Friday, December 19, 2008



Thursday, 18th December, 2008
By Arthur Baguma

HER traditional tunic (gomesi) did not stop her from charging towards her daughter, shouting at the top of her voice, sending the returning Muslim pilgrims into panic.

She grabbed before hugging the speechless woman tightly as people in the packed hall asked security to sort out the “crazy’ woman causing commotion.
For the 65-year-old Sesiriya Biryeri, it was early Christmas.

She had just reunited with her long lost daughter who was sold into slavery in Yemen at the tender age of five, 28 years ago.

It was equally electric for her daughter, Sara Aisha Abdul-khim (formerly Florence Kampi). They did not exchange a word but the body language said it all. It was a sweet home-coming, days away from Christmas.

“I forgave the people who trafficked me into slavery,’ Kampi said. “I am happy to be back home. i missed my mother. Allah is great…. My mother is still alive.”

Kampi speaks Arabic and Swahili only. Someone translated her speech into Lusoga for her mother, who went into a heart-rending cry of joy.

Kampi, now 31, landed on Uganda soil aboard Ethiopia Airlines at 2:30pm in the company of her four children. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), with support from the Government, facilitated her return.

While in Yemen, she married a Tanzanian national also living in Yemen.
Kampi’s ordeal came to light after a New Vision article in April this year.

Alia Hirji, IOM programme officer, said Kampi and her children would undergo a medical examination before she joins her family.

“She needs assistance so that she can sustain herself and her four children,” he said. “Language is a big problem for her. We shall help her re-integrate socially and economically.”

It has been a long wait since 2005 when Biryeri first got hint that her daughter was still alive. The family had long declared her dead after a fruitless search for her.

In July 1982, Sesiriya Biryeri lost her husband John Kirya and at his burial she also lost her first born daughter, Florence Kampi.

Kampi was kidnapped at her father’s funeral at the age of five in Busembatya, Iganga district (today’s Namutumba district). As Biryeri was mourning her husband, unknown people whisked her daughter away and a search yielded no results.

When a village elder asked Biryeri for money to find the child, she sold her possessions including land and a house in 1984 and raised sh3m.

The man took the money and disappeared. After years of a fruitless search, funeral rituals were arranged and Florence was ‘buried’.

However, in 2005, 23 years later, Biryeri got a letter that rekindled the hope of finding her lost child. And yesterday, her wish was granted.


Anonymous said...
December 19, 2008 at 9:19 AM  

This surely shows that God is faithful. And that miracles do happen in this modern era.
Welcome back my sister.