Since antiquity, humans like birds of the same feather, flock together. A case in point is when Jacob of the Bible and his clan were settled in the land of Goshen in Misri of old by the Pharaoh. You get the gist.
Immigrants from rural areas to towns and cities also tend to settle where their village mates have settled and create their own villages in the said urban areas replete with traditions imported from the rural areas. Check around Nairobi for evidence of this.
It is therefore no wonder that when a Kenyan, or any other immigrant, crosses the pond; there is a very high possibility of looking for his or her village mates in the West.
The good in such an arrangement is obvious. The newcomer will be shielded from the vagaries that accompany the process of immigrating. Believe you me; moving out of oneâ€™s comfort zone to settle thousands of miles away in land unknown is one emotional roller coaster that shakes a new immigrant to the core.
Therefore it is comforting to move in to a new place and find people who share your language, eat your food, dance your music, speak like you do, worship like you and have many other similarities with you. The stress to acculturate to the new culture is reduced significantly, providing a soft landing in a foreign land.
Having said that, it is also not surprising that a new immigrant, having settled with â€œfamiliarâ€ people, is also expected to align themselves with members of his or her enclave.
This will include adherence to the political divides back in the homeland. No wonder the Kenyan Diaspora is as polarized politically as their tribesmen and women back home. In the comfort of their Western homes, the Diaspora was accused of fanning tribal hatred during the 2008 PEV using the internet as the weapon of choice.
Due to the numerous enclaves, the Kenya Diaspora has a plethora of associations and organizations purporting to speak on behalf of the rest. Without singularity of purpose, the numerous organizations can make noise from here to Timbuktu and no government will pay attention.
Estimated to be 3 million strong and with the advantage of a stronger currency, international exposure, and well educated, the Kenya Diaspora should have been the 48th County yesterday. But the naivetÃ© of the succeeding Kenya governments with regards to the potential the Kenya Diaspora has is pitiable.
Developing countries that realized the importance of their Diaspora are today on their way to the league of emerging economies. These include China, India, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, India, and Vietnam. Haiti has a fully-fledged Ministry of Haitians Abroad. The official Haitian government policy is that the nation of Haiti exists where a Haitian is settled anywhere in the world.
The Kenyan Diaspora is a long way from being engaged by the Kenya government to bring any meaningful change in the homeland. Maybe the first step will have to be taken by the Kenyan Diaspora forming a united front. But will tribal and political myopia allow? Only time will tell.
By Peter Gaitho | firstname.lastname@example.org