Connect with us

Diaspora

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

Published

on

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:

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Diaspora

Kenyan MP wanted by US authorities for escaping jail term over tax evasion

Published

on

A Member of Parliament who is serving his first term is a wanted man in the US.

Nation has established that Fafi MP Abdikarim Osman Mohamed is on the radar of US authorities over a crime he was sentenced for in 2015.

US media reported that in 2015, the lawmaker was sentenced to 18 months in jail over tax evasion.

He had been charged with 32 counts of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns totaling Ksh61 million.

According to reports, the Criminal Investigation Unit of the US Internal Revenue Service, conducted three undercover operations to catch the MP red-handed.

Planted spies posed as clients who wanted to consult Mohamed and have him prepare their Federal Income Tax Returns for 2007.

He prepared the documents but for each of the spies he was consulting for, he falsely reduced the tax due, resulting in fraudulent tax returns.

After he was arrested, Mohammed entered into a plea bargain with the prosecutors and implicated his accomplice, Yahya Sheikh, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Nation also established that due to fear being arrested, the MP turned down an opportunity to travel to the US with the National Assembly Energy Committee in April 2019.

The daily’s efforts at reaching the legislator were futile as he was said to be in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland attending some national celebrations.

Fafi MP Abdikarim Osman Mohamed speaking during a forum in Garissa County on 09/02/19

SOURCE-Kenyans.co.ke

Continue Reading

Diaspora

VIDEO: Amb Githae cautions Kenyans in US against DUI, Domestic violence

The Kenyan ambassador to the United States, Robinson Njeru Githae, has cautioned Kenyans living in the United States against breaking the laws of the host country.

Published

on

BY BMJ MURIITHI

Mr Githae singled out Driving Under the influence (DUI) which he said was common among Kenyans in some US cities.

“Refrain from drunk driving….Hapa mkono wa sheria ukikupata umekupata (the arm of the law here is very effective),” he said recently when he addressed attendees of this year’s Atlanta Majuu Cultural festival held in Atlanta, Georgia.

He also warned against domestic violence noting that such acts are taken very seriously by law enforcers in the US.

“Whatever you do, don’t break the laws of your host country. Ni vizuri kuacha tabia zingine (let us discard some of these habits)” he added.

In recent years, cases of Kenyans who have been arrested for DUI which have sometimes led to the discovery of other previous crimes and misdemeanors have been on the rise, at a time when the the US Immigration and Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agency has stepped up its enforcement and eventual deportations.

For drivers 21 years or older in most US States, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is illegal. For drivers under 21 years old, the legal limit is lower, with state limits ranging from 0.00 to 0.02.

Lower BAC limits apply when operating boats, airplanes, or commercial vehicles. Among other names, the criminal offense of drunk driving may be called DUI, driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI), operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OVI), or operating while impaired (OWI).

The penalties for drunk driving vary among states and jurisdictions. It is not uncommon for the penalties to be different from county to county within any given state depending on the practices of the individual jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions require jail time and larger fines, even on a first offense.

For instance, Ohio requires a mandatory 72-hour jail sentence for a first offense conviction; however, the jail time component is satisfied by attendance of the Ohio A.W.A.R.E. Program, which is a 72-hour alcohol-education program.

For the most part, DUI or DWI are synonymous terms that represent the criminal offense of operating (or in some jurisdictions merely being in physical control of) a motor vehicle while being under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination of both.

There have also been instances where spouses have engaged in domestic violence with most of them ending up in jail or even facing deportation.

Githae commended the organisers of the festival, led by Rev Dr GG Gitahi of Kenyan American Community Church.

Thousands of people, including renowned Kenyan gospel artistes, graced the annual event which – for the first time in the five years it has been running -was held at the Cobb County Civic Center in the heart of Marietta, Georgia.

The envoy, who has since been named as the new ambassador to Austria, promised to help make the event bigger and better.

“This is very impressive and we should not stop here. We are going to make sure that other communities in the US participate next year,” he said.

[The video will post here as soon as the processing is done. Check back soon]

In the meantime, enjoy the photos courtesy of David King’ang’i of DKK Photography:

PHOTOS COURTESY OF DKK PHOTOGRAPHY

Continue Reading

Business

VIDEO: I failed and didn’t even make it to High School but look at me now, says media mogul SK Macharia

Published

on

Royal Media Services Chairman Samuel Kamau Macharia (SK) has disclosed that he did not do well in Primary School hence couldn’t make the cut to join High School.

Speaking during a prize-giving ceremony at Kahuhia Girls High School on Saturday, the billionaire businessman told the students that they can achieve anything if they put their mind to it.

Ha also disclosed that he worked as sweeper in the US in a bid to raise college tuition. Watch:

Samuel Kamau Macharia (born 1942, also known as S. K. Macharia) is the Kenyan Founder and Chairman of Royal Media Services, arguably the largest private radio and television network in Eastern Africa. Its flagship outlets are Citizen TV and Radio Citizen. In 2012, he was on a top 10 list by Forbes magazine of African millionaires to watch. Macharia was on the 2013 Africa Report of the 50 most influential Africans. He was honoured with the 2015 Eastern Africa Ernst and YoungEntrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award.

Macharia joined Standard 1 in 1954 at Ndakaini Primary School. He was thereafter admitted at Gituru Intermediate School where he sat for the Kenya African Preliminary Examination (KAPE) in 1958. He taught as an untrained primary school teacher at Makomboki Primary School for a year before joining Kahuhia Teachers Training College. A two-year course at the college would see him qualify as a trained teacher (P3) and he was subsequently posted to Gituru Primary School in 1961.

He applied for the Kennedy Airlifts and was accepted in the 1962 group. His family could not however raise the 4,000 shillings required for the plane ticket to the United States. He could only raise 1,200 shillings and had to travel for nearly 2 months by road from Kenya to Benghazi, Libya, where he took a ship to England and then a flight to the USA.

On arrival, he enrolled in Seattle Technical College and completed his high school education two years later. Macharia would later a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Seattle Pacific University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Washington. He would then complete a Master of Science in Accounting/Finance, a Master of Arts in Accounting and was certified as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Continue Reading

Trending

error: Content is protected !!