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Kenyans abroad: Why some won’t go home for Christmas

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Growing up in Ombeyi village in Kisumu County, Nick Ogutu, a Kenyan resident of New York, always looked forward to the December holidays when long-lost relatives and villagers who lived in big cities returned home for Christmas.

“It was the only time I could  drink a soda at the local market because my cousin who lives in Nairobi was giving me a treat. It was also the time  you’d spot me in either new attire, or a used but decent one given to me by my cousins,” said Mr Ogutu in a recent interview.

He remembers not just his excitement when city dwellers returned to the village for the festivities but also how local shopkeepers experienced booming business.

“The local economy would be boosted by the high-spending ‘watu wa Nairobi’ (city people), who wanted to fix their houses, pay last respects to those buried in their absence, and organise parties for family and friends,” said Mr Ogutu.

MOVED ABROAD

Later, Mr Ogutu and other villagers moved abroad either to study or work in places they now regard as their second homes. A number of them have maintained the ritual of travelling back to Kenya for the festive season. However, the situation is different this year.

Like many other Kenyans living abroad, Mr Ogutu is not planning to travel to Ombeyi to be with his village folks for one simple reason — the prevailing unpredictable political situation in Kenya has not only been discouraging but also scary.

Kenya has just gone through the longest electioneering period in recent memory. Two presidential elections within three months due to the landmark September 1 Supreme Court ruling, which nullified President Kenyatta’s win in the August 8 elections. The street protests and clashes with police have left many people dead and maimed.

From a logistical standpoint, observed Mr David Ogega, a Kenyan resident of Atlanta, Georgia, Kenyans make travel arrangements months in advance.

CHEAPER

“Airline tickets are generally cheaper when booked in advance, especially the months of September and October. Time off and from work is predictable,” said Mr Ogega, who is the Diaspora Conference chairman.

Mr Ogega noted that the protracted electioneering season as a result of the Supreme Court ruling and the subsequent election on October 26 created an unprecedented level of uncertainty in the country and many Kenyans abroad were not sure about their safety when they return home.

“The violence and threat of more violence scared many of them away. In fairness, it appears that normalcy may be returning as we enter the holiday season and there is a chance we will see an uptick in last-minute travellers,” he said.

As for Mr Jacktone Ambuka, a Kenyan resident of New Jersey, the prevailing political situation in Kenya has been fluid and unpredictable.

DISPUTED ELECTION

“In the wake of a disputed election coupled with reluctance by President Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga to jumpstart genuine dialogue that can unite citizens, Kenya’s political stability, which serves as a foundation for economic and social prosperity, remains uncertain,” he said.

Mr Ambuka added that the mood on the ground makes it hard not only for the people to interact without reservations but also complicates matters for visitors who are not sure about their security.

He noted that the Christmas celebrations in Kenya are unlikely to have a traditional excitement that evokes good feelings.

CELEBRATE

“A significant number of people have got nothing to celebrate following the destruction of their property and deaths of loved ones during political protests. The real spirit of Kenyan Christmas was diluted by  political circumstances,” noted the political analyst.

Mr Festus Kasyoka Mbuva, a Kenyan resident of Lowell, Massachusetts, shares this feeling. “I think the disputed elections have really hurt our collective Kenyan identity. You could say there’s deep mistrust and uncertainty floating around,” he said.

Mr Mbuva said many Kenyans living abroad were not making “bold and wide-ranging investments” as usual and are also not eager to fly home to flaunt their Kenyan pride.

“This, in the end, will deeply impact the economy and bruise the Kenyan identity further. It’s the boomerang effect of a dysfunctional leadership,” he said.

-Chris Wamalwa, nation.co.ke

 

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Africa

SA-based Kenyan journalist Christine Esipisu speaks to VOA on the unrest in the country

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BY BMJ MURIITHI
The situation in North West province of South Africa escalated Friday as violence mounted on the third day of riots that paralyzed the city of Mahikeng as the locals protested against corruption, lack of jobs, hospitals and better living conditions, among other things.
It got so volatile that it forced the country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to cancel his engagements at this year’s Commonwealth Summit in London, where he was also pitching to multinational investors with a message that “S Africa is open for business.” He had to hurriedly return home to try and contain the situation in the town that is about 300 km West  of Johannesburg.
For three days in a row, crowds had taken to the streets in and around the capital of the province  calling for the resignation of the territory’s premier Supra Mahumapeloa.
In recent weeks, unions and businessmen in the region have been calling for Mahumapelo to resign over allegations of corruption in the award of state tenders but he has denied any wrongdoing.
Speaking to Voice of America’s Harrison Kamau Friday, Ms Christine Esipisu, a South Africa-based journalist said the premier was being accused of corrupt tendencies.
She said that upon arrival from London, Mr Ramaphosa went straight into meetings with the local leaders in an attempt to quell the situation.
“Soon after arrival in the Northwest Province, to try and quell an outbreak of violent protests that forced him to cut short a visit to a Commonwealth summit,” She said. “
“He is holding meetings with officials to discuss the demonstrations against corruption, poor public services and the local government which is led by a member of his ruling African National Congress (ANC),” she added.
Listen to VOA’s Harrison Kamau as he  interviews South Africa-based Christine Esipisu on the radio show, “Indepth:

“We want the president to tell Supra he must go. That man is full of corruption,” 25-year-old Oratile Seadira, a construction worker who lives in a shack on the outskirts of Mahikeng, was quoted  as saying.

Ramaphosa, who replaced Jacob Zuma as president in February, has staked his reputation on rooting out the corruption and mismanagement associated with Zuma’s nine scandal-plagued years in power. His critics have however accused him of abetting the vice by “appointing people who have been accused of corruption into his cabinet.”

“We have nothing. No houses. No good schools. No hospital. People are saying they will burn the city if he doesn’t go.” The streets around him were quiet as Ramaphosa arrived.

 

Miriam Visage, 52, told the media that she and other South Africans in the region had been neglected.

“We have been neglected. We want Cyril Ramaphosa to come and see how we live, to scramble in the mud like us,” She said.

She added that she lives in a two room township house with her six children and seven grandchildren.

“The ANC is full of empty promises,” said Visage, accusing the police of firing live rounds during the protests. “We were very peaceful. Do they think we are wild animals to be shot?”

South Africa-based Kenyan-born journalist, Christine Esipisu. She spoke to VOA’s Harrison Kamau about the escalating situation in Nort West Province. PHOTO/COURTESY

 

 

 

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Africa

I truly love my 54 year old American boyfriend, says 21 year old Kenyan woman

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A Kenyan student in the United States is the subject of discussion after her relationship with her American boyfriend became a trending topic over their age-gap.

Speaking to Mail Online, Rehab Kimani, 21, said she met Joe Singiser, 54, through work at a nursing home in New Jersey.

 A student and home health aide, Rehab said that her friends got disgusted by her choice of boyfriend. They even stopped her from talking about her man whenever she was around them

“I thought he was very attractive and immediately wanted him,” she revealed. “I really liked his big muscles and that everyone at work was afraid of him.”

Rehab with Joe [Courtesy]

Rehab also reveals that despite being very comfortable on their first date, it was hard for her to deal with the way her family reacted as they did not take it positively.

“I just see him as my boyfriend and my best friend. If anything, the difference is that I take this relationship as more serious than previous ones. It took everyone a long time, but they are finally understanding of us being together.” She said.

Mr Singiser is a father of four and Rehab’s supervisor at work. He says he was ‘startled’ when he got interested in his younger employee but opted to press on with the relationship because he knew it was true love.

He says he noticed her beautiful smile from the across the room and would find excuses to come out of his office just to see her.

[Courtesy]

Rehab says that she no longer sees the age difference. However, they do draw looks from strangers on the streets.

“We get looks while in public all the time,” she said. “Someone even came up to me once and said I should be ashamed of myself because I just want his money. I did get sensitive, but I just walked away.”

The couple, who have been together for a year now, lives together and are planning on starting a family together having started discussing the possibility of marriage and having children.

-Standard

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Africa

VIDEO: US Senator angers Kenyans for saying Facebook user-agreement is written in Swahili

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BY BMJ MURIITHI

Louisiana Senator, John Kennedy, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee has pricked the ego of many Kenyans – and indeed that of other Swahili speakers – and left them very disappointed over his utterances.

This after he spoke in derogatory terms while answering a question during an interview with Kennedy  on popular Talk Show “Face the Nation” on CBS.

He was speaking about Facebook and its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg who appeared before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees on Tuesday before heading to the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

An apparently angry Sen. Kennedy took issue with the tech giant’s end user agreement which he said was written in a language nobody understands.

“The service agreement with Facebook….It is written in Swahili. Nobody understands it,” said the lawmaker.

Below is the verbatim part of the transcript:

KENNEDY: “It may be the case. I would rather do it with Facebook and the other social media platforms. Look, we’ve got to talk about the initial bargain. Is it, is it fair for me to give up all of my personal data to Facebook and apparently everybody else in the Western Hemisphere in exchange for me being able to see what some of my high school buddies had for dinner Saturday night? Who, who owns my data? Do I own it or does Facebook own it? The service agreement with Facebook. It’s written in Swahili. Nobody understands it. Should I have the right to to opt in as opposed to opt out — put the burden on Facebook? Should I have the right to erase my data? Should I have the right to demand that Facebook get my permission before it sells the data? We all know that poison is being spread on social media, not just Facebook. How are we going to stop it? And by the way while we’re talking about that — what’s poison? First Amendment concerns.”

Reaction on social media was swift, most of it on Facebook.

Kinyuajk wrote: Haya ni madharau ya aina gani sasa?

KanyuaRose wrote: “Mr Senator, I do understand Swahili and I am not a nobody. Shape up.

JoeOketch: Kumbe lose mouth pia ziko Marekani. Did he really have to say that?

Maulidi Juma wrote the following on Instagram: Is he serious that nobody understands Swahili. How derogatory?

Wakesho wroite: Of all the languages amechagua Kiswahili kutuchafulia jina not long after Trump reportedly called us sh**holes? Ngoja tu ataonana na Wakenya.

Watch the video below courtesy of CBS:

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