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I am tired of guys lamenting how hard life is in the diaspora. Everyone with two pence opinion will tell you that life is so challenging and that Kenyans are so depressed Majuu.
Well, I am tired of those in a permanent complain mode. Write your own Book of Lamentations already, like yesterday! Why am I so unmelodious? You ask.
Life is good majuu. If you do not believe, ask that form four graduate who left the Republic, uji ukiwa ungali shingoni; naivetÃ© written all over his face. He came from deep Naro Moru, Timboroa, Limuru, or Mutomo.
Our guy got for himself grade D- at KCSE. His prospects of joining any college in Kenya were nada, non-existence! Even Nairobi Aviation College would not have touched him with a nine feet pole.
Yet he who feeds the ravens does not slumber, neither does he choose whom to bless and/or curse. He gives equal opportunities to his entire creation.
His mercies found our guy in so much despair; he did not have a second pair of shoes, for Christâ€™s sake. And when he needed to go for an interview, he had to borrow an ill-fitting gray Kaunda suit from his elder brother, himself a poorly paid, chalk dust-eating primary school teacher.
His father had been laid off from his parastatal book keeper job during the Moi errors â€œGolden handshake.â€ The whole family, plus his clan was so poor; jiggers had made a home in his toes.
Be that as it may. One day, just one day in the calendar, the God of Abraham, Isack, and Jacob looked down from heaven and said.
I am Jehovah God, I do as I please. I will uproot that young man from Naro Moru, Mutomo, or Timboroa, and I will settle him in Portland, Oregon. There he will thrive and be a savior to his family and clan.
Many moons later, the young form four graduate is now a successful BSN, earning over $120,000/Year from his two full time jobs.
He has lifted his immediate family from the shackles of poverty, ignorance and disease. His siblings are all university graduates due to the benevolence of one whom, in another life and place would have ended up as a Mungiki or Sungu Sungu.
The young man is now married to a fellow nurse and the two are bringing up two wonderful kids, fully American. They live in a nice two-garage, three levels house in the suburbs. Their fridge and freezer are always full to the brim. Mungu Amewabariki. Sema Amen!
What about our retired Agricultural Extension Officer from Engashura, Nakuru? He got an invitation to attend a seminar in Seminole, Florida in the early 90s.
Even before the seminar was over, he had found his way to South Bend, Indiana. There, finding his long time friend, they hatched a plan. He was to seek asylum and get his whole family to join him under the pretext that the Mungiki were after his life.
Six years later, he had earned more money than the lifetime earnings of four Agricultural Extension Officers in the homeland. Besides, his hitherto housewife in Kenya is now a mobile caterer, her culinary talent brings in more dough than the Intercontinental Hotelâ€™s Chief Chef.
The former Agricultural Extension Officer from Engashura, Nakuru is currently the proud owner of luxury apartments in Ngata area, Nakuru. He is planning to retire, with honor and dignity soon.
These little success stories are replicated from Adelaide, Australia to Berne, Germany; Pretoria, South Africa to Saskatchewan, Canada.
Fellows who may have remained in the shackles of poverty have been lifted to levels so high in the economic ladder; they can see the moon from their high economic perches.
I know of many nannies who, in turn have employed nannies back home, and pay them good. Elderly women immigrants who make chapatis and do baby sitting jobs go back home to a nice house complete with running water and electricity.
People who never knew of the phenomenon of personal doctors and dentists now have shining teeth and know their cholesterol levels, thanks to crossing the pond.
And so as I watch and read about this and that person reporting how life is hard in the Diapsora, nashindwa wanasema nini.
But give it to human beings. When it is sunny, they will complain, come rain, and the noise level will escalate a few decibels. You are confusing God, you brood of ingrates!
Be that as it may, those who find life unbearable abroad are former white-collar workers and professionals. Life for them in Kenya was looking up.
They had risen to be middle level managers. They had a parking spot with their names posted in their company parking lot. They had secretaries and chauffeurs at their beckon.
They had employed a gateman, a nanny, a cook, and a gardener in their little nice world in Jamhuri. They could take a few days off to swim in Mombasa or Naivasha.
When they visited the village with their well-endowed wives and chubby kids while driving the company assigned Peugeot 505, village people scampered to find seats and Fanta soda for them.
Then the family got the almighty Green Card. Life has never been the same again. No one seems to recognize the former senior procurement officer, school principal, or the three star hotel manager. Hawa ndio maisha kidogo yanawalemea!
Every third sentence begins with, â€œWhen I was a manager in Kenyaâ€¦.â€ yada yada yadaâ€¦. Some, under the influence of $7.99 red wine, are permanently threatening to go back home, but never actualizing the threat. I know one nicknamed, Ninguthii Riu! Their former spots at the high table at home have been taken by someone else.
The journey from Bossman to near servitude in the OECD countries for many professional immigrants from the periphery is one fraught with a lot of emotional instability. Remind me to write about this unfortunate journey in another journal entry.
At the end, life is unfolding, as it should; whether in Kinale, Kiambu or Kennesaw, Georgia. Next time you see a story headlined, â€œLife Abroad is Not a Bed of Roses,â€ funga nyama na hiyo gazeti. And if itâ€™s online, look for cat or baby videos on YouTube to uplift your spirits.
By Mzee Moja | email@example.com
You nailed Mzee Moja, too many whiners and for what? Lazyness and lack of ambition but also don't be fooled by some deported drunks and wife beaters who often say negative things about diaspora life. Where's kada ya kaplot mkenya halisi? I love the way he love all diasporan and want them to return to Kenya, the land of milk and honey so long as uko na kaplot. Not me buddy. Not in that corruption mess.
Umenena mzee moja. A mzee seated on a traditional stool sees further and farther than a boy atop a mango tree
True story! I liked reading that story, It's like a replica of me. Grew up from no where, no connections in Kenya. Had really trouble finding a good job after getting C in KCSE with no college. Last job I had in Karen I was making Kshs.10,000. That was the most I have every made in Kenya. Came to US in 2008, found me a dish washer job while going to school as Civil Engineering Techinician. Now living a dream own my home in sub urban with two garages, Owns a 2014 Lexus IS 250. Own 2 story apartment in Kenya that bring close to 100k a month, have 4 undeveloped plots worth 4 milion, Paid school fees for 4 of my nieces n nephews till finished high school. and still have countless investments in stock in Kenya and here.
What if I was in Kenya..OMG...will still be struggling waiting for cheap Matatu from Karen to Ngong and no hope. My dear Kenyans USA is land of milk and honey never listen to endless complains coz I would rather have minimum wage and be in US. If you get that chance never look back
Waah! you made my day. Ninguthii Riu! Niwengi. I have one here that have never kubali ako america, He make me sick. please advice them.
Let's be real and call a spade a spade. Now, my sixth sense tells me this article was prompted by a video presentation done by a one Morioz and featured in yesterday's Mwakilishi issue. The author of this article, either by design or otherwise, seems to lambast Morioz's presentation. If he were a true literary guru and not a wannabe, he should have noted that Morioz's video feature was titled, "Four Reasons Why Diaspora Life CAN BE Depressing". Morioz didn't say that life in the diaspora IS depressing but CAN BE depressing. There is a whole world of difference between IS and CAN BE and I kindly advise this author to pay attention to his English comprehension skills and grammar or go back to school to improve on the same.
And whether Morioz said it or not, fact of life is that there are some folks in the diaspora who have "made it big" and would have nothing less and the mere mention of going back to Jamhuri sends a chill down their spines. These are the folks who have, despite all odds, triumphed in their various career or business pursuits. If this was their measure of success, then they have succeeded (It's important to note that success is a very individual thing although the world and this writer would like us to believe it's all about money)
It is equally true that there are others who are having the worst in their lives, far worse than if they had remained in Kenya. I know of several Kenyans languishing in jail and many who lack appropriate papers to enable them live properly in this country. They are always looking over their shoulders just in case. In spite of having obtained high qualifications in their chosen fields, they cannot afford a shot at what they truly deserve and they live a hard life that is the root cause of anxiety and depression. These are my heroes coz, when I encounter some drawbacks in life that drain me to the bone, I just remember their resilience and this way, I get some oomph to press on.
An attempt to portray life in the diaspora as always good is a denial of the obvious and for a wannabe literary guru, an embarassment, to say the least. A true author would have made an attempt to maintain a balance instead of going bonkers over a non-issue.
Sasa wewe Mlachake mbona hasira? I thought the author has balanced the story; those who have benefited from emigration vs those who regret. Even if the write uo was inspired by Morioz, havent you heard of right of reply in literary circles? Wacha wale wako na maoni waandike. You too can write under your Mlachake moniker
@mlachake, why do you always give mzee moja a sucker punch? One time you said he should call himself mzee mmoja.
Instead of mzee moja. Honestly do you have beef with him? Both mzee moja and bwana morioz are great story tellers.
@Mlachake, you sound so petty picking on semantics cmon. Look at the big picture. I enjoyed this article, you write yours we see how good of a writer you are.
hehe...mlachake, wee kula chako wachana na mzeemoja! Personally diasporans can whine and/or boost about there experiences. Our journeys, our circumstances, our stages in life, our needs and wants, our measures of success et al are so different that we can never agree or sing the same song. What I never understand is when a person who lived in the diaspora and chose to go back home, or was deported like Mkenya chooses to bash diasporans over and over.... getting mad that they are not going back home to Kenya as if they had a contract with them...or as if they are their family....driving some diasporans who easily get swayed to start accounting, explaining how good they live, how much they earn, what car they drive.... why one hell should I explain myself to an idiot I don't know....i don't care about? No apologies for being where I wanna be at whatever time!
I agree totally with your sentiments. There are benefits to be had in the developed world and those who work hard will reap the rewards of those benefits. While there is some truth in what Mzee has said, there is some truth in what you say too and I appreciate that in your writing. Latest cars, two-garage homes and 3-level homes may be the epitome of success, but it is also in these traps of riches that one sees the faces of sorrow and sadness too.
Many will remember reading articles written especially of those in the nursing professional who do indeed earn their cream of the crop salary but get so stressed out that the stress follows them into their home and families destroying both. There are many who have obtained wealth in debt and are leaving pay check to pay check and the stresses that come with it bring with it it's own level of baggage.
So kudos to those who build their success and wealth on the right foundation. I would not one to be one of those who gives accolades without examining also that all that glitters is not gold because this same society also attests to it even in the lives of the diasporans.
Their people who have a hard time coping with stress in America hence the never ending complaints and living in the past Or Having distorted views of life in America n kenya.There many challenges that Kenyans face in America but challenges are everywhere in life.As long as you have fire in your bones(determination ),some degree of patience--depending on your circumstance, guarding your mind aganist negativity self talk and some drive you should be fine,well eventually .Quality of life in America is good for most people.Life in America has been good to me even at my very lowest,I still kept moving and stayed strong.Keeping your own pace especially if you are having a hard time adjusting or your facing challenges or stress is overwhelming you, go at your own pace that's essential some of the many take aways I have learned.Negativity all the time is boring and exhausting.
Yes it's true n real that life in diaspora can b difficult.Yes u have jobs paying 120k$ a year but how much do this guys save after paying their 30 yr mortgage n 2 cars outside,yes ur left with not much,n that nurse has slavery hardworked himself,having slept maybe only 10days the whole yr. Yes diaspora kuna opportunities but kuna hardships mingi pia.Yes some folks have uprifted their family back home but the stupidest ones has done nothing in their families.So wazee mwenye ako nahakili wamejisaidia na wengine wamenjitupa.I am a believer that as long as uko hardworking u can survive anywhere.If u didn't make it in Kenya sorry others r making it.
If u made it in diaspora Gud lack but msisahau na home juu East or west home is the best.
@mkenya Halisi, nini inakuuma about Kenyans doing their thing in diaspora? Let m humbly submit to you that I am one of those guys making a six figure dollar salary, I am on track to pay off my mortgage in half the time - 15yrs or less. I have no consumer debt and I save diligently and have managed to take care of some relatives back home and invested in real estate in Kenya. Took me years of hard work but here in US you are rewarded for ur hard work. I Don't need connections or to get involved in corruption. My hard work pays off in this land even with its challenges. Hard work is good for you my friend. Every first world economy has a hard working workforce. I am healthy and If God wishes I will rest in retirement at a place of my choosing coz I will be prepared. I will hopefully not be fighting lifestyle diseases like diabetis coz I was out drinking with friends every weeknd. This hardwork lifestyle keeps me from a lot of trouble my friend... The guys I employ in Kenya, some of them have previously worked in those "slavery" conditions before they came to work for me. I pay them above market rates coz I can't imagine how they support families working all day and getting ksh500 at the end of the day. Many young pple in Kenya are jobless, I am in Kenya frequently so I know what I'm talking about. I also know there are success stories in Kenya and the country is growing but let's hear both sides of the story. In my mind, I have two homes - one that pays the bills and helps me advance in many aspects of life(US) and my home of birth (Kenya)which I will love and cherish forever.
@Guest - You were spot on Mr. Mhalisi heckling the rest of us who are doing their thing succesfully in diaspora .
You guessed it, there goes mkenya halisi again as usual caring for people he doesn't like. I'm sure you'd love to come back. Ulideportiwa kwanini by the way by? Ama ni wizi wa nyama kwa Wal-Mart?
This piece is spot on and it is what I have always advocated - will continue to advocate - because I believe in the principles espoused therein:
The views of Mzee Moja are the very views I cover in my book "WUODHA: My journey from Kenya to these United States" - views that have earned me ridicule, virtriol and some rather scary emails/attacks not to mention accusations of "Ujaluo itaniua", arrogance, Uncle Tomism etc.
That the American Dream - whatever and however you define is - is there for any and all to create AND live.
Is it easy, especially for Africans/African-Americans, women, & minorities in general?
But it is attainable for those willing to pick up the pieces, learn from their mistakes and work hard!
Case in point: Mwakilishi, the self-billed "Kenya Diaspora News Leader" has been very inconsistent about publishing my articles - for whatever reason(s). So what do I do?
To all out there: Live your dream however you so choose - be it here in America or in Kenya - or like "they" say stateside: Get In Where You Fit In!
Washington - I bought your book and tried to read it but I could not get past the politics of (Kikuyu and Luo) .So,maybe one of these fine summer days I will get the mojo again to skip those pages and read the rest . BTW I think Mwakilishi should charge you a few for free advertisement on the comment pages :-), don't you think?
I thought so too. But Mwakilishi is democratic and respects right to opinion. On the other hand, Mzee Moja is one Mzee I would love to meet. Tukalie Njun'gua, tunywe Muratina kwa mirija, tule nyama ya ulimi, tukizungumzia uhalisia wa maisha, ya ughaibuni na ya mastakimu.
Hey there, haven't you heard that you should never despise the day of small beginnings? Is it possible that NY Times "woke up" one day to be a global conglomerate? I am sure there was one day when they had only a few readers, then ten then millions per day. I wouldn't be caught looking down on any entreprise just because they have "only" 10,000 customers. I say this not because I am holding brief for Mwakilishi, I would not even tell the owner from the pole outside my crib.
Go ahead and start your blog and build it to be a global player in ten years. Anyone with a smart phone anywhere nowadays can turn themselves into global publishers.
Phew! There you have it! Hater!
As for me, I am one who fully agrees with mzee moja's piece and supports Iphone 4g's view that negativity all the time is exhausting and boring.
We dwell so much on the negative aspects of diaspora living perhaps because it makes for sensational reading or maybe it gives a kick to folk who have a beef with their experience in diaspora ... i don't know.
But seriously, where in the world is life a breeze? But many of us still make it in spite of layers of corruption, nepostism, lack of funds, racism, inadequacies, you name it, whether in diaspora or in Kenya. Why is it a big deal if people are facing challenges in diaspora?
Personally, I am one of those Mzee Moja refers to as former white collar professionals back in Kenya. I came to the diaspora because I was ready to settle; but I was obviously unprepared for the shock that my credentials would not transfer smoothly to an equivalent career here (I was a field coordinator for an international NGO in a neighbouring EA country at the time of my move). I was assured of getting a green card.
After some initial frustration, I got it and realized that I had to move on. I practically put my head down, got some departmental store jobs, simultaneously enrolling back to college and got another degree and another career. What's amusing is that obtaining this degree somewhat gave credibility to my U of Nairobi education and I now use(d) both to build my career in Nanotechnology.
My take therefore is that this matter how life is in diaspora is subjective and depends on your current station in life and your perception of how life should be. Though we heavily invest in Kenya as part of our long term retirement strategy, we realize that we have to live the here and now; our kids have to interact with neighbour kids and schoolmates; and that our children know the diaspora as their home. For this reasons, I fully embrace my local community, participating in kids sports (soccer), volunteer coaching and my local church (and I don't mean "Kenyan's" church). It is fulfilling even with all the sorrounding negativity and I have no iota of regret being in diaspora. When my kids are all grown up and independent, I will make the choice of when to move back to Jamhuri (not whether).
@Kiko & Formerly Guest 2:
Thanks for the support AND feedback. The chapter on Kenya's tribal politics shaped my childhood - very positively - even as the realities were extremely painful. Having said that, it is feedback from you - the readers - that help me become a better person, a better writer. I am curious to hear your take on the subject - Kenya's tribal politics even as it becomes less of an issue - supplanted by the classism in its many permutations.
Thank you for the kind words and encouragement, not to mention the insight on where else to look for an audience.
@Osiro, like always you have to hijack an interesting conversation to talk about yourself and your pathetic book. Its not always about you. On a similar topic, since you are the most vocal on corruption, how come you have not mentioned anything on the topic touching on Raila, despite the obvious recent revelation that he was involved in corruption in the Eldoret hospital saga? Your topics are always one-sided so you should be the last person to talk about tribalism, nepotism, corruption and other ills facing Kenya. Your articles combined with silence on certain political figures (ODM to be certain) are an epitome of those very same ills. Shame...
Was enjoying the article.. Declaring Amen until i got to the middle classs. Kenyan part. Because God blessings rain on those that were succesful n those that were struggling. I have seen all kinds of people flourish inspite of their backgrounds..
The first year is tough but once you roll up your sleeves n get going.. You figure out ways to earn and pray to the God of all who has promised to bless the work of our hands...
Mzee moja you are a literacy genius, communication guru! Very tasteful article and enjoyable read.
By jove, I will not celebrate my 25th birthday under the sun, here in the so dubbed city in the sun. I want to see some snow!
To the author of this, you are one gifted in writing!! Keep it up
Agreedx2. May he find himself/herself into the mainstream. More people need this kind of infortainment.
For if you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, avoid the people, overlook virtues of honest hard work, unsubscribe to sound principles and undermine opportunities/challenges abroad, you might better stay at home.
LOL!! Good article Mzee Moja! Someone needed to write it. I am also tired of folks who complain about life in diaspora and never look at the bright side of things. Diaspora opportunities have helped a lot of Kenyans who would otherwise be in tough situations in Kenya. There are challenges everywhere and you are so right - it is human nature always to complain whatever the circumstance. Those who complain the loudest are usually those who are not handling their business.