kenyan diaspora conf

International Conference on

"The Role of the Kenyan Diaspora in Kenya's Development"

Kennesaw State University, March 22-24, 2007



1. At press time, not all abstracts are in.
2. Many submitted their topics and abstracts through various third parties. Such abstracts may have been lost. If you are one of these, please resend the abstracts to for inclusion in this publication.
3. Abstracts are as submitted by authors; no editing has been done by conference organizers.
4. The list is alphabetical by author’s (or first author’s) last name.


Dr. Eric Aseka, “History, Culture and National Development: The role of the Kenyan Diaspora in Constructing a New Politics of Culture and Identity”

Topic of Keynote Address; abstract was not required.


Margaret Baldwin and Karen Robinson, Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, KSU, “You Always Go Home”

This presentation will utilize theatrical performance and a panel discussion to investigate the Kenyan Diaspora as embodied in the experiences of Kenyan students who have traveled to the United States to study and/or work at Kennesaw State University.


Jesse Benjamin, Dept of Sociology and Criminal Justice, KSU, “Issues of Representation in the Academy and in the Kenyan Diaspora: Power and Colonial Legacies in Constructions of Knowledge about Kenya’s Coastal History”

During Kenya’s colonial period under British rule, and as a partial result of Britain’s difficulty in waging its campaign against the Giriama [Mijikenda] in the Giriama Rebellion of 1914, the Arabs and many Swahili along the coast strip were given middle-level positions within colonial society and its civil service administration.  However, a campaign of planned under-development was waged against the Mijikenda peoples, including the Giriama, who were the other major population in the region.  This meant little or no infrastructural development in Mijikenda areas, as well as mal-distribution of lands in the post-slavery era.  This paper will explore the effects of this uneven development into the present, and particularly in the construction of knowledge and historiography about the coast and its culture[s].  As Kenya’s Diaspora has grown in recent years, particularly since the country’s independence, this unevenness has continued in terms of who manages to make it in US and Western societies, and especially the academy, such that Swahili perspectives, while highly valuable, remain hegemonic in the interpretation of coastal history.  What this means for coastal culture, politics and historiography is very significant for the state of the Kenyan nation in the immediate future.


Denniston Bonadie, MCRP, Department of Africana Studies, Rutgers University, “More Than Just ‘Development Through Harambee’? A Role for the Kenyan Diaspora in Kenya’s Development”

Organization of diaspora communities for participation in community development has emerged as critical agenda for many developing countries. This paper examines local development through the prism of three districts in Kenya that attempted to tap into their diaspora connections. The experiences from these locations suggest that initial formulations to tap into diaspora support have operated similar to already familiar Harambee projects. The interesting dynamic is that while these examples show how diaspora resources have provided important benefits across socioeconomic strata within communities they seem to simultaneously offer the potential to increase regional and ethnic differentiation. While the current mode of intervention of the Kenyan diaspora may not alter fundamental inequities in economic and political structures, and sometimes reinforces them, there is the genesis of a useful strategy for mobilizing global-level resources for the benefit of local-level communities.


Sandra Nyokabi Chege, Rachel Wanjiru Gichinga, and Sennane Gatakaa Riungu, “Kenyan Thoughts on the Kenyan Diaspora: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”
The purpose of the conference is to examine the role of the Kenyan diaspora in Kenya’s development, and to address how best to harness the potential within the diaspora for Kenya’s national development. This panel will examine and discuss the history and future of the Kenyan diaspora as it affects social and economic development through the performing arts, as well as the political development of Kenya’s political philosophy, which is the basis for any economic and social development. As such, Panelist number one will examine the Kenyan society’s growing appreciation of the performing arts as a tool for disseminating values and informal education on pertinent social issues. Panelist number two will examine how Kenya’s position as a regional powerhouse is shaped by input from members of the diaspora, through the area of the performing arts. Panelist number three will examine the roles played by Kenyans in the diaspora in shaping Kenya’s political fabric. As a result of the panelists ‘examination of these issues, it is hoped that future relations between Kenyans in the diaspora and Kenyans at home will be enhanced and strengthened.


Emily J. Choge, “Rebuilding the Walls of the City” The Role of the Kenya Church in Diaspora in the Development of Kenya: A Case Study of the Presbyterian Church in Atlanta

The church has been the source of social change in the world whenever it has acted true to its calling as a stranger. The Kenyan community in the US has the greatest opportunity to help the church  in Kenya. This paper will investigate what the Kenyan church is America is doing to live true to its calling

When Nehemiah heard of the conditions of his people he wept and began to make plans to go to do what he could to help in rebuilding the walls. What is the Kenyan diaspora doing, merely trying to survive or have they reached a level of comfort? What do they feel when they hear of the conditions of their people?

The church in Kenya has been a catalyst for social change right to the grass roots level through its networks that transcends national boundaries. The Presbyterian Church in East Africa, for example, was established over 100 years ago in Kenya and has been involved in development projects including building of schools, hospitals orphanages, etc. This paper would like to explore the impact that presence of Kenyan Presbyterians in Atlanta has helped to enhance these links and to promote more development projects in Kenya.  My thesis is that the participation of the Kenyan Diaspora in development projects at home is dependent upon their finding “a home away from home.’ How far have the links that the Presbyterian Church in Kenya with the Presbyterian Church in US assisted Kenyans in Atlanta in finding a home in a foreign land? What is the Presbyterian Church in the US and Kenya doing to promoting these linkages? Are there any tensions and foreseeable challenges that might impact these networks and their participation in development? How can these challenges be addressed?  How far can the successful models be emulated by other Christian communities for the development of the homeland as well as promotion of the wellbeing of the immigrants?


Gladys “Nyagus” Gikiri, “The Kenyan Diaspora with a New Generation of Authors/Publishers: An overview of Kenyan authors/publishers living abroad their works and its effects”

Wangari Maathai, Ngugi wa Thingo, Ali Mazrui and Micere Mugo are all world known authors from Kenya. However, there is a bread of new and upcoming Kenyan authors who also all happen to be publishers. These young tarts are setting the tone of literal publications for Kenyans as well many Africans in the Diaspora as we speak. Dan Kamau, Wilson Wanguhu, Gitau wa Ngenga and Nyagus all belong on this list. Their target readers are Kenyans and or African abroad. Their books and monthly magazines can be credited for keeping Kenyans informed and educated about their homeland as well as plugged in on the achievements of their counter parts around the world. However, their prospective contributes to educating the world about Kenya and to written history and literature about Kenyan could be immeasurable.


Diane Griffin, “The Economic Impact of Zionism on Israel and the Implications for Pan-Africanism to Promote Sustainable Development in Kenya

Zionism provides a cultural and religious framework that creates a sense of loyalty and responsibility to Israel amongst Diasporatic Jewish.  This is true despite the fact that many Diaspora Jews have never physically stepped on Israeli soil.  This connection between the people and the land drives efforts to ensure the economic development of the nation in  many ways, including political organizing in nations where Jews have citizenship, sending remittances, and repatriating.
Globalization has led to an increased flow of educated and skilled professionals from African countries to richer nations.  Individuals often view their migration as a tremendous opportunity for personal economic growth.  However, for nations faced with the exportation of millions of their best an d brightest this trend has devastating effects. 

One key to reducing the negative effects of this  trend is to infuse Pan-Africanism into the consciousness of Diaspora Africans to promote a sense of connection to the motherland that transcends geographic and generational boundaries.  For Kenya, this will create a desire and responsibility amongst expatriates to pool their political, intellectual, and economic capital to ensure the sustained economic growth of the nation.  This paper gives a detailed analysis of this premise by utilizing an interdisciplinary model for development.


Dr. Daniel Karanja, Senior Fellow, Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, Dr. Leah Keino, Iowa State University, Dr. Ann Mungai, and Prof. Olive Mugenda, Vice Chancellor, Kenyatta University, “Strengthening Africa’s Economic Development through Diaspora Networks”

Panel Discussion:
This presentation will include introductory remarks by Dr. Daniel Karanja followed by a brief panel discussion Introductory Remarks by Dr. Daniel Karanja: Engaging U.S. Policy for Africa’s Economic Development: Skill Development, Capacity Building and the Critical Role of Africans in Diaspora

Five decades after attaining political independence, most African countries are still struggling to get a foothold in economic development. Data shows that most Africans are worse off today than they were 40-50 years ago and Africa’s share of global trade has declined by half over the same period. Most countries continue to rely on the same primary exports they did many years ago. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, most of this progress has occurred in the most populated countries in the world, China and India. The one region where progress has stalled, and in fact projections indicate increasing hunger, poverty and malnutrition is Africa. This is not surprising as Africa’s per capita food production has been declining, and so has public and private sector investments in agriculture sector and rural development ---the backbone of most African economies.  Kenya’s economic development has rebounded but the gains are so far limited and have not trickled to the poor and the needy. In spite of some positive business development and agricultural exports trends, Kenya still faces serious binding constraints that hinder further growth and exploitation of new trade opportunities. This presentation will preview the constraints and potential solutions, and zero-in on three prerequisite ingredients for Kenya’s economic renaissance: (1) local private sector development; (2) modified public sector role; and (3) harnessing the experience, networking and resources of Kenyans in Diaspora.  Follow-Up Panel Discussion:  Strengthening African Capacity Building through Diaspora Networks: The Case of Kenya 

Description: Increasingly, a number of alumni from higher education institutions in Africa are making initiatives to support the fulfillment of missions of their Alma Mater institutions. Recent development in leadership in public universities in Kenya for example, is creating an enabling environment for alumni in Diaspora to contribute professionally in areas of interest. Modeling current practices of the role of alumni in western institutions, African institutions can learn and benefit from their alumni.   This panel will discuss the engagement between Kenyatta University and its Diaspora Alumni and friends in North America in joint resource development, grant writing and research projects. Discussions will include shared best practices in special education and distance learning, and how Kenyans in Diaspora and their collaborators can establish lasting institutional relationships that foster professional and economic development in Kenya.


Kenneth K. Karanja, Peter N. Kungu, Erick Kibisu and Dickens Nyabuti, “The Nairobi Stock Exchange; A Potential Investment Avenue for Diaspora Kenyans”

The resurgent growth of the Kenyan economy beginning in early 2002 offers an attractive investment avenue for development-minded Kenyans in the Diaspora. Kenyans abroad have been a vital part of Kenya's development through sending of worker remittances to their relatives. Their role in development can be further enhanced if they participated in economic activities that facilitate sustainable development. Investing in securities, for example, would provide local companies with the revenue to expand their operations by developing industrial and service capacity. Consequently, companies are able to offer employment opportunities to the youth and increase government tax revenue thus alleviating poverty. This investment avenue also offers opportunities for innovative business that can facilitate accountable, convenient and efficient investing in Kenya by taking advantage of advances in information technology. Such businesses would play a vital role by providing investors with online access to their stock accounts where they can execute trades and monitor their investment in a timely manner (156 words).


Anthony Kibe Kimotho, Operations Manager, Bridgeworks Africa Limited, “Commercialisation of African Research”

Soil, food and health are areas that are interlinked, homogenous as a whole and the major issues of concern for a majority of people of earth. Applying and leveraging innovative techniques to address these challenges is crucial in the ongoing fight against the root causes of these global concerns.
Bridgeworks Africa Limited, incorporated in Kenya with offices in Nairobi, is affiliated to an international venture capital group engaged in the incubation and commercial exploitation of research addressing key global concerns associated with soil, food and health. Bridgeworks strongly believes, that in the long run, entrepreneurship and economic principles are the main pillar of an intelligent and lasting development, in industrial as well as developing countries. This key driving force has to be enveloped in a framework consisting of social and ecological principles that have global acceptance and therefore generate an appropriate market price. 

Bridgeworks Africa Limited’s presentation will address the sub-theme of how we are utilising our global knowledge and skills to create and enhance development opportunities in Kenya. It will include an overview of the marketplace challenges we are addressing, our innovative business model, current portfolio of commercialisation products and services as well as a profile of our team.


Nehemy Kihara, “Extended Family Values, Social and Cultural Issues Faced By the Kenyan Diaspora”

Not supplied

Jean Ngoya Kidula, Hugh Hodgson School of Music, Athens, GA, “Nostalgia and reinvention in the presentation of Kenya’s music in the United States

The production of music reifies and exaggerates the real and the imagined.  Kenyans in the United States play an interesting role in the archival of musical styles of their Kenyan heritage as nostalgic memory of the past, or the ways they remember Kenya and have therefore become primary consumers of mediated re-issues and cover performances of popular and indigenous musics.  On the other hand, Kenyans in Diaspora with access to the most modern equipment resources have played an important role in producing and promoting musicians at home and in Diaspora.
This paper will discuss Kenya’s musical scene in the USA in terms of nostalgia, memory reconstruction and invention by highlighting indigenous, urban historic popular and contemporary styles that extend ‘beloved’ and distinctive musics and musicians considered Kenyan.  I will focus on indigenous ritual, urban secular and sacred popular, Gospel music and contemporary dance music, focusing on special events such as Kenyan public holidays as celebrated in diaspora,  the role of “touring” musical acts, and producers who straddle the Kenyan geopolitical and diasporic spaces.  I will then discuss the implications on musicians and their products in Kenya.


Maria M. Kioko, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, “Diaspora in Global Development; First Generation Kenyans in the U.S.

Recent transnational studies indicate that ties to places of origin form an important aspect of immigrants’ experiences; supporting and maintaining social relationships across space and time. This paper presents findings from a study that seeks to understand the experiences of immigrants from Kenya through analyzing their transnational ties. The study explored a) why and how first generation Kenyan immigrants maintain ties, b) the characteristics of the ties and c) the degree to which ties influence immigrants’ experiences. Ethnographic interviews with thirty-eight respondents from various ethnic backgrounds residing in U.S. for at least five years were conducted. Findings revealed that immigrants are connected to Kenya through social, economic and political transnational practices. Ties with Kenya take on a U-shaped curve with higher ties at points of arrival and after  extended stay in U.S. While immigrants had moved spatially, their unaffected values and attitudes influenced their participation in development efforts, resulting in “particularistic” type of development. These findings demonstrate how diasporic experiences are permeated by factors of ethnicity, place of origin, class and length of stay in U.S. The paper discusses immigrants’ perspectives on factors affecting collective organizing within the diaspora and explores emerging alternatives to foster development with a national character. (200 words)


Mukila Maitha, President, United Kenyans of Chicago, NFP “The role of the Kenya/African diaspora as an agent for political/social change”

The role of the Kenya/African diaspora as an agent for political/social change based on my experiences at the upcoming World Social Forum in Nairobi (January 2007)


Irene Mbari-Kirika, Chairperson, Our Reading Spaces Foundation,

This is a letter of introduction to our organization, Our Reading Spaces Foundation.  We are a non-profit organization whose goal is to empower rural communities by building library facilities for use by students, schools, and the communities at large.

We are based in Georgia, USA.  Our organization is made up of several Kenyans from different professional backgrounds.  In addition, our planning committee consists of individuals who have had prior experience with establishing similar projects plus a background in the Kenyan education policy system.

We would like to partner with Kennesaw State University to build a library in Kairi area, near Thika town.  This facility will be planned, designed, constructed and managed in compliance with the guidelines and policies laid out in the Kenya National Library Services Community Library Development (CLD) Policy document, which we have received a copy of.  Our Foundation will be responsible for securing the funding for the construction and equipment of the facility.  During all phases of the project, we will work closely with Kenya National Library Services, with the local community leaders, and with other administration and private individuals that you believe would be of service to this mutual effort.  At completion of the implementation project, we will turn over the facility to be managed by your able and highly qualified staff.

We appreciate any support you can offer, and we are looking forward to working hand in hand with your University in this endeavor.


Martin Mbaya and Michael J. Levin, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, “Kenyans Across the Kenya-United States Corridor: What the 2000 U.S. Census Tells Us about the Diaspora”

The 2000 U.S. Census released profiles of Kenya born and other Africa born for the first time in a decennial census.  While the data are limited, and indicate that many respondents to the Census did not provide sufficient specificity by country, the new tabulations nonetheless provide some useful information about the counts and demographic, social, economic, and housing characteristics of Kenyans.  This paper compares these characteristics with American-born Blacks and other groups, and also provides tables and analysis from the 1999 Kenya Census for comparison.  Assessment of actual estimates of resident Kenyans are presented.  Efforts are made to assess the characteristics of the Kenya Diaspora in the States to look at possibilities of enticing scientists, engineers, and other professionals back (and forth) across the intellectual corridor between Kenya and its U.S. residents.  Methods of capacity building – through long and short term assignments – are proposed for best use of these human resources in Kenya’s on-going economic and social development.  


Njeri Marekia-Cleaveland, University of Georgia, Short Oral Presentation on University of Georgia African immigrant initiative

To talk about UGA initiatives with African immigrants in GA and on the African continent.


Erastus Mong’are, Delaware Kenya Association, Inc., Diaspora Kenyans: Our Actions, Kenya’s Hope”

Diaspora Kenyans role in creating entrepreneurship opportunities locally and internationally is a key issue of advocacy and leadership and one that will assist the Kenyan Government in achieving its goal of creating employment to the thousands of Kenyans who are unemployed. The creation of successful entrepreneurship opportunities will serve as a means of infusing and including innovative entrepreneurship skills training to the Kenyan economic sectors, schools, and even right to the villages. In addition to the Diaspora Kenyans exposure to some critical ideas and principles of entrepreneurship, it is equally important to show them how through united Diaspora organizations, Kenyans can achieve success not only for themselves, but also for our country in particular which is in dire need of an economic jump start which is achievable through entrepreneurship. To ensure that these goals are achieved, Kenyans will then need to invest in visionary leadership, effective communication skills, and above all, the drive to want to achieve what other successful entrepreneurs have achieved.


Gichingiri Ndigirigi, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, “What is My Nation: Visions of a new Global Order in Ngÿgÿ wa Thiong’o’s Wizard of the Crow

In this paper, I will be arguing that Ngugi has become a global citizen. In his new novel, Wizard of the Crow, he works through the reality of his long exile by creating a fictional global world in which he locates the action of the novel and from which he is able to reflect on his real motherland.  I will be arguing that even as he inhabits a global space, Ngugi seeks to recover an already hybrid nation for himself, illustrating the national particularity of the global. In his view, the allegorical Aburirian nation has been corrupted by the excesses of patriarchal power working hand-in-hand with global capital. Even more than the oppression of the average citizen subject, we are shown that the women of Aburiria suffer multiple layers of oppression: by the patriarchal order, the state, and the global order imagined in the novel. As such, they emerge at the forefront of the struggle to recover the nation from the abuses of the patriarchal state elite and the overtly patriarchal global order. The paper closes with some reflections on the necessity of the nation-state even in a globalizing world.


Grace Muthoni Njeru, “The Experiences of Kenyans in two Midwest U.S. States: Benefits, Challenges and Coping Strategies”

According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), Kenya has the largest African student population in the United States. These students seek to acquire knowledge, better themselves and their communities both in the United States and in their homeland, Kenya. However, while studying abroad is beneficial in various ways, the majority of these students are faced with multiple challenges in their land of sojourn. This paper focuses on the benefits accrued from studying in the United States, the critical challenges, as well as recommendations for policy and institutional changes identified by 48 Kenyan students in two Midwest States. Data to inform the study were gathered between the fall of 2003 and spring of 2004 using multiple methods: focus groups and personal interviews, observation, demographic questionnaire, and document analysis.

The findings point to a critical need for different levels of support and active involvement of the students, educational institutions, the Kenyan government itself, and other decision makers in ensuring the proper transition and progress of these students in their new communities. While beneficial to the students, this is also likely to have far reaching benefits both in the land of sojourn and in the motherland.


Laureen O. Obbayi, “The Impact of Global Governance Actors on the Promotion of Freedom of Speech and Press in Kenya

The aim of this paper is to explain the role that global governance actors have played in forcing the government of Kenya to institute freedom of press, and freedom of speech in Kenya.

The shift from internationalism to post internationalism has been characterized by the proliferation of global structures that increasingly shape and influence the governing systems of nation states. Rosenau describes the post international era as “a trend in which more and more of the interactions that sustain world politics unfold without the direct involvement of nations and states” The successful achievement of press freedom and freedom of speech in Kenya is an excellent example of a process in which many global structures, and many domestic-Kenyan organizations and individuals collaborated against the wishes of the state-government of Kenya, by forcing the government to enact and implement laws and regulations that are respectful of press freedom and freedom of speech in general. In the struggle for press (or media) freedom in Kenya, there was and there continues to be major conflict between the wishes and goals of the state-government and those of domestic Kenyan civil society actors like student groups and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), global actors like the UN, World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International; and various general trends such as the global flow of information and the rise of global norms and standards.

Chapter one is a review of the concept of global governance, the rise of globalization and the different kinds of global actors. Chapter two proceeds to give a historical account of the violations of Kenya’s freedom of speech and press under former President Moi in Kenya. This chapter also addresses the rise of non state actors in Kenya and the fact that their influence was not as widespread as it is today. The third chapter will show how the regime of President Kibaki has on several occasions, attempted to curb press and speech freedom but has failed to do so due to the influential presence of global actors. Chapter four shows the various global governance actors that have been influential in the promotion of speech and press freedom and human rights in Kenya. The final conclusion chapter suggests that Kenya’s political future looks promising due to the strong presence of global actors and global governance in general.


Olubayi Olubayi, Rutgers University, “The Emerging Culture of National Unity in Kenya

The geographic region that we refer to as Kenya today is a collection of formerly independent ethno-linguistic states. Since the forced amalgamation of these formerly independent states into one nation-state (starting with the arrival of the British East African Company in 1888), the social and political struggles of the inhabitants of geographic-Kenya have centered on the on-going invention of a new post-ethnic Kenyan identity. In 1963 the Kenya nation state came into formal existence as a fully legitimate political entity. And since 1963 there has been a continuous tension between being simply “inhabitants of Kenya,” and being “Kenyans.” To be Kenyan is to be a Kenyan citizen who feels that despite having multiple identities, her primary national identity is Kenyan, and not ethno-linguistic. For example, in terms of self-identification, a Kenyan citizen would say, “I am a Kenyan of Kikuyu ethnicity and Catholic religion,” and not “I am a Kikuyu living in Kenya.” The self-identification is then manifested in the choices that individuals make in their daily lives in dealing with crucial issues such as whom to befriend; whom to work with; whom to employ; whom to organize with; whom to marry; whom to recognize as a member of the shared community; etc.

There is clear evidence that a post-ethnic Kenyan culture of national unity is emerging. The emergence of this culture of national unity is promoted by the imperatives of social co-existence, by a singular governmental structure, by the successful institution of Kiswahili and English as the common trans-ethnic languages, by the complete transformation of the majority from ethnic-religions to ecumenical Christianity or Islam, and by a growing national literature, national popular culture, and national educational system. This growth of the culture of national unity, it should be noted, is taking place under conditions of constant challenge from the conservative ethno-linguistic forces.


Jerry Okungu, NEPAD Kenya Secretariat, Nairobi, Kenya, “The Politics of Ethnicity, National Resources and Media Biases in Kenya Today”

Kenya is today at the cross roads. Forty years since independence, the legacy of colonialism that effected arbitrary regional boundaries is still with us. The politics of ethnicity that was created to tame the African tribes and get them to fight one another with the colonial authority playing referee still persists to this day. Sadly enough, the Media has joined the bandwagon in fuelling partisan ethnic politics.

The ideals that made our founding nationals win the war of independence have faded with time. The new ruling class has perfected the art of divide and rule they inherited from our former masters. And they have enlisted the support of some of the dominant media in our society.

This paper seeks to analyse the correlation between Media and State Power and the effect such a relation has on the ordinary masses, their way of life, voting patterns and their role in the way they are governed.


Arthur Opinya, “Kenyan's in the Diaspora, their contributions and what they can do to aid development of their motherland”

This project is designed to gather feedback from Kenyans from all walks of life about their perceptions of Kenyans in the Diaspora, and their contributions to the country's development. It also seeks to ask the question, what more can be done to improve the development of the nation by the Diaspora.

Sample questions/Guiding questions towards this thesis:
What in your opinion are the problems that are hampering Kenya's development? Why?
Are you of the opinion that the Kenyan's in Diaspora could help to solve the issues you have raised? Why, and in what way?
If you were in charge of government policy, what changes would you make to the various policies safe in the knowledge that the government of the day will be bound to implement your recommendations?


Ruth Uwaifo Oyelere, Department of Economics, Georgia Institute of Technology “Brain Drain, Waste or Gain? What we know so far about the Kenyan”

Over the last three decades, as with many other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya has experienced rapid emigration to the developed world. There is anecdotal evidence pointing to the negative effects of the African Diaspora in general on growth and development of Africa. The general view is that the diaspora has led to a brain drain and a brain waste. However, recent research on a country like Mexico that has experience a lot of emigration have shown significance gains from emigration. In this review paper, I focus on Kenya, examining the major channels of this emigration over the last 20 years. More importantly, I summarize what we know so far from scientific studies on brain drain, gain or waste as regards the Kenyan case and also review studies that show the cost or benefits of Kenyans abroad on Kenya’s development. In addition, I compare presently available empirically findings on labor market activities and outcomes of Kenyans abroad with findings for other African country’s diaspora.


Mazi A. Ndubisi Ucheomumu, “Brain Drain or Brain Trust?”

Often, in order to divert attention from acute policy failures, African leaders come up with slogans that shift the focus rather than solve the problems. Brain drain is a direct result of African leaders' failure, inability and unwillingness to institute legal reforms that ensure private properties and personal safeties. Africans have to leave their countries to foreign lands to have freedom, achieve personal safety and maintain and hold properties.  Thus, to shift the focus and baptize failed policies that constantly drive millions of Africans away from their homeland as "brain trust" is an intellectual masturbation devoid of any serious attention. The single reason Kenyans like other Africans leave their countries is the fear of personal safety, lack of legal institutions to enforce their rights to their properties, or settle commercial disputes, etc. On the other hand, to the extent that the remittance these Africans toiling away in far away places can be termed as a "trust" fund for the few violent prone elites that run African governments, then the term "brain trust" is appropriate. However, in order to see if brain drain can be turned into a "brain trust," in this paper we will explore how effective slavery has been a "brain trust" for Africa; how connected to Kenya the second generation immigrants are; and finally what percentage of economic productivity of an average Kenyan in the diasporas constitute the remittance to Kenya


Wambui Wamae-Kamiru, “Comparative Diaspora and Development: Brain Drain or Brain Trust?”

My long - term goal is to establish a Women’s Center in Kenya and hence the need to find out how the center will motivate women to pursue their life goals through mentorship and role model influence. For my undergraduate capstone project, I undertook research in Kenya. 35 women from age 19 – 60+ of different backgrounds and professions were interviewed audio-visually. The results show how important role models and mentorship are. This is one area through which the Kenyan Diaspora can contribute to the success of their fellow Kenyans as they seek to achieve their goals. I would like to present the findings in the form of a 20min. documentary followed by further discussion on the results.

This research sets out to:
 - compare and contrast the expectations for the future women in carrying on the work started in the development and advancement of Kenyan women, I traveled to Kenya to interview three groups of women:  the mature women (ages 60+), publicly influential women (ages 26 and over), and young women (ages 19 – 25). It is important to understand the direction in which Kenyan women are headed in order to harmonize the efforts needed to succeed.

 - assess the importance of mentors in shaping their attitudes and ambitions, I asked the influential women about their life histories, obstacles and achievements. The mature women contributed to the historical aspect of the research and comparisons for change in the role and status of women. The young women provided the design for plan of action for implementation of the data collected.


Wangeci Gatei and Macharia Waruingi, "Investing in health: priorities for the Diaspora"

Infectious diseases are a real threat human survival in sub-Saharan Africa, and work in synergy with severe poverty to claim more lives that any war or famine. By comparison with war and defense financing, infectious diseases receive lower budgetary attention from national governments with less immediacy. Health, education, and commerce are typically relegated to the lowest ranks of the economic priorities. Yet, a healthy people with access to natural resources are the greatest assets in any economy and are a foundation to national sustainability and peace. A short fall in the understanding of the link between human health and economic sustainability creates a scenario whereby the global health issues that destroy the basic fabric (human potential) of these nations are left largely to donor countries. In effort help, many donor nations make ad hoc decisions to provide solutions for fundamental matters affecting local people such as disease, and poverty, without seeking the opinion of the local nationals of developing countries, the Diaspora nationals, or the local governments. This approach to development disrupts the local way of life, exacerbating the problems they tried to solve, creating a lose-lose situation as decisions about global health issues are based on symptomatic events, rather than structures that drive those events. Interventions at the event level have the lowest leverage, and often result in destructive side effects. The Diaspora nationals living in developed countries offer a unique knowledge resource for underutilized resource nations in Africa. Their heritage by birth combines with an understanding of the drivers of global development in their adopted countries, to offer comprehensive, and system based interpretation of the vision of the affected communities back home. To make an impact however, the Diaspora nationals must aggressively be part of the development dialogue within all stakeholders spheres including their country governments, development agencies, donor governments and non-government agencies. As a priority, however the Diaspora must recognize their unique role and have an understanding that healthy communities are the leading resource for any potential investment to attain meaningful and sustainable development in their countries of origin.

G. Pascal Zachary and Grace Muthoni Njeru, “Diasporas and National Development: Lessons For Kenya from Around the World”

Africans living abroad are an asset and well positioned to bring about social and economic change within Africa over the next quarter-century. In this paper we: review current efforts by Kenyans to contribute to economic development at home and compare the Kenyan experience with others around the world, particularly that of Israel, Singapore, India and Ghana; examine existing barriers to effective participation in economic development; outline possible steps that Kenyans, other Africans living abroad, the Kenyan government and other interested parties can take to create an "enabling environment" that mitigates, and possibly reverses the negative effects of "brain drain" on Kenya  and Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Towards this end, we focus on two possible approaches: government policy and transnational civil-society associations. We argue that key to positive investment at home are policies that enable the Diaspora to participate in the political, social and economic process without fear and with the aim of amassing capital and expertise at home. Our goal is to provide a provisional roadmap on how Kenyans abroad can improve, refine, and enhance their contribution for the growth of a thriving, dynamic Kenya. While the paper addresses Kenya's specific circumstances, the analysis and recommendations apply, to some degree, to Africa.



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Kennesaw State University

AKPA Embassy of Kenya
Institute for Global Initiatives