Genuine diaspora unity must be founded on inclusiveness
On-line war of words and personality clash erupted recently between groups and individuals purporting to be representatives of Kenyans living in diaspora. The imbroglio was sparked by Kenyan media report which claimed a group of individuals had developed a document of sort explaining how the Kenyan government should engage and harness the potential of Kenyans living in diaspora.
Some individuals and groups affirmed: “The group that is representing the Diaspora is Kenya Community Abroad (KCA) which has been around for a long time and indeed, one of the few Diaspora organizations that have survived divisive rhetoric.” But other individuals and groups disputed. They affirmed that a group of self-proclaimed leaders have got no mandate to speak on behalf of the entire diaspora community. However, my concern is not to justify or dismiss back and forth arguments between groups purporting to speak for or represent Kenyans living in diaspora. Rather, I am concerned about the process of realizing genuine diaspora unity which must be all inclusive.
First, it is fallacious to limit the definition of Kenyans living in diaspora to United States of America, Canada and Europe. Kenyan diaspora community is spread across the globe. Besides, speaking on behalf of Kenyans living in USA and UK alone disenfranchises Kenyans living in Asia, Africa and other parts of the world. A genuine pursuit for diaspora unity must reach out to all Kenyans across the world.
Second, the process must acknowledge and reflect Kenyan tribal realities. Kenya is amalgamation of tribes. A group or individuals seeking diaspora unity must include in their leadership and organizational structures representatives from all Kenyan tribes. A group that compromises of a majority of people from one or two of the Kenyan tribes is in itself a tribal outfit that must be rejected by Kenyans living in diaspora.
Third, demographic considerations must inform the process of establishing genuine diaspora unity. There are Kenyans of all walks of life and all social statuses living in diaspora. They include and are not limited to medical practitioners, teachers, legal practitioners, engineers, direct care-givers and factory workers. Some have attained college education and others are holders of high-school diploma.
Every Kenyan living in diaspora- whether poor or rich, young or old, educated or not so educated, going to school or dropped out of school, working or laid-of- must be included in diaspora unity. Every individual has a voice and every voice must be heard. Exclusionary groups of representation are outfits that are out of touch with realities of Kenyans living in diaspora.
Yet, complexities associated with bringing together Kenyans living in diaspora cannot be gainsaid. Vast distances, unique immigration statuses or lack thereof, tribal inclinations, imbalanced social statuses, time differences and limitations, inexplicable leery behavior of each other, fixed work schedules, personal embedded interests and financial difficulties impede realization of diaspora unity. But those challenges can be overcome by innovative approach. In this age of technology, it is possible by a click of a mouse or a visit to a website; to bring together millions of Kenyans albeit electronically. That is what genuine groups or individuals who have passion to realize diaspora unity should do.
Unfortunately, a few of groups and individuals purporting to be representatives of Kenyans living in diaspora are seemingly doing so not out of desire to unite a fragmented diaspora constituency; but to achieve their personal embedded interests. Sadly, such personal interests are counterproductive to realization of a genuine diaspora unity.
Without a doubt, diaspora unity must be realized pronto. Although Kenyans living in diaspora are the most powerful constituency, they lack organizational infrastructure to unite them under one umbrella. But to regain our diaspora power, we must unite and speak in one voice. After all, unity is power. Ambassadors have a role to play. They should engage Kenyans living in diaspora by physical contact, electronic contact and by convening conferences in strategic central places.
Either way, ambassadors must offer leadership of sort by initiating aggressive on-line registration exercise for Kenyans living in respective countries and States in which they’re serving a tour of duty. Further, ambassadors should improvise a way of sensitizing Kenyans living in different jurisdictions to participate in the process of formulating diaspora policies. But make no mistake. Realization of diaspora unity will succeed only if and when all Kenyans living in diaspora are allowed to own the process and be included in the decision making processes.
By Jacktone Ambuka, a Kenyan residing at State College Pennsylvania USA. You can reach me at email [email protected],