Friday, December 19, 2008

Joy at slave's return to Uganda

Sara Aisha Abdul Hakim at Entebbe Airport with her children (Photo: New Vision newspaper -
Sara, now in her 30s, was kidnapped at the age of five (Photo: New Vision)

A Ugandan mother and daughter have told the BBC about their joy at being reunited this week after 26 years.

Five-year-old Florence Kampi was kidnapped at her father's funeral by a family who used her as a slave.

She was taken to Yemen where she was eventually rescued by a Tanzanian oil worker who, after he paid the family money, was allowed to marry her.

"I feel so happy," she said about the reunion. Her mother said, "I burst out crying... but they were tears of joy."

Language is now a barrier for the pair as Florence, now called Sara Aisha Abdulhakim, speaks Swahili and Arabic.

I don't know what God has in store for us, what matters is we are together
Sesiriya Biryeri

Her mother, Sesiriya Biryeri, speaks Lesoga, the local language in the eastern Ugandan district of Iganga.

"We have a few people here helping with translations from Swahili to Lesoga and vice versa; it is a nice confusion," Ms Abdulhakim, who arrived in Uganda on Wednesday with her four sons, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

Her return was organised by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) - who she contacted at her husband's suggestion.

“Language is a big problem for her," Alia Hirji, Uganda's IOM programme officer, told the Ugandan New Vision newspaper.

"We shall help her re-integrate socially and economically," he said.

Ms Abdulhakim says her happiness will be complete when her husband can join her.

He returned to Tanzania earlier in the year to look after his ill father, who died last month.

Meanwhile, Ms Biryeri says she will do her best to learn Swahili.

"I don't know what God has in store for us, what matters is we are together," she said.

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