*Note: This is a blog series centered around my debut novel “Ahadi”, available on Amazon. Click here if you would like to purchase a copy. In case you missed the previous chapter’s post, you read it first here.
“Uokaji” means something along the lines of evacuation.
This chapter is one of the longest in terms of pages as it follows Nyajuru and her husband on their journey to safety. The final destination was Uvira but it was a long way from where they were nested on the mountains. Growing up, Nyajuru and her mother used to visit her mother’s bestfriend in Bibokoboko who owned a motel and it was one of her fondest memories. She had gone there many times before so she knew how to get them there. After hours and hours of walking in the forest and hiding so as to not been seen, they finally arrived at Mama Bintu’s motel.
As the word about the tribal conflict had gotten around, people were generally more alert. And so unfortunately, the person who opened the gates to them happened to not be Mama Bintu and recognized Nyajuru and Mutware as belonging to the Murya people. And so, despite the warm embrace, the great hospitality and every conversation Nyajuru had with Mama Bintu that reminded her of her late mother, it was unsafe to stay there.
Mama Bintu paid an NGO driver who was going to the city (Uvira) so he could take Nyajuru and her husband. It wasn’t long before the driver showed his true colors and started telling Mutware that he was a foreigner and that Congo wasn’t his country even though he was born there just like his father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, and many generations before him. To make matters worse, the car came to a halt when they arrived at a small barrier that was heavily guarded by armed rebels.
They weren’t sure if they would come out alive but at the driver’s request, they emptied their pockets, pretended to have yellow fever while laying in the back of the car covered as the driver left with some of the rebels to go have a couple of beers.
There wasn’t going to be a story set in Congo and not mention the war or any of its repercussions. In writing this chapter and the story of Nyajuru, I hoped that whoever would read it would be more understanding and empathetic at the plight of immigrants but most importantly at internally displaced people whose crime is only being different than the majority.
Our differences makes our country more beautiful, diverse, fuller. Perhaps one day, after having gone through enough wars, Congo will focus on building the country without leaving anyone behind.