Clovis Mwamba writes about the refugee experience.
"Those killers, soldiers and guards there called me Mandela. Why? Because for the time I was in jail I witnessed many killings but they didn’t kill me.
I fled the country by boat, in disguise. Belgium friends – a collaborator to the Minister for Cooperation and a Civil servant from the Belgium embassy – gave me money to organise everything, so I had money to pay for everything, even glasses, everything, and money to bribe people to help me in crossing. I succeeded to cross the Congo River.
I was fighting against human rights abuse, advocating for democracy and rule of law in my country, and doing those things, it was really a passport to jail.
In Congo I could never be seated next to the glass wall. Those were my reflexes always – I would know always where I was seated, chair against the wall so I can oversee everything because I don’t know who will appear to kill me or abduct me. Lots of things like that were happening in my country. I’ve lost many friends like that. I couldn’t drive a car because you could be abducted by security cars. One or two or three stop you – one behind another, in front of you and you stop and they take you.
Being in Australia is for me a good experience. We have democracy here and I think for more than 40 years have voted democratically in this country, something that I couldn’t do in my country. There they organise the election in the morning and at 6pm in the afternoon they publish the results and the President has won by 99.99%. They do it for western people – they want to show there’s been an election. But Mobutu was a dictator, and his successor Kaliba. It’s the reason why I’ve been fighting against such a political regime."
You, Your Story and the World
You, Your Story and the World: Writing the Refugee Experience was a collaboration between Writers Victoria and the Ecumenical Migration Centre made possible thanks to the generous support of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.