Voices on the Move

Aklilu Tesfaye, came to Kenya with the intention of journeying to South Africa as his final destination.
February 07, 2012 Written by: Leandro Oduor

"My mission is to go to South-Africa"

“My mission is to go to South Africa”
Aklilu Tesfaye is a 34 year old Ethiopian man who came to Kenya with the intention of journeying to South Africa as his final destination. He has several relatives and friends in South Africa who have encouraged him to join them, assisting him financially to make the journey.

Q. What made you leave Ethiopia?
“Life is very hard at home. The police are bad…they always are bad to us, stopping us in street treating us bad. I was always fearing for myself in Ethiopia. I had no work also…so I did not have money to give police when he catch me for just being in the street. To live like a human, I left my country.”

Q. How did you come from Ethiopia to Kenya?
“My brother and cousin, they are in South Africa. They sent me money and told me to come…life is better there. One is not always fearing and can get good work. First I went to Moyale in Ethiopia. Here I met a guy who helps many to come to Kenya but I had to give him money to help me. I paid him USD 50, he did not want Ethiopian money. He took me across the border to Moyale Kenya. Then he gave me to some other man who took me Isiolo by a small van.

We drove on rough ways through the bushes, I think so we would not be caught by police. Sometimes the man would stop the car and tell me to run into more bushes and wait for him. In Isiolo, the man hid me in a house for about two days. We then came to Nairobi by bus. I did not ask him why we waited in Isiolo.”

Q. What happened when you arrived in Nairobi?
“When I came I met some Ethiopians who told me where I can sleep. I went to a pace and gave some money to get a room. Now I wait as a man is setting the way for me to go to South Africa. I want to go there and be with my brother, he will help me to start life. In Nairobi there is not much…My mission is to go to South Africa where my brother tells me it is better …here I just wait for my next travel.”

Q. Are there any problems that you face here in Nairobi?
“I have not been here long. I hear it is not easy if you are Ethiopian to get papers…to be a refugee. Sometimes even the police come to look for those without papers. If they catch you, they send you back to Ethiopia or put you in jail. I am lucky that I have some little money that my brother sent, so when they take me I give them money. But mostly I just stay in my room. I fear what will happen when the money is gone and I am still here…”

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Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat
DRC East Africa & Great Lakes
Lower Kabete Road
(Ngecha Road Junction)
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Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya
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