Real Power to the Diaspora
It is actually easier for a Kenyan who lives in Arizona, USA, to meet, talk to and ask our leaders questions than for ordinary Kenyans who live right here.
That’s not to suggest that we never meet our leaders. We do. In traffic – from a distance – because we must stop when they pass. They think we are crazy enough to kill them.
But they have no qualms meeting our brothers and sisters who live in USA. They respect them so much that they even discuss issues with them, unlike us who only watch them dance and hear their rants and insults. You would think British leaders visit Naivasha to listen to what the Delameres think.
I bet it’s because these Diaspora people struggle heavily to develop this country.
They send quite a bit of chink back home – to pay school fees, fix a water tank for mummy, and buy a matatu and so forth. I hear that money amounts to US$2.5 billion, a huge chunk of bread which the Treasury uses to plug up the perennial hole in Kenya’s trillion shilling budget, which is financed by overseas loans anyway.
I guess that gives them the bargaining chip to call our leaders to account. The workers in Nairobi, whom leaders never meet because most political rallies are often staged during working hours, wouldn’t dare make such demands.
After all, Nairobi City only coughs up half of Kenya’s GDP, money that ends up lost through bribes, outright theft, alcohol and sex, unlike the billions that our brothers and sisters overseas religiously send home each month.
Interestingly, it is not quite clear whether Kenyans who reside in Russia constitute the Diaspora. I haven’t seen politicians falling over themselves to visit and chat with them.
Perhaps they don’t exist because so far, they haven’t made any demands. As a result, no one is quite sure whether they will vote, or if they want to vote for that matter.
And you know something? People in Nairobi have the audacity to consider those who live in the Diaspora as patronising and condescending. Yet the hilarity is that that’s precisely how brothers and sisters who live in the village view Nairobians.
Just because a Nairobian sends home Sh2,000 once every six months, that gives him unrivalled access to the chief — without having to doff his hat like a peasant. He can discuss education issues with the local headmaster, the CDF committee seeks his opinion about where a bridge he will never use should be built and he calls the shots in a home he only visits on Christmas Day.
It is a mockery of devolution. While we cheat villagers that we have devolved power and resources to the grassroots, it is Nairobi people who want to eat by becoming governors and senators.
Similarly, Kenyans who live in the Diaspora ask probing questions about political party manifestos, yet it is the ruffian who stones the opposition who elects and is led.
By Edward Indakwa
This article was originally published on The Standard.
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Good, well reasoned article. If you are Diaspora and would like your voice to be heard, as well as how a say in how your country is governed and who by, sign up at:- https://www.kenyansabroadvote.com/
My sentiments exactly. I am based in Germany and i think we are not considered as "diaspora" because no one (Kenyan Embassy any Kenyan Organisations) have addressed the issues of if, how and where we are going to vote. For me I think "diaspora" is only US/UK.... and believe it has got to do with the numbers (Kenyans)!