Ex-Dadaab refugee wins council seat in rural Minnesota - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 6 November 2020

Ex-Dadaab refugee wins council seat in rural Minnesota

 

A former Dadaab refugee's American Dream has come true.

Oballa Oballa, 27, from Ethiopia, won a seat on the Austin city council in Minnesota in the US.

He is the first former refugee and person of colour to be elected to the council in the upper Midwest state. He spent more than 10 years in Dadaab.

I still don’t believe it. This is Austin sending a message to all of America and refugee camps that the American Dream is still alive in rural Minnesota.
 Former Dadaab refugee Oballa Oballa

The Minnesota Secretary of State's website said Oballa defeated Helen Jar by a vote of 1,927 to 1,446.

Speaking to the Austin Daily Herald, Oballa encouraged refugees still in camps to believe their dreams are achievable. 

"I still don’t believe it. This is Austin sending a message to every part of America and to the refugee camps that the American Dream is still alive in rural Minnesota.

"No matter where you come from, you can achieve your American Dream and my American Dream is coming true," he said. 

Oballa lived in Dadaab after fleeing his home country of Ethiopia to escape the  Gambella genocide.

He relocated to the United States in 2013 and was granted citizenship last December. Then he decided to run for the Austin city council to combat what he called food insecurity on campuses and provide open electronic textbooks to lower the cost of course materials.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Wednesday predicted victory over President Donald Trump after winning two critical US states. The outcome has not been decided.

Kenyans were fascinated to learn that Esther Ongeri, a young Kenyan who studied in the US, is the assistant to Biden campaign manager Jennifer O'Malley. 

A pro-Biden website said the 2017 political science graduate from Saint Peter's University in New Jersey has held the position since July 2019.

Ongeri previously was the executive assistant to the campaign manager and special projects coordinator on the Biden team. She was appointed special projects assistant to the CFO in February 2018.

She has also served as a staff assistant to New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez from May 2016 to July 2017. She previously served as an intern in the office starting in August 2015.

In the early 1970s, Donald Brooks Jackson, an American professor, civil rights leader and international human rights advocate, changed his name in the early 1970s to Muhammad Kenyatta to honour Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, and Jomo Kenyatta, the first president of Kenya.

Fast forward to 2018, his 27-year old grandson Malcom Kenyatta made history by becoming the first openly gay candidate of colour to be elected as State Representative of the 181st District in North Philadelphia.  

After winning with more than 95 per cent of the vote from his district in 2018, Kenyatta, now 29, ran unopposed for the seat during the election this week.

According to his website, he is vice chairman of the Philadelphia Delegation, a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention and heads other committees.

"As the first openly LGBT person of colour and one of the youngest members elected to the PA General Assembly, he is deeply committed to creating an equitable and inclusive society," the website reads.

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