common reason for people coming to Britain is to seek asylum.
In 2001, for example, the UK received 71,365 applications
for asylum. The main countries of origin were Afghanistan,
Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Turkey. Read the extract taken
from Albino Ochero-Okello's account of arriving in the UK
as a Ugandan asylum seeker and think about these questions:
1. Who is speaking?
2. Who is he speaking to?
3. Where is he?
4. What is his problem?
5. How does he feel?
6. Where is his family?
everyone else had been interviewed and cleared by the immigration
officer, our turn came. The immigration officer called us
to the interview room. He was a young white gentleman. He
was helpful and understanding. He was human in his work. It
did not take him very long to realise that I was traumatised
and he seemed sympathetic. I was unable to tell the immigration
officer much about what had forced me to flee my country.
The feelings and the pains of what I'd experienced at home
were too much for me to bear.
thing that stopped me from telling all my problems to the
immigration officer was that I felt he might be the eye of
the government. Because of this, I felt withdrawn and insecure,
anxious unless I emptied my heart to somebody who would betray
me. Such mixed feelings are felt by many refugees when they
first arrive abroad seeking political asylum. Not even afterwards,
when I was given leave to remain, did I feel comfortable talking
the interview, the immigration officer asked me for my personal
details. I gave them to him. He then asked for the details
of my immediate family members, my wife and children. Again
I gave them to him. Then he asked for details of my other
relatives, my father, mother, brothers and/or sisters or of
any other dependants. Again I gave them to him.
was done, the immigration officer asked me, 'Why have you
come to the UK?' I replied, 'To seek political asylum.' Then
I explained to him in brief why I had fled my country, Uganda.
him about the vicious problem of the political situation in
Uganda whenever there is a change of regime. I explained,
'In Uganda, when the leader comes from your tribe, it may
sound like a good thing. But in reality, you are in serious
trouble when he is kicked out of power. It has become customary
in Uganda that, when a ruler is kicked out, all the people
who belong to his tribe and those of other tribes who were
associated with his regime are held liable for the sufferings
that other Ugandans are alleged to have experienced during
his time in power. The vicious cycle of punishing the tribe-mates
of deposed rulers for the sins committed under the ruler's
regimes started when Idi Amin burst on to the arena of politics
on 25 January 1971. Milton Obote, the president he overthrew
in a bloody military coup his tribe-mates suffered a lot.
When Idi Amin's turn came and he too was deposed, his tribe-mates
suffered the same fate, and the same happened after Obote's
second presidency in May 1985 and General Tito Okello's military
junta on 25 January 1986.'
told the immigration officer this, he sighed. 'Oh, I see.
Is that how politics works in your country?'
But I think similar things are probably happening in other
parts of Africa too, ' I answered.
terrifying,' the immigration officer said. He then asked me,
'Can you tell me precisely why your life is in danger? Be
more specific.' So I told the immigration officer my role
in the politics of Uganda. I told him that I had been branch
chairman of the political party of the civilian government
that was overthrown by the military junta in May 1985. I told
him that being in such a position at that time had put my
life under constant threat. As I started to tell the immigration
officer my story, tears began to roll from my eyes. The memory
of what had happened to me and to my parents at home triggered
this. The whole episode of what had happened at home started
to come alive in my mind. I felt a big lump come into my throat
but I swallowed it.
memory was reliving the way my elderly, partially blind father
was stripped naked by the so-called Karamojong cattle-raiders.
They stripped my half-sister Maria too, and then shot her
dead in front of him, before driving off with his 400 head
of cattle. The thought of the fate of my family, the wife
and three children that I had left behind, increased my grief.
I thought about my daughter Gloria, who had been very unwell
when I left, and whom I did not expect to live for very long.
these memories flooding back into my mind during the interview,
I found it too much to say anything any more. I just sat there,
my face looking down at the table and the tears rolling down
my cheeks like a river.
impossible to continue with my story. I could not do it because
of the lump in my throat. I felt like a dead person.
Ochero-Okello is now a case worker with the Red Cross, living
with his family in Middlesex, in the UK.
put these events in the chronological order that they happened,
be careful they are not necessarily the same order as they
appear in the text!
Amin staged a violent coup in Uganda.
b. The writer started to cry.
c. The writer starts to tell the officer about the situation
d. It was the writer's turn to speak to the immigration
e. Okello's government was thrown out.
f. The immigration officer asked the writer a lot of questions.
g. The writer stops talking.
h. The writer was allowed to stay in the UK.
i. Amin was deposed in a violent coup.
j. The writer talks about his own life in Uganda.
k. The writer was a member of the government party.
l. The writer's half-sister was murdered.
m. They went into an interview room.
n. The writer was worried about talking to the immigration
o. The writer worries about his family.
1: adjectives of personality
A) Look at these descriptions and try to remember if they
apply to the writer or the immigration officer
anxious 2. comfortable 3. helpful
4. insecure 5. sympathetic 6. understanding
8. very human 9. withdrawn
Use a different form of the word in the brackets to complete
was suffering from (anxious) __________ and panic attacks.
b. I see your problem and I can really (sympathetic) _________
c. There's too much work to do on this course. I'm afraid
I'll have to (withdrawn) __________ from it.
d. I only have a short contract I don't have any job (insecure)
e. It's a (comfortable) __________ thought to know that I'll
be rich when I'm older!
2: related words
Put one of the words from the box into the right place in
the sentences below
asylum 2) deportation 3) emigration 4) immigrant 5) immigration
6) migrant 7) permit 8) refugee 9) seeker 10) visa
a. A __________
is a document that you need in addition to a passport to have
the permission to enter some countries.
b. A work __________ is an official document you need to get
a job in a country which you are not a citizen of.
c. If you are found to be resident in a country without citizenship
rights or the necessary documents, you might get a __________
d. An illegal __________ is a person who enters a country
without having the necessary documents to do so.
e. An economic __________ is a person who travels to another
country in order to look for work there.
f. __________ is when you leave your native country to go
to another country with the intention to stay for a long time
g. An asylum __________ is someone who enters a country and
asks to stay there because they say that they are not safe
in their own country.
h. _________ is the process in which people come into a country
and start to live there.
i. Some people ask for political __________ if they have been
persecuted in their own countries due to their beliefs or
j. A __________ is someone who is escaping from a war zone.
this table with the right forms of the words, then check with
Look at these idioms from the text. Which are formal,
which informal and which neutral? Write f, i or n.
much to bear 5. tears began to roll
2. empty my heart 6. burst on to
3. give leave to 7. kicked out
4. held liable for
Events order: a, I, k, e, d, m, n, f, c, I, o, g, b, h.
Vocab 1a: Writer 1, 4, 7, and 9.
Vocab 1b: a) anxiety, b) sympathise c) withdraw, d) security
e) comfortingVocab 2: a-10, b-7, c-2, d-4, e-6, f-3, g-9,
h-5, i-1, j-8,
Vocab 3: 1, 3 & 4 - f. 2 - n. 5, 6 & 7 - i
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