Amadou Kromah: A Troubled Past, With a Bright Future
May 25, 2012 by Michael Harrison
Who has the will power to walk for four days just for the prospect of freedom? It is Thomas Jefferson High School’s number one tennis player?
Amadou Meme Kromah (born on January 1, 1995) and his family have been through a lot to get to America. Amadou’s father Abdulah was separated from his family when he was only eight, because of the civil war in the Ivory Coast. He and his family walked for nearly four days straight just to get away from the war, to the neighboring country of Guinea. After living there for four years, the United Nations got the Kromahs to Colorado, as refugees. Now, Amadou and his family have lived here for almost five years, and he is the top tennis player at TJ.
Amadou says he had a pretty great life in the Ivory Coast. “The weather was always nice. I had no [formal] education, but I played soccer everyday and life was chill, until the war of course,” said Amadou. He lived with his three sisters (Seeta, Moyamou, and Binada), and his parents, Abdulah and Minata. Food and resources may have been scarce, but the Kromah family got by. All was well in the Ivory Coast, until the 21st century hit.
Hundreds of children, men, and women were forced to leave their homes. Amadou explains that this is what Civil War does to a country. A fight for government leadership caused families to fall apart. Amadou and his mother and siblings were separated from his father, and forced to relocate by the only means possible. “The walk was extremely hard! I was only eight years old, and everyone was trying to get to the United Nations. We even had to leave kids behind, but I thought I did pretty good considering,” said Amadou. The Kromah family walked for nearly four days to escape their country, and all their hard work was rewarded when they finally made it to Guinea.
Guinea was the Ivory Coast’s saving grace for a while; the neighboring country was a safe haven during the war. “My mom’s family helped a lot. They were initially from Liberia, but now lived in Guinea,” said Amadou. However safe it may have been, living there was still a challenge. Food and water were rationed out to refugees, and the Kromah family had a lot of trouble adjusting to this kind of living. “Guinea was terrible compared to what you know [now], but when you are in movement, and everyone is in the same situation you are, you don’t think about how bad things are,” said Kromah.
After a long four years in Guinea, Amadou and his family were chosen to be interviewed about their experience as refugees. This included a trip to Conakry, Guinea, and eventually America. “I didn’t understand it when I was young, but a lottery went out for an interview, and they decided if you were a good candidate [or not]. We were!” said Amadou. Leaving his mother’s family behind was tough, but they approved of this migration, and wished the Kromah family good fortune in America.
America provided many things that Amadou said he wasn’t used to: a good amount of food, solid shelter, and a chance to get an education. Before this point, Amadou had never received any formal education, but this all changed with his attendance at Merrill Middle School. “Back in the beginning of 6th grade, I would get into fights all the time! I didn’t know how to speak English yet, and I could only communicate anger in the only way I knew how,” said Amadou, whose says his first year of middle school was a rough affair, but after learning English, Amadou excelled. He soon skipped the 7th grade, and established himself as a bright, American child.
It may have been a privilege coming to America, but the Kromah family has still had trouble adjusting to life here. “My mom has had a lot of trouble adjusting to America. I haven’t had nearly as much trouble because I was still a kid when we came here. My mom has lived with all the trouble in Africa, and still lives with it to this day,” said Amadou. Amadou and his sisters are all in school, and all do well.
Amadou had been here for almost three years before he began to play tennis. He has only been playing for about two years, and is the number one singles TJ player. “It has taken a lot of hard work, and help from my coach, Chip. He knows exactly what I have, and what I’m lacking,” said Amadou, who is also a wrestler at TJ, and has a few AP classes among the normal affair.
Amadou Meme Kromah has obviously been through more than most. His childhood was one of hardships and brutal experiences. The civil war in the Ivory Coast still rages on today, but Amadou says he can’t wait to return. “I hope to attend CU Boulder, and become an engineer or a writer. I can make a lot of money, have a big house with my family, and return to Africa to find my father. He may still be alive in the Ivory Coast,” said Amadou, who is hopeful for the future, and will also be continuing tennis through college.
After all is said and done, Amadou is an exceptional young man. He likes chicken, steak, wings, Chinese food, Mexican food, pizza, and he loves Avatar and The Big Bang Theory. He loves to play sports, and video games, and continues to live an extraordinary life as an American citizen, and as a TJ Spartan.