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So, you’re not American, so you must want to move away…



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If you had a choice to live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

Simple question, but ask a typical American and they would look at you wondering why would you ask such a thing. Why would they leave “the greatest country on earth?”

So many do not even have passports and not only are they not interested in leaving the country, they are not even interested in knowing what is happening in the rest of the world. They are grateful to be American. Everyone else is running to their country, why would they be so foolish as to leave?

As for us here at home, the answers come rolling in: The youth will mention America, the United Kingdom, South Africa, China, Russia, Dubai, you know, anywhere but here… because here, “There is just nothing for me, no chance of making a living for myself.”

There is nothing like the airport rush. No matter what time you leave your house, even estimating the amount of traffic, hold ups on the highway still make you nervous.

How long will the police keep you waiting at a particular stop? One secretly hopes that there is some big time politician rushing to the airport so that they can clear your lane; but if they are landing and heading in the opposite direction, you will be screwed for sure.

After the usual security checks, removing shoes, jackets and belts, and just one more final line, and that is immigration, and I can consider myself almost at my departure terminal.

Then I notice a few young ladies crowding me. All appear to be below the age of 25. The first thing to pop in my mind, is this some conference that they are attending? If not, could it be school, or some university function? One is dressed in sports clothing, so perhaps a team?

Then one individual gave the obvious impression of one who had never set foot in an aeroplane. She looked nervous and lost. Could not understand security, whether it was all her bags, including her handbag?

She had a short haircut, the kind they force you to have once you join high school. Very simple and to the point, no sense of uniqueness, fashion or peculiarity. She stands at the back of the line. Then we walk towards the terminal and go through one more security check, thankfully the final one.

She chooses to sit next to me, sighing with relief. We’ve made it.

Then she asks, “Your flight is at 9am?” I answer yes. Then she asks, “Where are the rest?” And I look at her perplexed. I am travelling alone.

My flight is actually at 9:10am and yours? She responds “9:50 am”. Then I continue, “Where are you travelling to?” “Dubai” she responds. “Oh, we are not on the same flight, mine is before that,” I remark.

A few minutes later, about six more young ladies join us. They seem to know one another but are not too familiar. Some appear to be brand new to this. They are nervous, and extremely still and staring into the distance. There is one who is dressed in all black, with bright red ankle boots. She taking selfies of herself wearing sunglasses in the terminal.

Then I ask my question, “Why are you going to Dubai?” and she responds, “for work.” All of them female, all of them young, all of them dreaming of a better life for themselves.

The life here, they just can’t make ends meet. They would rather work in a foreign land with opportunities. According to a recent survey by Economist Intelligence Unit, Kenya has moved 13 spots up when it comes to the cost of living, so alternatives must be looked for when it comes to surviving.

Nerima Wako-Ojiwa is executive director of Siasa Place. @NerimaW

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