Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Outcast – The Plight of Black African Refugees

Ethiopian-born author Yilma Tafere Tasew will launch his new book, Outcast – The Plight of Black African Refugees, in Wellington on 14 July.

This is Yilma’s fourth published book, and he is currently working on the second and third volumes. Outcast – The Plight of Black African Refugees, published by Africa World Press, is a compilation of essays written by refugees, scholars, activists and professionals about their experience and knowledge of refugees and refugee life.

“I wanted to bring African refugees into focus,” Yilma says. “The world’s literature gives more attention to refugees from places like Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Yilma Tafere Tasew to launch a new bookYilma’s contribution describes his experience as a refugee at the Kakuma Camp in northeast Kenya. His writing has been described as “heartfelt, blunt and revealing”.

“My writing is about my experience living as a refugee, but it also opens up an avenue for debate. Any social issue needs to be discussed,” he says.

Yilma was a teacher in Ethiopia but in 1991, the political situation in Ethiopia forced him into exile. For six years he stayed at various Kenyan refugee camps; Kakuma Camp was the last one and where he spent the most time.
Anthology of writing

At the camp he started the first refugee newspaper, which was sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation and ran successfully (and at times controversially) for four years. He also helped organise an Australian publisher for an anthology of writing from the camp’s refugees, including himself, called Tilting Changes. This was picked up by a Japanese publisher, translated into Japanese and the money made from sales went back to Kakuma Camp.

In 1997, he was invited by the UN High Commission for Refugees to work for the social and community services section in its Kenyan operations base in Nairobi. In July 1999, he moved to New Zealand under the Refugee Quota Programme.

Diasporic Ghosts (2005), Agonising Wounds (2006) and Thank you, thank you! (2010) feature Yilma’s poetry.

* Outcast launch in Wellington

o The book "Outcast – The Plight of Black African Refugees" is published by Africa World Press, New Jersey, and will be launched in Wellington from 5.30pm to 7.30pm on 14 July at the Methodist Church, 75 Taranaki St, Wellington. Everyone welcoem to attend.

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