By Tisa Phiri
I looked around just to make sure no one was watching me, the tall trees and green grass did me favour. It matched so well with my green patched combat. Slowly patting the way through the tall grass ensuring that I created little noise. Moving quickly on my stomach with my hands supporting me, I made my way through the tall grass and I sighed as I reached the thick bushes.
Spotting a big tree a few meters away, I rushed and climbed up swiftly. As soon as I settled up in the branches I saw other soldiers, my persuers running my direction. one of them shouting
“Let’s go he went this direction!”
“Yes sir!” the others answered.
I looked straight on top his head as he stood direct under me, smiled to myself,
“I got you b******!” i screamed in my head. If only he was chasing me alone without 30 other soldiers I could have shot him, blowing his brains out. But I had to take it easy if i was to escape from the hell I lived through the past 5 years of my life.
My name is Akim, I was born in Zambia, 28 years ago. I am the 4th born in a family of 5, born from a Soldier and a humble house wife. My father was a gallant soldier but due to his misbehavior he never got promoted passed the rank of a sergeant.
When I was 20 years old my father sent me to go and train as a soldier in Ndola Mushili Barakas.
In the second year of our training as a commando, our camp was attacked by the rogue soldiers from Congo who took 20 of us in captive and held us in the deep forests of Congo.
News went by in Zambia that we were all killed in the line of duty.
General Loko, who was in charge of the rebels had for the first three months subjected us to torture until all our energy to fight back eluded. All of us lost hope of ever returning to our country besides, when we were driven in the back of the trucks the day we were captivated our heads were covered in dark clothes hence we could not even identify clearly the direction of our country.
Within the first year of slavery in the hands of the rebels who made us do all kinds of dirty things for them . Including kill people in the villages as a way of fighting back at their government. out of the 20 captivated from Zambia, 5 died of malaria. luckily I survived and lived on. With each passing day I lost my sense of humanity and lived by orders like an animal.
One day however, I woke up with a new vibe and dream of escaping. I told my friend who refused profoundly..
“I’m scared” he told me,
“What if they catch us, you know they will kill us without hesitation”
“Well” I told him..
“Unlike you I better die trying because staying here is the same as being dead”
So I went on planning my escape for 2 years. I managed to mark a few tress we had passed through from the city. I however planned to escape to the border from there I would probably find my way to Zambia.
So here I am being pursued by general Loko and other soldiers. I had hidden a gun in the bushes and packed some water bottled in my bag. I also stole some tinned foods and hidden them. I had escaped in the night as everyone was asleep killing the guy who was on guard.
But the dark night made it so difficulty for me to move fast. I was lost and went in circles the whole night before it was dawn, one of the rebels saw me by the river and he shouted..
“There he is..!” When I heard the shout I was taken by surprise but I manged to ran and hide as they chased after me.
I looked at the general as he paced around under the tree I was hiding in. my own breath felt like I was making so much noise to be heard down there. I looked at him as he walked away following the others who went different directions searching for me. I knew being caught would be the end of me. Praying to survive this hell and make it to my country even if i had no idea where I was going.
I waited for 2 hours more before I climbed down and started running as fast as my feet could take me, the heavy boots on my feet being the only sound I heard as they hit the ground.
After going for almost 20 kilometres i came to a small stream flowing in the east direction. My inner instincts told me to follow it as there is always some people living near where water was.
It was almost getting dark when i first came into contact with a human being. I hid behind the bark of the tree as I heard male voices coming my direction. Passing were two farmers carrying their hoes, “coming from the fields I guess.”
I sat down to rest after taking the bottle of water from the bag and drinking it rapidly, putting my head on the bark of the tree and fall asleep. I needed to rest before proceeding.