Kenyan diaspora within the US
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Kenyan diaspora within the US
Many different people go to different countries for a certain reason. Some people travel with their families while others travel solo. Some travel for short periods while others relocate completely to other countries. Every person always has a reason for relocation or travel. Sometimes it might be education, treatment, jobs among other issues. Most of the time the people from the developing countries travel to the already developed countries looking for greener pastures and these land them in countries in the west. The United States is one of the countries which have a unique combination of the population regarding their origin. The blacks and the whites even though not on the same level are very much present in the United States alongside other ethnic groups and races like Asians and Latinos. My focus in this paper is the Kenyan citizens who live in the United States, the reasons for relocation and I will focus majorly on my friend Mark who is a child to a Kenyan family who relocated to the United States from Kenya.
I got to know Mark during my senior years and we have grown to be friends who support each other in so many different ways. The story about his family is a special one as well as an interesting one. The daymark came to school he was not talkative and as most people assume, we thought that he was a black American who did not like talking to most other people because he did not want to be asked questions or anything to do with racism (Cohen, 2008). Therefore with my curiosity, I approached him one day and he told me that he is Kenyan and he was new to the United States, the language, the environment, and everything. From then on I decided to help him as much as I could and right now he is enjoying his stay here. Along the way, I got to learn so much about Kenya and I am already planning to visit the country in one of the holidays.
The first challenge was with the American English accent which he got to understand within a very short time. However, this was a bit complex because even in the United States there are different varieties of English apart from the standard one. However, with the help of research, I helped him. Within two weeks he was completely conversant with the American accent and he could talk to anyone fluently. He had an English origin in Kenya whereby English is the national language even though it is British English and not American English (Ssewanyana et al, 2018). After the basic introductions and showing him around he was ready to talk about the deep-seated issues within him which made his parents relocate to the United States. They included jobs and the desire for better living standards.
His father was already here working and studying as a neurosurgeon before the rest of the family came to the United States. After his father finished his doctor of philosophy in neurosurgery he requested the family to come to the United States so that they may live together. It was one decision that was very difficult for the family to make since the mother to Mark; Sophia was taking care of the grandmother to Mark. It was even a difficult decision to make since they had just begun large-scale farming under irrigation and they had a 6 bedroom house under construction. The father to Mark wanted them to celebrate together as he got the highest possible education certificate in the medical field and specifically neurosurgery. Upon this desire and request, Sophia Marks mother called for a family meeting and they had to discuss the issue so that everything was left in good hands. It was not the desire of everyone that they should leave. However, Sophia was very much interested in traveling to the USA to be with her husband.
When the grandmother to Mark began to talk he stated that it was very important for the activities which were ongoing to continue and that after the activities had to be done then traveling to the United States could be arranged. This made Sophia a bit uncomfortable but weighing the situation that was ahead of her she needed to consider what was more important than just traveling to the United States to be with her husband. At that time Mark was in form four the equivalent of k12 school system the four junior year’s high school. Therefore he went back to school knowing that sometime after his junior high school he would join the k12 school system as a senior in the United States. He outdid himself and he performed excellently. His mother and grandmother were left discussing how the 10 acres of land under irrigation were to be managed when they left and how the construction could be done fast enough to make sure it was done before they left.
From the day Marks father requested them to come to the United States it took about six months preparing for the journey so that everything could be done properly and also because it was for a long period. Sophia was a teacher who had just graduated with a master’s in educational planning and administration and that was her third degree as she had also done computer science. She was not practicing any of her learned careers since she was much focused on her family as she had a little kid and a family to manage.
After Mark closed schools they discussed the matter of traveling to the United States in a more versed manner than they had done before. The issues which came to the table were the reasons for relocating and they included better living standards and salaries, a high number of black Americans, and the reduced rate of racism. However, Mark kept thinking about his friends and he never even at one point imagined leaving Kenya for another country. He only imagined himself coming to the United States for holidays and not to stay here. He was a bit disturbed but hoped everything was to work well.
However, as Mark has stayed in the United States for more than 2 years now he has affirmed that the living standards here are better than in his original country Kenya. He has also affirmed that racism is not as much as it was before and that he can openly buy or walk into any place without having to worry about being bullied because he is black. Even though there are a few instances of being uncomfortable when dealing with white people some of them still believe it is okay to have black people below the whites. He made a joke as I was interviewing him and stated that if a white person tries to belittle him he just asks them if they know what his father or mother could do to him then he tells them to take care.
Even though the cost of living in the United States is higher than in Kenya the jobs are well paying especially for people who are seasoned in their careers like his mother and father. Therefore he states that with the better-paying jobs he is hoping to stay and look for a job here instead of going back home when he is done with school (Copeland-Carson, 2007). The high number of black Americans and African Americans also excites him and he is very fond of being around black people as he says that it brings him some kind of peace. Therefore he hopes that he is not racist but a neutral person who tries to belong to his kind of people.
When I asked him about the quality of life here he had different answers. First of all, he looked at the perspective of having an easy life where a person could get anything at the touch of a button. He said that in Kenya that was also very possible in the capital city which is Nairobi but in the rural areas it was not possible and therefore he had to take her mother’s car if her mother needed something and drive for about 3 miles before they could get a large quantity of what they wanted. However, he stated that life was enjoyable then because as he traveled he could interact with his friends, and even at times when what was needed was not that bulky he went with a bike (Kinuthia, & Akinyoade, 2012). Therefore he describes the United States as boring when it comes to interaction as almost everyone is on their phone and trying to order something.
He also stated that in Kenya the rate of pollution was very low as compared to the United States. First of all, he told me something which I never thought was true. He stated that Kenya had banned plastic bags and if a person was seen in public using plastic bags he could be fined. Therefore pollution was low. With the less levels of industrialization as well Kenyans were less likely to experience excessive air pollution as it is in the United States. He also stated that there was some peace he cannot find in the United States especially in the Kenyan rural areas. Nature was at its best and he could even go to the river and just stay at the bank and admire the environment around him a thing which he could not practice in the United States. Wildlife was also in large numbers in Kenya n parks and the united stated they are limited. The climate was also different and the level of joblessness was low.
In conclusion, the experiences of Mark and the interview about his stay in the United States of America left me with a better and brother view of Kenya and therefore I am more informed. His stay in the United States so far has been good and he hopes to go back to Kenya to have a good time with his grandma.
Cohen, R. (2008). Global diasporas: An introduction. Routledge.Copeland-Carson, J. (2007). Kenyan diaspora philanthropy: Key practices, trends, and issues. Unpublished paper prepared for the Philanthropy Initiative, Inc., and The Global Equity Initiative, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
Kinuthia, B. K., & Akinyoade, A. (2012). Diaspora and development in Kenya: what do we know?. Migration Policy Practice, 2(2), 16-20.
Ssewanyana, D., Abubakar, A., Van Baar, A., Mwangala, P. N., & Newton, C. R. (2018). Perspectives on underlying factors for an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle of adolescents at a Kenyan coastal setting. Frontiers in public health, 6, 11.