By Justine Sibomana
My brain was polluted by war,
burnt to ashes,
while I ran to different countries
seeking greener pastures.
Now I am left to struggle with my sanity,
questioning: is this what a refugee ought to be?
I am planted in Rwanda, rooted in Kenya, fertilized in South Africa.
My roots entangled, tied in many knots.
In a moment of silence, after all the battles within,
the heavy breathing becomes lighter.
In that moment it hits me for the first time:
I am not trying to defend myself,
I am embracing who I am.
I have mentally abused myself,
got myself confused, fell into an identity crisis,
trying to find myself in all the countries I have passed through,
rather than within.
In that moment I realize I am an African woman,
I should not be ashamed of my journey, but proud.
It shaped me.
I am Rwandese, my skin beautifully toned by the Rwandan sun,
my accent beautifully tuned by Kenyan English
and my knowledge filled by South African education.
I am designed by all the experience
that was sown into my existence.
I embrace my past and present and I am ready to define my future.
I am not just a refugee, I am Africa:
planted in Rwanda, rooted in Kenya, fertilized in South Africa.
And despite the harshness of my journey and continent,
like Maya, ‘still I rise’.