Kenyan Family in America: Business Fails, Kicked Out of the HouseDr. Teddy Kamau
The wife walks into the house. She is unaware that we have come to visit. We are sitting in the living room doing what Kenyans like to do best: Talk endlessly about Kenyan politics and corruption. We also love to pray for our country: we might as well since we are too far from there and can’t change a thing.
She is a Black American. A nice lady I would say, but this whole Kenyan thing is strange to her. These characters in the living room are laughing and talking loud while cleaning some ribs. CNN is on and Lemon, or whoever, is speaking about Gov. Romney and how he will just make the rich richer and the poor, well, more parasitic! She wonders how we can laugh with her husband when things are this bad.
You see, about three years ago they moved to one of the Carolinas. She had a good job and the Kenyan man, a Kikuyu, decided to start a business. They went through the amazing mountain of paperwork required in America to comply with federal, state, county, and city laws. The man is sharp, and coming from Kenya where people sell rocks to their neighbors, same rocks the neighbor has in his yard, this business thing is a walk in the park. He is like the Kenyan East Indians. We got a few of them in the Sunshine State! They seem to own all the convenience stores. They inspire me because they still consider themselves Kenyans. Even the ones Idi Amin unjustly kicked out of Uganda are proud to speak to me in Kiswahili! “Namna ghani?” They ask. . . “Sawa sawa bwana” I respond while paying for an Africa calling card. Stupid calling cards! I have to enter so many codes to call my people in Kosirai, Nandi. I guess I am old-fashioned. These other online credit card joints scare me! The idea of some character in Phillipines taking my social security, birth date, blood type, and my mother’s maiden name scares Kijabe out of me.
Anyway, my friends started their business. They were doing very well therefore they bought a house. A good-sized house with a very good-sized mortgage! The problem with America is that no one has cash to buy a house outrite! A 20-year mortgage with a 10% interest rate is scary. But with business going well, one tells fear to get behind him and jumps into the ocean and begins to swim. The water is so warm and relaxing that many forget the house belongs to the bank. My friend paid his share month after month when the business was great.
For reasons that no businessman can explain, whether inside or outside the business, there was an accident: A business accident that is. The few years of good began to deteriorate into a nightmare. The family account got dry. Therefore 3 months of no mortgage payment. The family had bought a car with a loan from the bank since the account showed money streaming in like butter. After four, five months of waiting for the payment, the bank repossesed the car and the house went into foreclosure! Then one day, things fell apart into the river between, where the son of woman declared unfit for human consumption. They were kicked out of the house.
With kids and an old car which they abandoned when they bought the SUV, they wondered where to go. The man contemplated shelter! That is when he called an old friend. The man convinced his buddy to take him in. The friend hired a U-haul and they carried all his stuff to his friends house. 52” television, a double king-size bed, beautiful leather seats, and other stuff: American stuff and of course some junk! The friend had no room for all therefore much of the stuff is left outside his house. Then it rains! For the Black American lady, this is not good! With all her wonderful heart, kindness, and grace, this is not funny. It calls for hurt, pain, doom, and gloom! You cannot laugh at this time. You cannot rejoice in suffering!
She is right! But for us sitting in the living room, this is not laughter, nor rejoicing. We were not celebrating the demise of our friends family. For goodness sake our buddy had rescued him! Therefore this was not a mocking. It was a remembering of those good times in Ofafa Jericho. We used to go to his mother’s house. We would play guitar and sing great songs. We would eat ugali with sukuma wiki and sometimes go for Nyamchom in one of the joints: Ugali and Kachumbari? . . . bwana! Can’t beat that!
We were helping our brother cope with the pain of today by taking him back to memory lane. You see, life is composed of events. The good ones come handy when the going gets tough. The tough gets going because they remember the grace showed in the past by a God who does not change. And of course the grace showed by friends whose door remain always open! The best of friends . . . . .
Teddy Njoroge Kamau, PhD, Director: International Desk/SYR/Radio/TV. Diaspora Messenger Contributor
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Kenyan Family in America: Business Fails, Kicked Out of the House