Jamaican yet to come to terms with homecoming decision

01Jun 2016
Songa wa Songa
The Guardian
Jamaican yet to come to terms with homecoming decision

NATIVE Jamaicans who came ‘back home’ to Africa and settled in Tanzania three decades ago say that after all these years they still do not feel at home and are yet to receive the proper welcome and resettlement they expected as they mourn their colleague who passed on last week.

Kisembo Karudi, widow of late Ras Bupe (L) family friend Saburi Omega (C) and the deceased’s son Nyamehye Karudi when they visited The Guardian Ltd in Dar es Salaam on Monday. Photo: John Badi

Friends and family of late Ras Bupe, a Jamaican who settled in Tanzania with his family in 1983, visited The Guardian offices on Monday with sentiments they believe their fallen Rastafarian colleague would have aired if he were alive.

His widow Kisembo Karudi, son Nyamehye Karudi and friend Saburi Omega told The Guardian that Bupe, who they say was ‘called by Jah’ on Friday last week in Dar es Salaam after losing a battle with tetanus following a road accident, will be laid to rest today at his Mbezi Tangi Bovu home.

“We ran away from the Caribbean where our ancestors were forcibly taken during slavery and came back home but we don’t really feel at home,” said Karudi, the widow of Ras Bupe who has been juggling between the UK and Tanzania since 1989, and holds a British passport.

“Before choosing and settling in Tanzania in 1983, we had previously been in the UK, before moving to Zambia and then Zimbabwe,” she said.

Upon arrival, the couple was granted right to stay in the country by authorities, got a plot of land at Mbezi, put a roof over their heads and engaged in horticulture. According to Karudi, her husband met then President Julius Nyerere in August 1985 in Dar es Salaam.

Karudi, the adopted Bantu name meaning literally ‘who has returned’, recalls that her husband together with five other returnees from the Caribbean was given some 1,000 acres of land in Kasulu, Kigoma region for resettlement and agriculture, which they did not utilise because “it was not arable enough and there were no basic infrastructure such as water.”

And since they were not citizens, the group couldn’t demand more. They abandoned the land and came back to the cities where they still feel like foreigners after decades of hoping to be home, she narrated.

“We are farmers. All we want is arable land with the right infrastructure, and citizenship,” said Omega who came to Tanzania in 1989.

“I live in both the UK and Tanzania but my heart is permanently here (in Tanzania). It’ll be great if I get Tanzanian citizenship,” said Karudi, the son of Bupe.

The mother and son said Ras Bupe died at the age of 64 without Tanzanian citizenship which he longed for. But asked if there were any attempts to apply for the citizenship, none could vividly recall, with Omega (67) saying the government should “just give us citizenship without long procedures” because “we are a special case”.

But that is not possible, according to the ministry of Home Affairs. The ministry’s spokesman Isaac Nantanga told this paper yesterday that all foreigners wishing to become citizens must submit a formal application to the minister.