By Kevin Gachie –
A section of the Kenyans in the diaspora are an angry lot. This follows a series of back to back incidences in which Kenyan citizens have died abroad, some in very deplorable conditions.
Death is a very sensitive topic not only in Kenya, but also among Kenyans in the United States. Infact, talking about the dead continues to be a taboo, yet majority of Kenyans continue to suffer in silence.
At the center of discussion amongst the diaspora is not death itself; rather, the idea of being called upon to help those within the community who NEVER participate in community events. Fact is,death is inevitable, everyone will have to face it at some point in life.However, the good spirit of Kenyans generosity stands abused if joyriders are not put in check.
Increased cases of Kenyans who have died in isolation has become a source of concern, more so in the United States.Most recently,a Kenyan citizen residing in a Scandinavian country has been in a coma for six months.The hospital doesn’t have a contact of the next of kin. So, they decided to go to the media.This story got me thinking, when did the rain start beating us? How can one of us be in the hospital for six months without no one noticing? was it a community mistake or her mistake? or was she like one of those Kenyans who don’t wonna hang out with other Kenyans? Nobody can answer these questions, because the poor lady can’t speak.
Writing a Will.
A will is such an important document, it sad that most Kenyans in the diaspora do not have one. A will stipulates what should be done should one find himself or herself in an unfortunate situation. Many families are left with tough decisions to make regarding what to do, especially when African culture collides with the American culture.
Should they be buried in the U.S or Kenya? What about Cremation?
Having left Kenyan many years now, its no surprise that most Kenyans consider the diaspora their second home.Theirs no doubt that a decision will have to be made .will it be here or Kenya? Having children in the United states even complicates the decision making process,but whether we like it or not, this is a decision we will have to make and a discussion we need to have.Lets face it, the dilemma of shipping the body of a loved one to Kenya or burying them in the U.S continues to be a hot topic. Should they be buried in the U.S where their children would visit their graves, or be buried in Kenyan where their families would have closure upon seeing their body? or better still,should they be cremated?
In one of the social media platforms, one of the commentators said, “Luhyias are scared of Fire.” Meaning that cremation for them is out of question.It probably is true,considering that very few Kenyans go the cremation route.
According to the Cremation Research Council, the average cost of cremation is $1,100.00 which doesn’t include Morgue fees and the cost of viewing the body. However, the average North American burial cost is between $7,000 to $10,000 which includes funeral and viewing. These two scenarios are miles apart cost-wise. With Kenyans donating thousands of dollars to ship bodies home or on burial, maybe it’s time they considered cremation.
Shipping the Body to Kenya
The average cost of shipping a body from the U.S to Kenya is $10,000.Depending on the service of your choice, it could be cheaper. Some shipping companies make arrangements to ship the body all the way to the village in Kenya including burial. John Nganga, a Kenyan residing in Dallas is known among the Kenyan community to provide such services.Obviously, other states have different options.
Life and burial Insurance
Life insurance can be expensive, but which other sure way to leave your family with less burden than life insurance? Having life insurance is very important.It relieves the family the burden of worrying in your absentia, especially is you were the bread earner or if you have younger children.This is something we seriously need to consider as the diaspora.
Additionally, it’s also important to update your personal details to reflect the most current family situations, if you are separated, divorced or widowed, your insurance information should reflect the change.If you are in a relationship that is not legally defined, then regardless of how long you all have been together, they cannot make decision on your behalf.They will be just like friends across the street.
If you live in the United States or any other part of the world,it’s imperative you interact with other Kenyans. Do not be an island of your own .Establish contacts with at least one Kenyan or tell your people whom to contact if they can’t find you. Those Kenyans who always say they don’t wonna hang out with other Kenyans, forget that the those American, or European friends will send you flowers when you are sick and won’t help you where it counts.Be part of the community for the collective good.
Everyone understands that this is not an easy topic, Kenyans in the diaspora are encouraged to find solace in community groups as a last recourse ,a buffer or insurance should something happen to them. Belonging to a community in the diaspora is not by choice but necessity.By joining groups, you are not doing anyone a favor, rather, you are doing yourself a big favor.
Kenyans in the United States have organized themselves into community groups. This groups have come in handy in time of need. For instance, Houston has groups such as, The Houston Benevolence Fund, Mundu Khu Mundu, The SDA group and the Kisii Community group amongst others. There are many such groups across the U.S and the entire diaspora. These groups come together to help whenever one of their members is bereaved. We also have the KWITU group which has members all over the United States and Canada.
With the many social groups in the diaspora, one should be able to find at least one in which they fit. Belonging to a group is therapeutic as much as it is for social enjoyment. Kenyans living in the U.S have to find a way of calling out those living in Isolation. If they have issues that require the community’s attention, it should be addressed. Otherwise, it would not be fair to expect help when it’s their turn but shy away when it’s others.As the saying goes, ” Scratch my back, I scratch yours”. Be part of the community so that together we can collectively lessen the burden impacting us all.