With Christmas now just days away, families are reuniting in preparation for the highly celebrated holiday that unites Christians all over the world.
But for some Kenyans living abroad, however, this won’t be possible for various reasons.
In an interview with Daily Nation, Kenyans living abroad shared some of the reasons why they’ll miss celebrating Christmas with their families in the countryside.
According to most, political tension caused by the elections is a key reason why they opted not to travel back to Kenya to celebrate the holiday.
“The violence and threat of more violence scared many of them away. In fairness, it appears that normalcy may be returning as we enter the holiday season and there is a chance we will see an uptick in last-minute travellers,” said Nick Ogutu, a Kenyan resident of New York, who grew up in Ombeyi village in Kisumu County.
Nick Ogutu added that the local economy will feel the impact as more and more Kenyans choose not to fly in for the holidays.
Planning for the trip can be cumbersome.
Kenyans shared that they always do it in advance to avoid unnecessary expenses usually brought by holidays. The tension experienced in the country affected their planning.
“Airline tickets are generally cheaper when booked in advance, especially the months of September and October. Time off and from work is predictable,” said David Ogega, a Kenyan resident of Atlanta, Georgia and also the Diaspora Conference chairman.
Ogega noted that the protracted electioneering season as a result of the Supreme Court ruling and the subsequent election on October 26 created an unprecedented level of uncertainty in the country and many Kenyans abroad were not sure about their safety when they return home.
“The violence and threat of more violence scared many of them away. In fairness, it appears that normalcy may be returning as we enter the holiday season and there is a chance we will see an uptick in last-minute travellers,” he said.
“In the wake of a disputed election coupled with reluctance by President Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga to jumpstart genuine dialogue that can unite citizens, Kenya’s political stability, which serves as a foundation for economic and social prosperity, remains uncertain,” adds Jacktone Ambuka, a Kenyan resident of New Jersey.
Ambuka added that many Kenyans are not in a celebratory mood because some of their properties were destroyed during that period.He said the Christmas spirit this year is not what Kenyans are used to.
“A significant number of people have got nothing to celebrate following the destruction of their property and deaths of loved ones during political protests. The real spirit of Kenyan Christmas was diluted by political circumstances,” he noted.
Festus Kasyoka Mbuva, a Kenyan resident of Lowell, Massachusetts, added: “I think the disputed elections have really hurt our collective Kenyan identity. You could say there’s deep mistrust and uncertainty floating around.”
Mbuva said many Kenyans living abroad were not making “bold and wide-ranging investments” as usual and are also not eager to fly home to flaunt their Kenyan pride.
“This, in the end, will deeply impact the economy and bruise the Kenyan identity further. It’s the boomerang effect of a dysfunctional leadership,” he said.