Former Daadab refugee clinches city council seat in Minnesota

Oballa Oballa
Oballa Oballa, a former refugee in Daadab. [Photo courtesy]

Years back, Oballa Oballa, an ex-refugee who lived in Daadab Refugee Camp in Garissa would not believe that one day he would conquer an elective seat in the US.

Oballa, a 27-year-old Ethiopian who spent 10 years of his life in Daadab won a seat at the Austin city council in Minnesota in the US.

He broke history with the election to become the first African ex-refugee to get a seat in the city council.

Daadab was his home after he fled Ethiopia during the Gambella genocide.

Elated of his success and how much people believed in him, he said that “I still don’t believe it. This is Austin sending a message to all of America and refugee camps that the American Dream is still alive in rural Minnesota.”

Oballa according to Minnesota Secretary of State defeated his competitor Helen Jar by a vote of 1,927 to 1,446, the Secretary of State in Minnesota website indicates.

Oballa told refugees to have faith that their dreams are valid and they can be achieved with focus.

“I still don’t believe it. This is Austin sending a message to every part of America and to the refugee camps that the American Dream is still alive in rural Minnesota,” he told Austin Daily Herald.

“No matter where you come from, you can achieve your American Dream and my American Dream is coming true,” he remarked.

Oballa relocated to the US in 2013 and became an American Citizen in December 2019.

This is when his dream of representing his people started to materialize and ran on a campaign anchored on promoting food security in campuses and provision of electronic textbooks to lower the cost of course materials.

Oballa was among three other Kenyan-born Americans who contested for city council seats in Minnesota.

Although the three lost, their bid was an indication that the Kenyan spirit reins abroad as well.

Henry Momanyi who lives in Minnesota was one of the Kenyans going for the Brooklyn Park City Council but he lost to Susan Pha who successfully defended the seat.

Momanyi vied as an independent candidate who campaigned on education, public safety and better housing policies. His has been quite an experience in elective politics but all in all, he put up a gallant fight in the quest Brooklyn Park city council seat.

Janet Kitui another Kenyan-American with more than two decades in the US vied for Edina City Council seat still in Minnesota. Just like Momanyi, one of her campaign pillars was affordable housing, social justice and racial equality.

Kitui battled out in the ballot with Ukasha Dakane, another Kenyan-American who was eyeing the Edina City Council seat.

Dakane is an entrepreneur running a non-profit with a focus on helping immigrants to secure employment.

His work has been outstanding and was among 11 other candidates cleared to contest for the seat.

Dakane is also proud of having received the Leadership Community Award from the Edina Community Foundation for the role that his organization plays in shaping the youth and inspiring them to become community leaders.