I was on my 2nd cup of Americano at the Peets Coffee in downtown Livermore; a quaint city about an hour east of â€˜Frisco (thatâ€™s San Francisco for the folks back home) when Mwakilishi published yet another article lampooning Kenyans in the Diaspora. Seething, I saved the chapter I had been working on for over 3 hours and opened a new document eager to fire off a counter to the generalizations, stereotypes, frankly hate that are chockful in these pieces.
Unlike the latest anti-diaspora rant by one David Odongo, I didnâ€™t have to go back home to catalogue my beef with the folks back there so here goes:
1. So When Are You Coming Back â€œHomeâ€? -- Part I
The working assumption in this question is that (a) we all can come back home and (b) we WANT to come back home.
To be blunt and this is now an open secret; some in the diaspora cannot come back home due to their immigration status AND on the advice of their legal counsel. Yes, some back here are still working through the legal labyrinth that is emigrating to somewhere in the diaspora. And unlike the norm back in Kenya, folks in (fill in the blank) cannot simply â€œtoa kitu kidogoâ€ and make the problem go away.
Finally, and unfortunately, some cannot come back home until their stay as â€œguests of the state or federal governmentâ€ ends after which they WILL definitely come back.
So there, thatâ€™s why some in the diaspora cannot come back. Happy?
2. So When Are You Coming Back â€œHomeâ€? -- Part II
It may come as a surprise to some but there are those in the diaspora who have built fairly decent lives; in some cases, lives with their non-Kenyan spouses/partners replete with trans-national/bi-racial â€œtoisâ€. Some of these little ones have allergies not to mention diasporian taste buds and sensibilities that may (or may not) take too kindly to the flavorful and frankly delicious Kenyan dishes and the dust, flora and fauna â€œback thereâ€ especially â€œhome-squaredâ€.
Finally, between the monthly, in some cases bi-weekly remittances, the â€œmadoublesâ€ and â€œmatriplesâ€ barely pay enough to buy a plane ticket and afford the near-requisite spending $$.
Maybe in due time, some of us will come back to visit AND maybe retire â€œthereâ€ but until thenâ€¦..
3. When Are You Getting Married?
When I am ready and/or find a suitable mate and please donâ€™t try to set me up with â€œnyako maberâ€ or â€œnyar so-and-soâ€. Remember? I am the â€œwuoyi molal lokaâ€; the son who is lost overseas. On this one, I will gladly pass on that "beautiful girl" or "daughter of so-and-so"; choosing instead to remain AWOL.
4. Hebu Send Some Money.
The same people making fun of those in the diaspora doing â€œmadoublesâ€ and â€œmatriplesâ€ are the same ones who have no shame blowing up their cellphones (or mobiles) every two or four weeks asking for a share of the â€œmatunda ya madoubles and matriplesâ€.
Yes WanaKenya, the billions in remittals you pine for; whose impact on the countryâ€™s economy is glowingly cited by your leaders at every reading of the annual budget are legally and honestly earned â€œcaring for folks in nursing homesâ€.
Tell us again whatâ€™s wrong with earning an honest living working?
Oh I forgot. Tis yâ€™all who perfected the art of thievery and tenderpreneurship constantly laughing at those who choose to earn an honest living -- a concept that is foreign to yall -- no pun intended.
5. Basi You Know How Things Are Back Here.
No I donâ€™t know how things are back â€œthereâ€. Please tell me and while you are at it, can you help me understand how these â€œthingsâ€ are related to the fact that you still havenâ€™t told me what happened to the money I sent you for the â€œkaplotiâ€ you harangued me to buy?
Can you also tell me why the â€œnetworkâ€ that was fully operational when you wanted the MTCN or MPesa Reference # suddenly went â€œmarachâ€ when I insisted on an explanation?
6. Malo, â€œPunctualityâ€ is a Western Construct.
Kwani where was the restaurant going to anyway and arenâ€™t you supposed to be on vacation? So I arrived two hours after the appointed time, mazee â€œhakuna matataâ€. Hebu jivunia.
7. Kwani Haujivunii Kwa MKenya?
You know, I love the country of my birth; I love Kenya and what I THOUGHT it stood for but after the assassinations, kleptocracy and the accompanying impunity AND being â€œmajuuâ€; seeing how her peers have done in comparison, pole, â€œsijivunii kwa mediocre.â€
I am happy for your patriotism and national pride but both qualities also mean calling out â€œmy countryâ€ when it effs up -- repeatedly -- and â€œmyâ€ Kenya has religiously shot itself in the foot since independence.
8. Hebu Stop â€œTwangingâ€, Know Worr am Saying?
â€œTwangingâ€? Actually I donâ€™t know what you are saying. What ARE you saying?
â€œYaye Marlo, wek mwonyoâ€ â€“ â€œMarlo stop â€˜swallowingâ€™ or truncating your words.â€
Oh, my accent bothers you?
You do remember Kenyaâ€™s favorite diasporite thanking â€œKenyaRRaâ€ for co-hosting the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) last July donâ€™t you? Who do you think he was thanking and why didnt he say "KenyaTTa"?
Sorry but some of us have lived in (fill in foreign country of choice) for our entire adult life. Iâ€™d imagine that after that much time immersed in a foreign culture, one would start â€œdoing as the Romans doâ€ ama? Come to think of it, isnâ€™t the same phenomenon at play when someone from â€œbaraâ€ living in â€œpwaniâ€ for a long time speaks Swahili that is fluid almost lyrical?
On the other hand, I also know some people who have lived "majuu" for quite some time and still butcher the words â€œshopâ€ and/or â€œsoapâ€ -- the former mysteriously morphing into â€œsoapâ€ and the latter into â€œshopâ€ so maybe you are onto something.
9. When I was in (fill in the blank)â€â€¦..
Really, when I was in downtown LA on the corner of South Flower and West Pico Blvd., a Chevy Malibu, you know, Chevrolet Malibu? Well one pulled up next to me at a stop light and the dread-locked man sitting in the front passenger seat raised an AK-47 as they were driving away â€“ shouting â€œThis is whatâ€™s up.â€
Oh and when I was in Kano Plains when the Nyando River was flooding, an annual ritual due to the governmentâ€™s inability to allocate adequate resources to (a) build flood control barriers and (b) harness the waters to (fill in the blank), I saw a huge crocodile.
10. So Remind me Why Yâ€™all Have Traffic Lights and Signs if Yâ€™all Donâ€™t Obey Them?
Me: So that mathree just blew through a red light, whatâ€™s with that?
Kenyan Relative: Mazee, itâ€™s 7PM. You do not want to stop at this lightâ€¦..itâ€™s notorious for thugs.
Me: Where are the â€œsonyisâ€?
Kenyan Relative: Oh the cops are probably in cahoots with the â€œmajambaziâ€ and if not, a traffic ticket is easily fixed with a $5, $10 or $20 bill strategically placed when handing them the driverâ€™s license.
Me: What if the matatu causes an accident, injuries or death?
Kenyan Relative: Hali ya Mungu na ya dunia. Besides, si wako na insurance coverage ama?
11. We Donâ€™t Need The West.
12. One Last Word:
Deodorant! Yes, I went there. So sue me and I will just bribe your bloody judges!
By Washington Osiro | email@example.com