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Kenyans residing in the US narrate unique, dramatic poll experiences

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As events of the United States elections unfold, thousands of Kenyans living in America have had first-hand experience.

There are some who have had a front-row seat to dramatic events.

For nearly two decades, Kenyan-born Henry Ongeri has resided in the US, working as an attorney in the states of Minnesota and New York. As an attorney, Ongeri is also a managing partner at a law firm that focuses on legal needs of American immigrants.

Since immigrating to the US, Ongeri tells the Sunday Standard that he has actively participated in the country’s elections.

In 2004, he worked on a Political Action Committee supporting the election of John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate for that election, and his running mate, John Edwards.

Before that, he had participated in the re-election campaign of the late Senator Paul Wellstone.

Ongeri also reveals that he played an active role in the election of former US President Barack Obama.

“I do not know any African immigrant who was not involved in both Obama elections in 2008 and 2012,” he says.

But having experienced about five presidential elections until now, Ongeri says the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections have been distinctly unique.

“I cannot definitively say why. It seems like the American experiment itself is on the ballot,” he says. However, he also narrates that in the run-up to the election, racial tensions have reverberated across America, particularly in his city, Minneapolis, following the infamous killing of George Floyd, leading to protests that have continued until now.

“My hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, happens to be the city where George Floyd was murdered. Racial tensions and police brutality reverberated throughout the campaign and elections. Protests in and around Minneapolis have been ongoing ever since. November 3 most likely increased the crowd sizes,” Ongeri says, adding that the protests have been largely peaceful.

Prof Masibo Lumala, who has been in the US for more than a year now, working as a visiting professor at Purdue University’s School of Communication in Indiana, says the 2020 US election has recorded immense interest and excitement.

Quite different

However, he says the election has been different from previous ones.

“This year has been unique. The majority of Democrats voted early, whereas many Republicans voted on the final day of polling,” Prof Lumala says.

He says there were major differences in the campaign styles of Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

While Biden mainly campaigned via drive-in rallies and digital campaigns such as through TV ads in light of Covid-19, Prof Lumala says Trump continued holding crowded rallies in disregard to Covid-19.

Witnessing the elections in Indiana, where Prof Lumala currently resides, has been an interesting experience.

He notes that not only is Indiana a red State, the term coined for a US state that predominantly supports or votes for the Republican Party, it is also the home state of Trump’s running mate Vice President Mike Pence, where he was a governor between 2013 and 2017.

Prof Lumala also notes that Indiana is largely a rural and Christian State, additional factors that contributed to Trump winning the State by 57.1 per cent.

For Stephen Nduati, a Kenyan immigrant currently enrolled in a nursing programme at the Oklahoma State University in the US, the waiting period has been relatively calm in his state, Oklahoma.

“Trump won by a landslide here in Oklahoma. There weren’t protests here because the election was declared free and fair,” says Nduati, adding that protests have mostly been recorded in the swing States, where vote counting is still ongoing.

Nduati, who has lived in the US for two years, observes that Americans are not as emotionally attached to politics as Kenyans.

“Things are normal even as we wait for the election results. People are just following the process online and on TV as they go about their business,” he says.

The three US residents also point out what they term as ‘major’ differences in the election styles of Kenya and the US.

“Candidates don’t really hold election rallies here. People are also divided along party lines in the US, unlike Kenya where people are allied to specific personalities and move with those candidates even when they switch parties,” Prof Lumala says.

The three Kenyans also express surprise at the failure of the opinion polls to correctly predict the outcome of the election.

“There is a generalised sense of anxiety and apprehension across the US. Though pre-November 3, opinion polls predicted a landslide victory for former Vice-President Biden, the results have mirrored the 2016 elections when the pollsters were off the mark and did not capture the reality of a Trump presidency. Personally, I am not surprised that Trump would end up being a one-term president. More surprising is how close a contest it ended up becoming. That nearly 70 million Americans are willing to retain Trump for another term boggles the mind,” notes Ongeri.

Prof Lumala also says the race between Biden and Trump, which defied poll predictions, casts light on whether opinion polls are necessary, even in Kenya, noting that they only inflame passions. Ultimately, some residents opine that perhaps, the 2020 elections have put the US democracy to test.

“In the past, systems have worked but because of Covid-19, many people voted early, causing delays in vote counting,” says Prof Lumala.

Under a Biden presidency, the residents expect immigrants, including Kenyans, to have it easier moving to the US.

Change of guard

“As a practitioner, I regularly witness the practical consequences of the change of guard at the White House. The list is long, but of particular note are increased deportations, general anti-immigrant sentiment, heightened scrutiny, and closed borders.

“There are expectations that a Biden administration would return the US to the more “normal” standing in the world,” says Ongeri.

Nduati, on the other hand, anticipates a minor effect of the outcome of the election on immigrants already in the US, noting that there are already established rules protecting legal immigrants.

Prof Lumala says the outcome of the election will likely have a minor impact on US-Kenya relations.

by Standardmedia.co.ke


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Business

How I made my first million

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At what age did you make your first million? 

I was 19.

How did you make it? 

I was running a creative design and printing agency. I bid for and won an order to design and print marketing materials for a global NGO which has offices in Kenya.

How did you spend or invest it? 

I re-invested most of it into the business by buying more machinery to reduce costs associated with outsourcing. I also set up a new business with a friend – a movie shop in Nairobi CBD.

The biggest money mistake you have ever made? 

Setting up the movie shop was the greatest money mistake – but I picked up two of the greatest business lessons. One, to never divest too early, and only invest in a business you understand well.

What is the best investment you have ever made?

 I would say investing in myself and in my exposure through travel. Travel has made me see endless possibilities for innovating new products, business models and solutions in the African market. A combination of the international exposure and strong local market understanding is priceless.

What is the worst purchase you have ever made? 

The movie shop. I bought a ready business that I did not understand and it went crumbling down. We eventually closed it a few months later.

If you had a spare million or two, where would you invest it right now?

I would invest it in my current business – a software technology company. This is because I believe the business has potential to become a great success.

What is the biggest money lesson you have learnt about growing it and making it work for you? 

Initially, we all have to work for money. However, I have learnt that the wealthy person has learnt how to make money work for them, through consistently investing what one earns.

Where do you learn about finances? 

I read a lot of books about real success stories from entrepreneurs because I believe entrepreneurship is a great way to create wealth, while creating value in the society. I also stay curious to learn about different investment vehicles because I know I shouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket.

Any financial myths you think should be busted? 

Money is not the root of all evil; greed may be. Money is a good thing because it can create freedom and prosperity, if well spent.

What two personal finance rules do you follow? 

Live within your means; and work to make money as a tool to accomplish real goals. Real goals are not just about making “enough” money, because it is almost impossible to define “enough.”

Investing or saving…Which one carries more weight?

Investing. However, they go hand to hand as saving to invest is acceptable.

One can get rich easily… but how does one stay rich? 

By constantly making calculated investment risks, and always striving to be wealthy, not rich.


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Lifestyle

Foul smell leads to recovery of couple

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Crime Scene Tape
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Decomposing bodies of a couple that has been missing for more than a week were found in their house in Laini centre off the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, yesterday.

A foul smell emanating from the house of the 72-year-old-man and his wife, 62, led to their recovery. Police have launched investigations into the incident.

There were conflicting reports about the deaths with some claiming that the two were murdered while others suspected that they could have died of carbon monoxide emitted from a jiko.

Police declined to give names of the deceased until the next of kin are informed. Emotions ran high as locals viewed the bodies.

A village elder, Moses Mwathi, revealed that the couple was working in a quarry before they went missing.

Mwathi said neighbours thought that they had travelled to their rural home but got concerned after a foul smell started emanating from their house.

“On checking they noticed that the house was locked from inside and the bodies could be seen lying on their bed,” he said.

Police gained access into the house after breaking the door. The bodies were taken to the mortuary

Naivasha OCPD Samuel Waweru said initial investigations pointed to carbon monoxide poisoning from a jiko.

“We can’t, however, rule out murder at this moment and only a post-mortem examination will establish the real cause of the death,” said the police boss.

And in the nearby Kinungi village, a 35-year-old farmworker committed suicide by hanging himself in a house.

The body was found by his employer before police were called in. Jim Kimani, a friend to the deceased, said he was in low spirits over debts.

“He claimed that some people he owed money were harassing him but we never thought that he would commit suicide,” Kimani said.

by Standardmedia.co.ke


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Business

LET’S HOLD HANDS WITH OPTIVEN FOUNDATION

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By helping someone achieve their dream,
You are well on your way to achieving your own dream!

Together with partners like you, the Optiven Foundation is changing one life at a time, by reaching the most vulnerable and meeting their needs. Because the needs are growing daily, we are open to hold hands with you and make our world a better place. Make your donation to Optiven Foundation via Paybill 898 630, Account name: Mobility

For more info, call us on +254 718 77 60 33 or info@optivenfoundation.org
www.optivenfoundation.org
#TransformingLives
#RestoringDignityof Senior citizens
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