By Peter Gaitho
I will use pseudonyms on this one, because I donâ€™t want any trouble. TheÂ issue of Diaspora Kenyans working doubles and triples has been up in the airÂ so many times my ears are ringing from the hullabaloo raised by the issue.
Pedestrian social analysts seem to worry that by working so hard and so manyÂ hours, Diaspora parents lose touch with their spouses and kids and end up notÂ having a â€œlife.â€ Far from it.
My friend, Mwalimu Makali, is a very hard working Physics teacher in KiaÂ Njogu, Nyahururu. Over the years, he has acquired for himself a sizeableÂ chunk of land where he is engaged in intensive horticultural farming. In hisÂ farm are all domesticable animals, which bring in a tidy sum by the end ofÂ the month from the sale of their different products.
Before getting into his Toyota Harrier to go to Maili Nne High School to feedÂ his students the Archimedes Principle and whatever else they tech in highÂ school Physics, he is up well before cock crow to make sure that his dailyÂ cows are milked, the milk sent over to the buying center, the pigs are fed,Â the chicken do not starve, the goats were not stolen the previous night, theÂ cabbages are fine, the spinach are watered and the whole caboodle of farmÂ work.
After he makes sure all is well in the busy farm, off he goes to his day jobÂ until 4pm. Those in the pedagogy business know how hard it is to achieve aÂ mean grade of A- in Physics at KCSE, a feat that Mwalimu Makali is famous forÂ in Nyandarua County. He is a member of Nuclear Matatu Sacco where his 3Â Toyota vans bring in some extra income. He is forced at times to leave hisÂ workstation to follow up with the police when his drivers are arrested in theÂ hustle and bustle that is the matatu industry.
Mwalimu Makali is another one; he does not allow an opportunity to pass by. AÂ few years ago, he enrolled as a graduate student at Laikipia University whereÂ he earned a Masters Degree in Physics two years later. That investment didÂ not go to waste. He doubles up as a lecturer at the Laikipia University,Â Nyahururu Campus, 3 evenings a week. Over December school vacation, you areÂ most likely to find Mwalimu Makali busy as a senior Physics examiner with theÂ Kenya National Examinations Council, KNEC.
â€œMan, I am so busy building the nation,â€ he told me when I tracked himÂ down last summer.
â€œI am lucky my 3 children are in boarding school, otherwise seeing themÂ daily is out of question.â€ He mused.
When I called my childhood friend, Dr. Kizito, a pediatrician at NairobiÂ hospital, his youngest daughter picked the phone.
â€œDaddy is not in for now, you can leave a message,â€ She informed me.
â€œWhen can I call again to get him?â€ I asked.
â€œUsijisumbue, he is never here,â€ the young girl said.
Eventually I caught up with the good doctor at Nairobi Club, by luck.
â€œMundu wa Nyambura, life is so fast, but I run faster,” He told me when IÂ inquired about his busy schedule. He informed me that besides working atÂ Nairobi Hospital, he is also a professor of medicine at Agha Khan UniversityÂ and aÂ consultant at Gertrudeâ€™s Children Hospital besides working with 3Â public health NGOs in his County.
â€œBy the end of the day, I donâ€™t know who my employer is,â€ he said. â€œIÂ have to shuffle between my various engagements daily, the toll on the body isÂ too much.â€
Besides my two friends, I know so many university lecturers who are primarilyÂ high school teachers, or who shuffle between campuses on a daily basis. IÂ know a number of professionals in Nairobi who have farms in Timau, or operateÂ hardware stores in Kitengela. Hustling between this job to the other one isÂ the order of the day in todayâ€™s Kenya.
â€œOnly a fool depends on one source of income,â€ Mwalimu Makali had earlierÂ told me.
Back to Diaspora Kenyans. Would it not be in order for themÂ to also workÂ double shifts wherever they are? Why would it be frowned upon to have anÂ overnight shift as a factory guard? Is it a crime to be a relief staff at aÂ nursing home even as one works as a full time nurse?
â€œYou know one may not operate a matatu in Raleigh, South Carolina,â€ MyÂ friend Andrew tells me. â€œBut one can get serious side money by working as aÂ part time delivery truck driver, or a cleaner at the local supermarket, pesaÂ ni pesa my friend.â€
With that, yours truly has nothing to add. As my learned friend, Mr. OmusuÂ Esq., would say, res judicata, the issue has already been judged. Let theÂ people work; the end justifies the means. I rest my case.
By Peter Gaitho | firstname.lastname@example.org