Today’s diaspora returnee; Njambi Mungai wrote a very popular diaspora article in December last year. So I online stalked her, stumbled on her blog, and further stalked her on Twitter. I got her email and we hit it off from the first hello.
Most people who have never lived in Scandinavia usually want an hour powerpoint presentation explaining why I don’t love FREEZING Sweden, why I refuse to learn Swedish and become a professional janitor; but Njambi got me without a word escaping my lips. Plus she gyms and is busy, busy, busy. I like people like her. I told her we will be buddies by force when I return home.
Where did you live abroad and how long?
I lived in Helsinki, Finland since 2006 when I started my undergrad at the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, then called Evtek and left Finland in January 2012.
That was six years of supermarket cleaning, club hygiene and sanitation, housekeeping at the Hilton, personal care of a wonderful lady in a wheelchair and finally a stint at Nokia Siemens as an IT administrator.
Why did you decide to come home?
I needed to come home, start over. I had reached a point in my life where I was not growing. I hated my job, I hated my career. I disliked the fact that I could not move around professionally…unless of course it was in the janitorial field.
(ha ha ha ha ha…..)
And while we all get these feelings, there comes a change that jolts you to make emergency decisions.
I lost love and family and no matter how hard I tried, there was nothing to look forward to in Finland. I was jolted into making that decision to buy that ticket.
Did you prepare to move or was it a last minute move?
A decision I made silently with only my closest friends knowing about it. Took me all of a few months to get things in order.
The silence was because in the Diaspora, people will always have an opinion. Most will almost always discourage you. Get your finances in order they would say. Do you have a job waiting for you in Kenya they would ask. Maybe you should wait they would advise.
How did you prepare to move? (for example did you sort out your housing prior to coming or did you buy things so u would not have to buy stuff in Kenya)
I forfeited my house lease and sold my items. Nothing like a bunch of furniture at half the price. I sold everything and was left with the clothes I could carry.
Bags packed, I was escorted to the airport and while it was just normal procedure, I did second guess myself as the plane took off.
How long have you lived in Kenya
I have been in Kenya for four years now.
Is there a point when you thought you thought that going back home was the wrong thing to do? What were your most challenging times and how did you overcome them?
I think the most challenging part of being back was not buying a ticket back to Finland. The jolt that awaits you when you land is huge. Suddenly the environment gets to you. Poor infrastructure, corrupt systems, poor time keeping et al.
I had to deal with finding myself first. Understanding what I was capable of and being confident enough to pursue it. You see the workplace in the Diaspora doesn’t do much to boost your professional confidence due to that immigration celling that few have managed to break through.
It took time, lots of failed interviews, successful interactions and consistent attempts.
What do you do now?
I am currently a content creator, writer, editor, copywriter, social media and digital marketer. I am working as a Team Leader at Standard Media Group in the Standard Digital department.
I write for different platforms and consult for several institutions.
Can you now say 100% you are glad you came back? Why do you say that?
Absolutely! I miss the autumn in Finland and my friends back there but I am absolutely glad I made the decision to come back. I get to be me! I get to explore my boundaries in every sense. I am not closed in a box. There are so many things to be done professionally and personally.
I get to work on a large scope, study different trades and do various side hustles.
I am also glad that I have my family is here with me…the importance and the strength that family gives you cannot be understated..ever!
What advice would you tell someone thinking of moving back home?
Moving back home is like a startup venture. They say 90% of startups fail. But there is that one that thrives and becomes something big.
Coming home should not be done on a whim. It is a serious undertaking that will stretch your personal strength and faith to the limits. Come home with the determination to do so and stick it out through the bad and the worse..they will be many.
The victories will be slow and few at first..but they will become more frequent as you keep taking those chances.
When you do this, returning home is probably the most rewarding decision anyone can make.