MALAWI. Lilongwe. June 2015. Maula Prison.
Abebe Aleme is an Ethiopian from Addis Ababa. He is 41 years old. He left Ethiopia for South Africa to look for a job. But he was arrested in Malawi as he was on his way to South Africa for illegal entry.
«I want to say that many Ethiopians are in South Africa. This is why we go there. We go there because in our country we don’t have enough to live. In South Africa if I go I work for two years, three years, I can have something to buy a house. In Ethiopia if you work even twenty years you buy nothing. This is why we leave our country. Not for fun. […] My brothers and sisters are many, there isn’t land for all. I called my father, he is [was] in Nairobi, he said: “You have to get a job”, I told him there is no business here, and he told me: “it is better you get a job!” and he got angry. I closed the phone; I didn’t want to call him back. My brothers and sisters are many; there is no job for me. I go.
Many Ethiopians are in South Africa as I said. They went by plane, because they are not bad economically. But we are poor. Where we come from it is poor and poor. We don’t have documents and we don’t have money to buy a ticket. We have to take out without plane, by bus or walk.
Now I see what the thing is. It’s too bad. In prison here we are not human. We lost everything…you see, the shoes I have are given to me by a friend in Dzaleka [a friend gave me these shoes], before I had nothing, I passed through the forest [laughing], I lost all. But this is not democracy. This is not democratic. We sleep in the shamba and it is cement. We have pain in the morning. And what they give us as food is bad, too bad. No soap, no soap. We pray God every day to be free soon.
If we come back to Ethiopia…you see these guys? Even if they come back to their country, what they do? They cannot work anymore. They are sick. They are blind. They are too weak to do any kind of work. »