee resettlement.