NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 24 – Innocent Karabagega knows very well how bad politics can negatively impact a society.
The 25-year-old Burundi refugee has gone through thick and thin due to bad politics that saw him leave his country for safety after his parents were assassinated in 2010.
“My parents were politicians in Burundi, my father was a Member of Parliament and was opposing President Pierre Nkurunziza’s reign and he was assassinated together with my mother, I was also poisoned but managed to escape,” he narrates his story to Capital FM News.
Following the assassination Karabagega had to flee the country; he walked and walked for days and nights with no food, no shelter, no nothing.
“My options was to become a street thug or a cow boy to survive, I chose to be a cow boy, I used to tend to cows to get by and get strength to walk on, my stomach used to really hurt due to the poison but I soldiered on,” he explains.
One day after walking for four months, without knowing where he was, a driver of a lorry gave him a ride and dumped him at the Akamba Bus Station but he could not walk as the poison had taken effect.
A Good Samaritan came to his rescue; he however didn’t know how to speak English nor Kiswahili.
The Samaritan called for an ambulance and he was taken to Kenyatta National Hospital. He stayed in hospital for a whole year.
“Luckily the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) learnt about my story, they were able to settle for my hospital bills and I was taken in by another Good Samaritan who took care of me for a whole year. The UNHCR team then came back and asked me if I wanted to go back to school, I was so excited, in 2012 I went to Australia at Victoria University and studied law,” he narrates.
This is one among many cases that happen due political unrest, Karabagega is just one of the lucky ones, who was spotted and helped by the UNHCR.
What happens to others?
“Many of the others join gangs, others live on the streets and do odd jobs just to survive, and does it have to be this way? Bad politics will always lead to people fleeing for safety. East Africa needs leadership that is not driven by selfish gains, but by ideologies of expanding economies,” he acknowledges.
Karabagega has now set up a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) dubbed Build Africa for Africans, aimed at helping Burundi refugees in Kenya get the necessary support, to move on with their lives.
The NGO set up four months ago will help Burundi refugees in Kenya get back to school, build sport teams and engage their talents.