‘We had to leave ev­ery­thing and just run’

Saturday Star - - NEWS - SAMEER NAIK

“IT WAS ab­so­lute chaos. We had to flee from our home af­ter a war broke out be­tween rebels and the gov­ern­ment in Congo. Peo­ple were get­ting killed in my city, homes were be­ing de­stroyed. We didn’t even have time to gather any of our pos­ses­sions. We had to leave ev­ery­thing be­hind and just start run­ning, oth­er­wise we too would be killed.

“In the midst of all the chaos, I lost my wife and my two chil­dren. They were right next to me, but when I turned around again I couldn’t see them any­where. I had lost them in the crowd of peo­ple. I pan­icked, I started shout­ing their names, but no one could hear me in all the chaos and fir­ing of guns.

“I car­ried on run­ning to find a place of safety and I hoped that I would run into my fam­ily. But I didn’t see them.

“I couldn’t fall asleep that night. I was wor­ried sick about my fam­ily. Over the next few weeks I searched for my fam­ily, but I couldn’t find them. The war had es­ca­lated and things had got­ten re­ally bad.

“I made a de­ci­sion to flee Congo and come to South Africa, oth­er­wise I would be killed. I still had hope that my fam­ily were alive but I couldn’t take the risk of stay­ing in Congo any longer. It was the hard­est de­ci­sion I had ever made but I had to leave Congo. I was a busi­ness­man, but I had to walk away from ev­ery­thing.

“I ar­rived in Joburg in 2007 to start a fresh life away from the war. It hurt not be­ing with my fam­ily. I have had a hard life, but there was noth­ing I could do.

“I didn’t hear from my fam­ily for the next six years. I won­dered every sin­gle day whether they were okay, whether they were even alive. It ate me up.

“In 2013, I got a call from an un­known num­ber from Congo. It was my daugh­ter. I burst into tears. She had man­aged to track me down some­how. We spoke for hours; she told me that my son was alive and liv­ing in Congo.

“My daugh­ter told me she was busy with her fi­nal year at school and as soon as she is done she would come and stay with me in South Africa.

“I also learnt that my wife had re­mar­ried. I was heart­bro­ken, but I don’t blame her. Cir­cum­stances forced us apart. I’ve been in South Africa for 10 years. Life is much bet­ter than in Congo.

“How­ever, I hope that I can be re­united with my fam­ily one day. Only then will I be able to be fully happy again.”

Di­dier Nn­zolani, Jo­han­nes­burg

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