How you manage money throughout your Diaspora journey will have the hugest (positive or negative) impact on you. Managing money poorly will be your biggest regret; as I pointed out before.
A major and regular expense is the money you send to Kenya to your relatives….you know to pay school fees, to build your parents a home, to buy all your friends I phone 6’s….you get my drift.
I’m not talking about money you send home to buy YOUR plot of land, YOUR apartment, save money in YOUR bank account; no these are expenses that have nothing to do with you.
A change you go through the night you fly out of JKIA is the metamorphosis from someone’s child, someone’s brother or sister to a breadwinner, a caretaker, a provider. Unbeknownst to you, flying out of Kenya has clothed you with an invisible PROVIDER cloak.
And there is no time or way to question or resist this, you have too many other things demanding your attention like the shock of experiencing your first winter or dealing with visa issues, getting over the shock of working in a nursing home, or, or, or.
So you take on your new role that you are so inexperienced in but you’ve been thrust into. (Surely there must be a legitimate reason for your new title)
This is the beginning of your life as a provider.
Most of us have a part that wants to please people; we want to be liked. We want to feel needed and wanted. Being a provider allows all these things to happen.
For many years, we really embrace our new role…in our minds we somehow relate doing more and giving more to others as making you a good person.
Then it gives you a savior complex…..you came in and saved the day…without your help there was no way things were going to happen. It feels good to be the second Jesus Christ and sacrificial lamb for the whole family……surely it must come with some sort of reward one day.
So you keep on doing it, you even become good at it.
But I’m here to tell you that once you are a provider, you are a provider, and if things go awry and you find yourself broke and helpless in Kenya….the sum of all the things you did will not warrant anyone to bail you out financially.
In short, even if you built a house for your mom, and paid fees for 25 siblings and you have no savings…don’t think anyone will bail you out or remember the things you did before.
People don’t know how to relate to you when you are from majuu and broke. Who is this person? They are used to relating to you when you are fulfilling the provider role.
The mother of my friend who died told The Standard newspaper something very interesting, that her last convo with her daughter was of her asking her daughter of money. Vinnie was her family’s bread winner. This girl who had no job, was a single mother, had repeatedly told me she was depressed and was feeling the STRAIN of trying to meet all these demands. We know her financial reality here. She had no income period but hey, she flew out of JKIA so now she was a provider.
The other day I invited my friend over for dinner and a chat. She was so sad because she had to buy someone a Samsung tablet back home. This girl is struggling here ….it takes light years to get a job here…I’m not talking about a decent job; getting a dish washing job is a herculean task. I told her, “You have lost so much weight, you are barely surviving here and you want to buy someone a Samsung in Kenya?” And she said, “I don’t want to disappoint anyone.”
This thing of being a provider and being a fixer of all ills is actually counteractive. Sure, there are valid problems in Kenya. Sure there are genuine needs. Sure the unemployment rate in Kenya is sky high…actually beyond the heavens high.
But you being the superhero and making everyone turn to you for help, makes them unable to think of solutions for themselves and just depend on you. You are creating this dependency and the truth of the matter is if you do not help, if you do not provide the financial fix, it will force them to fix it themselves.
I have been a provider for most of my Diaspora life. Then I came to Sweden. Who knew? I thought I’d get a HR job in a few months. Well God knew I was a horrible manager of my money and when I had it I used to spend it on others. So He put me on a 2 year time out. Yes. I have not been working for the past 2 years in Sweden. So I could not even if I wanted to send money to anyone in Kenya. I could not pay anyone’s school fees, I could not do nothing. And guess what, the world has still been going on.
I somehow blamed myself for my Dad’s death so I guess in some weird way I was trying to be him. I guess I was intimidating as a provider…..my Dad was a force to be reckoned with.
But the 2 years has made me go back to me…Nyakarima, mtoto wa mama, a sister and an aunt. My relationships have really improved now, because maybe people see me as human now…lol.
My mum is so amused by my state of brokenness, she calls me all the time coz she knows I won’t if she doesn’t. “She’s like, “Hiyo nchi inabore.” Yes, mum….…tell me about it!
There are some really deserving cases in Kenya like my friend Wanjau who runs an amazing organization that cares for disabled kids in Kenya…..and every time I apologize about not sending money he says it’s OK ….what is important is that you have a heart for us.
The world is still going round even though I’ve been forcefully removed from the equation.
Your Take from This
I’m not saying you do not send money to your family back home. This is not the gist of my article.
There’s a financial principle called pay yourself first. You need to have a savings account FIRST. Then do your budget and by all means send the rest to Kenya. If you are starving, illegal, homeless, and jobless, you can’t send money home …it’s that simple. You need to tell your family that you have no income and if they love you, they should understand your financial situation. We need to start being honest with our families back home, otherwise people are dying because of living a lie.
And if someone says they will roga you just send me a prayer request. I won’t even charge you. He he. Or tell them to go to Kanyari coz you know that curse won’t work.
Women are told to take care of themselves first so they can take care of their families….it’s the same principle…you need to take care of your basic needs first before you buy ipads for people back home.
They will still love you and if they don’t, it’s OK…in life you can’t please everyone.
Tell me in the comments what your experience has been. The people who have been in the Diaspora for long can really understand what I’m talking about.