Friday, December 30, 2005

The Child Died

There are calls for a royal commission following the sudden death of a two-year-old African refugee in Australia.

Richard Niyonsaba, a chronically ill boy from Burundi, died within 24 hours of arriving in the country.

According to The Australian newspaper report, the family fled an African refugee camp in November and sought medical treatment in Australia for the child’s chronic sickle-cell anaemia.

The African community leaders are saying that most refugees are not getting the level of support and care they need for survival during the early days of arrival.

The tragedy could have been prevented!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Love in the Antipodean Garden II (Haiku)

Haiku One: The Butterfly

The butterfly bats its wings
And love flows endlessly
In the vines Down Under

Haiku Two: The Koala Bear

The koala bear relaxes
In the perfumed gum tree
Suckling its young

Haiku Three: The Wild Rose

The wild rose of Alice
Sizzles with passion
Kissing the honey bee

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Yarn With Genet

An Ethiopia-born Genet Kabede, who came to Australia as a refugee, knows a thing or two about the problems facing the new arrivals. I talked with her a few days ago.

Fancy: What is your country of origin?
Genet: Ethiopia

Fancy: How long have you been in Australia?
Ten years. I was only 15 years old when I came to Australia.

Fancy: What do you like most about Australia?
I like the Peaceful atmosphere and the freedom of movement.

Fancy: What is your favourite food?
Genet: Thanks for asking! Ethiopian stew is my favourite dish. It is easy to make and very nutritious - a real treat. I love it! (Giggles)

Fancy: Do you have a favourite drink?
Genet: Oh yes! I like the fruitful sweetness of the mango juice; especially on a hot summer’s day.

Fancy: Have you read anything interesting lately?
Genet: I
am still reading the “Hospital by the River” by John Little. It’s my favourite book at the moment.

Fancy: What is your favourite TV program?
There are a few of those: I really like the Oprah Winfrey Show, and “The Bold and the Beautiful”. I also watch the “Body Work”.

Fancy: What sort of music do you like?
Genet: I like
the Ethiopian music – the traditional and the more contemporary forms.

Fancy: What is your goal in life?
Genet: My ultimate goal is financial independence and security. I want to finish my studies, then get a good job and make lots of money. I have a great passion for what I do.

Fancy: What would you do to help improve the living conditions of African refugees in Australia?

Genet: Changes in values and behaviour! I would like to teach them the language and how to communicate with people; helping them to get a good job, work hard, and set achievable goals for themselves. The first thing is to teach the new arrivals about the Australian culture. In fact, the young ones need some knowledge of etiquette and behavioural change. We must help them adapt and stand on their own two feet.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Big Smiles on the Beaches

It’s all smiles as Christmas brings an immediate end to race riots on the Australian beaches.

Under the ever watchful eyes of the big contingent of police, thousands of fun-loving Australians flock to Bondi, Cronulla, and Maroubra beaches to celebrate the festive season.

Thus, fears that Christmas could bring a new wave of racial violence on the Australian beaches were greatly exaggerated.

“Santa has done it again”; a voice said, with a big smile. “He has brought peace and harmony to the beaches”.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Old Man of Nigeria

There once was an old man from Nigeria
Who thought he had found a cure for malaria
He said: “This is a great discovery;
It will lead to the country’s recovery”
He was so excited he moved to Zaria.

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Aftermath of Race Riots

Prominent political figures in Australia say the recent race riots in Sydney are “symptomatic of deeply divided ‘Us/them’ dichotomies that are present in Australian society”. They call on community leaders to reinforce national unity.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Love in the Time of Distress

Deserted beaches of Sydney:
Text messages of love
Summer of great discontent!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Dream of Racial Harmony

Although their cultures are as different as chalk and cheese, the Australians of Middle Eastern extraction and the Anglo-Australians have decided to bury the hatchet.

In effect, they’ve agreed to work towards racial harmony and free access to the nation’s beaches regardless of race, creed or gender.

Thus, at the time of writing, community leaders on both sides are seriously talking about the need to overcome the negative influences of the great ethnic divide which led to the recent racial violence on the beaches of Sydney.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Crackdown on Racial Violence

The Australian police are on the lookout for trouble makers on the beaches of Sydney. Security has been tightened for beach goers.

In another development, the gang leaders, bikies, surfers and imams have decided to embrace each other in a gesture of goodwill – a deliberate attempt to ease racial tensions.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Spirit of Christmas

Like the reports of Mark Twain’s death, evidence that racial war in the beaches of Sydney would seriously dampen the spirit of Christmas in Australia has been greatly exaggerated.

Nevertheless, the fact is that Santa’s arrival is imminent. And people throughout the land are flooded with happy hormones as they prepare for the Christmas celebrations.

In fact, community leaders in South Australia have dismissed the possibility of a race riot in the state’s most popular beaches during the festive season.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Conversation with Lilliana Zacarias

When Lilliana Zacarias, a young girl from Malawi, arrived in Australia just over two years ago, she saw nothing but a golden opportunity to improve herself. Here’s a brief summary of my conversation with her.

Fancy: How long have you been in Australia?

Lilliana: I have only been here for two and a half years.

Fancy: What do you like most about this country?

Lilliana: Multiculturalism! I really like the lifestyle and the ethnic mix. There are people here from all over the world.

Fancy: What is your favourite food?

Lilliana: Fish. I like fresh fish. (Smiling like an angel)

Fancy: Favourite drink?

Lilliana: Any fruit juice!

Fancy: Favourite read?

Lilliana: I like inspirational books and my favourite author is Myers Monroe.

Fancy: Do you have any favourite music?

Lilliana: Gospel, R & B, and Rap – depending on my mood!

Fancy: What is your favourite TV program?

Lilliana: The Simpsons.

Fancy: What is your ultimate goal in life?

Lilliana: I want to make a significant advancement in life. And I want to achieve my goal of one day working as a qualified doctor or registered nurse. But overall, I want to be the best that I can be in this life and with my personal relationship with God.

Fancy: What would you do to improve the life of African refugees in Australia?

Lilliana: I would like to spend some time listening to their stories and assisting them with their needs. Furthermore, I would like to encourage all refugees to go for their dreams and to become educated so that they can achieve financial independence and help others who are suffering back in Africa.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Lonesome One

One tree hill:
Loneliness in the suburbia
In the depth of night!

© 2005 Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Friday, December 09, 2005

Love Flowers in December

It’s the festive season to remember
As real love flowers in December
The gift of a thousand roses and a bottle of gin
For the absolute delight of Yang and Yin
While the joy of Christmas brings them closer to each other

Copyright © 2005 Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Chasing the Australian Dream

Perry Pewee, 24, dreams of making a good living in Australia. But there are many obstacles to overcome.

“I like to live in Australia permanently”, said Perry with a broad smile. “It’s such a peaceful place…a good place to raise a family”.

Born and bred in Lamco city in Liberia, young Perry came to Australia as a refugee 18 months ago with almost nothing but the shirt on his back. But things are looking up. So it seems!

Like many refugees from the sub-Saharan Africa, Perry knows the value of education as the key to success.

And like the overwhelming majority of the new arrivals, he must now learn to live with the harsh reality of unemployment, coupled with low disposable income. Not to talk of boredom, and frustration!

Nevertheless, Perry thinks he is equal to the task. And he wants what all reasonable Australians want, in the best of times: a job, a home, and a good family.

Meanwhile, to my greatest surprise, he has wholeheartedly embraced the popular notion of “working and studying” as a way out of poverty, “if that’s what it takes to make it” in Australia.

Undoubtedly, Perry is determined to succeed.

Now, he has set his sights firmly on the pursuit of higher education as a means of improving himself. He is on the verge of achieving his goal.

But, at the moment, his number one priority is to finish his diploma course in Accountancy at Adelaide Institute of TAFE, before going to the university next year.

True to form, Perry is a young man on a mission to rescue his family. “I want to bring my whole family to Australia as soon as possible”, he said.

“I miss them a lot…can’t live without them”.

His mother and four sisters are still living in Lamco; trying to make a living in post-war Liberia – which is not an easy task. But for Perry, growing up without his family is the main source of his worries. His father died during the war!

“Looking back, Lamco used to be a great place in which to live before the civil war in Liberia”, said Perry. “Now, things are a little bit uncertain”.

But, as the earth moves, Perry is working hard to achieve his goals; honestly believing that, one day, all his dreams will come true.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Triumph of the Lost Boy

Alone in the world
The lost boy came looking for refuge
And changed his life forever.

Lifting his hands in triumph
He entered the Land of Oz
Kissing the ground.

Copyright © 2005 Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Friday, December 02, 2005

Christmas in Australia

Every year, the African community in Australia shows its vibrancy as families and friends gather to celebrate Christmas.

Now, the new generation of African philanthropists are out in full playing Father Christmas to the needy; bearing gifts, entertaining children in the new and emerging communities in Australia.

African philanthropists are ordinary men and women from all walks of life who show a great deal of love for humanity; performing charitable actions; donating money to those in need; including friends and relatives back home in Africa.

Thus, when it comes to the good old-fashioned charity, African philanthropists are hard to beat. And Christmas is one of their busiest seasons!

These idealistic Africans are showing the world that they are no pushover in the charity stakes, as they settle into their new life in Australia.

This Christmas though, the emphasis is placed firmly on “care and support” for the less privileged members of the new and emerging communities.

Indeed, Christmas is fun time in Australia. It’s also a time of reflection and generosity!

In Adelaide city, for instance, African residents (old and new) will get together to “Talk Africa”, during the long Christmas break; sharing the sweet and bitter memories of the Christmas past. And tales of the home they left behind!

The Nigerians will impress with a big multicultural party of their own as is always the case during the Christmas festivities Down Under. An extremely delicious pepper soup will be on the menu, just to spice things up a little bit. And yours truly will join the fun!

Furthermore, elsewhere in the neighborhood, the Christmas spirit is alive and well among the Sudanese Christians in South Australia – elements of the Dinka and Acholi communities are, definitely, in the festive mood.

“We are busy organizing our first Christmas party in Australia”, so says Pele Okumu, the foundation member of the newly established Acholi community Association in Adelaide city.

“It will be a good show…and everyone is welcomed to share in the joy of Christmas”.

But the secret is already out: the Acholis will offer some tantalizing Christmas dishes to tempt anyone who likes the traditional African food (and its post-modern derivatives).

The talk in the street is that African-Australians are big on Christmas spirit and everyone knows it. In fact, they have the best Christmas party in this neck of the woods.

Come to think of it, they are lighting up the suburbia with hopes of Christmas cheer and with a great deal of fun, food, and music.

Nevertheless, Christmas in Australia will be incomplete without a good dose
of generosity, hope, peace, security,and tolerance.

Indeed, charity and welfare play a vital role in feeding the poor and breaking down the barriers of race and inequality during the festive season.