Kenyan by any other name…

He asked me a couple of questions when I was done. He caught me off guard. His eyes dark, gentle and then suddenly hard.

His family had registered him as a refugee when he was five years old. They registered him because they thought they were doing something right by him. They fled across the border and handed their child to Kenya and the various NGO’s. Praying that he would get a better life.

That was twenty years ago.

He went to school at Catholic University – a Finance Degree. A scholarship. He says he is grateful because he got something he would otherwise have not got.

His eyes grow darker. He was now unemployed. By law, Kenyan law, he can only earn Ksh. 5000. Nothing more.

That is less than minimum wage.

He is waiting to be resettled. He has been waiting to be resettled. He will have to continue waiting to be resettled. Somewhere. Maybe in that place in the land of milk and honey.

He speaks Kiswahili. He grew up here in my Kenya. He only knows Kenya. We know Kenya, but in different ways.

I’m looking at him and he is looking back at me.

“How come I can’t get employed here. I would like to be able to even contribute to the Kenya government…”

I don’t know what to say. Images of a “shiny black laughing (heartily) Otieno Kajwang” flash through my mind.

He is stuck waiting for something he has been waiting for, for twenty years.

It’s the immigration that K’Naan talks about here:


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