Last Updated on 16 February 2019 by Gertrude
The allure of the western world pushes majority of Kenyans to go seek for greener pastures. Of course, we will want something exciting in our lives, something that makes a difference. Something that we don’t have. When a house-help is earning three thousand shillings in Kenya inclusive of tax, deductible by the employer, of course, he/she feels too belittled to even crane their head in the same house ; cleaning soiled baby clothes, overworking from morning to evening, going without meals, being beaten and insulted like you are a little monster. Yet, when they were looking for you, they promised a little heaven for you. Here, it’s hell realised on earth. They are too good to give way to hell. Sometimes, we just have to pretend that we got jobs, better than the ones you gave us.
Mama Boi or Halima comes up with an idea, to my mum telling her. ”I think I have a better opportunity for your daughter to earn money elsewhere, The Gulf. Saying stylishly. You know, the place where oil is the order of the day, where money is being minted, sent to the rest of the world. There, there are so many works and jobs to do for everyone who is willing to make money. In no time, I assure you, Nina will come home driving a big car, a Range Rover kind of, she will make sure you have transferred from this kind of life, pointing to our shanty abode, disgustedly. From this part of the city to a nice neighbourhood in the heart of Ukunda, or in Westlands, in Milimani Nakuru”. What do you do at such a lucrative offer, you simply, jump. Jump so high the birds get frightened. Becoming the next cousin of birds is too little a statement, oh, singing praise and worship as: Nina will bring in some nice shoes, Nina will pay school fees for her siblings, Nina will become the next big thing. Nina will become the next billionaire in Kenya. Going round the village telling every soul, your friend, laughing at those who enjoyed your plight in the shanties. Dancing the morning and night away smiling at oneself, the life you’d live. Feels magical, it’s exhilarating. Mama Halima thinks, crazy, she thinks life is too rosy?
Months later, mum Nina tries to reach her darling Nina, in Vain. ”Now, huyu mama Halima, kaenda wapi? Huyu mama Halima, kaniambia eti mawasiliano yatakuwa bora kabsa baina yake, mimi na Nina wangu”. ”Miezi hiyo, raising her three henna painted fingers to mean, three going to four, six, sijasikia chochote kutoka kwake. Hata huyo mwanao sijamsikia mimi. Maulana, Rabuka nakuomba tu uwe naye mwanangu”. For the last three, six months Mama Nina hasn’t heard a word from her dearest daughter. Mama Nina is in agony, Mama Nina is asking Allah to help her, hear her, console her. She becomes sick wanting to hear from her dearest darling.
Word comes in. Word that Nina, not Mama Nina’s daughter, are suffering in Dubai. Some have been asked to do notable jobs like washing snakes, others have been raped by the same snakes, others dogs, dogs have turned women into slaves. Failure to which, flog upon flog, beat me upon beat me is what Nina reports as her treatment. Others have been threatened, death is just an understatement, they cannot move, tied up like human slaves, their movements monitored by men and women carrying very heavy machine guns. ”Where is Mama Halima”, Mama Nina keeps asking. ”Where is she? Mola atamleta tu”. Meanwhile, Mama Halima is globe trotting, her clients have made her rich, somewhere resting in the middle of the earth, with her new ‘clients’. People from another part of the country will be caught unaware. Mama Halima orders some workers, ”take these my boys, go post them on every tree branch you see” . ”News News, Habari Njema Kwa Wenyeji ya County ya Nakuru. Kazi, Kazi, Kazi. SalesPersons needed with a form four certificate, come to building 139, Ngata Plaza. Come with your school leaving certificate”. Job, Job to four form leavers. Some posts are too elaborate, tackling the issue, ”girls and women needed”. The chosen few experience hope of a new journey, to a new life, seeing their would-be employers processing their passports, travel documents and arrange their stay.
Others have their own parents accompany them. Some have paid too much a price for the jobs. The target being low to middle class earning families. The allure of the west is seen by the numbers turning to apply, paying and bidding bye bye to us poor souls who want to languish in Kenyan poverty. The said offices are always centrally positioned but very hard to find. In a skyscraper somewhere in Room 13. Room 13 is also an operative of a cyber cafe, a green-card hub to the USA and New-Zealand and other small small deals. Mama Halima having finished her job â€¦ . Nowadays, Mama Halima adorns diamond rings: her nose, her painted fingers, her toe nails, point any place! While Mama Nina is slowly looking like someone who is next in line for the greatest burial.
Months later, her daughter finds relief sending a message to her mum. ”mama nisaidieni”. Mama Nina panicks thinking that it’s just a half second job that will soon be over. ”Rudi nyumbani mwanangu”, she pleads. Nina is triggered by her mum’s voice, seeking justice from the embassy in Saudi Arabia. Where horror in human form meets her. Horror, ”we cannot help you, you signed a contract with your boss, now you want us to help you run away?”. Nina doesn’t give up, her relentless pleading and begging makes her appear on national television. Today, Nina who left home looking a chocolate brown, bright face, is so dull almost unrecognisable by those who know her.
The anguish in her mum which made her feel like dying doesn’t make her die. Resurrecting of her mind and sorrow makes her start a long battle protest with other women whose children were told, ”honey, milk, gold are in Saudia.”. ”Tutawasaidia vipi?”. A mum’s tear streams, forming a river that stabs even the strongest of hearts.
Can you go The Gulf?
*Story retold to reflect the plight of Kenyans in Saudi, not told in mention of real persons*.