William Ngonga Kasoka: A former Angolan refugee in Zambia
“I fled Angola’s Moxico province to Zambia with my parents, brothers and sisters in 1966 when I was only eight years old. We were some of the first people to open this refugee settlement, which was officially opened by the government of Zambia in 1966. I have lived almost my entire life in Zambia continuously for 48 years now and now consider this country my permanent home. My parents died here and I married my wife here in this refugee settlement. All my children were born in this country and have gone to school here. Some have even married Zambians and speak only local languages. Therefore, at my age now, there is no other place I can call home. Even if I went back to Angola, where do I start from? Both my parents and sisters died here and I don’t know any relatives in Angola. My only surviving elder brother and I have both decided to remain in Zambia and run our businesses. Most of us are self-reliant. I ran some shops selling assorted goods. Am in agriculture and run transport businesses, helping refugees and Zambians travel between the settlement and the nearest town, Kaoma and the provincial capital, Mongu. In the process of running thee busineses, I have employed some refugees.
The government of Zambia should be commended for coming up with the local integration programme that will benefit 10, 000 former Angolan refugees. Am one of the former Angolan refugees who applied and meet the established criteria. As a former Angolan refugee, am grateful to the government and people of Zambia, as well as UNHCR for allowing us to live as refugees in Zambia all these years. Am also thankful for the generous consideration to locally integrate some of us. It’s something we’ll always be grateful for to the people and Government of Zambia. On behalf of other former Angolans, I want to assure our hosts that we’ll continue to be good members of the Zambian society living in harmony with them.”
Text By: Kelvin Shimo