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VIDEO: Kenyans in US open up on untold challenges they face in new documentary

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BY BMJ MURIITHI

A new documentary released in the US over the weekend is shedding light on some hitherto untold challenges Kenyans face as immigrants in that country.

Written and produced by Kaba Mbugua, the film which was released Saturday in Raleigh, North Carolina, features a number of Kenyans who candidly tell their own real life stories.

Official estimates put the number of Kenyans living in the United States at 130,000. The figure has however been disputed in some quarters with some claiming that there are at least 300,000 immigrants from the East African nation. Many hold well paying jobs or run successful enterprises while others are students.

The documentary however shows that some Kenyans, just like the rest of the immigrants from other countries,  struggle to make ends meet. A myriad of challenges have sometimes led some – especially the youth – to fall into bad company, ending up in jail, homeless shelters, on a forced flight back home or, in extreme cases, even dead. The film highlights  the misconceptions held by some Kenyans about life in the ‘land of the free’ and the subsequent effects.

“I was a criminal…I was arrested for illegal possession of a gun and cocaine” reveals James Njoroge who has since been deported. “I smoked Marijuana and had many minor violations,” he adds.

Ms Alice Raine, who has since returned to Kenya tells of how uninformed she was about life in the US before leaving Nairobi.

She explains how shocked she was when she arrived in the US.

“We used to eat from trash cans because we had no food and the restaurant where we worked would not let us touch the “expired” food,” she says, referring to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laws which are strictly observed by eateries in the US.

“Our first year was terrible. We had come on a one way ticket and so we couldn’t go back,” she adds.

“Many Kenyan professionals who are well educated find themselves doing very demeaning menial jobs just to make ends meet in the US. This is simply because they do not have the requisite papers to enable them compete on equal terms with other job seekers,” says another Kenyan.

Wariara Thuo explains how difficult it was to get a place to stay and a car soon after she arrived in the country.

“They wanted to see my documents everywhere I went.”

But some Kenyans here don’t give up easily and they opt for marriage, explains Japheth Matemu, a US-based immigration lawyer.

“However, citizenship through marriage is not as easy as some think. It must be a one-woman-one man union and it has to be entered into in good faith in order to be recognised by federal law,” he adds.

He says many Kenyans who are married in Kenya are denied an opportunity to adjust their status because they never divorced their spouses and the records show it.

“They forget that there is a record trail from the time they applied for their visa as they mentioned that they were married in order to increase the chances of getting the coveted document ,” he says.

Matemu explains why the “Kenyan mindset” has landed many Kenyans in US jails. “Some things that are not taken very seriously in Kenya are sometimes considered outright criminal in the United States. Many Kenyans, especially young people, have ended up in jail for crimes like driving under the influence (DUI), which in comparison, is not taken very seriously in Kenya,” he adds.

Documentary film make Kaba Mbugua. PHOTO/COURTESY

He says people who overstay their visas have it very rough but they hardly talk about it because they would not like their families and friends back home to know of their predicament. Matemu however says life for Kenyans with valid student visas is relatively easy.”

“If you come here on a student visa, then you are also allowed to work and sustain yourself. Holders of some other Visas like the DV (popularly known as Green Card), are also good to go,” he says.

He however warns against “Marriage for papers.”

Mbijiwe Mwenda, a counselor with Family Development Institute says some people have made “a business venture” out of marriage. He tells of how they marry for papers and divorce as soon as the marriage “matures,” only to get married to another “client” soon afterwards.

“They pocket about three thousand dollars (Sh 320,000) every two to three years for marriages that have nothing to do with bedroom affairs,” he says.

Joseck Asikoye of Jabali Africa explains why he thinks cases of domestic violence among Kenyan couples in the US are on the rise.

“Pent up anger among  Kenyan men in the US is one of the reasons some are killing themselves. He says they find it difficult  to “bring out the Kenyan men in them” due to the repercussions of such acts. You can’t physically discipline your wife here,” he says.

“You have to do your homework before relocating to the US. If you are violent by nature, the America is not for you because the authorities are zero tolerant to violence,” he says.

Willie Owusu & Ndungi Githuku in action
PHOTO/COURTESY by metta metta ART

Ms Kanyi, who came to the US at age 7,  tells of how she fell into bad company leading to her deportation at the age of 17. If you don’t have papers and you get yourself into criminal activities in the US, that is a sure air ticket back to your motherland,” she says.

I had Kenya friends in the US who took their own lives,” adds Kanyi.

Francis Maina also tells his story. He explains how he was stuck in the US for 13 years and couldn’t invite his family after he overstayed his visa.

Asikoye Justus advises Kenyans who immigrate to the US to obey the law. “There is no short cut here. There are many people rotting in jail,” he says.

Film maker Kaba Kaba in action. PHOTO/COURTESY

The 37-minute long film is  written by Kaba Mbugua and the soundtrack is by Jabal Africa. Audio post-production is done by Kenyan thespian, Ndungi Githuku.

Watch it here courtesy of Kaba Kaba Films:

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Diaspora

Kenyans, Americans banned from travelling to Europe

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Visitors from Kenya are set to remain banned from entering any of the 31 European countries when borders reopen on July 1.

This is as President Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to open the skies in a bid to reawaken the tourism sector that has suffered a blow due to the Covid-19 pandemic.The European Union is expected to start lifting the internal border restrictions for its own citizens starting tomorrow in an attempt to save the European tourism season.But this will only apply to countries believed to be ‘safe’ of the highly-contagious coronavirus.

The list was drafted after assessing the epidemiological situation in the countries, their coronavirus response, the ability to apply containment measures during travel and whether or not they had lifted travel restrictions towards the EU, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.Kenya has so far recorded 6,190 cases and 144 deaths as of June 29.

The numbers have been on the rise in the month of June after the country increased the testing capacity on a daily basis.According to SchengenVisaInfo.com, only citizens from 14 countries will be allowed to enter Europe.The countries include; Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.The ban has also exempted citizens from the ‘unsafe countries’ who are already living in Europe.

equal travel deal for citizens from the European Union nations.Citizens from the United Kingdom have been exempted from the temporary travel restriction, and they will be treated in the same way as European Union nationals until the end of the Brexit transition period at the end of the year.

Americans have also been banned from travelling to the EU nations following the high number of coronavirus cases in the country.As of June 30, the country had recorded 2,682,011 and a total of 128,788 deaths since the onset of the outbreak.On Monday Reuters reported that California and Texas both marked record spikes in new Covid-19 infections as Los Angeles reported an “alarming” one-day surge in America’s second-largest city that put it over 100,000 cases.

In March, President Donald Trump suspended all people from Europe’s ID check-free travel zone, which include Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, from entering the US.The EU said the “safe list” will be reviewed every two weeks and adjusted depending on the latest Covid-19 developments in each country.

-Standardmedia.co.ke

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Africa

Kenya ‘raring to go’ on free trade deal with US, Uhuru says

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Kenya’s negotiations with the US on an unprecedented two-way trade deal are on schedule to begin on July 7 despite difficulties posed by the coro-navirus pandemic, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Friday.

“Our team is raring to go,” he assured an online forum sponsored by the Washington-based Corporate Council on Africa.Kenya is aiming to create “sustainable jobs for our people” through what would be the first bilateral free-trade agreement between a sub-Saharan country and the nation with the world’s biggest economy, the President added.

The US also has much to gain from concluding such an arrangement, Mr Kenyatta suggested.Kenya is part of a continent that “requires everything from toothbrushes to machine tooling,” he said.

Mr Kenyatta also sought to allay concerns that a bilateral deal with the US could undermine the African Con-tinental Free Trade Area that is due to be implemented at the start of 2021.The Africa-wide initiative is “very important to us,” the President said, noting that Kenya has worked hard to ensure its success.

He suggested that a Kenya-US bilateral pact can complement the continental trade agreement and could serve as a model to be replicated by other individual countries.

“If we are successful in these negotiations, Kenya can act as a lead or guide,” the President said. “We will be the guinea pig so that many other African countries can follow suit.”

But Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo, who also spoke at Friday’s forum, said the US has paid more attention to the possibility of a bilateral deal with Kenya than to the multilateral Africa trade agreement that will soon come into force.

While hailing the significance of a US-Kenya trade deal, Mr Akufo-Addo lamented that “the emphasis of America on exploring opportunities on the continent has not been quite as intense as some of us would have wished.”

Florizelle Liser, chief executive of the Corporate Council on Africa, said in an interview following the forum that the US has in fact worked to facilitate the Africa-wide trade agreement.A bilateral deal with Kenya is not an impediment to Africa’s efforts to forge a multilateral free-trade grouping, she added. The US side “understands that Kenya is part of the EAC,” Ms Liser said.

“They’re already looking at ways they can pull in other East African countries.”It could take as long as two years to conclude a Kenya-US trade deal, she added.

President Kenyatta noted in his remarks to the forum that Kenya was especially keen to start bilateral negoti-ations with the US because the existing multilateral preferential trade package known as Agoa is due to expire in 2025.

But President Akufo-Addo is not prepared to acquiesce to that projected termination date for Agoa. African countries that have benefited from Agoa should “look at the possibility of extending it,” he said.

Ms Liser, whose 27-year-old association includes most US companies operating in Africa, pointed out that it is up to the US Congress to decide whether Agoa’s scheduled expiration in five years will actually come to pass.The still-spreading pandemic is in-tensifying Africa’s need for increased trade and investment, the Kenyan and Ghanaian heads of state agreed.

Kenya managed to save many lives through swift implementation of virus-containment measures, Mr Kenyatta noted.

But, he acknowledged, those moves led to a sharp economic contraction and widespread loss of livelihoods.President Akufo-Addo pointed out that Ghana has recorded one of the lowest virus-related death rates in the world.His country has counted 15,473 cases of coronavirus, resulting in 95 deaths.Kenya has reported only about one-third as many cases but has seen 135 lives lost to the pandemic.

At the same time, Kenya Airways (KQ), grounded for the past three months by the coronavirus pandemic, will resume domestic flights in “the next couple of days,” President Kenyatta said.

The return to in-country service will coincide with the lifting of Kenya’s lockdown on travel between counties, Mr Kenyatta noted.The government will soon set a date for KQ to resume flying internationally, the President added.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure we are back in the skies,” Mr Kenyatta said.“We’re eager to open up, but we have to make sure we all stay safe.”

The President’s announcement came on the same day that KQ chief executive Allan Kilavuka revealed that the airline has lost an estimated $100 million so far this year due to the pandemic and related lockdowns.Losses could approach $500 million by the end of 2020, Mr Kilavuka added.KQ had been struggling financially long before the coronavirus emerged.

It lost about $122 million in 2019, compared to $71 million the previous year.

By Sunday Nation.

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Business

Guide on How to shop at Maasai market

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One of the most interesting things about this market is that it’s held at different locations within town every day.

Monday- There’s no market on this day

Tuesday-Kijabe street (CBD)

Wednesday- Capital center

Thursday -Junction mall

Friday-village market

Saturday-Court of appeal parking

Sunday- Yaya center (CBD)

  • At each of these locations, the market runs from 8.00 am to 7.00 pm.

Pro tips

  • Prices differ depending on location, you get things cheapest on the days the market is in CBD rather than at village market or Yaya center which are high-end shopping centers.
  • Visit the market around evening hours, you get things at a cheaper price this time compared to lunch hours.

Goods to get here

  • There’s a variety of things you can get here, all from deep Maasai land, here are some:
  1. Maasai sandals
  2. Shukas (African shows)
  3. Kiondos ( African reed-made baskets)
  4. Artwork, sculptures, and carvings
  5. Other types of bead objects such as jewelry and belts

User submitted photo of Nairobi

User submitted photo of Nairobi

User submitted photo of Nairobi

User submitted photo of Nairobi

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