So Here’s the Thing About Relocating to Africa

It’s really hard, and when it’s all said and done doesn’t appear to be for everyone. But most of us know it’s an incredibly noble, brave and courageous thing to do. So let’s break down four reasons to go back home and three reasons to stay put in the diaspora.

Africa map

For

1) Money and Entrepreneurship

From a purely selfish standpoint, it’s much easier for a person to leave the West and make their fortunes in Africa than it would be had he not left in the first place. During his or her time away, they have had their creative faculties ignited by exisiting in a different land with different people, institutions and rules.

This may in turn spark ideas for businesses that have long since been taken for granted abroad but are yet to make a hit on the continent of Africa: examples may be outsourcing, an African Itunes or the mobile phone ring tone market outside of South Africa (perhaps?).

So people could easily go home to cut and paste businesses and make killings. I know that a lot of y’all probably have at some point thought about taking some business idea or invention to Africa and how it would make you the black Buffet. There’s one part of the equation.

The other part is the difference in currency. African currencies are much weaker than foreign ones. That means that if you are able to create cashflow sources abroad and/or sell a business(s) the value of your money is much greater as soon as you set foot on the Dark Continent.

For some of you the cashflow might even be operating on auto-pilot meaning that not only does your money’s value increase on the basis of the foreign exchange but also because you have free time with which to design your ideal lifestyle using this money. Trips throughout Africa, contribution to your community and a nice plot for you to grow old in. And all this in the country of your birth……Something to think about.

2) To Follow in Great Footsteps

Nkrumah

Lord knows how accurate Wikipedia is but I read this article about how the US together with Britain planned out the decolonization of the world. They intended on educating the next crop of African leaders to take over in their own countries and then leave Westernized minds to proliferate Western ways of life.

That means that the story of a lot of Africa’s great leaders, Nkrumah and Nyerere, just to name a couple, is one of people who left the luxuries of the West to return to a life of servitude in Africa.

For the “more enlightened” Africans these are some absolutely phenomenal shoes to fill and walk in. In addition to that a life of service is “the right thing to do” because a lot of us know that:

People at home can be controlled easily because of poverty and ignorance

Most of us in the diaspora are well educated and have more than enough to survive

We can share this knowledge and resources and help people come out of poverty and suffering

That equation is far from a mystery and for a lot of us it is the driving force behind our being here.

3) To Be With People Like You

The person who created the expression, “There’s no place like home,” must have been an immigrant. You never forget or lose a special connection with the place that gave you your way of life, your language, your culture, your history and most of all, your initial sense of belonging.

A lot of immigrants don’t feel very welcome abroad or don’t feel welcome in the same way as we did in our native habitat. We want that feeling again and we want it every single day. It’s surprising how rarely this is discussed. This alone is responsible for huge numbers making the ocean migrations.

4) Retirement

Retire with a smile on your face

Nursing homes suck! Retiring as an old person on a plot and being taken care of by your little nieces, nephews and grand children seems much better than your destiny being controlled by a cranky 22 year old African lady in a retirement village after a long life well lived.

We want to retire in style and in dignity and so we return to the place where we can: home.

Against

1) The People are Mean

I don’t think it’s any secret that Africans being on the bottom of the racial totem pole for many generations has left us with not-the-most-pleasant of personalities. We have inferiority complexes, insecurities and faults and very rarely work on them directly (when we do, the results are usually magnificent, just examine African music, philosophy and literature to get a glimpse of that)

Instead we decide to bring each other down to size and viciously attack anyone or anything that even begins to remind us of any feelings of inadequacy. This means that verbal diarrhoea, anger and negativity directed at each other is commonplace. And this isn’t even the main reason we can be so bad.

Lest we forget, most Africans are dirt poor. This is not a pleasant experience. People don’t have the time to be nice to you when they are robbing you to eat for that night (though surprisingly some thieves are very generous and courteous, go figure…..). Until Africa is an egalitarian society where we feel as though we are all whole human beings equal to people from all races and nationalities, we probably won’t stop being so mean.

2) It’s Hard

Mandela

For those who do decide that they want to do something for the community, life is hard. Remember how most people are mean. Now mix that with a hatred and dislike for “people who have come from abroad to tell us what to do because they think they are so special now that they have spent a few years overseas” which a lot of immigrants get when they return.

Throw in a huge dash of sexism if she’s a woman and tribalism and xenophobia regardless of their ethnic background. Splash in a whole lot of ignorance and illeteracy. Mix that up with some really corrupt politicians who like things just as they are.

Put the Western government-industrial-corporate-military complex which also likes the status-quo on top of all that and you have the road that an African community organizer must take.

It’s considered noble, courageous and given great rewards for a reason, it’s bloody hard!

3) You Like Where You Are

Don’t let the hype fool you: money isn’t the root of all joy.

Don’t let the haters fool you either: the West isn’t all about money.

In this place, whatever your journey to your bliss, you can find it. If you wish to find people who have chosen the strictly spiritual path to self-actualization, you’ll find them here. If you’re after the Wall Street money-hungry folk who only see the cents in dollars, they’re all right here. Searching for people who put family and people above all else they are right here.

Whatever niche and experience and road to nirvana you have chosen, chances are you will find it in the West. To leave all of that and return to Africa which has a long way before it becomes the experience-buffet that the West isn’t a small ask.

So let me ask you, will you ever go home? Why? Why not? Leave a comment and let me know.

Be blessed and bless others,

Mwangi

PS: I just thought I would ask y’all whether or not I should continue with the series in which I explore different people’s viewpoints on living in Melbourne. I just wanted to check if people were finding some use in it now or I should postpone it till later when I’ve established the foundations of the blog a bit better.

39 Comments

  • By toiyoi, May 29, 2008 @ 3:36 am

    Assume i am kaleo and people who call th shots in kenya are not kaleo. The vice versa is also true
    I go back as an Employee
    -my non-kaleo employer will not want my services, or at most use them grudgingly

    I go back as an entrepreneur
    - the people who can help my biz grow (e.g. funding ) and are not kaleo will not give me any funds i need
    - the people who are not kaleo will not patronize my biz/product, if there is a similar biz/product that belongs to “them”, even if mine is superior

    You see mwangi, you seem not to understand the underlying problem with Africa. This, my dear, is the greatest problem, that if Africa could fix, it will be allright. But will we?

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 3:44 am

    @toiyoi: I think we have to fix it….the disgusting disease is actually infecting my generation and below, including the ones who grew up in cosmopolitan places like Nairobi and Mombasa.

    This is another case of a simple solution that’s difficult to implement, if we don’t want tribalism, let’s focus on how we can leverage our tribal strengths towards national development..apparently this is one of the things Singapore does that we don’t…lest we forget politicians have been doing it for generations pretty successfully; ultimately Raila, Kibaki and Moi have more in common with each other than with the poor from their constituencies, so perhaps this is one of the areas where we can learn from our fellow politicians….an assortment of tribal elements that have all managed to rob the national treasury clean.

  • By toiyoi, May 29, 2008 @ 4:12 am

    Problem is, while me and you are happily living together in eldoret, even giving our kids permission to marry, here comes Moi,Kibaki and RAO (because they are Lords and have things at stake- think medieval Europe?) and makes us hate each other. How do you avoid that? We listen to them-that is how human beings have been trained, to follow leaders/rulers. You say Education? But alas, they control education. How will they free the education system to allow us to be fee? And even if they did, how long will it take?

    My very simple, though painful solution, which i still do not understand why people do not like, is to free the people to live as they desire. Since we seem incapable of forming meaningful rules to live by, let us divide the country up into little countrylets. And, as expected, most of those countrylets will not be sustainable. (think Eritrea and Ethiopia).

    That is the time we shall painfully realise we need to unite or perish, so we talk and have treaties to cement and guide out co-existence. Is that not how it has been done all over the world?

    The wise Lord said “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. Why does it surprise us that Africa, made of 100s of houses, cannot stand?

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 4:21 am

    @toiyoi: I have thought about your solution and it does seem very feasible and intelligent, especially in the short term and I know that there are 100s of other proposed solutions to the problems that have also been expressed. That’s fantastic and definitely should be encouraged.
    You are acting as though the problems we are experiencing are somehow now or unique…they are not. As I said in the previous post, almost all the problems Africa is currently going through have been experienced by the West at some point in their history…or are still being experienced now.
    Lest we forget that the typical make up of any European country is one that combines hundreds of peoples and nationalities and tribes that once wared with each other…..even until 1945 Europe was still fighting with itself and so I don’t know why we as Africans somehow arrogantly believe we have a monopoly on tribalism, greed, power and war….the West has had it as part of their status quo for generations.
    Therefore, all I’m saying is let’s pick a problem at a time and try things out until they work making sure we study literature and history on how the Europeans managed to overcome the same problems….how is it that America and Japan are fantastic trading partners now though America maliciously dropped bombs on Japan….how can Britain and Germany both participate in the EU when they both viciously attacked each other all throughout the 20th century.
    I am yet to read a history where people got emancipated on account of government sponsored or government provided education. Grass roots organization and education and action is where it’s always happened and probably where it always will….unless you heard something different.

  • By toiyoi, May 29, 2008 @ 4:37 am

    Europe’s disunity and unity
    - How did they get it?
    They realised “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. They looked at the dividers and realised they needed to co-exist, so they formed treaties. In addition, were there are different groups, there are laws that protect, especially the minorities. We have neither.

    -Consider the UK: the welsh,scotts and Brits exist in one entity due to treaties, not so? We do no have any such treaty between the Maasai, Kikuyu, Luos and Luhya’s, in Kenya, do we? So how do we expect them to live happily together? What is kenya anyway, but an entity formed with the sole purpose of causing disunity? Surely this is so plain.

    One might say, erase the things that make them different (culture, language). I would have no problem with that. TZ has at least gone half-way there with language. Who cares for culture in this digital world, anyway, especially if the said culture/language is working against you? Africans are embracign their cultures to death!

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 4:49 am

    @toiyoi: I am enjoying this discussion. :D
    You only need to hear the history of the IRA or watch Braveheart or even read European diplomatic history to realize that these treaties didn’t occur over night, they didn’t even occur over 50 years it took centuries of fighting and organizing.
    Never forget that throughout most of Africa many tribes do still co-exist and though the thread that holds our nation right now is very slim, we are still 50 tribes that have not torn each other to shreds and so we have done something right over the past 40 years, the fact that I think that tribalism is stupid and view all tribes as equal and have done so ever since I was a little boy is testament to that.
    toiyoi I think where we differ is on view, I had the same view you had of Africa once upon a time many years ago, but personally I didn’t like it as it took away my power to act and so I focus on areas of opportunity, growth and ways to solve problems because otherwise I know personally I could keep finding faults with the dark continent for a long time. That would lock me in a place of being emotionally overwhelmed and unable to act and improve the situation and I don’t like being there.

  • By toiyoi, May 29, 2008 @ 5:07 am

    Mwangi
    That is a good way to look at it. I personally think, that that issue of me versus them, is the greatest problem, and once it is solved, we will begin working and be free to to move africa forward.

    Like i said, African countries ( Kenya etc) were formed out of desire to divide the people up and hence control them. So, if you realise that 50 years that division still takes place, with bad consequences, should you not seek to solve the cause of the problem? You say, i will work at what i can. And that is fine. But, if you did that, and for example, went and settled in Eldoret, build a school that served all people, hoping to bring the people together with such actions, then one day it is all turned into ashes, what would you have achieved?

    Is it not better for Mwangi to say: Toiyoi, i do no like you. I do not care about you. I did not choose to be in this same house with you. But, i realise i have to live daily with you. For our own good, let us consider our claims, negotiate and lay down rules we can live by” Does that not solve 100 years worth of trials and errors?

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 5:12 am

    @toiyoi: The history of the West and of great empires, from my point of view, seems to point in the opposite direction. Force people to coexist by force (as is currently the case) and begin a massive marketing/propaganda/opinion changing campaign to get these people to see themselves as one entity with one shared common identity e.g. USA with the American Dream which has United millions of European immigrants.
    More people = More power. The fact that I exist shows that the tribal problem is simply one of healing the wounds of those affected by the violence and working deliberately on changing mindsets…I don’t see our nation becoming a federal state anytime soon….but as with everything we have discussed, what I have just proposed is an unspoken hypothesis based on my historical investigation that’s worth testing……….

  • By toiyoi, May 29, 2008 @ 5:58 am

    Force=Gadaffi
    How long can people be forced? If they see the fruits of force(like Libya, perhaps forever) But is it the best, given other alternatives?
    Going Federal= i did not advocate for it. i do not think it will work, has not worked in Nigeria.
    We have agreed to disagree.
    Perhaps your other ( sleeping) commenter’s now take up

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 6:08 am

    @toiyoi: The idea of a treaty sounds fantastic.
    Not to be a provocateur, but I think whether or not we agree to disagree on an intellectual level is not of much consequence, what matters more is that we go out and try to help out in our own ways and compare notes ala Malcolm X vs MLK.
    It’s been fantastic talking to you, you really challenged and stretched me….thanks :D

  • By Pensive, May 29, 2008 @ 7:28 am

    Toitoyi, I understand where you are coming from, and frankly I don’t see changes coming in my lifetime, but and a big but, we need to put the foundations for the future generations. One of the failures of the independence, is there really wasn’t much thought to what will happen after Independence, and many did not realise that is when the hard work begins.

    Areas to support e.g. education, by education I mean general education, that will leave the space open for many to come and take up the mantle. It is not too long ago, that this conversation could have resulted in lifetime injuries, it doesn’t now. In generations to come, if there is a signifcant group of Kenyans who get disguted with politicians, and call them on their silly games, it will have an effect.

    Preserving, and encouraging debate and discussion on the regular, mundane, e.g. how can Kenyans fertilize their crops, to avoid the famine? Are there alternative ways of fertilizing that can improve crop yields and reduce reliance on expensive petro-based fertilizers.

    Here is a link ( http://www.biotech-monitor.nl/3009.htm ) to research by our University of Nairobi, can you imagine this being supported, and expanded? Even within the current thinking, imagine what would happen if this were developed where you could take this to your village? It might free up, many girls to go to school, and reach a level of education, where the tribalism argument can be put in context, and she can learn from history.

    Even now, if we find this research important, how about sending a small thank you and words of encouragement to the researchers.

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 8:11 am

    @Pensive: Welcome to the Displaced African, I hope you enjoy your stay. You have brought up a couple of great points that are worth restating:
    a) Regardless of whether or not we find the situation to be hopeless, we should still sow the seeds of future change if for no other reason our children to be wiser and better people than we were and live in a better world than we did.
    b)There are already a plethora of people who are doing phenomenal things throughout Africa who way too often get drowned out by the noise that it endless political discussion and debate. For a mental exercise, imagine if we invested as much time, putting into action and studying and reflecting on initiatives such as the one in the link that you gave and Fidelis interview which I did a while back (they are quite similar btw) as we currently do into analyzing the stupidity and inefficiency of our leaders. In short imagine if we focussed on improving what does work in Africa rather than complaining about what doesn’t…..how many intiatives like the one above and Fidelis and Afrigadget projects would be so far ahead.
    The Fidelis Wainaina interview can be found by clicking here:

    How exactly would we say thanks to the researchers?

  • By Ernest Maina, May 29, 2008 @ 11:54 am

    Mwangi, Nimerudi tena. Thanks for giving us a communal rock to paint on. It is fascinating to read your take on the plight of the dark fellows from the “dark” continent.

    Here is my take on our great continent, which is much in line with your “African Mind” series of articles.

    1) We highly value and are addicted to negative, preferably loud, characterization as an indication on intelligent discourseo n any matter. So much so that a person that tries to strike a balance in discussions about Africa is suspect and considered a sissy. It may have something to do with love wrestling and wife beating being popular pass-times too. All this while having an overwhelmingly Christian populace.

    2) We have an erroneous belief that Money is the single missing piece in an otherwise perfect world. Pointers to the contrary are in plain sight – the crime rates are much higher in the cities but the dollar-per-day poverty is mostly a rural phenomenon. This is not to say the urban poor feel richer. The count as richer simply because more money passes through their hands (higher rent food prices tetc) and that is all that the statisticians measure.

    3) A strange preocupation with the idea that others have it better/easier and we just need to learn the “trick”, even when they are as poor as we are and there is more of them. I find it strange that some people point to India as a country could look up to, when in my view they have the exact same problems that we have. I dread the day Kenya has two or three trillionaires and Kibera slums extend all the way to the city mortuary. The issue has always been institutions and infrastructure, that is what far eastern Tigers learnt from Japan and that is why China will run circles around India. Kenyans need to learn from people who have dirty hands from work.

    4) What is saddest for me is that all the “talking” is done by the “talkers” – politicians etc. The are the Do-ers who infact keep the country together and ensure that there someone waiting for you at ER when you have a traffic accident. And the Do-ers are everywhere and usually they are not from any one tribe. These are the people that serve us, the teachers, cleaners, nurses etc That the talkers can say one word and erase our gratitude to the doers is the single largest tragedy and the biggest insult to communal IQ.

    5) The media is part and parcel of this. Someone, maybe Phillip Ochieng, talked of the media as opinion shapers. I acually wish they could do just that – elevate the discourse a notch or two instead of playing to the common denominator. They could highlight more the plight of the do-ers such as the prison wardens, before the had to go on strike. The focus on the talkers is overdone.

    If there is one place that I would like to visit, it is Cuba. I hate their politics but I am owed by how they have managed to thrive and do well on all the pointers – infant mortality, education, etc. and create great music too, in an multi-racial society.

  • By akiey, May 29, 2008 @ 5:55 pm

    What’s up Mwangi. Been MIA from your site since I crossed the northern border to start my self-imposed vacation. Good to see you’re keeping up with the good posts.

    I am most definitely returning to Kenya as an entrepreneur and hopefully never as someone seeking employment from someone else. Reason being, if I remain focused and earn a living doing what am doing here then the same hard work & determination can get me through anywhere else in the world and esp in Africa.

    2nd reason is to be closer to family & all that has always been familiar to me. Have tried diff places and all in the West and so far it’s only this place am vacationing at that is pulling at my heart stings and tempting me to extend my stay in the West.

    3rd, most definitely the need to retire around my folks so my kids/grand kids could take care of me. I’m extremely averse to nursing home care. It is an “institution” that tends to be inhuman, unwelcoming and one that sucks the life out of an old person faster than time would.

    4th, Africa, with all it’s complications, issues, corruption, hopes, aspirations, talents, tribalism, abundance of resources, etc, etc needs me and I need it. So will not hesitate to return & I am sure I will be a lot happier there.

    I couldn’t help laughing at the 22 yr old African nursing home attendant remark, kali kabisa!

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 6:01 pm

    @Maina: It’s good to have you back………I seem to have completely depleted my debating muscles somewhere between my discussions with toiyoi and my bad few hours of sleep so forgive me:
    1) Christianity in label and Christianity in substance don’t always go together on our dark continent do they?
    2) Isn’t it weird how in our global discussions on capitalism we always fail to mention that whenever capitalism enters a nation it almost always has resulted in the poverty of majority of the populace while a small sub-section get richer and all sorts of social ills….apparently juvenile crime rates among other things are skyrocketing in places adopting Capitalism like China and Russia.
    3)In my observation and we experience we don’t even bother to apply lessons from nations like India or Singapore, we just use their stories as further justification for our feeling lousy about ourselves rather than applying their philosophies.
    4) Indeed, the power of self-centred men to undermine the actions of people of all tribes who do great, hard work behind the scenes not only with their words but by simple gestures like signing is shocking…when power is concentrated as it is in Africa without any checks or balances we get the nation we are currently living in.
    5) I couldn’t agree more….the media’s job a lot of the time is to sell us the images that the corporate world want to see. That’s why I strongly advocate stuff such as Web 2.0 and social media and a media throughout Africa that is run by and for the interests of civil society at large to balance the view points we get from corporate media……something of note is don’t you find it odd, how little they investigate the mindsets and behaviour of the common man in Africa and instead defer to getting opinions from people so far removed from the common man i.e. the politicians. I find it so odd that they never ever sit down with the common man to ask them why they do what they do….don’t they know it a little better than the people sitting on the ivory tower, though of course their opinion is valid considering the concentration of power.

  • By Yeah And, May 29, 2008 @ 6:04 pm

    I am White and I detect that you hate yourself have aligned yourself with the west,a thing I’ve noticed many African minorities do after a while abroad, unless they are surrounded by a lot of family and friends. I think you should work on it, because my uncle, who was half-white half Kenyan talked like this when he moved to New Zealand, and he turned up dead after a while. I hope you find yourself, for you are a very sad, lost African man disillusioned in Australia.

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 6:14 pm

    @Yeah And: The reactions to this post so far are absolutely amazing. To put it context dude, let’s try a little exercise in switching roles:

    “Imagine if me and my cousins rolled up into New Zealand and took it over and declared it ours. A few years later we leave your country but leave your prime minister trained as basically a puppet whose job it is to suck money out of New Zealand and send it back to Africa. Now the people in the country get angry because they keep getting poorer and poorer and among other unfair things, anytime you guys try to export some great NZ products like wool, we shut down our borders and sell you our very cheap, subsidized, sometimes lower quality wool instead.
    And so, these circumstances force you to move out of NZ and come to Africa in search of greener pastures….”

    Surely you can understand that my coming here wasn’t a result of a decision to take a holiday for fun, it’s the result of some very painful and unfair things like inequality, the failings of my countrymen to build a great country amongst other things.

    I detect your wish that I “find myself” was coming from a place of anger and hurt, but I accept it. Say what you will, but it isn’t always easy being out here my brother……..

    My my my hasn’t this comments thread deviated from the original topic

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 6:22 pm

    @akiey: It’s always nice to have the regulars back in attendance. It appears I am on to something with this thread huh? Thanks for sharing your opinions on why you’d go back…I do agree that should I return, it’s not to assume employment. Employment has never factored into my dreams or visions for life so there we are together.
    As for the nursing home attendant….I’ll never forget one of the first shifts I ever did as an aged care worker……the residents were having a meeting where they were discussing their concerns, complaints and so on…One of the nurses, a young woman (I think) looked at me and said something to the extent of:

    “Why are they wasting their time doing this? We have more important work to do than wait for them to finish this nonsense!”

    One by one the nurses went in and grabbed residents and forced them to go to bed. This type of life in my final days just so that my children can go out into the world and make a couple more thousand to buy a slightly bigger house….no thank you.
    I would rather be a burden in my relatives’ home where I die with dignity any day.

    We do need home and home does need us, doesn’t it?

  • By Ernest Maina, May 29, 2008 @ 7:09 pm

    Mwangi, Asante for the response. This site is a testament of why Web 2.0 couldnt have come at a better time for us Africans. The WEB techologies and the mobile phone penetration will definitely make a difference on the information level of the common man.

  • By Mwangi, May 29, 2008 @ 7:17 pm

    @Ernest: Thanks for the kind words, you make my day :D This web 2.0 does give us a huge window of opportunity to improve the lot of our brothers and sisters. What we’ll do with this great power is up to us I guess….Looking forward to your insights on other posts.

  • By gal africana, May 29, 2008 @ 8:49 pm

    I reiterate your “my my my”…now where did the dude with the “you hate yourself” freaking come from…ai bana?! hata sijui.

    Oh by the way…I’m black…it seems to make a difference…why is it white folks feel the need to state their race before giving their point of view? *shrug*

    The decision on whether to move back to Kenya/Africa is a tough one…everytime I get back to Denmark after a holiday with my family, I’m swearing how I’ll move back because of all the fun I’ve had when on holiday. But truth be told, I have fun when on holiday…regardless of where I go…so that is not the best reason on which to base such a major decision.

    I think you make a very good point in your comments…Kenya and many flailing/failing African democracies are very young nations following in the foot steps of some of the established democracies we look up to. The processes going on African countries…while painful, drawn out and full of needless human sufering, are necessary for the development of a healthy dempocracy…that is if one looks at the history of the world in general.

    Will I move back? Maybe. What I know for sure, I’ll definitely be investing more and more financially in Kenya…even though I dont live in the country…all the time.

  • By acolyte, May 29, 2008 @ 10:41 pm

    Relocating to Africa is very hard work to be honest esp the longer you have been out in the West. If one has money and means I always advise a trip just to sight see and acclimatise yourself to the environment.
    For sure we have problems in African in many areas that I cant even begin to touch on right now, but that is no excuse to not go back because even if you get an American/British/Australian passport the natives there shall always see you as a visitor and treat you that way.
    Oh yes stories abound how chics from the Diaspora have been slammed back to earth when going back to KEnya with their high powered Corporate American attitude. The wazee were not amused and put her in her place real fast. We may have progressed in some areas but people need to remember we are still AFricans with our own structures of society, so its hard to impose Western structures on Kenya and not expect anything to happen.
    Anyway as long as you have a firm plan and a back up plan plus finances relocating back to Kenya isnt that hard. My plan is to work with an international NGO and get sent back to Africa and work my way back to Kenya…

  • By Carol, May 29, 2008 @ 11:07 pm

    Gosh this is long and quite sensitive. I am just trying to think, back home or not? My answer is, yes home is best. I know that there are so many unfair things in Africa. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Take Kenya ,for example, prices go up at a hundred percent. The poor and middle class hence call bread a luxury, the rich dare buy hammers, among other lux stuff!
    But I know that my country needs you and I to stop all these,so I say, nitarudi tu.
    The discussion hapo mbele is cool. Kaleo, kamba, luo,kyuk,etc! I think this should make the bond btw kenyans even stronger. I believe its just the richess that we have as a country,language and culture. We should look at it not as a dividing factor but as a uniting one.

  • By Mwangi, May 30, 2008 @ 1:44 am

    @gal africana: You know I have just realized that whenever I leave a comment on personal development blogs, I always state either where I’m from or my race just so that folks know where I’m coming from.
    Me thinks Africa is one of those countries where if you want to have fun, it’s fantastic in small doses, over time though, you need strength to not get worn out or beat down by the place.
    Investing in home? How will you do that? In fact anyone who will be investing in the nation financially, share how you’ll do it or send me a guest post, it’s a very important thing worth discussing…………

  • By Mwangi, May 30, 2008 @ 1:50 am

    @Acolyte: I remember reading about newspapers and how the editors get their writers to stay in line with their creative ideas and direction. The key isn’t to kill the journalists creativity outright, one of the things they do it by slowly making the journalist comfortable in their high powered job and then when they are very comfortable making it clear that if they step out of line they are out…me thinks that the West works in the same way, it slowly but surely works you into a very nice, comfortable rut from which Africa looks like a very dangerous, depressing place.
    You know I would love to hear stories of what happened to those women too….great for understanding the cultural re-assimilation most folks will have to go through should they return.
    Personally, considering the way I think and how my childhood flows, I know that unless I return home from a position of great economic power and strength, my life will be a difficult one and the re-assimilation process a struggle.

  • By Mwangi, May 30, 2008 @ 1:53 am

    @Carol: You know it amazes me how we have never discussed taking the cultural traditions of the past and integrating them into this national identity that we now have to work very hard to create.
    In the past I have spoken about just how brilliant and healthy I think that the Luo approach to death is especially when compared with the Western one and mix that with Maasai attire and a little bit of this and that from all tribes and at the very least our cultural life can be a lot richer and a lot more meaningful and we won’t feel like a people who have no sense of history and no identity before 1963…….
    I guess I’ll say it one more time….our country does need us and we do need it don’t we?

  • By gal africana, May 30, 2008 @ 4:14 am

    I opened a CDS account with the Nairobi Stock Exchange so I can buy IPO’s through their agents directly or through a private stock broker…my mum helps with this though because the brokers can be very iffy about carrying out orders. ..It took no time…just go the NSE when you go home…

    I also intend to investigate the opportunity of being an investor in a business venture especially in fashion…because that’s what interests me…this will have to be in the future though…when I have time to find a venture worth investing in…and the fashion business in Kenya still needs major uphaul…

    And I’m planning to buy property as well…

  • By Mwangi, May 30, 2008 @ 4:38 am

    @gal africana: Thanks for sharing, I only started hearing about young folk who actually invest in Kenya recently so I’m very eager to hear what below 35s, actually come to think of it, even above 35s are doing to invest in Kenya.
    I have heard quite a few young folk out here talk about stocks…I guess Kenyans really love us some stock. Even if I tried, I couldn’t avoid knowing that Safaricom (largest mobile phone provider in Kenya) had an IPO recently.
    Property I have heard quite a few folk talk about but am yet to meet many people, unless they are older than 35, who have carried through on that one.

  • By Ken, June 1, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

    Mwangi Ken here!! Great discussion!!!
    I am sure quite a number of those in the diaspora have battled with this question, I am still battling with it myself as the hairline recedes. Reason being there are too many factors to take into consideration especially if you are not from the ‘well connected’ social circles this has nothing to do with your exquisite credentials, but has all to do with what is your last name and who do you know if you are looking to get employed…on the other hand if you aim to start your own gig, I take it someone will have some real money to back them up, tenacity, a good business plan, good business practices and discipline…

    Just a word of caution if anybody is planning to jump into businesses, money, especially in your absence, will change people in the worst possible ways, if thinking of any business venture please please please get some good lawyers to watch your back irrespective of your business partners…AND get each and everything in writing, nyumbani some people are averse to paperwork after all we are talking of a money making and not some form of charity…

  • By Mwangi, June 2, 2008 @ 1:42 am

    @Ken: Hello, good to have you back. The discussion definitely took some great twists and turns. Indeed it does seem that for the well connected people or people who come from wealthy families, particularly if they are boys, it is a no brainer. For example, I heard of one of the sons of a top people in the Kenyan government already has his business set up and its running though they haven’t even completed their undergrad, that doesn’t stop them from getting paid. So, I think definitely, if you are well connected, a lot of the time it’s a no brainer, why live in more egalitarian societies when you can go home where your wealth will result in your being worshiped.
    How does the money change people? Specifics would be fantastic….
    Yes, Africa when it’s all said and done is still a pretty corrupt and inefficient place to conduct ethical business so it’s definitely something to think about should you chose to return.

  • By Ken, June 2, 2008 @ 3:11 pm

    Hi Mwangi,
    Well, I will be brief, I am talking from personal as well as experiences of our neighbors in Tanzania and Uganda.
    Money especially if you are financing any sort of project will be open to abuse and is often abused by those back home. This is not limited to friends, for it also includes immediate family members, well, that hurts the most. The moment some individuals receive this money used to finance the business endeavor, they immediately rush to the nearest bar to baptize their recent financial windfall or in your absence will try and get into our all to well known get rich, poorly thought of schemes.. (Please search on Kenya Imagine an article on ‘Kenya the copy cat nation’) with the hope of making a quick buck!! For fear of appearing to be too cynical I am generalizing, as there are too many examples, both good and bad.
    What I realize now is any form of short term businesses e.g. retail, would be very hard to run remotely despite having someone who appears trust worthy running the show. What this means is that businesses or any form of investments that require little of no day to day running or supervision would be perfect for those out side the country especially if pure profit is the primary motive. If anybody has success stories in the retail area, please share with me..

    In Summary what I would encourage anybody and everybody to engage good lawyers, draft proper legally binding agreements, draft clear business plans or objectives with any local party back home… we have to set high professional standards from the get go or else you will realize why they say ‘Money is the root of all evil’….

  • By Mwangi, June 2, 2008 @ 4:57 pm

    @Ken: Thanks for sharing. I just thought I would talk briefly about one small point you brought up about our nation being one of copycats. I think quite often we speak of this as though it’s a bad thing. I think an analysis of Western success shows that being copycats is an extremely intelligent way of going about things:
    a) People who teach NLP teach about modelling succesful people in behaviour, thoughts and action
    b) Copywriters use swipe files
    c) Consultants consult on business models using other models of business that have succeeded as their templates.
    So I think imitation of success, being more than flattery is a virtue, but I digress.

    To expand on some of the stuff you were talking about, I would love to hear your thoughts, considering you have experience on taking outsourcing and call centres to Africa. With the ridiculously slow Internet speeds aside, it appears as though the virtual outsourcing model would work especially when money is held in escrow by a third party and only released to the contractor once the person doing the job has approved of it ( ala Rentacoder which is a great service if you have never used it). It would be a great way to redistribute financial wealth, if Africans who have office functions could virtually outsource them to their people at home…perhaps?

  • By nancy, June 29, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

    very interesting post….as a Guyanese woman born in the USA (i.e., 2nd generation) i found it very interesting. My family is from Guyana and I would like to move back, even though I was born in New York. But the problem in Guyana (South America) is the racial divides between the two largest populations of African and Indian descent. We all know the reasons stem from colonialism, but without the white man as a common enemy we have ended up fighting each other. One side will never vote for the other, and the situation feels hopeless. Colonial divide and rule have left us all in a mess.

  • By Mwangi, June 29, 2008 @ 9:51 pm

    @nancy: I didn’t even know that there were Indian and African people in Guyana? This truly is a huge world…….Are they from the same race as the native Americans or the same race as the Indians from the Indian sub-continent? As for African people, did they go there as slaves?
    It is amazing how ridiculously easy it is for people in power to sometimes use differences between us to divide us. That is probably one of the biggest problems we have ever faced and will continue to face until we take that bull by the horns and unequivocally stand up to it.

  • By nancy, July 7, 2008 @ 6:42 am

    Red Indians, Amer-Indians, East Indians, West Indians….those Europeans were intent on finding the Indies. Thank Christopher Columbus for this confusion. In Guyana (beside Venezuela, north of Brazil), there are people from around the world, the indigenous population, (pushed into the rainforest) Chinese, Portuguese, and Indians (from the sub-continent) all brought to work the plantations as bound labour following the abolition of slavery, and African-Guyanese, the descendants of slaves. In short, almost everyone in the Caribbean was shipped because of their labour, nothing more. And now we kill and fight each other, out of fear and misunderstanding. I look to South Africa (the Truth and Reconciliation Committee) for inspiration, but without truth we can’t have reconciliation.
    Sorry for the rant. The situation pains my heart.
    Keep up the good work.

  • By Mwangi, July 7, 2008 @ 2:05 pm

    @nancy: Thanks for educating me. From the little I have gathered,Latin America and the Carribean has an amazing history from the point of view of struggle and power coming from the grassroots. Thanks for the education…..

  • By Patrick, July 7, 2009 @ 8:22 am

    Hey mwangj,
    Is downloading forbidden in OZ? torrents, sharewares, etc…?

Other Links to this Post

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