The Somali Bantu Citizen Group of Oregon (S.B.C.G) was first established in 2005 with the express goal of facilitating the resettlement and integration of the Somali Bantu community refugee in Oregon, especially in Washington/ Multnomah County as a part of a resettlement program in the United States. The purpose of this nonprofit organization is to help educational, cultural and life-skill training programs in an effort to promote self-sufficiency within and among the Somali Bantu individuals, families and all other refugees who want to participate in our program. The Community has focused on education as a means of "Bridging the Gap" for refugees and as such provides a full range of workshops and classes to meet their needs. Somali Bantu Citizen Group of Oregon is a 501 (C)3 status.
Who are the Somali Bantu?
The descendants of six African tribes in East Africa, we are not a native Somalis. Our ancestors were taken from our native lands by Arab slave traders in the 18th and 19th centuries and sold through the Zanzibar slave market.
How were we persecuted?
We endured several centuries of toil and deprivation as slaves in Somalia. Even after slavery ended there in 1930, we continued to exist on the lowest rungs of the social ladder. During the Somali civil war in the 1990s, our situation worsened. Our farms were raided and rival Somali clans routinely raped our women and killed the men. That led us to an exodus to neighboring Kenya.
Are we refugees?
We fit the definition of refugee as outlined by the U.N. High Commission on Refugees. It says a refugee is a person who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country."
Why are we coming to the United States?
We have nowhere else to go. Kenya, the country we fled to, has refused to allow us to stay permanently. Tanzania accepted some us who fled via ship from Somalia, but that country is already swamped by refugees fleeing the Rwandan civil war. The United States, which accepts a set number of refugees annually, agreed to take those left.
Are we settling in other places, too?
Between 8,000 and 12,000 will make their homes in 50 U.S. cities, including Charlotte and Atlanta.
Where will they live?
They will be resettled in one apartment complex. Because of their strong cultural ties, the Somali Bantu thrive best when living in a communal setting. Currently, five apartment complexes - in Columbia, West Columbia and Cayce - are under consideration.