Fabien Kalala Shambuyi barely made it through the international arrivals exit before he was swarmed by elated family and friends at the Ottawa Airport Monday evening.
The Ottawa man trapped in the Congo since just before Christmas was showered with hugs, kisses, and flowers.
An exhausted Shambuyi wants to “be with my family. And I’ve got my grandpa in the hospital, I want to go see him,” he said.
The 24-year-old arrived wearing a burgundy University of Ottawa football jacket and jeans.
Family members, including his mother, were on hand to greet him.
“I’m very relieved to see my son,” said a teary-eyed Marie-Therese Kapinga.
“I’m very, very happy to see him.”
Shambuyi was on his way home for Christmas when he was arrested at the Kinshasa airport Dec. 21 for insulting Congo’s president.
He was thrown in prison and after appearing in a Congo court on Jan. 10, Shambuyi was given his passport.
“You cannot imagine how precious is it, the respect of human rights in Canada,” said Shambuyi.
“Let me tell you how much I’m grateful for how the Canadian government was committed on my case to get me at least human treatment.”
Shambuyi’s older brother, Eric Kunda A. Tombe, was thrilled to see him.
“This is what we were waiting for and he’s finally here,” said Tombe.
“We thought it was crazy, he’s not going to get out of there, ’cause we come from that country. That’s the reason we’re here, because there’s no law there, there’s no peace. You get killed easily for nothing.”
Family friend Henriette Yakibonge agrees. She was one of a dozen or so supporters on hand.
“He’s our light, he’s our hope,” she said.
“When people go in Congo for something good and come back alive, it’s really something that we are happy to see.”
Tombe said the family is going to celebrate, big time.
“(Monday) it’s probably going to be a Christmas in January. That’s for sure. He missed it,” he said.
“The good thing is, his birthday it’s on Jan. 23 so it’s going to be a big party. We’re definitely going to have a big party”
Hopefully Shambuyi will be up for it.
“I’m very tired and sick a little bit,” said Shambuyi.
He said he plans to see a doctor soon.
“And when I’ll be stronger I’ll be talking to you guys.”