Kenyan Youth in the Diaspora: Runners, Walkers and Sleepers
Though United States President Donald Trump is right in his concern about illegal immigrants, his administration is wrong in assuming that Kenyans or Africans walked or swam to the United States. If they did, then they would be classified within the same illegality as those who walk into the United States illegally through its’ southern border. Every Kenyan in the United States arrived into the United States legally.
For many, I being one of them, the arrival was under the student visa program. Every Kenyan student had the right to be in the United States while registered as a student within the legal requirements underlined under the student visa program. Many drop out of college to pursue other activities not under the F-I visa program. Others follow ‘friends’: Hyenas in sheep clothing. Some are victims of financial obligations: Some from family neglect or financial misfortune. Many however are victims of their own demise for failing to adhere to the vigorous discipline of student life: These are just Lazy.
It is with this in mind that I wrote a column that brought me criticism from a section of Kenyan young immigrants. In the column, I suggested that Kenyan parents should avoid bringing kids to American Universities. I referred to those students as people from ‘Kingangop’ within a satirical representation: https://diasporamessenger.com/2017/10/diasporas-dilemma-can-trust-friends-associates/
My presentation was justified given the number of Kenyan young people who waste their parent’s finances. Many lie to their parents that they are attending college, while in fact they are sleeping far away from any college campus. I always leave the door open for convincing arguments that are verifiable enough to change my mind. Therefore, keeping myself challenged, I was recently convinced that I should change the category of reference and instead of classifying every young Kenyan coming to study in the US as a sleeper, add other categories: There are good, decent, disciplined, and dependable young diaspora out there. Some run to the graduation completing college within the scheduled time, while others walk to the graduation taking more time, but they graduate.
On 11th of May 2018 I attended the graduation of a brilliant and disciplined young Kenyan who run to the graduation. Mercy Langat arrived at the University of Miami as a teenager four years ago. Her parents could not accompany her due to visa delays. Therefore she carried her suitcases through the University of Miami, registered and begun the journey towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in business, all by herself. Through the years however, her parents kept a close eye and were faithful, doing everything they could to support her.
When she invited me to join my friends, her parents, to the graduation, I dropped everything and decided that this is worth my witness. A witness to the fact that I was wrong in assuming that all Kenyan parents waste their money in sending kids to the United States University to study: Witness to the fact that those who stay close to the testimony of their parents faith in Christ can indeed beat all the odds and graduate from a four year college in the United States: Witness to the fact that Kenyan youth can, with parental guidance, personal discipline, and Divine grace make their dreams come true in the United States.
As I sat with Mr. and Mrs. Langat in the graduation hall, I could not help but scream and shout with the parents, “Meeercy!” Miami is not a small city. It houses all kinds of influences and yet this 22 year old kid from Jamhuri went to school, did the assignments, turned in all her work and kept a grade point average to qualify as an alumnus of MU! And to add a blessing to her life, Mercy became a constant church attendee!
Mercy is an example that all is not lost with Kenyan youth in the United States. We have some good young people out there representing the republic in the academia.
To Mercy and all those young people going through this years’ graduation process, CONGRATULATION! Keep running and walking! A Ph.D. is not too far off either!
Teddy Njoroge Kamau (Ph.D.)
Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist