Wangeci left a comment on the blog that started a “rudi nyumbani” conversation. She is a diaspora returnee who is an ambitious,driven lady who is extremely busy and an expert manager of her time. I was totally impressed. She has a food blog and you can follow her on Twitter here.
Where were you abroad and for how long?
I was in Australia studying at RMIT University in Melbourne. I was there for a little over 3 years.
When did you decide to return home and what prompted that decision
My final decision to come back home was made when I was here on holiday after my graduation. The plan was to go back and apply for temporary residency then maybe do my masters (what the folks wanted). All through university, I knew I would come back after I graduated. In my last year I started thinking that maybe I can stay just a bit longer. Maybe 2 or 3 years maximum was my thought. But when I came on holiday I wondered why I should do that. Why waste my time In Australia?
Life abroad, in my opinon, is a rat race; always working to pay bills. I sensed and felt that my destiny and what I needed to achieve, was not in Australia. The biggest motivation was thatsince the Kenyan economy is so young, you can basically do anything and it will grow. You can bring in a new angle into almost any industry and it will grow.
How supportive were your parents about your decision?
I honestly can not remember my parents initial reaction. Therefore it can not have been that bad. I remember my dad thought that I wasted money buying a return ticket only for me to go back and pack. I should have just said I was coming for good and made the necessary arrangements he said. My parents also really wanted me to do a masters degree but that was never really my thing and I just told them I can do it later after I work. Other than that they were supportive. They paid for my ticket to come back and gave me cash to ship my stuff back. It never seemed like me being back was a bother. They let me live at home and they encouraged me throughout my job hunt.
What do you do now?
I run my own business in the food industry. I have a food product line where I produce jams, sauces and nut butters. I also make frozen goods like samosas, bread dough, pizza dough, lasagnas etc that I sell for people to reheat, store and reuse at home. Other than the production line I also do outside catering for upto 2000 people, hire out catering equipment which I do with my mum , run an event called The DStv Chill N Grill and run a blog africankaya.com
Talk about a moment that you were proud of in your career.
OMG, they are so many. Having the heart to quit employment, having the balls to stay in business every single month even when it gets hard. Those make me proud. Having a following that listens to me, being recognized in magazines, but mostly slowly taking over my mums business and the fact that she believes in me makes me very proud.
Do you feel 100% that moving back home is the best thing for you to have done?
Please list several factors that someone in diaspora should consider for success in Kenya.
- Managing your expectations. It was not easy for you to intergrat when you went abroad, it was hard to find a job, hard to make friends, hard to get used to the environment. Life was HARD before you got to the morion of things. Why then would you imagine you have been away 10 years or even 15 or 20 but imagine you will just jump back into the Kenyan grind?
- Plan well. Plan your money, think about your career path, what do you want to do, is it viable in Kenya? If it is what do you need to do to achieve it? Who do you need to talk to who has already walked that path to guide you?
- Leave your “In America” “In London” In wherever back where you got it. This is Kenya; accept that things will be different. Learn to live with it or go back to London.
- When you come create networks that are more than the people you knew abroad. These are the networks that will help you survive and settle back in.