Many a time, I am being personally questioned – and even attacked – on my way of life as a person who live abroad, far away from my homeland. These questions – and so attacks – come from different people and different angles.
But at the core of it is a blame that I am loosing much of what moulded me into what I am and, as a result, I am loosing my children into cultural emptiness. The question of culture is indeed so deep into our veins that we always tend to associate it to the life itself. Without it, there is no WE.
“Do you teach your children to wear properly!?” “Can your children speak fluent Swahili?” “Do you pray and fast?” “How long are you going to stay over there?” “Do you send your kids to madrassah?” “Don’t you miss us here!?” Some of the questions are narrowed down to judge my financial and economic capacity and or incapacity. You have been in Europe for long time now, why can’t you build a house.. buy a car… estbalish a company… and the list is long. Very very long!
While these might seem to others as just innocent questions coming out of love and deep concerns of my countrymen and women, they are at the sametime a judgment and tool of torture against the imaginary crime I have committed. A crime of being away from home.
But let me be honest. Even without these questions, I have already put myself on the defensive side of the case. It is as if I already accept to plea guilty of this crime. Not once in my almost one decade in Europe, have I cursed the day I took a flight to here. Most often, in those times, I feel a burden of being an alien to either side of the river.
I am a stranger to the land I migrated with my children, as no matter how hard I try to intergrate, there are empty holes that will never be filled. Strangehood is always compared to ignorance in my culture. There is no guarantee of not being prey to making mistake and even made pay for them when you are a stranger in ‘other’ people’s land. Similar could be said, when you are ignorant of something.
I am a stranger to my home country and my own people, no matter how hard I try to reconcile them into my thinking. As for me, the country I know is the one I left a decade ago, the friends I have are those we were together then. But both the country and the people are not static. Things have changed and they have changed with them too. The fabric that used to connect us seems to fade away every single moment. This is even at a time of great revolution of information technology.
This sense of being guilty has, however, nothing to do with my inability to answer the questions posed to me by my countrymen and women. Of course, I do have some answers. For example, I do really really miss my home country… actually I miss my home village, where I was born and raised and left when I was just 18 years old and never come back. That age, that village, those feelings, are the ones that come to my dreams when I sleep.
Of recent, I have learnt that I am not the only one who has pleaded guilty to this imaginery crime. Many a people who have migrated here are sharing the same feelings. They are bleeding inside for the tortures coming from the above raised questions.
Yes, I do teach my children how to wear. But the adverb ‘properly’ is itself subject to far and wide explanation, because it is subjective and not an objective connotation. What is proper clothing in my home country – especially due to its tropical weather – might not be proper elsewhere in the world. There are a number of criteria to judge what is and what is not proper.
Again, on the question of instilling to my children the same way of life that my parents did to me in our village, the attack is too strong and the loss in me is too heavy. Because it wants me not only to reverse the clock but also to turn the soil. Possible is it not!
How do I cope with this feeling of being guilty? That will be a topic for the next post. Come back here and let me have your say.
7 thoughts on “A Crime of Being Away From Home”
I feel you brother and thank you very much for a such wonderful post and well written. Mungu akubariki and wishing you all the best
Thank you too dear brother.
I know how you feel living abroad for almost a quarter of a century. You move out of your culture into another you start reflecting on things done differently than at home and the question arrises, is there only my way? Is mine the right way? Is there a right way? A lot confuses you and seems to gnaw on your very existance. And it is scary and sometimes depressing. What will be left is your core as a person, and as a freer person more reflecting on the why than on the how. And in the end you will see that what we all strive for is a live in our family, with friends mastering lives challenges with dignity.
Thank you very much my first and only German teacher, Frau Schollmeyer. See how the world is. You migrated to my country and teach me and others your language. A decade later I migrated to your country and work here with the knowledge you imparted in me. Thanks for everything.
Kake, first, I thank you for sharing your story filled up with emotions and strong home feelings that really scratching up your mind and our mind .
No where like home, the safe harbor. A place we never had any imagination that there’ll come a time we will be far away from it for less than a decade.
A place where we opened our eyes and see the beautiful smiling faces surrounded with the beautiful architecture of nature. The nature of everything . People and animals, houses of worships and madrasas rivers and ponds in which we used to take shower, and wash our clothes and dried ‘em up on a string hanging from one branch of a tree and another.
Where are those beautiful villages surrounded with palm trees and mango trees, a long with varieties of fresh fruits and plants we used to feed up our stomachs during the day.
Where are those friends and family members we used to hang around together every single day
When sometimes my mind reflects upon all these treasures and other bounties of great atmosphere and its tropical weather, I count myself too as a part of those crime of being away from home .
Many more thanks Kake. A partner in crime. In this particular crime which will live with us forever.
Very interesting touching story which all who,s had left our country feel the heat no matter the why