Standing up for Motherland

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The past few months have seen a lot of dynamics and interesting exchange of ideas in different forums concerning political, economic and social matters, and these things prick one’s mind. We all came to the Diaspora – (I mean any country other than where we were born, not just the USA) – chasing the golden dream. Achieving and living that dream depends on many factors, chief of which are being legally documented, finding a good paying job or lucrative business to enable one keep afloat amidst the tumultuous winds of economic change. I say tumultuous because we in Diaspora do understand that life is not as easy as most other people believe. No matter how we finally ended up here, we can all say for a fact that we prayed, believed and hoped beyond any doubt that we would get an opportunity to enable us change our lives.

I was reminded a few days ago, of the interesting legend of a young poor boy who wished to have a goose that laid golden eggs to end his misery, and how Fortune appeared to him one day and granted him his wish. The legend says that the boy got rich, bought his own city, but forgot his loving poor mother and his poor village friends. So overtaken by his riches and high life was he, that he forgot to care for the goose that brought him good luck and riches, and it died. After he lost the goose, his friends left him and he lost all he had. The story ends sadly, with the boy getting sick with no one to take care of him, because his poor loving mother had also died. Having nowhere to go and no friends, he lived his latter life more miserably than before he got the goose that laid golden eggs, and died a very desolate soul, on the streets.

I equate Diaspora to the goose that laid golden eggs because most of us have witnessed that with hard work, we can, like that young boy, achieve a better life than we previously had. I will not lament the hard work or other hardships because that is part of the deal – the young boy had to sell his golden eggs. I imagine there were other poor boys in the village mentioned in the legend, but Fortune came to only one. Similarly, there were and still are, millions of people in our Motherlands wishing to come to Diaspora, but Fortune came our way. God only knows why.

To the strong souls that have no intention of ever going back to their Motherlands, hats off. That is a brave move.  However, as human beings we carry in us a part of the earth (soil) where we were born and raised; that is why every so often, we get home sick. Whether or not we want to be associated with that place remains our individual choice.

We in Diaspora are in a good position and have the opportunity to influence positive trends in our Motherlands. It is only wise to try and improve life there, because we have been handed this golden opportunity, and who knows, there might come a time when we are forced to go back there by circumstances beyond our control, like in the sad cases where people get sick and have to go back, or any other kind of circumstance. But, even if that was not so, wouldn’t it be joyful to know that our people enjoy a life where basic necessities like food, water, healthcare, housing, security and education are affordable, and not a preserve for the rich only? What can we do differently to ensure that if and when we go back even to visit, we are not targets of robbery? Maybe we can learn from Rwanda what they are doing to achieve the positive strides that have led to their success, especially in the area of security, as it is now considered one of the safest countries in the world.

Nothing happens without a reason so, when we are requested to stand together to make meaningful changes in our Motherland, such as ensuring people in Diaspora are granted a voting opportunity, stomping out corruption or standing up against unnecessary pillage of resources or misuse of funds from our Motherland to ensure she remains healthy and vibrant, I pray we be not like that ignorant young boy in the legend that disassociated himself from his source of life.  This may sound like a far cry, but these are realities. Our people, opportunities, let alone golden ones, do not last forever.

Another very worrying trend is in the old belief that competition is healthy, so we fail to support one another, and are busy trying to bring one another down – while in foreign countries! This is like adding pepper to our own wounds, on top of the hardships and discrimination we suffer just for being foreigners. Are we missing the reason why God brought us over here? Yes, we all know the familiar explanation, that competition is healthy. A question I always ask myself when I hear this explanation is this: – Why don’t children compete with one another to be born? We are all born fully equipped with the resources necessary for the journey of life. We are born complete. Competition is an old colonial scheme that was used to divide and rule us. Sadly, the colonists are long gone, but we still hold on to this toxicity todate. And, just to mention here, it was this competitive venom, after being entrenched in the Rwandan community for so long, that led to the genocide. Instead of competing, maybe it would be better to complement and strengthen one another in our unique individual abilities, and that way stand strong as a community.

With the Diaspora community remitting funds in the billions of dollars that go towards the Motherland’s GDP, would it not just be fair that we made our voice heard, not only for our sakes, but for the sake of our posterity? There are voiceless people suffering in silence because they have no platform on which to stand. Let us not be deceived, if we just stand, watch and do nothing and (Lord forbid) disaster or other misfortune befalls our Motherland, we too shall be affected whether we like it or not, even if we no longer live there. That part of the earth is still in us. We do not say, for example, that borrowing of foreign aid is wrong, but wouldn’t it be only fair that if we, our children, their children and our great grandchildren are the ones expected to pay for such loans, we be aware of the terms of the contracts? Will we be doing these innocent souls fairly if they have to pay for funds that they had no part in acquiring, the terms of which were only known to those who signed the contracts? These are just questions doing rounds in my head.

I believe that when God granted us the golden opportunity to come here, He knew that when the time came and opportunity presented itself for us to take care of our Motherlands, we would do the right thing. I refuse to believe that we came all this way and endured so much, just to benefit ourselves and our children, then move on. No, life is much more meaningful, fruitful and fulfilling when we positively affect others, not just by living for ourselves. Nature will always place circumstances around us and along our paths so that we impact others positively, and that way, keep changing the world for the better, while spreading cheer and love.

Requesting to be heard is a bold thing, but the point to remember is this: It is not about who is right or who is wrong – it is about protecting the Motherland, and all her people, and doing what is right. All of us make mistakes, but would you imagine if no one ever corrected or directed us in the right way? True and genuine love is corrective. We can help make the difference that might change the direction of the wind. We can also pray earnestly that God intervenes and changes circumstances for the better.

Famous people who stood up to be counted did not do it because it was pleasant, easy or not risky, but rather, they considered that the benefits to be gained by standing for what was right far outweighed any dangers that the effort presented, and when they got to the end of their earthly journeys they rested in the knowledge that they did what they believed was right for humanity; not only for themselves, but for generations to come. I believe we can rest in that same assurance one day, if we stand up and do the right thing for our Motherlands. To quote the famous P.L.O. Lumumba: “We must do it, because if we don’t do it, we will be done”.

I will end by referring to the famous young Queen who was an illegal immigrant but God granted her the opportunity to be married to the king. When an enemy of her people threatened to kill all of them, she at first hesitated to approach the king to plead for them, but her wise uncle told her: “Do not be deceived, if this plot to kill our people succeeds, you will not be safe either, even though you be in the king’s palace”.   And so Queen Esther saved her people by pleading with the king for her people, even though it meant life or death for her; and who knows, just like her, maybe for a time such as this were we appointed to be in Diaspora.

Let’s continue taking care of one another as we take care of the universe, because we are all one.

Strive to be happy, it is still a beautiful world.

Susan Kiongo

Senior Columnist

Kenyan Parents In USA

Deputy Secretary (C.O.D.U.)

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