WebHeader_Grove.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Get entered for two chances to win tickets to see Hamilton in Boston with your gift today!

Bantu Refugees Adjust to New Lives in America

After arriving in South Carolina a year ago, Rukiya Sheygo has been doing custodial work at Columbia College. Above, she's pictured with her newborn son, Abukar.
Petra Mayer, NPR
/
After arriving in South Carolina a year ago, Rukiya Sheygo has been doing custodial work at Columbia College. Above, she's pictured with her newborn son, Abukar.

The Bantus of Somalia are a long way from home. Originally from Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi, they were captured two centuries ago and sold as slaves in Somalia. When that country collapsed into civil war in 1991, thousands of Bantu fled across the border to refugee camps in Kenya. Last year, they began their longest journey yet -- across the ocean to America.

The decision to bring the Bantu to the U.S. was controversial. The State Department agreed to the relocation only after efforts to settle them within Africa failed. Even refugee advocates worried privately if it was right to throw the rural farmers -- who had virtually no knowledge of Western culture -- directly into American society.

More than 11,000 Somali Bantus have arrived so far and the effort to integrate them is demanding generosity, dedication and creativity from whole communities. NPR's Jennifer Ludden visited Columbia, S.C., where 22 Bantu families are trying to build a new life.

This story was produced by NPR's Petra Mayer.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jennifer Ludden helps edit energy and environment stories for NPR's National Desk, working with NPR staffers and a team of public radio reporters across the country. They track the shift to clean energy, state and federal policy moves, and how people and communities are coping with the mounting impacts of climate change.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.