WHY YOU NEED YOUR FELLOW KENYANS.
Culture is very important part of our lives and who we become has a lot to do with our culture. Being a way from our home country and in a foreign country in itself can be very difficult. It is even tougher when we try to ignore or run from each other. I have come a cross individuals that proudly say that they do not mingle or mix with Kenyans. Kenyans share common experiences that have shaped us.
Whether you are black, white, straight or gay, culture has shaped you, in one way or another. Our Kenyan culture has a huge influence on our shared values, hopes and aspirations, how we view life, our humor, loyalties, our worries and fears. As a people who share a culture, we have to understand that though we are exposed and surrounded by other cultures, we need to understand that our own culture is important to us, in dealing with each other. There are needs that people from other cultures cannot meet in your life. I remember an incident where one Kenyan had all white friends and was arrested by Immigration and was facing deportation. One of them went to see him in jail and he asked him this question “Why have you been here illegally” you have not been truthful to me as a friend”. This individual was not known by any Kenyans, he had his mother contact one of the pastors to ask for help from Kenyans. Another individual lost a mother in Kenya and had similar friends from the above story, when she told them that her mom passed away, they said they were very sorry to hear that, they showed up with flowers and cards. But she needed money to travel home; she needed money to help with the hospital bills. Her friends did not understand why that should have been their responsibility. Fellow Kenyans it is only people who share a culture with you who will understand your pain, expectations and even cultural joys. You relate better with your own people.
I’m not suggesting that you do not have friends outside our Kenyan culture. Keep your friends but do not pretend or try to ignore that you are not a cultural person. If we as a people who share a culture join forces, we will be more effective in reaching common goals, than if each person operates in isolation.
You cannot accomplish anything on your own, you need others. No one climbs to the top alone .So do not wait till you encounter an issue to learn that you needed us. What we do not learn by revelation we end up learning from experiences. In America we see many immigrants cling to their cultures; some have community centers named after their own cultures. We see the Jewish community centers, Ethiopian community centers. In these places culture is emphasized and believes instilled. We need to start thinking about having Kenyan community centers, where our children and grand children can be taught our culture. Some of us are not going back to Kenya. You might be using two passports but a time will come where you need to decide on where you call home. Home is where your interests are, including your families and children. I can’t speak for all of your children but many other people’s kids are not planning on going back to Kenya mine included. This cannot be done without unity. I know we have very bright minds within our community who are eager to bring. However, these great minds have gone hiding from us because of our attitudes towards one another. By our actions, indifferences and attitudes, we discourage those who are genuinely motivated to help. It is very hard for us Kenyans to promote those from within us who are willing to make difference in society. Often, we fail to acknowledge others’ efforts just because it’s not you, or they are not related to you. I have seen talented Kenyans give up on their dreams because the same people who should have encouraged and celebrated them are the ones who did not support them. Some of us Kenyans do not even go to eat in a Kenyan restaurant. Not because they are not hungry or because they don’t need the food, but just because they do not want to support the fellow Kenyan who has a restaurant.
As a people we are so divided that we cannot do much. You find that in one weekend there are four events going on at the same time, and yet it’s the same people that are expected to attend. This puts stress on our already stressed and demanding lives. If we stay connected to one another, and join our local Kenyan organizations you will be aware of who is doing what and when, consult one another before you schedule an event unless it’s a death.
Another issue I need to mention before you start throwing stones at me is that among Kenyans we are divided into two societies; like the tribal and clan lines back in Kenya, we have a community of believers and that of non believers here in the US. So the believers have their one hang out joint, they support one another and the non believers do the same and the two do not mix. I have met Kenyans in my travels who ask me where I come from. However much I try to tell them that I’m Kenyan they sweetly ask “Unatoka Kenya upande gani” Does it really matter which tribe you belong to? That is tribal profiling which does not help. Then there are those who will ask you, “unaenda kanisa gani”? There is one thing that matters whether we pretend or try to ignore, we are all Kenyans and we need one another. Let us celebrate our uniqueness, support each other and pray for each other.
By Eva.Isabella Mwango