“We are not paid in dollars and pounds!”

You have been in the diaspora since your early twenties.  You’ve struggled in all aspects of life.  But thankfully after twenty years you have finally got the long awaited residency. In those 20 years you’ve educated children you didn’t give birth to; you’ve built houses you’ll never live in; you’ve strengthened economies of your resident country and home country.  Single handedly you’ve wired millions of shillings if not dollars and pounds.

Now you are at a point in your life where you want to have fun.  You want to travel the world, but most importantly you want to travel home and see people you haven’t seen in all those years.  You also want to see what all the children you paid school fees for (now adults) are doing. You want to know what the friends you went to high school with are doing.

So you book a flight and a few excursions here and there, you definitely have to see the coast and swim in the ocean and a few game drives and safaris won’t go amiss.

So you put a massive ‘status update’ on Facebook – 2 weeks to go watch this space.  Your online buddies like the post, others ask what’s going on in 2 weeks. You reply and ask them to keep watching the space.  So everybody is watching including your enemies.

Two weeks later you update the status to ‘travelling to Nairobi from Heathrow BA’s executive lounge…. 254! Are you ready for me?’ A million smiley faces!

Your oldest friends in the homeland are very excited, your enemies are thinking ‘so what’. Your friends in the diaspora have lists and envelopes to send you to their various relatives, your enemies are thinking ‘being there done that a million times over – no biggie shut up already!!’.

Eight and a half hours later you arrive in Nairobi to a pleasant surprise, your whole village came to meet you. They’ve rented a big bus. You’ve been good to the whole village – not only did you educate your younger siblings; you’ve also educated a few orphans from the village.  One of them works in the bank. To your village you are a celebrity. You built a nice house for your mother and put electricity and water. Everyone in the village goes there to charge their phone or fetch water when the drought has gone on for too long. You bought your mum a smart phone, sometimes you skype her and the whole village is in awe of your awesomeness.

You only stay in the village for two days because you have a tight schedule, and you intend to meet old friends in a five-star hotel in the city. You can’t stay in the village for too long, you worry your bleached skin will cook under the sun and blotches will come out. You explain the lack of sun makes your skin pale, the villagers, of course, believe you and look at you like you’ve just landed from Jupiter. They love you so much because you carry bundles of 500 shs notes that you handshake people with.

Few days later, you finally meet your buddies at a swanky hotel. You are all dressed to the nines. You feel a bit jealous coz they look better than you in designer gear they bought from Toy (Toi) market. You are dressed in Primark top, shoes and handbag and George’s skirt and sunglasses – which to your horror, they know – they sell for pennies [in Toi] and they would not be caught dead dressed in them. You look nice but nothing compared to their clothes, shoes and handbags.

You compliment each other, however, your private thoughts are causing system overload.

You sit at a nice table in the terrace and ask for the menu. You can’t believe the prices [you might as well be in London]! You don’t portray the shock horror. Your friends look unfazed with these astronomical prices. They order bottles of wine, starters, main course, dessert and coffee (although they won’t actually drink the coffee in case it sobers them up and the expensive wine they’ve drunk will be a waste).

While eating you catch up and laugh about everything.  From crazy weddings to painful births. Gossips about other people. Praises for the ones doing well and contempt for the strugglers. You haven’t laughed so hard in ages.

Eventually the bill comes. You all need to pay and head to ‘the’ disco joint (this is where a shot of any spirit costs upwards 1000).

You all see the bill, but your friends are chatting away nonchalantly. You are worried because no purses are coming out and the bill was placed strategically in front of you. What you didn’t know was that the waiter overheard your friends asking how life was in London and how they hear you’ve done so well and that you are married to a rich guy. He automatically assumes you are paying and to your horror so does your ‘friends’.

When you ask how ‘we’ are going to pay the bill, you are rudely told “you pay!! After all you are paid in pounds and we are not!!” The conversation returns and you decide your these ‘old’ friends are narcissists high on ego and low on empathy.

 

6 Comments

  1. salome

    Looool. I am not a diasporan but i can see this scenario!

    Reply
  2. Amutalla

    I totally get you. I used to go to Kenya and ask all relas to meet up at Ngong Hills hotel for lunch which I would pay. It’s not like it was appreciated, just free food. Last year I went and didn’t bother, boy did I get messages asking why I didn’t want to see them. Tricky here. 4 cheese pizza I would have loved to see them, but not on my expense all the time. I have a family too to feed and educate.

    Reply
  3. Irene

    Hahahaha…. So do you pay with your credit card which charges are high. I’ve laughed so much.
    at that moment you realise they’re not your friends.
    Paying all that money and yet you have your credit cards bills to pay after scrubbing floors in UK.

    Reply
  4. Anne

    This’s so true and I enjoyed reading it

    Reply
  5. Beth

    Es how true! brilliant writing too! Keep writing!

    Reply
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    Reply

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