Kenyans in Kansas City: How a community of immigrants can become powerful

Kenyans in Kansas City: How a community of immigrants can become powerful

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Kenyans in Kansas City: How a community of immigrants can become powerful

Dr. Teddy Kamau

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The Indian prime minister had a rally in Huston Texas this year during his visit to the United States where over 50 thousand people gathered. The Indian community in the United States has such political clout that President Donald Trump accompanied the Indian prime minister. Trump realized that the majority of the Indian community voted for Hillary Clinton in the last general election and is committed to flip this vote. This is how a community of immigrants can become powerful to influence United States policy!

One thing about the Asian Indian community is that they support each other. Majority of those who shop at Indian stores are Indians. It is the same thing about Mexicans. Before going to regular stores to buy groceries, they make sure the items are not in their Mexican run stores. We all migrate towards people who look like us, think like us and speak our language. It is for this reason that there are Kenyan community Churches in the United States. Although we have not yet established a good network of Kenyan grocery stores, we need to become aware of the need to create a powerful community that affects all cultural experiences in America.

Many times though, the Kenyan community is oppressed by tribalism. Tribalism is evident in that many political groups in America are tribal in nature. What puzzles me is that Indians also has tribes: The Indian constitution recognizes 645 tribal groups, but when they migrate to the United States they become Indian Americans. In this area, Kenyans should copy this modus operandi and adopt the philosophy of Kenyanism: Kenyan Americans. There are too many young Kenyan Americans lost in the web of tribalism and need our guidance away from imported tribalism.

It was therefore encouraging that Kansas City, Kansas have a Kenyan community that is making progress. Visiting the areas, the pastor of the Kenyan Community Church and I went out to eat. Given that I do not know the area, he suggested that we eat at the Kenyan owned Taste of Africa restaurant. He came with his lovely wife and we sat down and he ordered fish and ugali. I thought they were going to serve some pieces of fish dipped in some stew. But I was wrong! These people go all out. Here was a whole massive fish grilled to perfection, eyes and all. The ugali was the kind you find in those authentic restaurants in Limuru. And they decorated the plate with a touch of cabbage and carrots. They also serve chai ya majani!

The fish tried to make its case against my eating it and though I considered its plea, the beauty of the presentation and the smell of ugali won the day as I devoured this delicious meal. If you happen to be around Kansas City, Kansas take an evening drive with family or friends and go mentally back to those wonderful restaurants in Kawangware where the Samaki is legit and the Ugali is perfectly made. Sit down in this Kansas Taste of Africa and tell your children stories about Kenya while enjoying some good Kenyan hospitality. That was not all, a local Kenyan woman came to eat at the restaurant and recognizing the pastor, paid for the meal without telling us and left silently. This is a reflection of the quality of Kenyans in this community.

The community has done well to hold together and this of-course is a reflection of the Kenyan leadership in the area. On Sunday the pastor invited me to fellowship at the church. Here I was joining the hundreds of Kenyan Americans. Here they were worshipping as Christians, and not Kamba, Kalenjin, Kisii, Kikuyu, Luo, etc. The Lord Jesus Christ enjoys such fellowship. The worship team has a touch of our neighbors the Tanzanians, Cameroon and other African nationals making their presentation a chorus of beautiful music. As a musician and long time radio and television producer the church service is very well presented.

This is where we should be moving towards as immigrants. We should be moving towards a harmonious recreation of our community as belonging to one incredible heritage, the republic of Kenya. We should proudly call ourselves Kenyan Americans. We should support our businesses and gather together as one people, worship as one church that serves one Lord and savior Jesus Christ. We should move away from importing tribalism and become like the community of faith in Kansas City, Kansas.

To Pastor Kungu and his wife, asante for your hospitality and leadership.

Teddy Njoroge Kamau (PhD)

HT Bluff Associates

BBN TV

Diaspora Messenger Senior Columnist

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