Published On: Sat, Apr 18th, 2020

We are much more than the remittance’ – Kenya Diaspora


Kenyans in the  Diaspora ‘those  of the remittance’  are constantly reminded of their patriotic duty to support Kenya’s economic development by way of  sending money  (remittance) to our motherland to support our families meet medical , education , housing and many more.  Services that are meant to be the business of government but for some reason, it is now the duty of the diaspora. As the pandemic continues to wreck havoc in the economies where most Kenyans reside, many have lost their livelihood , are alone and desperate for help.

To bring into context the important role of the Diaspora plays, we look at the value of their remittance from the data available.

The nation is ranked the 3rd highest recipient of diaspora remittances in Sub Sahara Africa by Migration and remittances brief(2018) by World Bank. The country received (usd 2.7 Billion) in Diaspora remittances, after Ghana(usd 3.8 billion) and Nigeria (USD 24.3 Billon respectively. This is more money than Kenya gets from Coffee and Tea exports, making the Diaspora a critical contributor to Kenya’s economy.

The relationship between ‘ those of the remittance ‘ and  the various governments has always been ‘interesting’ for lack of a better word. Most of the Kenyans abroad ( over a million) left the country  in search of ‘greener pastures’ which  were not available in Kenya. 90% of Kenya Migrants leave Kenya in search of economic activity, with a small minority leaving for political reasons (mostly in the 90s ) during the draconian era of the late President Daniel Arap Moi.

Back to the point .

Since the pandemic began, most Kenyans in developed economies have lost their jobs and are faced with great challenges, many particularly those in China (Wuhan) have begged the Government to evacuate them as their lives were in danger.   Many in China have spoken of racial abuse in shopping malls , homelessness after being thrown out of their houses and attacks on public transport .They have have begged the Government to help them out, repatriate them to  safety as having survived COVID 19 now are in grave danger under the racist China. We have all seen online videos showing scores of African immigrants being treated like animals sleeping in backstreets and signs barring foreigners from many public places.  Despite intervention even by the Africa Union, the Chinese have continued to mistreat Kenyans and Africans .

The closest to anything Kenyans in Wuhan got was some press briefing by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which was a complete train wreck, despite condemnation, the statement sounded like it was excusing prejudice against Kenyans.

Many were comforted by support from many Kenyans who took to twitter to call out the Government, reminding them to put Kenyans lives before Kenya’s debt to China.

Here are some reactions from twitter :

Amb Macharia is an ELOQUENT and ERUDITE Spokesman for the CHINESE Govt…
Kenya’s response has been timid. It cannot be about debt only. Kompromat on our viongozi?
This is embarrassing and a betrayal of the Kenyans in China;further,it contradicts the recent well thought out protest statement to the Chinese Government by African Ambassadors in China.
#ukolonimamboleo we saw it coming when we turned to the east, Chinese hawkers, mitumba sellers, contractors, poachers ….
The greatest threat to Africa in the 21 century is not the west(western imperialism) but the sort of leaders Africans vote and empower to rule over them. Kenya has gone on to ask these desperate Kenyans to pay for their own evacuation if they want to leave China as of yesterday.   Elsewhere in the US , Kenyans have raised over $12,000 towards the emergency appeal by the same government to bail them out in providing food for the vulnerable.
After the pandemic, and if we in the diaspora survive , we will need the elders to help us re evaluate our relationship – Kenyan Leaders VS those of the remittance.
@agnesgitau is a managing partner @gbsafrica a boutique Africa advisory services firm.
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We are much more than the remittance’ – Kenya Diaspora
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