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Africans rising

Eritrean graduate who walked 4000km to SA

As newsfeeds continuously cover the events of xenophobic violence in South Africa, an Eritrean man who had fled his home country and walked 4000km to get to South Africa, celebrated his graduation



Yibrah Ghebreyohannes fled Eritrea in 2010 as a result of the country’s border conflicts with neighbouring Ethiopia. His departure, however, marked the beginnings of an epic journey.

‘I crossed more than five countries, and travelled for more than 4000 km on foot just to secure an education in South Africa because I believe education is the only weapon that helps us to fight against all odds,’ Ghebreyohannes told the University of Kwazulu-Natal’s (UKZN) Ndaba Online publication.

His determination to work towards a better life outweighed concerns of being kidnapped or robbed at the number of borders he encountered on his odyssey. After arriving in South Africa, he was eventually granted refugee status which permitted him to work and study – he decided to exploit those options

‘Despite the challenges that existed, I decided to pursue my studying. The first institution I accessed was UKZN and in 2011, I pursued an honours degree. Despite numerous challenges, I managed to finish my degree in 2012.’


The hard work paid off for he recently graduated with a Masters degree in Geography, a subject for which he has a passion and taught at college level back home.

His thesis was titled ‘Displacement and Adjustment: Ethiopian Environmental Migrants in Durban, South Africa’. Coincidentally, Durban has been at the epicentre of the recent spate of violence against foreign nationals in South Africa.

‘People migrate or are forced to move due to many factors. The political, social and economical factors have been analysed as the main reasons for migration. However, global climate change is becoming one of the main threatening issues on human livelihood,’ he said.

We salute Mr Ghebreyohannes for his dedication and determination to not let any unfavourable situation deter him from his dreams. Respect!

Source: UKZNdaba Online