Face2face with Ethiopian refugee and businessman Brhanu Abraham
Q: What do you do?
A: I own a small business here in Komani. It is called Bayanas Shop. I am also a subcommittee member in an Ethiopian society for refugees called Tigray Liberation Front.
Q: What do you enjoy about it?
A: I enjoy being in this line of work because it allows me to interact with many people from different backgrounds. It has helped me become integrated and I feel as if I am at home.
Q: How long have you been in South Africa?
A: I have been here for 14 years.
Q: What do you love about South Africa?
A: I love learning about the cultural background. I really enjoy talking to some of the old people who have many stories about the history of the country and town.
Q: Do you think South Africans are xenophobic?
A: Definitely not. I think what has happened in the country in the past was crime, not xenophobia. It was people who just wanted to benefit from lawlessness. South Africans are very welcoming. While I have been here I have never been threatened and I generally think that is how the whole country is.
Q: What does the Tigray Liberation Front do?
A: On Saturday we celebrated 46 years of the Tigray Liberation Front, a party in Ethiopia fighting for Tigray people. We also get together to fundraise for other Ethiopians in the country who are trying to get on their feet. It is a solidarity society and we are trying to raise awareness about our plight and to get the international community involved in our struggle.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: I prefer reading. Most of the time I am catching up on news from local outlets like The Rep. I am also online reading about what is happening back home. Apart from that, I read the Bible sometimes.
Q: What is your motto in life?
A: I believe in hard work. Working hard can change a person’s character and make them more responsible and driven. Many people are not born rich, but with hard work, one can achieve one’s dreams and goals.