He abruptly woke up shortly after 3AM on Monday, July 4.
His heart was racing and though one of the three windows in his bedroom was wide open thus allowing the delta breeze to waft inside, his skin felt moist and sticky. He tried swallowing but his tongue stuck, momentarily, to the roof of his mouth. Eyes wide open, he sat up on the bed and rested his back against the three pillows piled up against the headboard. Nervously he looked around the neat but sparsely furnished room while simultaneously fumbling for the nightstand light switch.
The music from his iPad was playing in the background and as he is wont to do when he first wakes up, he opened the tablet to see if any text messages or â€œMissed Callsâ€ had come through.
Continuing to scroll through the iPad, he came to the article where a popular newscaster-cum-blogger was lambasting his countrymen, who â€œbrag that they donâ€™t watch Kenyan newsâ€, opting instead to talk about â€œabout Trump and Brexitâ€. Scrolling further down towards the end of the article, he saw and read a partially written comment in the â€œCOMMENTâ€ field. Suddenly, he realized why the night had been so restless.
Staring at him were the lines â€œSo you wonder why we care so much for a country that once colonized us, and whose citizens now consider our presence in their land an undesirable invasion? Well let me tell you whyâ€. The words in the field were his opening salvo, in response to the article, shortly before he fell asleep.
They also embodied the conflict he and most "global citizens" increasingly wrestled with.
He was glad that he had reconnected with Akosi the youngest in the family albeit under very dark circumstances. He was happier that she had agreed to be his contact with the organization he had pledged to help. â€œTeaching The Childrenâ€ was an organization that was doing â€œGodâ€™s Workâ€ by reaching out to the least among us -- children who had done well enough in primary school to continue onto secondary school but for lack of financial resources.
Through Akosi, he was going to support this organization.
The first contribution of KShs. 5K went well. He had sent $100 which at the exchange rate prevailing at the time -- ere Brexit -- converted to a tidy KShs. 10,100.
â€œHebu give the organizationâ€™s treasurer KShs. 5K and bank the balance,â€ he had instructed her.
â€œOkay Big Brother,â€ Akosi breezily replied.
The second contribution, a month later, also of KShs. 5K went just as well as the first one. As a token of appreciation for his siblingâ€™s willingness to help, he bought her lunch. He was very excited that once again, he was â€œgiving backâ€ to those on whose shoulder he had hoisted himself. This was the ninth time he had tried to build something back in Kenya; with someone.
The 9th time!
â€œYou know; I wish I could do this for OUR villageâ€ he told Akosi referring to the financial and moral support he was providing â€œTeach The Childrenâ€.
â€œI hear you Big Brother,â€ she replied.
â€œOh well, at least we have a start and looks like the 9th time is a charm!â€
They both laughed at the take on the line â€œ3rd time is a charmâ€ even though his laughter was of the uneasy variation.
â€œDid my sister give you any money towards the challenge?â€
â€œHi Ndugu, I hope you are well. I am yet to receive any money from Akosi. Not to worry thoâ€™, it happens. Each day is a learning experience. I have had such issues with people abroad who channel their contributions through relativesâ€¦...especially if the family member doesnâ€™t know anything about the organization. They tend to hesitate.â€
That was the FB messaging exchange he had had with the organizationâ€™s treasurer shortly after he pledged to match contributions during the fund-raising drive for 2nd term fees for the children. Having sent just under KSh. 60K, the balance left for the total pledge was KShs. 20K; money that he had sent Akosi who was suddenly nowhere to be found.
Akosi was not answering her phone nor responding to his WhatsApp messages. Even worse was that she had removed herself from the two WhatsApp groups the family had created to stay in touch with one another. Desperate, he had asked another sibling Mirembe to get in touch with Akosi to (a) make sure that she was safe and (b) become his new contact with â€œTeaching The Childrenâ€. After multiple attempts to call and message Akosi, Mirembe was also unsuccessful.
Mirembe told her dejected brother to accept that he had been fleeced, once again, by a relative no less. She then urged him to move on because efforts to recover the money or hold Akosi accountable â€œbiro kelo koko e dalaâ€ (will bring discord within the family).
They say â€œcharity begins at homeâ€.
So does formation of oneâ€™s character.
So does impunity.
Maybe thatâ€™s why he was more interested in "Trumpism" and "Brexist" and would rather identify with his adopted home because his own flesh and blood, in his country of birth had zero compunction taking from him.
Maybe his experience with Akosi, combined with Mirembeâ€™s response explained the Stockholm Syndrome-like relationship he and some in the diaspora had with societies that increasingly demonstrated strong anti-immigrant sentiments and an aversion to â€œdark skinâ€.
By Washington Osiro | firstname.lastname@example.org