Sunday, April 30, 2006

Tears of the Lost Boy

His tears wet the land
Flooding the big dry river beds
And filling the empty dams
Yet, he has no place to call home!
Nowhere to rest his tender limbs
Nor end his long and endless suffering

Nevertheless, the lost boy marches on!
Head in the air like a proud warrior
His powerful feet firmly on the ground;
Thinking of the childhood lost;
Of the rights and freedom denied
Of the war and devastation of his homeland
Yet, his hope remains undiminished
(His cry for help largely unheard!)

He lives on the edge even in the best of times
Among the homeless and the hungry;
But, now, suffering has changed him forever;
Moulding his character as a moral being
Educating and enriching his mind for good;
And consolidating his vital link
With the generous spirit of the time
In the ancient Land of Oz

It’s not yet nirvana, though!
Nor is he seriously looking for one, just yet
(I’ve seen him at his best and worst in recent times)
But years of suffering has strengthened his resolve!
His struggle for survival has become the catalyst
For ingenuity and the oxygen of adaptation
Since the early days of arrival

He has, effectively, travelled the world
In search of refuge, as ordained by fate;
Crossing the legendary Nile – a brave act!
Unhelped by the gentle wind, so to speak;
And flying over the high seas
In the continuous narrative
Of his young and innocent life

Yet, the saga of the lost boy continues
He knows not the origin of his suffering
Nor the real source of his endless struggle
Nor when the tears first began to flow
But Searches in vain for meaning
In the heart-break trenches
Of his ancestral homeland
And in the fatal shores of Oz

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Virtual Rally for Darfur

This Sunday, people will be speaking out against the violence in Darfur at a rally in Washington D.C., USA.

For the many caring people who can’t make the trip to D.C., but would like to help stop the slaughter in Darfur, a “virtual rally” has been organised.

You can sign the Human Rights First’s “Stand in for a Victim” petition – and leave a personal message for peace –

Please help make the virtual rally a reality!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Antipodean Autumn

The allure of antipodean autumn
Large flocks of crested pigeons and galahs
Showcase their plumes.

Behold the new arrivals
The kookaburra, corellas, and sparrows
Embrace the autumn daisies.

The autumn blues:
Homelessness and the meaning of life
How are we to live?

The rock wallaby
Feeds the restless autumn crowd
The milk of marsupial kindness.

Prepare to smile!
Cool birds in my garden
Kissing the autumn vines.

The laughing birds:
Kookaburras on my porch
Why are they so pretty?

Survival of the species
Shy birds need more thickets to hide
Who ate the last lorikeet?

The antipodean autumn
Captures the hearts of many,
As the amorous rose blooms.

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Monica's Fury

The residents of Australia’s Northern Territory breathe a big sigh of relief, as the tropical Cyclone Monica weakened significantly.

The city of Darwin has been spared the worst of Monica’s fury.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Monica's Strength

Cyclone Monica is expected to hit Australia’s Coburg Peninsula today; striking real fear into the minds of residents.

Monica, a category five tropical storm, is heading towards the city of Darwin in the Northern Territory – a city that was nearly wiped out by storm 30 years ago.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Autumn Feast

Autumn feast Down Under:
A blaze of colour in the hills
And trees in their autumn best.

The flight of autumn leaves
A delightful quest for freedom
The naked branches revealed!

Autumn blues:
A few showers and thunderstorms
Before the beautiful sunrise.

Sharing the gifts of autumn
Feed the hungry child
And save the human race.

Relax, autumn is here!
The big brother is watching you
But who is watching the big brother?

Surviving the fall
The refugees count on their inner strength;
Tending the golden buds of autumn.

Feasting the senses,
They keep their autumn dreams alive
But where’s the rainbow?

The enchanted city
Falls under the spells of autumn
A blaze of colour – scenic beauty!

The lost boy finds his way,
Relaxing under the huge oak tree;
Watching the autumn birds.

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Monday, April 17, 2006

From Eritrea with Love

Living as a refugee is a challenging proposition, even in the best of times. But, Mohammed Idriss, a young man from Eritrea, definitely, knows a thing or two about what it means to be a refugee in Australia in the 21st century.

Mohammed was born in Eritrea in 1968 and came to Australia as a refugee in the 1990s. “My parents are Eritrean nationals with a large family of ten”, he said. “I have four brothers and five sisters”.

Eritrea is a small country of 3.5 million people on the north-eastern coast of Africa. It’s one of the newest African countries bordered by Ethiopia, the Sudan and the Red Sea.

Mohammed has a vivid memory of his ancestral homeland. And still talks candidly about the pain and devastation evident in three decades of war with Ethiopia – a war that led to the Eritrean independence.

Thus, to meet him is to be ensnared in the discourse on Eritrean politics and the struggle for survival.

Yet, as far as he is concerned, the war was a personal tragedy or what he describes as “My family nightmare”; more so because of the abduction of his father.

“My dad was the victim of an abduction…He was abducted at night by the officials of the Ethiopian intelligence agency in 1985 during the Mengistu regime”, said Mohammed. “Nobody knows till today if he is alive or dead”.

Meanwhile, the nightmare continues, unabated.

But, despite the pain and trauma of transition, Mohammed has made a remarkable adaptation to life in the land Down Under. He now calls Australia home!

“I am very happy enjoying the freedom in Australia”, he said, with a broad smile. “I have worked very hard since my arrival here and have changed a few jobs that I didn’t really like”.

On the whole, things are looking up for Mohammed who is happily married with three lovely kids, two boys aged 9 and 7; and a girl aged 3. He is a devoted family man, a good worker, and a conscientious student of international business.

Thus, like the new generation of Africans in Diaspora, Mohammed is looking forward to building a prosperous future in Australia. He has a dream (and a very good one at that!).

“My dream is to lead a good life, provide a decent education for my kids, and help some needy people in the third world countries”, he said, with a great deal of optimism.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Global Fight against HIV-AIDS

The South African academic, Professor Malegapuru William Makgoba, says Australia needs to prepare for the AIDS pandemic, although the disease is not a significant problem in the land Down Under.

He is on record as saying that the Australian universities can collaborate with African universities (in research and treatment) on the global fight against the HIV-AIDS pandemic, according to The Australian newspaper report.

Professor Makgoba is now attending the Association of Commonwealth Universities Conference in Adelaide, South Australia.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Days of Hope

Thirty-five members of the Paradise Community Church in South Australia are now on their way to Rwanda to offer the much needed aid and support to the surviving victims of genocide.

The team, which includes builders, teachers, musicians, and medical staff, will be in the African nation until July, 2006.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Attack of the Golden Sun

The golden sun moths have scuttled a $400 million residential development in Melbourne, Australia.

The golden sun is a tiny moth whose grassland habitat made up 40 per cent of site.

And, according to The Australian newspaper report, the developers believe the golden sun moth, which looks more like a butterfly, is an important issue with regard to the development.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Floodwaters in Katherine

After days of torrential rain, floodwaters have inundated the northern Australian town of Katherine; leading to the evacuation of 600 people.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Harvest Festival

Today, food and wine lovers in South Australia are having a great deal of fun, as they head to the Adelaide hills in great numbers to celebrate the Hills Harvest Festival.

It’s, undoubtedly, a perfect opportunity for all visitors to get intimate with Australia’s most beautiful wine region.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Australia's Diverse Population

A new report shows that, in 2004-5, the Australian population increased by 110,000 persons due to net overseas migration.

At 30 June 2005, almost one quarter of the Australian population was born overseas, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Persons born in Sub-Saharan Africa recorded an average increase of 6% per year, the largest growth of all major regions between 1996 and 2005