The Diaspora:Graduating from handouts to hand ups
The relationship between Kenyans at home and those in the diaspora is Graduating from handouts to hand-ups: The Diaspora’s painful but steady movement from charity to investment. Let us start with a Bible verse!
“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondmaid was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things is an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendered to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answered to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. (Galatians 4:22-26 KJV).”
If you are a married man, you will or have from time to time had to watch Lifetime movies! Yes, she can only watch football or whatever else for so long! If you haven’t, you will and if you don’t I fear for you! Anyhow, when you do, you will learn that true life stories are better than fiction, they are unbelievable! My lady readers already know this!
We are going to talk about two brothers; you decide who belongs to the bondmaid and who belongs to the freewoman! This is a story of two brothers, one in Kenya and the other in the Diaspora.
In my other life, I used to import and sell mutumba at the Kimilili market in Bungoma Kenya. One of my best customers was a team of two brothers; they bought bales of chakara and shoes together. They worked hard, and I liked them because they moved merchandise and paid cash without haggling.
Time moved on, new challenges came up, new opportunities presented themselves and we ended up Stateside with one of the brothers. Mutumba was replaced by “masaa”, the brothers trading team broke up.
It turns out, they never really liked selling used clothes and shoes, they just did it while waiting for an office job opportunity to open up but since that did not happen but one of them got a green card to live and work in the United States of America, the one left behind pulled out the victims-card while the one who left pulled out the survivors-guilt card.
The team did not breakup but the roles changed, with the survivors guilty card came the obligation to send the “victim” two hundred dollars every two weeks, while four hundred dollars per month is not a lot of money in the USA, it’s a lot in a country where the majority survive on about two dollars a day.
The survivor sent the victim two hundred dollars biweekly like clockwork for ten years. The receiving brother lost all incentive to think, lift a finger or break a sweat looking for income. He just had to text asking for the “number”! To make the four hundred dollars to send his brother, and meet his own needs the sending brother worked three jobs and took overtime most of the time. He never slept in his bed; he lived in his car which was on loan.
The era of dependency had arrived, from partners with a vision to a parasitic relationship. Who between these two belongs to the bondmaid and who belongs to the freewoman so to speak?
Ten years later, the US brother had organized himself and made a trip back to Kenya. He found that Kenya did not stand still waiting to be saved by him, the landscape had changed and above all, his family valued him more for the money he sent than for being their brother or son, he was not required there because being in Kenya meant the gravy train had stopped. Ten years is a long time, new values rub on you. The work ethic is different, and the sense of time is different. There is no right or wrong because both systems work but jamming one system with the other just produces too much heat and no light!
Everyone in the family had an education, a brand new home and a family thanks to uncle in America. When Uncle visited, they made Merry but expected him to leave not sleep over. He had worked ten years for the family, they had everything and he had nothing but credit card bills. He did not even have a house in Kenya or a home in the USA, he was not able to pay for his own education, and he was not married, had no family of his own. He belonged nowhere, owned nothing and was valued for the “numbers” at Western Union not himself; he was the “The Old Man that got lost in America”! His brother’s first son lived with his young family in the house the mum had built claiming it belonged the American brother; it’s just natural that you cannot move them!?
These snapshot observations hurt but he took them in stride and made up his mind that things must change. He requested a meeting with all family members, which they dutifully attended because you don’t want to overturn the applecart! He explained that he now planned to get married and that from now on he is willing to invest in joint business ventures but may not have money to send for everyday needs. You could have thought he was Galileo telling the Pope that the earth is round, the mother lead the charge claiming that America had changed his son and she only would pray that God almighty touch his heart so he should not neglect them!
The brothers and sisters de friended him on Facebook, the new wife he got himself took the blame for turning him against the family. Family members did not want to give joint property rights to him for businesses and property bought from his funds; they wanted him to give them free. Ten years of life’s work, just went without thanks.
If you are in a Kenya reading this, think for a moment, why would you borrow Ksh30,000 from Equity Bank and faithfully pay over fifteen months but want your brother or sister in the USA to give you Ksh 50,000 for free? What is wrong with borrowing at better terms and repaying faithfully? We only live ones, the money we earn in that time, is earned only ones, why would you want someone to hand over his life work while you have a good time? Your brother or sister, really?
The majority of Kenyans in Kenya work hard, that is why the country is not standing still waiting for the diaspora Kenyans to save it but there a few who have developed a dependency, if the shoe fits wear it. The majority of Diaspora Kenyan doesn’t have the survivor’s guilty syndrome but if the shoe fits, wear it!
Many people say that there are no jobs in Kenya, that unemployment is high but if you ask those looking for jobs why you should hire them, the reply is because “they “need the money! Really, why should anyone employ you because you need their money? Why not just hold a gun on their head and drop the pretense! To be hired by anyone, you must produce value for them in exchange for their money, seems simple but it’s a point lost on very many people.
This too, applies to those currently employed, if you cannot be able to put a finger on how your work contributes to your pay, your job is in perpetual danger! Those people who works in pharmaceutical sales in Kenya know this, these companies don’t do direct deposit to you bank, you pick up your check from your supervisor after you have presented your monthly sales report. I know people who delay picking up their checks because the sales figures don’t look good!
The paradigm shift required to improve the relationship between Diaspora Africans and Africans at home is the mutual realization that they both are their brother’s keeper. Everyone must bring something to the table and the output must be fairly distributed. The idea of whole communities pooling ideas and resources for the common good is not new in the African cultures. In Kenya, the first president Kenyatta emphasized this idea when he told the citizens to build the nation in the spirit of Harambee.
Harambee encourages those with ideas and those with resources to put them together for their common good. Technology can only improve what the people usually do. To succeed you need a value preposition that you offer to someone who pays for it, to get work you must solve someone else problem, no one will pay you to solve your problem!
If you are one of the many people looking for nonexistent jobs, try solving a problem for someone, they may even not know that they have a problem; you may need to educate them about the problem then solve it? We never knew we needed cellphones!
If you are one of the many in the Diaspora with unemployed brother or sister in Kenya, Harambee.co has a solution for you! You know Kenyans love harambees, you know that over half a million Kenyans are online by either smartphone, tablet or computer.
Harambee.co is an online fundraising platform, technically called Crowdfunding but that is misleading, because regulations require that Harambee organizers only receive contributions from family, friends and supporters to conform with the know your client (KYC) financial regulations and to combat money laundering. Crowdfunding seems to imply that the organizers are aiming to get funding from a larger unknown crowd of people; I would treat it like a dispersed cloud of family, friends and supporters. Crowdfunding portals are like special brink & mortar halls dedicated for use by fundraisers who bring their own contributors, the portal provided the venue and record keeping, the organizers provide their funders! Harambee.co is looking for two agents in every Kenyan county to educate prospective fund raisers on the use of the online platform and earn a commission from fees when organizers sign up, list and raise funds. Schools, colleges, and politicians are always in a state of fund raising. To qualify for agency appointment, you must have a portable online access meaning a tablet that has constant internet access. We are offering the tablet, and a day’s training for Ksh45,000 and we only have 97 slots! This is work, business, not a job. A business person must have skin in the game; the initial investment is the tablet, internet access, training and the key person’s time.
You want to move your relationship from handout to hand up? Here is your chance sign an agency agreement for a county, pay for the KIT, we shall train your key person and keep a record of all business generated and fees earned. We looking forward to have all 97 slots filled by April 30th 2013. Be like my mutual friend, he slowly but painfully moved the relationship from victim and survivor guilty syndrome to mutual beneficial investment.
Unfortunately for the majority of the people: The truth will be before their eyes, they shall have eyes but not see, have ears but not hear, they shall then proceed to perish for the lack of knowledge they, then are the sons of the BondMaid!
Where communities pool ideas and resources for the common good!