Whispers from Diaspora: The Price Of Being In The Diaspora
Whispers from Diaspora: The Price Of Being In The Diaspora
If you are in diaspora and you have never been conned by your relatives, then you are not in real diaspora. If your name has never been maligned by jealous people to your relatives back home, you have not yet arrived in diaspora. Everything has a price attached to it and diaspora is not an exception.
If there is anything villagers like me liked when we grew up, it was to enter the belly of a plane and fly away to other places in the world which we used to learn about in our Geography lessons. Generally, we used to admire anybody who was not a village dweller. Living in the village meant feeding on maize and beans throught the year, save for Christmas holidays and when there were visitors. If we admired people from the city, one can imagine how we used to perceive people from diaspora. The few who went to abroad were those bright students who had been offered scholarships to go and study. We thought that if one had to go abroad, he/she must have had very good academic record. We also thought once you were far away in abroad, poverty and you became strange bed fellows and you had an automatic ticket to lead a good life until Jesus came back.
Back in the village, any person from diaspora was the talk of the village. He commanded respect from the old and young. Personally, I used to admire them even from their way of walking and talking. Occasionally, they could come back for short holidays during Christmas and this is when we treated them like demi-gods. One thing was certain that if a man from diaspora had a special interest in a certain girl and you as a villager or urbanite had the same interest in the same girl, her love would automatically gravitate towards the one from diaspora.
I am assuming that the person in diaspora in this case is someone who has a spouse and some children in the original country. He or she does not know the time of coming back. Most likely, it will be some few months or several years to come. Sometimes, some people disappear for ever, not because they want to but because the grass does not become green on the other side as expected. As your friends bid you good bye, there are some people who are wishing you will go and never come back. Why? Because they can see that the spouse you have left behind is ‘fit for human consumption’ meaning that they would not mind to break one or two commandments with him or her. You are gone and your spouse is a human being made of fresh and blood and he or she is meeting human beings not animals and plants so one thing will possibly lead to another and both of them will be lovers. Unfortunately, most of us do not like to hear the truth. I have heard a well-respected Bishop say that long distant relationships do not last. I echo his sentiments. It is by the grace of God that the spouse left will remain faithful even after eating energy giving foods in home country.
Once in diaspora, one is at the mercy of friends and relatives in matters of surviving. If one lands to people who are crafty and jealous, then life becomes very hard. You are new in a foreign country and you need to know how to apply for jobs to survive. Supposing your host is the jealous type who does not want you to progress? This means that you are living like a beggar which is the worst thing to happen to an African man. Some hosts will even go to an extent of creating fear in you such that you will even be scared of your own shadow despite being in the free world. You have stayed for months without a job and your family is expecting you to send them foreign currency so when you tell them that you don’t have, they start telling you to come back and find a job in your home country. The thought of going back to your country to find work is in itself psychologically draining. No sooner have you stayed for one month in diaspora than reports starts reaching you that your wife has of late been arriving home late than usual. Co-incidentally, she normally alights from the same car all the time. One your relative suggests that your wife could be having an affair with a tout. It could all be lies geared towards destroying your relationship with your wife. If you happen to send her some money, some relatives will be jealous of her and so they will try the best they can to see that you are not together. To them, calling her and laughing with her and the children is a crime, sending her money is a cardinal sin. If you do not stand up for your family by telling them to shut up, soon you will have no family to talk about. In extreme circumstances, some relatives can create a trap for her to be robbed or even be killed.
You are a lady for example and you left your boyfriend at home to come to diaspora to look for greener pastures. You had planned that once you reached the Promised Land, you would invite him so that both of you could live happily together and have children. You were supposed to be hosted by a son to your father’s friend who was twice your age and had a family back home in Chavakali. From the way you were brought up, the villager in you told you to be addressing him as father of Joshua being a sign of respect. He was okay with that in the first few days. You were mesmerised by his sense of fashion and also his big car. You reached his house and saw that he was living in one room with a tiny bed tucked at one corner of the room so the first question was where you were going to sleep at night. Everything was neat in the house (he wanted to impress you!) and he had the latest music system. Under the coffee table were very many newspapers so baba Joshua’s hobby was reading (If only you knew they were given freely by the borough council!).
He took the earliest opportunity to inform you that he was always away at night working since he was a Security guard somewhere so the bed was all yours at night. That was okay with him but for you to spend the night that was smelling sweat from another man who was not only father of somebody but also was not your boyfriend was a very tall mountain to climb. Desperate times calls for desperate measures so you slept in the bed and dreamt with your boyfriend. The following day you were woken up by baba Joshua. At lunch time you prepared supper and dinner as a routine. With time, both of you had feelings for each other and thing led to another and you started practising ‘wrestling’ together during your free time. Time waits for no king and your biological clock was ticking fast so you and baba Joshua started living as a husband and wife. In other words, you got married without knowing. People in the village know you as someone who destroyed baba Joshua’s home. Really?
To your friends and relatives, you live in a rich country and so even you, you are a rich person. In fact, you are another version of an ATM machine to them. When they call and they ask you to call back, even when they tell you about El-nino, La-nina or Roiko and Blue band, they want you to eventually send them money. If you ask them to do you a simple favour, they expect you to send them money. They do not want to know that you combine shifts to survive. They don’t know that you are doing degrading jobs day and night. If you don’t send them money, enough money at that, then you are a very selfish person who should be buried coming Saturday.
Your friends and relatives will show you that they care by informing you that so and so is selling this and that piece of land, a cow, a goat or sheep. Remember the price you are given by them is a thief’s price. The actual asking price is half of what they tell you. They are brokers and you are an easy target so think twice when buying something from home. At times, they will not even buy for you. They will be taking you in circles and finally you will find that you were conned by people who should be at the forefront of protecting your interests.
You have all along lived in abroad and so when you go back after many years, you have naturally acquired a foreign accent somehow. To your people back home, this is pride. You are used to calling your wife those London cursed names like sweetheart or darling. You have forgotten that you are at home and you are still calling each other those godforsaken names so you are in very bad books to your people. Wait a minute, are you still going to bath together and you are in the village? Are you mad? If not, then there is a demonic spirit in you, tell you your neighbour the devil is defeated! Say like you mean it! The devil is a liar! You not only came along with a ‘demonic’ wife but also some children who are behaving like ‘little devils.’
Your eldest daughter thinks she is the next best thing after Beyoncé and she is fond of singing all the time. Hear her sing Craig David’s song that that depicts how he will spend the week…that…him and her lover will make love on Wednesday…and on Thursday, Friday….(God have mercy!) When she is singing the ‘satanic’ song, your seventy year old uncle is listening. Your children do not even greet relatives by hand and they their eyes are always glued to their mobile phones…What type of children are those? They have taken sophisticated baptism names instead of being called names like Gatamaiyu Fishing Camp where your dad discovered a dead mosquito.
I can go on and on and on highlighting the price of being in diaspora. If you are in diaspora and you have never been conned by your relatives, then you are not in real diaspora. If your name has never been maligned by jealous people to your relatives back home, you have not yet arrived in diaspora. Everything has a price attached to it and diaspora is not an exception.
With lots of love, I remain,
Man ManKambugua-E-mail: [email protected]