Ikeme Johnson told the Daily Observer that he is 24 years old and he remembers that he was born in a town called Voinjama.
“I was 10 years old in 1990 when I went to Cameroon as a refugee,” he said in broken English, mixed with French.
He also remembers that his father’s name was Ikeme Johnson Nathaniel, but he admitted with difficulty that his father’s name could also be Ikeme Nathaniel Johnson.
The reason is, he struggled to explain, “Mon nom est Ikeme Johnson.” (My name is Ikeme Johnson). He said he could not remember his mother.
Ikeme’s story is like many others who have been helped by the International Organization of Migration (IOM) which made it possible for Ikeme to travel from Cameroon back to Liberia.
IOM representative, Ms. Melissa Kamara, told the Daily Observer in a telephone interview that IOM received Ikeme at Roberts International Airport, after IOM Cameroon sent Ikeme’s request to return home to IOM Liberia.
“We interviewed him and officers of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) also interviewed him to establish his claim of being a Liberian national,” said Ms. Kamara.
She explained further that after BIN officers had completed their interview with him, Ikeme said he could not remember his parents’ home in Voinjama.
He said he left Liberia at age ten along with his older brother, who continued his journey to South Africa. That is all he remembers.
Nevertheless, IOM provided Ikeme with transportation fare and bade him farewell to Voinjama, Lofa County in the hope that somehow he would find his family. Ikeme embarked on the journey to Voinjama to find his parents after 14 years, now a man, but with faint memories of his parents.
After a week in Voinjama, Ikeme was no closer to the people he sought. Someone told him that his father, who was once a member of the Armed Forces of Liberia, had moved to Nimba County. But no one could tell Ikeme where in Nimba County he could find his father. He therefore returned to Monrovia.
“It is difficult to eat,” Ikeme told this paper. “It is difficult to find a place to sleep,” he said. For now he is a wanderer, sleeping where the night meets him and eating when someone offers him a piece of bread.
“I want me mama or my family,” he said almost with tears in his eyes.
He said that his brother once told him that their mother worked at the Executive Mansion.
A small bag with Ikeme contains a copy of Bluebird Reading Series. “I study English ABCDE…,” Ikeme said. He also displayed a page in the book with the primer SO, GO, NO, and DO . . .
Many Liberians of Ikeme’s experience have come to realize that despite the joy after the departure of Ebola Virus Disease from the country, their nightmares are not over, and until some blood relative can claim them as their own. Anyone with information about Ikeme’s family should please contact the Daily Observer on the corner of Benson and McDonald Street in Monrovia.