Austrian looking for Acholi relatives
My father Ambrose Casino Kiteko fled from Uganda in 1979 or 1980. He applied for asylum in the Netherlands and lived with a Ugandan friend in Amsterdam.
It is in Amsterdam that he met my mother, an English teacher of Austrian origin, and eventually married.
Life in Austria
My mother who used to live in a small village in Austria remained there even after marriage. But my father always travelled from Amsterdam to Austria to visit her.
My father at the time was the first black person most Austrians in this area had seen.
However, my Austrian grandparents liked my father so much and had no problem with his origin. Besides, he was polite, educated and even helped them on their farm.
In 1981 and 1983, my mother gave birth to Benjamin Tokwaro, my elder brother and to myself respectively.
Separation of our parents
After some time, the environment in Austria became very hostile compelling our parents to separate. My father could not visit Austria any more. They just exchanged. In fact my mother sent him photos of his two children.
In 1986, my father was run down by a car in Amsterdam and died. My elder brother was four-and-a-half years old while I was two-and-a-half years old. So, we have no memories of our father, except for his photographs.
We also had no personal information (names, contacts) about our father’s relatives. We only knew the little our mother had told us about our him.
The loss of my father was also a very tough time for my mother because she could not work since she had two very young children. Worse still, she had no financial support from the government. She died of cancer in 2002, making our life more difficult.
Desire to trace relatives
We always wanted to get in touch with our African relatives but knew nothing about them. In 2009, we found an old letter our father had written to our mother. It entailed the address of the friend he lived with in Amsterdam.
So, we traveled to Amsterdam to meet dad’s friend who is now a musician. He was very happy to meet us and gave us the names of our uncles and one aunt in Uganda but did not have their contacts.
My brother, Tokwaro, is a technician while I work with the Austrian Federal Police. In fact, I was the first black police officer in Austria.
Love for Uganda
I have always been interested in visiting and learning more about Uganda since childhood only that my mother could not afford the journey.
Because of this love, my girlfriend and I decided to sponsor Steve, a nine-year-old orphan, living in the SOS children’s village in Kakiri, Uganda.
My wish is to look for my relatives and know everything about them and my father. I hope to be in Uganda in four weeks time.
NOTE: This article was first published in the New Vision News Paper on Wednesday, 31st March, 2010. This article plus a series of announcements on Gulu radio stations, word reached his aunt who is married and based in Juba and one uncle who works with the UN. Both travelled to Kampala for the re-union. Simon and his Girl friend then travelled to home village in Gulu where they stayed and met other relatives, before flying back to Austria. Simon and partner now have a baby boy.
As told to Samuel Ouga