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Diaspora Story:A Whisper from London (Too near yet so far)

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Kenyan DiasporaWhen the pilot announced that we were finally in British airspace, I looked outside my window and I can confess that I was mesmerised by the beauty of the country. Everything looked neat and well arranged. From the air London looked like a little piece of Heaven to me and I could not wait to disembark and see whether the British people were neat and organised as their country. By now I am sure there is somebody somewhere shaking his or her head wondering what the hell I am talking about. To my opinion, the British people are the finest people I have ever met. If you think otherwise, please forgive me because I am entitled to my opinion, so you are. Whatever your opinion is, please be my guest. Of course there are some bad elements within the British society just like there are some in every part of the world. Does this mean that I like everything British? Certainly NO!

Once I was settled in England, my first thing was to buy a book which was about the British way of life. There are some things in Africa which according to our culture are very okay but are taboo in Britain. For example, where I was born and brought up, we are supposed to think about money, dream about money and plan about more money in future. As I read the book about British way of life, I was surprised to read that the British are shy about talking about money, that talking about money is equivalent to talking about sex with your children. I read again and again to understand whether what I was reading was real and indeed it was written in black and white in a book published by a well-recognised publisher. From that time, I have been very careful not to talk anything that is money related with a Briton. All that mentality about British and their relationship with money changed last week when I attended a conference in Hotel Russell in Central London.

The conference was supposed to start from 9:00 AM but all the attendants were supposed to be there by 08:30 AM for registration. As a businessman (Man Man you don’t have to say this!) I have attended many many more before but they were just a waste of time. I remember when we were told to network many years ago in my home town and with me was a middle aged man who told me that he was buying and selling houses. The guy had a dirty shirt with some missing buttons and on his short was dry soup dating back maybe 500 B.C. As we talked, I realised that he never knew what he was talking about. He had no business card and as he talked, he was putting more meat in his mouth than his mouth could hold.

In this particular meeting in Central London, I was invited by my good friend who resides within London and he has heavily invested in property.I took the morning train so that I would be in Central London in time. I had not expected to find many people in the conference considering that I already had the mentality that the British do not like talking about money. One can imagine my surprise when I found that we were three hundred people in attendance! The conference was taking three days and so I kept wondering what the organisers of the meeting were to talk about. Soon we were all seated and the first speaker was a young white British who introduced himself and what he was doing for living. In all my life in England, I am used to seeing British people talk in a calm tone and being introverted lot, people who like their privacy more than anything else. The guy started speaking like an Evangelical preacher with good hand gestures and joking in the process. He went on to tell us not to behave like British and that if we wanted to be successful, we had to pretend to be like the Americans. Americans are known to be social and living a carefree life. On his property portfolio, he told us that he already has sixty eight properties around Milton Keynes, Peterborough and London.

Don’t forget that he is in his early thirties and already a multi-millionaire property businessman. Think about it, a young man owning all that property and very down to earth? In our community, the first thing we do when we get the first house is to inform our friends and relatives about our new house that we have bought. If the house owner is a lady, she will dress to kill on the day of house warming. She will then stand in front of the people and make sure that she is wearing an undersized bra so that her cleavage will look more pronounced -all in the name of the new house! If the house owner will be a man, he will also be dressed to kill and make sure that he has worn trousers many years below his age. As he gives the speech, he will be scratching himself in some places my grandfather would call illegal – all in the name of the new house!  The following day, both couple will buy a calling card and inform friends and relatives about their new house. They will then start telling them about the people who come from their village in diaspora, how useless they are by still living in a council house…nonsense! When we are feeling so sexy and nice because of one property, somebody somewhere is about to count his hundredth one and is down to earth. That person is not living in Planet Mars but within us. Too near yet so far…in attitude and financial status.

It was our time to go for break and we were told to take time to network, get to know each other and exchange business cards and all that. I talked to quite a number of people and I was still amazed by how much most of them have invested in property. The person next to me had ten houses in London and still was looking for more. To say the least, in the course of the whole meeting I felt very small as compared to the other attendants. After break, the next speaker took to the podium and went on to inform us how he was £50,000 in debt when he started thinking about investing in property. His fortunes changed after he met his girlfriend who later became his wife and business partner. They have now been in business together and in and around London where they both own more than two hundred properties bringing a sizeable passive income which they will enjoy and leave for generations to come. In our community, some of us are very busy trying to outdo the other and they are spouses. I need special knowledge to understand how each spouse can have different investment projects somewhere yet confess to be a husband or a wife. In reality, such people have nothing in common except children. The best word to describe such people is ‘Sex partners’ and if they both contribute rent, then they are ‘roommates.’ Britain is still doing business and we live in a world of abundance. When such a couple with over two hundred properties is thinking of increasing their wealth and taking advantage of what a wonderful country like Britain can give, we are just pulling each other down. Talk of being too near to abundance yet very far!

The final speaker was the main person who had convened the meeting. From a distance one could not differentiate him from the other people. I remember witnessing one person asking him whether he had come to attend the meeting. He also went on to tell us about his journey in the property market. He was a painfully thin guy so one can imagine our surprise when he informed us that he, together with his business partner owns six hundred and fifty properties in and around London! Personally, I had all along conditioned myself to believe that the British people are not ambitious, that they hate talking and planning about acquiring money. His wealth is in millions and millions of pounds. He has a company that deals with his property and it is mandatory that they have to buy at least forty properties every month! Six hundred and fifty properties and still counting…yet in our community once we get just one, we start feeling sexy and nice by buying undersized bras and trousers?!

In the end, they told us that they were there to help us be millionaires in the property market and if we wanted them to mentor us, they were ready, but at a price. They could guide us through and if we did not double our current property portfolio, they would give our money back. The prices ranged from £5,000 but the best mentorship programme was going for £67,143.00 + 20% vat. To me this was a like a total joke and I thought that there was no way someone with a sound mind could go for such a programme. To my surprise, very many people took the offer, some were literally pushing each other because it was first come first served basis on the slots that were remaining. I never knew that there were people in our midst who can part away with over £60k as petty cash! They emphasised that even them, they had their mentors. One such mentor of theirs owns eight thousand properties around the UK.

I went back home knowing that England has too much opportunities. When we are very busy pulling each other down, we have some people somewhere who are holding each other’s hands to build an empire. They are just like us but with a better attitude. The moment we open our eyes and see how futile it is to pull the other down is the time we will know that we are too near to abundance but very far because of our stinking attitudes. Too near yet so far…

By Man ManKambugua/Misterseed.com

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