Daughter reunites with mother after 18yrs
HUYE- It was joy for Gerardine Mukakabego as she finally reunited with her mother, Cecilia Kantamage, 18 years down the road.
Mukakabego, currently a lecturer at the Gavendish University and the National University of Zambia, fled the country in 1994 at the height of the Genocide against the Tutsi, and has been living in Zambia as a refugee ever since.
Her mother was at loss of words.
“I am very touched. I have dreamt about this occasion. I really waited for this moment, and now it has materialised,” commented the mother.
Mukakabego is part of a delegation of Rwandan refugees living in Zambia who are currently in the country under the “Come and See” programme, an initiative to encourage refugees to witness the situation first hand and later go back to sensitise their colleagues still in exile to repatriate.
As part of the programme, the refugees visit their families and relatives and tour various developmental projects across the country.
Mukakabego expressed admiration for the speedy progress the country has made since 1994.
“I have met some of my relatives. This is an exceptional day in my life,” she noted excitedly, and vowed to return to her motherland soon.
“The message I will carry once I am back in Zambia is that of stepping forward so as to build our nation. Authorities have done a lot and it is our turn to contribute to what has been achieved.
“Our leaders have been complaining of the reluctance of some refugees to repatriate, and in some cases, of negative campaigns by some individuals to dissuade willing people from returning to their motherland. So, I have decided to come back home. Where should we be safer and happier than in our country?” Mukakabego wondered.
She did not, however, give a precise date for her final return.
Fabrice Habinshuti, 20, another refugee, said he was amazed by the country’s achievements.
“The country is really developing. A number of infrastructures and buildings have been put up across the country and you can really see a transformation in the lives of the people.
“I am willing to serve my country. I am a footballer and I have contacted the national football body (FERWAFA) to see whether I could be part of the national team. I am waiting to meet them one of these days,” said the young man, who says he plays for Zambia’s first division team, Zanaco FC, and has once been called to Zambia’s U-20 national team.
According to Bernard Placide Ndayambaje, a repatriation consultant in the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR), the “Come and See” programme was launched to help dispel fears among refugees, mainly spread by Genocide fugitives that the country was not peaceful and that refugees are arrested upon repatriation.
“The programme is now bearing fruits. Since its introduction, a number of refugees have repatriated and others are yet to come,” he noted.
“This programme is a wonderful occasion for refugees to see for themselves the progress the country has made, meet with their relatives and gather information on the current situation of the country. They have realised that all rumours of instability or arrest of refugees are not real.”