From the UK last week came the chilling story of the alleged stabbing to death of Linah Keza by her estranged boyfriend David Nsubuga Kikaawa. According to reports neighbours were alerted to the trouble by the screams of Keza and when they investigated found her three year old daughter in a pool of her lifeless mother’s blood.
Also reported this week is that the UK government is stepping up its campaign against illegal immigration into the country. The “Go Home or Face Arrest” drive comes on the heels of a decision by her majesty’s government to introduce a £3000 (sh12m) bond which selected visitors from certain countries will be required to pay upon applying for a British visa.
For the time being the bond does not affect Uganda but that could change at the discretion of the UK government. Currently it applies to visitors from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nigeria and Ghana and the bond would be returned when they leave the country.
Both issues may be related, or not, as part of the larger picture of the strains our immigrants face abroad and the crazy lengths or driven to as a result.
First of all not all immigrants are illegals. Many are citizens or have valid resident status. But the pressures of being immersed in an alien culture, living far from home, with one eye still on developments at home with a hope of one day returning to the motherland – a hope that seems to recede with time, are generally similar differing only in degrees in depending largely on one’s station in that society.
Columnist Rudolf Okonkwo captured this schizophrenic existence in an online commentary “This American Life” in which describes landing in America with of living the fabled American dream. You quickly realize racism is alive, the almighty dollar can be in short supply, relationships are shallow, transitory and often mercenary and the pressures – self-inflicted or otherwise, to keep up appearances for the benefit of the people “back home” lead down a well-greased, slippery slope.
The years fly past, scarpering dreams and hopes, dashing ideas of returning home, the realization that those you left behind – some of whom had less intelligence, talent, beauty or whatever than you have in the tip of your little finger, have progressed steadily and surely making a worthwhile life for themselves. So after failing to reestablish yourself at home you slink back to the UK, US or wherever, if only so people can refer to you during kwanjulas and weddings as “a relative abroad who could not make it.”
We are seduced by the illusion as shown on the “reality” shows and soap operas on our TVs but the reality is different ball game.
Poverty, alienation, stress are more common than not and this can have a telling effect on anyone’s emotional and mental wellbeing.
Kikaawa’s trial is scheduled for January when the details of what transpired on that July night may come to light.
But one can expect that being abroad, away from longtime friends and family, hustling in a society in which you can starve in plain sight of your neighbor and in many instances knowing you have nothing to return to in your country of origin can do strange things to people.
This is by no means a justification of what Kikaawa might have done or not done, but should serve as a warning to intending immigrants – Kyeyos or otherwise, life abroad is not all it’s made out to be. Immigrant-to-be, be warned.