On my recent trip to Africa, I asked iKhaya Lodge to have someone meet us as we arrived in Cape Town. His name was Frank Mountanda. We have used him to get around Cape Point, Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Gardens, the Water Front, and other similar places in this area. He has been incredibly helpful, reasonable, and knowledgeable. He is married to a South African woman, has two young daughters, and his own tour guide business. What is interesting is that he is from the Republic of Congo and is a refugee. He has a history so similar to those people we are attempting to assist.
When the Republic of Congo was in the midst of civil war, he was a young man and being forcefully recruited to join the war. As his name and language were a dead giveaway as to where he was from, he fled for his life. He came to South Africa as a refugee. Over a period of time he was able to obtain legal status and finally citizenship. He met a local girl and married and their two daughters now attend a private school.
Over the years he has built up his business. He speaks French, Italian, English, and two tribal languages. He said to me, “You have to believe in yourself. Without that, you will not go far.” He has returned to the Congo more than once and has brought his mother to South Africa. He has taken a bad experience and turned it into an asset where he can relate to many nationalities, languages, and circumstances.
His status as a refugee is not unusual nor uncommon. What seems to be uncommon is how well he has been able to turn tragedy into something extraordinary. What we have to determine as we think about our future engagement and partnership with the UNHCR Maratane Refugee Camp in Mozambique, is how can help empower refugees to push forward. I am convinced that giving people hope in the refugee camp to move on with their lives within the country they find themselves is far more productive than waiting for a foreign visa that is highly unlikely to ever arrive. Living in the false hope of someone assisting, embracing a victim attitude, blaming circumstances will never bring about the kind of productive life God wants each of us to have.
To learn more about Business Connect and read the rest of Lou’s reflections in our monthly newsletter, visit this link: http://eepurl.com/bA-KYH