10 things that single out Kenyans in Diaspora
1. ‘The American Scream’ Most Kenyans go overseas with lofty dreams inspired by movie story lines, but after crossing the Atlantic or Mediterranean, reality dawns. For those in the US, the American Dream turns into the ‘American Scream’ for they start donning dust coats, instead of designer suits. They attend to pumps at fuel stations and babysit grannies in old people’s homes. They and generally have to work three jobs at a time.
2. Plastic patriotism By the time of leaving Kenya, our friends in the Diaspora would have had it ‘up to here’ with ‘this backward country.’ However, upon landing huko majuu and realising that they are now being referred to as ‘backward,’ they are filled with a new sense of patriotism. They suddenly say wanajivunia kuwa Wakenya. The Kenyan flag, which they previously didn’t have time for, now becomes a must-have accessory. They stay awake to make that Skype call to local Kenyan TV stations, they used to watch cable TV while in the country, to give ideas on how best Uwezo Fund can be put to use.
3. Night nurses Have you ever asked yourself why Kenyans who went to the US for tough courses like medicine and engineering end up instead studying nursing? Well, for one, no one will allow you to elbow American graduates out of good jobs, no matter how good your grades are. Secondly, the whole country is dotted with homes for the aged and no serious American is willing to work there. Since our people need to survive, they easily find work in such facilities, which however require that be trained. Now you know.
4. Keyboard warriors The people with the most acerbic insults, especially tribally- motivate ones, are, you guessed it, Kenyans in the Diaspora! These keyboard warriors acquire exotic names on social media, and while on night guard duty at a local morgue, would release their frustration by trolling anyone and everyone.That explains the reason you wake up every morning to find fresh insults deposited in the comments section of your FB post.
5. The ‘weng’ How would you know that your villagemate alienda majuu? Well, an acquired accent is a must, never mind that the Rs are still interchangeable with the Ls. Oh, and why is it that Kenyans who go to study in India don’t come back with an Indian twang? We know a few who went to India and came back with American drawls.
6. Mpango wa karibu marriages Do not confuse arranged marriages in Diaspora with what your aunties did for your uncle who was still single at the age of 50. Arranged marriages out there are a convenient way for Kenyan jamaas to get themselves citizenship. They come into an arrangement with a local Rhoda whom they pay to get ‘married’ to. Problem with this kind of arrangement is that the ‘wife’ becomes your second house rent; you have to keep paying this mpango wa karibu a monthly stipend, failure of which may lead to you being reported to authorities and getting a deportation boot.
7. Ransom remittances Records show that remittances from the diaspora have been rising over the years with the figure standing at $12.9 million in 2013. But unknown to many is the fact that some of these remittances are done under duress from family members who believe those in the Diaspora swim in money. To avoid the shame of letting their folks know their pathetic state, they just have to keep sending money at whatever cost.
8. Hosanna Hallelujah! When most of our countrymen and countrywomen leave Kenya, they were the local Kimenyis; They knew every joint that was happening in their home area and could out-drink everyone in the local pub. However, a few months out there, they start posting religious and inspirational messages on social media, proclaiming to all and sundry, their new-found faith. What could have happened on the road to Damascus, sorry, US?!
9. My car After tucking in American fast foods, our friends in the diaspora start getting a ‘good body.’ And since a car is a necessity out there – if you have to get to your three jobs in good time – they post pictures of them posing in front of their sixth-hand rides and voila! the American dream. Never mind that some sleep in those cars.
10. ‘Legal’ fugitives Most of our people in the US and Europe do not have work permits and are basically illegal immigrants. It is not that the host governments do not know this. They like keeping them on a short leash so that they do all the dirty jobs the locals can’t touch. They reckon that if we give you citizenship and work permits, you will ‘grow horns’ and look down upon those menial jobs as well.