Part two: Kenyans living their ‘American dream’ in the US

Over the last 15-20 years, the Kenyan Community in the United States has completely expanded and spread across almost every state in America.
What are the implications of the expansion of the community and how they relate to Kenya?
This is a public park in the city of Townsend Delaware on a beautiful summer afternoon on the east coast of the USA.
Kenyans living in the state arrive one by one and by sunset, the park will be full of Kenyans.
The event taking place is the annual Kenyan summer flame organized by the Fifty dollar club group.
We meet Dr. Davidi Amakobe, a social scientist and a community leader who has lived in the US for the last 20 years. Amakobe understands the history and development of the Kenyan community in the US and he is particularly glad that the community is indeed expanding and establishing roots in the US.
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“The first Kenyans who came to the US came as students when Tom Mboya organized for a lot of Kenyans to come to the US to learn and take over from the British. But again some Kenyans remained and they were accommodated by the system,” says Amakobe.
Prof. Micah Mukabi, a resident from Emuhaya, Bunyore Vihiga County went to the US in January 1976 to study. Mukabi says unlike now where foreigners are treated with hostility, immigrants and students and people were interested in knowing where you came from.
‘It wasn’t easy but it was a good environment,” says Prof. Mukabi.
According to Mr. Amakobe, one of the factors that led to the expansion of the Kenyan Community in the US is the unfavorable social and economic climate in Kenya that has been witnessed since the year 2000.
“Around 200, the politics in Kenya was not very conducive. People were finding it unsuitable to go back. And as the world economy gets interconnected, people find it easy to stay where they can make a living,” said Mr. Amakobe.
The quench for education is considered to be the major factor that has contributed to the growth of the Kenyan community in the US and their story of the American journey is not from grass to grace but rather struggled to pay college fees and graduate.
The main challenge for Kenyans in the US is chasing a pathway to gain American citizenship or at least staying in America illegally. As a consequence, Kenyans engage in fake marriages among other things with the hope of gaining legal status.
But these challenges on top of the inevitable cultural shocks, language barriers, racial and social discrimination notwithstanding, many Kenyans in the US have overcome them and they are now living meaningful lives far away from where they were born.
Mkawasi Mcharo, a resident in Baltimore-Maryland, went to the US in 1997 as a postgraduate student explains how tough life can be for a newcomer in a land where people mind their businesses but she managed to survive.
“If you land here and you do not know where to live or you do not have a scholarship that guarantees you a place to live, you are in for a very difficult time,” says Mkawasi.
Despite spending many years in the US, Mkawasi just like many others constantly experiences the cultural clashes and tensions between where she was born and where she lives now.
“Kenyans here have pulled themselves and they are doing very well. A lot of Kenyans started from zero when they got here and now they have done very well for themselves,” said Mkawasi.
Remittances increase every year with figures showing that approximate 1.6 billion shillings this year from 1.2 billion shillings four years ago is sent to Kenya from America. This indicates that the Kenyan economy is expanding yearly and the productivity is increasing in the US.
The basic motivational factors that make some people migrate are always constant; the search for better social and economic activities and of course the escape from wars and civil conflicts.
The fact that the diaspora contributes immensely to the development of their country through remittances is indisputable.
Unlike before where global migration, permanent relocation or long separation and infrequent encounters with one native’s home, today revolution, and telecommunications and travel, has compressed the spatial and temporal distances between home and abroad.
This has offered immigrants an opportunity to bolster their family relationships and stay in touch despite being miles apart between two continents.
Kenyans abroad develop tremendous skills and they give it back to their country in the form of remittances and higher education where some of them come back to Kenya and teach others to improve their educational status.
“We are seeing a brain gain as opposed to brain drain in the past years where a lot of Africans are now re-engaging with the continent in IT and education, in terms of the economy and more importantly in terms of remittances,” said Prof. David Monda.
The globalization does not only facilitate the rapid flow of capital and commodities, but it also revitalizes all cultural community network. In this case, strengthening the trans-national ethnic, racial and national identity. ?

By Sigomba Ramadhan Omar, Standard.co.ke

Kenyan girl dies in Dubai after leaving house at night

A Nyeri woman died under unclear circumstances in Dubai after reportedly leaving her house at 3am on Wednesday last week to meet someone.

The body of the 22-year-old Suzan Makena was found in the sea that Wednesday morning, which was coincidentally her birthday.

Friends and family members are coming to terms with the death of Makena who left the country five months ago.

“Postmortem results from Dubai police show that Suzie slipped and drowned. She was found at 8am on July 31,” Njambi, who worked with her, said.

 

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FOUND ON THE BEACH: Suzan Makena Image: COURTESY

Makena left Kenya in April to work in a Dubai hotel. Our efforts to get a comment from her sister and friends failed although they had promised to respond.

“We can’t talk right now, allow me to get back later,” her sister told the Star by phone.

Her family and friends learned of her death from her roommates after the police confirmed to the family last Friday that Makena’s body had been picked as that of an unknown person.

“On Wednesday (last week), she had little rest with roommates but because it was her birthday, she was going to meet someone later. But her phone went off later,” a close family member told the Star.

“Her sister, who lives in Dubai, reported the matter to agencies. Unluckily, Friday rumours spread that a woman’s body had been found at the beach.”

Since then, the family and friends in Kenya have been told contradicting stories surrounding the death.

“I will not say what happened to Makena in Dubai,” a friend who attended the fundraising committee on Tuesday told her friends.

The former NIBS college student left her job at 67 Airport Hotel as a waiter before heading to Dubai.

The friends have started a hashtag #bringbackMakena and a pay bill to collect Sh500,000 to bring her remains home.

by The Star

What the Kenyan hustler does abroad

Kenya exports products like tea, coffee and flowers. But we have not been good at exporting services like the Americans, have.

We have attempted, though, with lots of Kenyans working in the Gulf, Europe, US, South Africa and other parts of the world.They send money home that counts as one of the leading sources of foreign income. 

What about hustling?

Do we export our hustles abroad, popularly called majuu? Is the Kenyan spirit of hustling universal? Does it hover beyond our borders? Research suggests we export lots of hustles to different parts of the world. One popular destination for Kenyan immigrants is the USA. This could be attributed to history, with the airlift of 1959 taking Kenyans for training in the US before the country got uhuru.

That connected the US to the heart of the first uhuru government. Remember Uhuru Kenyatta later went to school there?The Chinese would have to replicate this to offer Americans real competition in Kenya’s economic and sociopolitical space.

The airlift was an American stroke of genius.They replicated this with hordes of students from the former Soviet Union breakaway republics, such as Belarus, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and east European countries like Romania. 

The media, the Green Card lottery and the Obama effect have whetted our appetite to immigrate to the land of opportunity and home of the brave.

But after Trump, Canada now seems to be the new magnet. Anyway, enough digression. 

Attractive options

 For immigrants who never get formal jobs for lack of skills or because priority is given to citizens, hustling remains the only option.

Popular hustles abroad 

Which hustles are popular? Muriuki Mukurima is a senior Kenyan hustler based in Los Angeles, California, and he shared with me some of the popular hustles among Kenyans.

First on the list is the CNA (Certified Nursing Aide), which is the lowest job cadre in the healthcare industry.

Its ease of entry makes it an attractive option, and sometimes people don’t even need papers to be hired. Nursing is one the most popular professions pursued by Kenyans in the US of both genders.

Maybe its not a popular career option among Americans, which has created a shortage.Other hustles include the scrap metal business; both buying and selling.

Trucking (especially box trucks) is another popular job and involves driving goods across states.Catering (in-house cooking of chapatis, mandazis and samosas and selling them to other Kenyans) is also popular, as is the buying goods, like perfumes from well-known stores in the US and selling them back home. I also came across babysitting and painting. There’s nyama choma, too. I recall eating that at Kamau’s near Washington DC.

By XN Iraki, Standard Media

How a Kenyan can work and live in Germany

It’s almost everyone’s dream to live or stay for a while in a foreign country.

You can call me May, that’s what my friends call me, short for Maylene because we are going to get know each other, as I explain to you the simple way of how I got a chance to live in Germany.

I live, work and school in Germany.

I came to Germany from Kenya as an Au-Pair girl which I am going to explain later in the article. You can also come in as volunteer which you do for a year

Before you can buy a ticket to come to Germany, here are a few basic things that you need to know

  1. The language

If you can speak German, you are three steps ahead of coming to Germany compared someone who doesn’t.

So where can you learn the language?

Certain high schools in Kenya offer German as a subject of study. Study it up to Form Four to better your chances. This will earn you a language level called B1 which is pretty good because it’s the intermediate level or the middle level.

If you don’t get the chance to study German in high school there are German private schools or colleges in Nairobi and other towns in Kenya. The best is Goethe Institut located in Nairobi or Mombasa. You have to dig a little deeper in your pocket but they offer quality education. If you learn in any other college, make sure you do the exams at Goethe Institut because it’s the only certificate recognized in the German speaking Embassies.

Language levels are divided into beginner level that is A1 and A2. Intermediate level B1 and B2, and advanced level C1and C2.

Tip:

Don’t let anyone lie to you that most Germans can’t understand English. Well they can, but they prefer speaking German all the way. And they admire people who are taking the effort to speak their language.

man wearing black waistcoat and white tank tops standing near a mural
Photo by XU CHEN on Pexels.com
  1. The Host family

This is the family you will be working and staying with.

As I had earlier said, I came in as an Au-Pair girl. An Au-pair work is to look after a family’s children. You also get language course paid for you by your host/ employer, they provide a roof over your head, pay for your health insurance and give you pocket money (Germany 260 Euro, Ksh29,000, $292) Switzerland and Austria may vary.

I looked for host family online on my own without paying any agents. Some people pay an agent to connect them with a host family. Be careful as they sometimes swindle many Kenyans looking for host families. This is the website that I used.

In this website, you write your own profile, and upload photos of you playing with kids, they can be your nephew, or a neighbor’s child or any child. The host will be impressed seeing a photo showing your experience of you handling children.

Pro Tip:

  • Write your profile in English if your German is not so good, but German is preferred.
  • Reply your email as fast as possible, nobody likes waiting.
  • You will also need to Skype with the families during the interview and you will have to make a personal decision whether you want to work for them.

The second website I used is:-

Here you send your application with photos via email and then they upload your profile on their website where there are other applications too for host families to choose from. They contact you when they find a suitable family for you.

  1. The Visa

Once you get a family ready to hire you, they will send you a signed contract and an invitation letter which you take with you to the embassy.

You can then book an appointment at the German Embassy in Nairobi, here

The Visa appointment can be one to two months after application

Pro Tip

  • Be on time for your appointment.
  • Have all the filled out forms and professional passport photo taken.
  • Cheap photos won’t cut it. It cost me 200bob for 4 pieces.
  • The visa fee was 60Euros/ KSh6,800, could be more now.
  • After application, Visa processing takes two weeks to three months. It gets sent to you via G4S.
  • Don’t book a plane ticket if you haven’t received your visa yet, visas applications get rejected.
  • If your visa application is rejected, you can try getting an Austrian visa. Once you get to Austria, you can cross borders to Germany because the visa you will get is a SCHENGEN Visa.
  1. The arrival

Plan how you will get from the airport to your host family address, dress for the weather, it can get uncomfortable if it’s too hot or too cold, and get ready for culture shock because it’s real friend.

In case you have any questions, leave it on the comment section or email kenyaconnectt@gmail.com and I will be more than glad to get back.

P.S: Most people have asked about the Austrian option on the social media platforms. Here is the thing, you can apply to go Austria from the beginning, some people say it is easier that way. The other way is if your German visa is rejected try Austria. And definitely you have to have something you are going to do, they will ask at the Embassy.

Why one in three Kenyan youths wants to go abroad

More than one in every three Kenyan youths would leave the country to find a better job abroad, escape poverty or pursue an education if given a chance, a new survey has found.

The study conducted by a pan-African research network, AfroBarometer, reveals that at least 35 percent of Kenyan youth have at some point considered leaving the country to live abroad.

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The study conducted by a pan-African research network, AfroBarometer, reveals that at least 35 percent of Kenyan youth have at some point considered leaving the country to live abroad. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The research released yesterday was conducted in 33 other African countries.

“The most popular destination among potential emigrants is neither Europe nor North America, but another African country. This suggests that if you have a country near you that is thriving economically then you better move there so Europe should now start considering how to boost Africa’s economic growth because clearly they may not have a lot of desire to go to Europe,” Afrobarometer Executive Director Gyimah Boadi said.

Kenya was ranked 20th among the countries comprising youths who have high desire to migrate from Africa, behind its neighbours Uganda and Sudan where more people wanted to leave and stay abroad.

Cape Verde, where only 42 percent of the citizens want to stay, had lowest score, followed by Sierra Leone where 59 percent want to migrate and Gambia where 56 percent have thought about migrating. Togo and Sao Tome complete the five worst performers with 54 percent of residents in both countries angling to leave for a better life abroad.

Mauritius had the best record, according to the survey.

A 2017 World Bank survey found Kenya had the highest rate of youth unemployment in East Africa, with 17 percent of all young people eligible for work lacking jobs. Neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda had comparable rates of 5.5 and 6.8 percent respectively.

source, Edwin Okoth, BusinessDaily