Guest Post: Acolyte from My Part of the World


icon for podpress  Introduction by Mwangi - Acolyte from My part of the world [1:17m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

1)The West Has Many Distractions: Focus on That Which Is Important Not That Which Is Urgent

2) Acolyte’s fascinating post on the Dutch missionaries (It’s a three parter and it’s amazing)

A lot of people think coming to the West is a light at the end of a tunnel when a lot of the times it's just the begining of another tunnel

The Post Begins Like This……..

Mwangi got in touch with me and asked me to do a guest post. It’s been a minute and a half since I’ve done one, so I dusted off my blogging skills and asked him what he wanted me to blog about and here it is…………

If you could offer anyone migrating over to the West one piece of advice that would make their experience worthwhile what would it be?

Well my answer would be,

“Ask yourself 3 very important questions; Why are you here? What do you want here? How do you intend to get it?”

Why are you here?

Getting to the First World country of choice isn’t an end in itself but a means to an end (Quick note from Mwangi: Hallelujah!Spot on!).

You don’t land at Gatwick, La Guardia, Schipol or Darwin International Airport and find 70 virgins and paradise waiting for you. Au contraire all you have done is gotten past the qualification laps and now the marathon awaits you!

So once again, ask yourself why you are where you are. If all you can say is that you are getting away from the conditions at home be it unemployment, poverty etc then it’s about time you went back to the drawing board and started thinking.

What do you want from your experience abroad?

I’m sure we all remember the old saying, to fail to plan is to plan to fail.

I have met Kenyans who have been out here for over 10 years and we are on the same level. I do know that bad luck happens but if you look at some people it’s obvious that they became complacent with their jobs that could pay the rent and their bills.

Once you fall into that complacence out here you simply become a cog in the machine: just moving but not going anywhere.

If you don’t know what you want you simply aren’t going to look for it. “Life out here isn’t a bed of roses,”, I agree so you have to be aggressive and look out for opportunities no matter what jaded people out here may tell you.

How do you intend to get what brought you out here?

You want the American dream?

That’s great but contrary to public opinion, money isn’t picked on the ground out here. Jobs are hard to come by for Americans let alone foreigners.

Or maybe you came out here to get your degree.

If your fees aren’t being paid; how will you afford school?

Many countries let students work for limited hours per month. Many Kenyans have found out the hard way that these jobs don’t pay enough for fees and upkeep and so hard choices have been made. It took me 3 years to get out here but in taking my time to plan, I got my Master’s degree funded and a cozy monthly allowance that helped me complete my degree in less than 2 years. Had I come out here earlier, rest assured I would still be plugging away.

Take charge of your destiny

More on a Personal Note

Yes I’ve gone waaaaaaaay past one piece of advice but since it’s free I might as well share. I also think that you need to have a very strong resolve if you are to make it abroad.

Society out here tends to be very individualistic and not communal like Africa; so your problems are your own; no-one else’s. Even if you have Kenyan friends out here, life gets very lonely because everyone has jobs.In fact some people have more than one so you may not see them for most of the week. Add to the fact that you don’t just drop into someone’s place to say hello unlike back home.

Last but Not Least

The most important thing you can have when you get out here is focus. There are one million and one distractions and obstacles out here.

That is why many people who get here never even get in school when they are dazzled by the things out here. That’s why you need focus and if possible get a good support group of friends who you can rely on and trust.

Anyway, I’m not trying to put anyone off but telling it like it is. With hard work and resolve, there are many opportunities available out here for those who want them. So if you are coming out here, I wish you all the best in your adventure!


From My part of the world

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  • By majonzi, May 1, 2008 @ 7:29 am

    Great advise! About funding your school- best thing sell your brain. Apply for scholarships. It is easier to get it than you think. I think what people get caught up in are the distractions that Aco refers to. It is not necessary to drive a brand new car or have brand new furniture in your apartment/flat. Folks get caught up in that and spend unnecessary moneys living large. Live like a student. I rode the bus and bike in good weather. Lol, I still live cheap so I might not be the best to address spending money on furniture, cars and such.


  • By Gal africana, May 1, 2008 @ 9:47 am

    What astounds me, is the level of unpreparedness among parents and their apparent willingness to send their kids abroad with no idea of what it entails. Many leave Kenya while still in their late teens and early twenties, and lets face it, advice about being focused and hardworking can seem daunting for some at that age…unless of course the parents have done their job of counselling their kids. Most of my friends parents, mine included, just shipped them off to “school” abroad without even having a single clue of what their children would be studying…it’s like sending kids abroad is end all answer…just ship them off, that’s it, and they come back minting their own money. They’ll even make the mistake of not talking economics, and adopt a “fly by the seat of your pants attitude” expecting their children to go from a having everything figured out in Kenya (as they usually are) to figuring things out by themselves, overnight! No guidance or counselling at all. It astounds me to this day! That’s why this blog needs a shout out at home!!!

  • By Mwangi, May 1, 2008 @ 1:55 pm

    @majonzi: Btw! Scholarships! I think I should definitely do some investigation on that and post it up on my blog.
    By the way you brought up a fantastic point. What is with students who are working 7 days a week and have hardly any social lives deciding that their homes need 61 inch plasma screens and they should buy 10,000 dollar cars on plan? For what?! If you believe that your education is your ticket to money then cut down on the work so you can focus at school, and then begin accumulating these luxury items once you are out in the work force – though even then, some people in the work force end up in the same work cycle of working 7 days a week to buy cars they never have time to show off. Anyway I can do a whole post on this….heck in the near future I think I will.
    Welcome back to my home; tea or coffee? Do you want biscuits or mandazi? ;)

  • By Mwangi, May 1, 2008 @ 1:59 pm

    @gal: Though it must be said that even my family had the exact same approach when we all shipped off, no preparation or thought or training (me thinks brief courses in immigration skills should be taught throughout Africa…..hmmm, maybe the Displaced African can branch out into that) but at least we had each other.
    I have full intention of promoting this blog back home and similar blogs because I agree, some people come here with no knowledge and training in the skills necessary to succeed and thrive in a place like this. If you know anyone coming over feel free to share some of the links to this blog because some people walk around as though they are permanently aiming a gun at their foot and shooting themselves over and over and over and over again.

  • By majonzi, May 1, 2008 @ 2:18 pm

    a guy, mandazi and tea will do just fine :)

    @gal- so true! Btw, I know many folks don’t like the idea, but having a host family (even if you live on campus) for the first couple of years helps. I don’t know if this is relevant to this thread, lakini I see some very disturbing trends where a young kid comes to the States and folks who have been here longer refer them to their jobbo (mostly nursing homes coz whoever recruits new employes is paid anything from $500 to $1000)… punde si punde this newbie is doing double and triple shifts. Ala! Terrible precedent set right there.

    A host family and hanging out with other international students on campus and away will make you learn so much about the system and workings of your new country! Try it.

    Mwangi, I think you should do more than write blogs, consider writing a book, and even working with the Ministry of Education in getting this word out. (lol, moneymaking ideas!)

  • By Mwangi, May 1, 2008 @ 2:43 pm

    @majonzi: Done! Though unfortunately I can’t do much about the guy situation, I don’t keep any spares in my closet ;)
    About host families; that’s why I said that having a guide is the most important tip, especially if it’s a family. Not only do they show you the dos and donts but they also hold you accountable (though of course a lot of students don’t want this).
    I think I would pull my hair out, and it’s not like I have excess hair, if I worked at the Ministry though I def see the branching out potential.

  • By Té la mà Maria, May 1, 2008 @ 6:21 pm

    very good blog, congratulations
    regard from Catalonia Spain
    thank you

  • By Mwangi, May 1, 2008 @ 6:30 pm

    Thank you Te la ma Maria. Some of the images in your blog are absolutely breathtaking, and some very scary :)

  • By sokari, May 1, 2008 @ 10:04 pm

    wow i just posted a comment which is gone. i was advising you to use share this and sphere this for your social bookmarking – much better way of sharing stuff and also suggested you join and get your blog posts auto published on twitter. also join mybloglog.

    if you need any help let me know and i can chat you through.

  • By acolyte, May 1, 2008 @ 10:06 pm

    @ Mwangi
    Thanks for the big up and the shout out! I do agree with your post on distractions, the prize isnt worth being distracted from!
    Sadly too many Kenyans out here get caught up in the credit trap in their goal to be the ones with whatever is biggest, brightest and newest. But yes fams do need to give their kids thorough counselling before shipping them off to the cold hard West. Sad thing is that Kenyans they meet out there arent offering them any help of note too half the time.
    Anyway I do hope the message of this blog gets out to some young folk who can use it before they go down.
    Have a nice day!

  • By Sunny, May 1, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

    @Aco: Great advice if I ever saw any. Having come to the US, I believe that there are too many who were shipped over and then, thrown into the deep end cannot cater for themselves. I returned last year and tried to tell some people who wanted to come that they should consider the financial implications of coming to the US, however, it was taken by their parents that I was trying to discourage their dreams. I left them alone when it seemed clear that the people and their families were not interested in hearing about the pitfalls of trying to come here and find work to pay for school etc.
    Honestly, people have a widespread mentality that coming to the US is a bed of roses. Flying out(with no forethought) is still happening, and like Aco, there are those whose advice will fall on deaf ears. Thanks for the good article. We want more ACO blogs!

  • By Mwangi, May 1, 2008 @ 10:13 pm

    @sokari: Hey, thanks for the tips. I am already a member of mybloglog; how can i take advantage of that? How can I get my posts auto-published on twitter? Do you honestly think Sphere is the best social bookmarking site for me to submit my articles?
    In short-yes I need some help :)

  • By Mwangi, May 1, 2008 @ 10:17 pm

    @Aco: It is kinda sad when you look at a peer group in the West and it’s simply a case of the blind leading the blind.
    I think if there is one thing I can encourage everyone reading this to do. If you know someone who has just landed abroad, sit them down and tell them what they need to hear to succeed. Let’s pay the good stuff forward and make sure none of the negative or irrelevant nonsense gets in the ear of the newbies. That way we’ll improve with each successive wave of immigrants and five waves down they’ll be the one writing blogs advising me :D

  • By seinlife, May 2, 2008 @ 1:59 am

    Another excellent post – good pointers @acolyte et. al. I especially wish more of the immigrant community would ignore all the distractions placed before them. The one reason i can attribute this to is the level of maturity of recent immigrants. They are coming to the new world at much younger ages than they did before. Frankly speaking at that age they are still too young to grasp the gravity of much! So they flock together like sheep leading each other to all those distractions. Perhaps our embassies should have some sort of program to assist/guide these youngens as they navigate this new path. I picture peopel like @mwangi offering lectures or brother/sister programs for these newbies.

  • By UnLost, May 2, 2008 @ 7:40 am

    This is the most important, article in the blogosphere. Mwangi, when you get a chance, you might want to run a seminar series in Nairobi. I was one of those who was sent with barely enough to cover the first semesters fees. I worked the crazy hours, and to make it even more intresting I had a major that had some really hard classes (Orangic Chemistry, Differential Equations, etc), 8 yrs later I finally finished. Yes 8 years. I figure with my first semesters fees I could have used that to go to UON. Yes, academically I could have gone to UON, I did not even apply because I was coming to stato.

  • By Mwangi, May 2, 2008 @ 11:13 am

    @seinlife: The more and more I read these articles and the comments, the more I am definitely thinking that we can definitely make these “immigration courses” a reality somewhat, either in places like Aussie that help bring people over or in the embassies and points of arrival for African students abroad. It’s now locked in as a definite possibility for the future in some way shape or form.

  • By Mwangi, May 2, 2008 @ 11:16 am

    @UnLost and @Aco: Eeh eeh eeh, Acolyte I hope you are reading all this. Kwa kweli, there is a need here.

  • By majonzi, May 2, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

    lol@ Mwangi when I said a guy, it was a figure of speech.. vile you say, “a jamaa, what are you doing? LMAO… no, I don’t want a guy… tea and mandazi will do just fine.

  • By acolyte, May 2, 2008 @ 1:08 pm

    LMAO @ majonzi
    @ sunny
    More Aco guest blogs depends on Mwangi, hint, hint! But for real most people when you tell them that things here are hard knock they dont want to know, anywhere but Kenya sounds like heaven. After 9/11 things have become really really hard here I tell you. I have a cousin who wants to come and he doesnt seem to be taking our warnings of the hard life here to heart.
    @ mwangi
    I have a feeling that even if seminars were to be conducted when people get the cold hard facts many of them simply wont attend. Also I do believe that a large number of the screw ups out here are those who came when they were too young and with no guidance at all.
    But I do know that these posts are a great idea and should be passed around to as many people as possible.
    @ seinlife
    Kenyans out here tend to be very paranoid about each other so I dont know about a big brother/sister program but it does look good on paper. With proper welcoming and guidance I too think the US experience would be less traumatising.

  • By Mwangi, May 2, 2008 @ 1:41 pm

    @majonzi: LOL ;) Tea and mandazi it is

  • By Mwangi, May 2, 2008 @ 1:49 pm

    @Aco: Guest posts are welcome anytime bwana! Should you so feel the urge send one through. We already have informal big brother/ big sister programs here so I definitely think if people are willing to put in the work, they’re worth a shot. Let’s hope that these articles get to as many people as possible and impact people as much as possible before they take flight or even once they land.

  • By alex, June 12, 2008 @ 8:07 pm

    mawangi i am an african and proud to be one. but why dont tell to your brother and sister about how to creat wealth, how to build asset, about skill of human enginering , how to invest there teaching them about leverage to build there business by telling the they can change there life by changing there daily habits.

  • By Mwangi, June 12, 2008 @ 8:11 pm

    @alex: Over the coming two months, I intend on doing just that by talking about the ideas in books like the 4 hour work week and so on and so forth. If you have any guest articles that you want to write to share with my readers how to do just that, my inbox is open at

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Secret to Working Beyond the 20 Hours Per Week Work Limit » The Displaced African — May 14, 2008 @ 1:52 am

  2. What Everybody Ought to Know About Immigration and Njeri’s Guest Post - The Displaced African — August 31, 2008 @ 2:17 pm

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