Yilma Tafere Tasew New Zealand Yilma Tafere Tasew was born and grew up in Ethiopia. He was a teacher by profession. He left Ethiopia in 1991, to exile in Kenya Refugee camps. While he was in Kenya, Yilma was a refugee community leader. He has done a lot of advocacy for the refugee community. He has also worked as a social worker for the Lutheran World Federation at Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. While he was in Kakuma Camp, he established the first refugee news bulletin. Then in 1995, with the collaboration of two Australian students who came to visit the camp, he managed to publish a book called Tilting Cages , an anthology of refugee writing, which is a collection of poems and stories from twenty-eight refugee writers, including Yilma. He now lives in Wellington, New Zealand, and is preparing a collection of his poetry, Diasporic Ghosts - accompanied by critical essays on exile and refugee issues for publication in May 2005.
IF I COULD If I could go Wherever I want Across the mountains The rivers, the oceans, And the borders, boundaries If I could… Fly - travel as I wish, Without passports, visas, Any identification Without being interrogated, Afraid of persecution Prison, torture and execution I could have come home If I could Mum, Dad, Bro, Sis Friend, fellow I could have been Home with you Whenever I feel Homesick I miss you If I could Fly without landing, On airport, airstrip Without asking Anyone permission Without being interrogated Asked where I am from Which race, nationality Ethnicity, clan, Religion I belong to If I could Disguise myself Externally, being You, not me Physically By miracle or demon I wish I was You, with a wing Without nationality Tribe, ethnicity, race If I could Say, arriving home It’s me - Mum and Dad Bro, Sis I come to see you, Give me a hug A kiss Don’t you miss me? For decades Hi, it’s me! If I could I could fly now Leaving today, Yesterday behind Where my heart is Which all tears, Words, sorrows, Rages can’t explain If I could I can’t wait to open My heart, To show how lonely, Isolated Miserable I am Without you Vaguely, Visualising you If I could If I could fly Without being labelled Accused of which I am not If I could return To my homeland, Village, city Which I’ve missed For decades If I could If I could Change my appearance Having wings to fly If I was you Physically I could have Gone, Flown, home To Mum, Dad My homeland village If I could If I could If I could 18 April, 2004, Wellington, New Zealand. RECONCILE! Let me be, In Peace, Forgiving Myself, others Let me reconcile Let me live With false Reality Knowing Contemplating Meditating To move on Not off Let me reconcile Let me swim Out Quickly, hardly Striving Out of trauma, Stress Depression. Out of anger Rage, With the support of My counsellor Therapist, Walking stick My pen, Let me reconcile. Let me put Behind, The gloomy Past, present Creating Fantasy of Bright future Bringing from Nowhere Nonexistent World A better place, Let me reconcile Let me create Even though for The moment That wishful Spirit Let me create My own Imaginative Aesthetic, artistic Peace, Let me reconcile. Let me drug Myself For a while, With imaginative Emptiness Void happiness Whether it helps Or not Let me reconcile. When watching From on top Of Mount Victoria The shining city And its Waterfront At night Wellington’s Beauty Let me feel Myself with Imaginative hope Against bleak Present, past Future Lighting its fake Candle Let me hunt Peace Let me reconcile Not yearn For my homeland Across the oceans, Let me swim With temporary Insanity Rhythm, Imagined orchestra Pie in the sky, Let me reconcile. Let me wear Masks Pretending Nothing Has happened, Is happening, Will happen, Like the pleasure Of frost, Which disappears With daylight Reality Let me create Inside my dark Shadow A light of glass Breakable Let me reconcile. I am fed up, Staying inside My traumatic Shell, ghost Let me come Out Make a living Avoid surviving Let me wake up From life time Fantasy Be powerless Hug cuddle Defeat, despairing Let me give up Weeping Crying Say ‘goodbye’ Temporarily To life time Companions Trauma, stress Hallucination Victims’ rage Let me reconcile. Let me create A ladder Of cooked Spaghetti Let me try To climb On top of Cheap success Temporarily Let me be Mad, crazy Out of myself Let me reconcile. With my contradictory Self Let me create Artificial Breakable Peace Which finishes, Ends me To ash, Let me fake Happiness Change, Peace With everyone Myself Let me reconcile. Let me create Chain of hope Out of Spiders’ web, Let me drink Peace Out of my Worn-out Smelly Boots, Whether it helps Or not Let me create Peace of Artificiality Let me reconcile. RECONCILE! RECONCILE! RECONCILE! Sunday July 27, 2003, Wellington, New Zealand