Kwadazo Bedzra

Kwadazo is from Togo, a tiny country about the size of West Virginia sandwiched between Benin and Ghana with Burkina Faso to the north on the Ivory Coast of Africa. Kwadzo is a musician who played in a band put together by brothers of Gnassingbe Eyadema, who was president of Togo from 1967 until his death in February 2005. When elections were called after Eydema’s death, Kwadzo decided to join the opposition and began to play for opposition party bands. Eydema’s Rally of the Togolese People party (RPT) claimed to have won the 2005 election, but many in the opposition accused the RPT of fraud. Many Togolese fled the country for Ghana and Benin, many more “disappeared” at the hands of the RPT.

In May 2005, Kwadzo received a threatening phone call because of his involvement with the opposition effort in the election.

Fearing for his life he fled for a refugee camp in Agame in Benin, where he hid for one year.

As insecurity increased in the camp, Kwadzo left and pursued s musical career in Nigeria.

During another election campaign in 2010, Kwadzo returned to Togo to visit his mother. One evening neighbors warned Kwadzo that two men had come looking for him. When the neighbors reported that they did not know where he was, the two men told them to tell Kwadzo that he didn’t know what was waiting for him by coming back to Togo. Kwadzo fled to the Nigerian border and then, with the help of a friend, obtained a visa to Brazil. He tried to live in Brazil for several years, but the language barrier was impossible to conquer, so in August 2016 when he began the trek to the United States.

He arrived at the San Diego border on August 22, 2016 and was put into detention the same day, after applying for asylum. He was 42 years old, unmarried, but with one child, speaking French and a little bit of English and knowing no one in the United States. He was initially detained at a center in Arizona, and then transferred to the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny, NJ. On February 3, 2017 Kwadzo was released on parole and entered the First Friends Post Release Supportive Program. First Friends helped Kwadzo find a place to live, social security number and employment authorization documentation. He is now on his way to a life free from fear in the United States.

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