By Dorcas Sarkozy
WARNING: This may come across as rant to some – scroll onto another page if that’s you!
There is an-ongoing narrative in some quarters in Kenya that something is wrong “taking care of old grannies in the US…..wiping their butts” or “flipping hamburgers in a fast-food joint”.
The issue regarding the various professions/types of employment folks in the diaspora take up – for a host of reasons – first trended back in 2013 when Miguna Miguna went after Jakoyo Midiwo for being – shudder the thought – a ‘taxi driver’ in New York.
The bombastic Miguna-Sqd. went on to offer, as an elaboration, the fact that the former MP and ODM Chief Whip “spent more than ten years driving taxis in NYC” as if there was something wrong holding down a job for ten years.
So yesterday (11/2), someone who could barely string together a coherent and grammatically-correct sentence pointed out that Nasarites “will end up working in…..kikuyu/kalenjin owned companies…..(or) taking care of old grannies in the US…..”
I frankly did not fully understand the blather but the comment’s gist spoke to the point at the beginning of this article: That there is something wrong working in a nursing home or as a home-care provider.
Let me be as blunt as possible – and this is part of a larger study boyfriend and I are working on – mainly BF actually – but there is enough anecdotal evidence that the same groups that have traditionally done well in Kenya absolutely crash and burn once abroad!
Yes there are indolents and criminals across all communities but the numbers do not lie.
Go to Dallas, LA-Anaheim-Fullerton area, Brockton just outside Boston and increasingly now, Oakland etc. The same people talking tish about their “hard work” and business ‘acumen’ in Kenya are barely scrapping by abroad.
They also form a majority of felons (from Kenya) – there! I said it!!
Conversely, the likes of Akombe, Nyong’o, Obama Jr., Kituyi, Makau, Calistous Juma, Wanyama, Mariga to name a few, are, to put it mildly, “kicking a…and taking names” away from home – in the diaspora – where they are mostly seen as Africans – which is actually a ‘good’ thing but itself an entirely different discussion! The point is, these individuals are not judged by their last name/ethnicity but by their competence/individual contributions.
And while Obama and Wangari Maathai (who incidentally was reviled in Kenya by the same people now being embraced by Jubilants) each went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize, Ngugi wa Thiong’o’ works are yet to be recognized by the Nobel Committee and on a personal note, his writings are meh!
Oh and the man whose father was blacklisted by the current president’s father, this for calling out incompetence and tribalism, became America’s 44th POTUS. And don’t get me started on the exploits of Olunga, Origi and the many other Kenyans plying their trades away from the hyper-ethnic incompetence that is their motherland.
Quote me on this: Chimamanda Adichie or Yvonne Owuor may just get a Nobel Prize in Literature before wa Thiong’o does!
Do Kenyans ever stop to think about the impact of their embrace of cutting corners, toadyism, “kitu kidogo” and/or mediocrity?
Even more to my point, the African Union rejected Amina Mohammed as Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) because they saw in her performance as Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Secretary, the toadyism that puts connections and allegiance over competence and fidelity to the expectation/s of the job. Rather than represent the interests of Kenya as CS of Foreign Affairs, Amina Mohammed became the gofer for her crimes-against-humanity-suspect of a boss and along the way, she abdicated her responsibility as Kenya’s CS for Foreign Affairs.
A majority of the members of the Union saw that and rejected her candidacy.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with hard honest work – whether it is caring for the aged in a nursing home or cooking hamburgers at Jack-in-the-Box or McDonalds. And for those making fun of driving a taxi, especially in New York, google the term “Taxi Medallion” and read up on it. And while the likes of Uber, Lyft and the many other ride-sharing companies have disrupted the taxi business, a taxi medallion is still a viable investment. (“Taxi Medallions Have Been the Best Investments in America” – Washington Post)
Kenyans, especially those who have been in power or close to power have grown so used to tenderpreneuring and stealing (without consequences) that they cannot wrap their kleptocratic heads around an honest day’s work.
Their preferred response when someone questions the source of their wealth – that they are “blessed from ‘above’” or that they “work smart” is completely belied by (a) their schadenfreude at the plight of fellow “children of God” – from other ethnicities – at the hands of a murderous regime and police force and (b) their struggles when the employment playing field is leveled – as does happen abroad – away from Kenya!
The way I see it, helping someone in the twilight of their life and getting paid for it is money whose source can be fully traced as can money from working the drive-thru at BF’s favorite fast-food joint – JIB!
Said money from the nursing home or burger joint puts food on the table, clothes on one’s back and a roof over their head. And if used as a stepping stone onto other better paying less strenuous opportunities, why not? I’d take that any day than the millions that come from manipulating an election or being part of a crimes-against-humanity cover-up or grabbing land or selling ivory – from poached elephants!.
The fact that the person who made the comment that set me off could not string together a sentence that was grammatically-correct and barely comprehensible fully underscores my point about a culture that thrives, rewards and encourages incompetence and mediocrity – the same incompetence and mediocrity Kenyans see in in their leaders; in Uhuru Kenyatta – his articulate diction notwithstanding.
Let me stop for now – LOL!!