East or West, Home is Where my Heart is….

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By Mukurima Muriuki,

“My name is Risper, born and raised in a small village on the slopes of Mt. Kenya.

My childhood was all fun. I liked the simple and quiet yet unassuming life in the village. This was complimented by a sense of pooling and pulling together as a community and as a village. 

On the one hand, looking back at my childhood, it is easy to make a conclusion that I did all I could to enjoy life-played every childhood game girls would take part in, including ‘panya,’ ‘bladder’ and ‘Uki.’ On the other hand, compared to present day children and how they grow and the activities of their childhood, all I can do is wonder how life would have been with video games, social media, and a host of other things that many children in my age, and in the village, did not have advantage of. 

 Going to school was not a walk in the park, but a long walk in pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. My one way journey to school covered at least 3 kilometers.  Before I could set out for school in the morning, I also had to fetch firewood and do some other chores at home.

The weekends were not meant for having fun and it was time to work in the farm! I would say I grew up in the form and style expected of any village life. There were no special privileges, bread was a luxury while chapati was a delicacy meant for Christmas! However, just like in many other homes, my parents really emphasized the important of education and the need for to have self-worth as a girl.  All these little things, deed, activities and words helped shape my adult life. As a result, I wouldn’t trade my upbringing for anything.

Education-wise, I went on to pursue a Diploma in Mass Communication and later a Degree in International Business Administration. With this education, faith and self-belief, my career would start off at Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation as an intern. I then moved to Kenya Television Network, worked for a period of time, before signing with a leading Production Company in Kenya as a Production Manager. My philosophy has always been anchored in the belief that no one should define my boundaries-but my God and myself. My career would then move me to M-Net, first as a Commissioning Editor before being promoted to the position of Regional Manager for East Africa.

 My Diaspora connection would come a few years later when I got an opportunity to work in Lagos-Nigeria as a lead consultant for a South Africa based firm contracted by M-Net Nigeria

 My initial challenge in Lagos had to do with culture shock. I had to learn Lagos life from scratch, as it completely different from what I had been used to in Nairobi. I was supposed to hit the ground running and this means I had to adapt to my new surroundings as fast as possible.  In addition, and a little controversially, I felt women in Lagos were less aggressive compared to an average Kenyan lady. As a person who loves Kenyan food, it was also difficult adjusting to the Lagos delicacies

With time I learnt to manage my expectations and still get the job done. I never quite resolved the food situation but being a light feeder, I somewhat survived. I also had to change my roles to a significant degree. While in Kenya I was running a company, in Lagos I was in charge of a specific project but with a triple sized team. The good news, however, was that the project was in line with my former role and so the love for the job made life much easier.

Being in a distant land was tricky for my love life as the result was a long distance relationship. It was not always easy but nothing is insurmountable with commitment, dedication and faith in God. In my case, constant and honest communication made the relationship withstand the test of distance.  

After my stint in Lagos, I am back to Kenya. Nothing feels as good as being home. And after working in the media for a period spanning a little over 10 years,  time is right for me to put my experience and expertise to use by running my own media related company. This is the reason behind my company-the Pan African Media Resource Company that provides consultancy and business services in Multimedia Content Production, Channel Development & Management, Content Acquisition and Distribution to Broadcast Media Networks as well as to Independent Content Developers across Africa. about Media Pros.

 For those willing to migrate, my advice is for you to be open minded and accept that a foreign country has its own culture and you have to try and adapt as quickly as possible. In addition, if you are in another country, you are your country’s ambassador or envoy. You can educate people on your country’s culture but do not try to impose or live it all through. I would also implore those migrating to do a lot of research on the destination country

Finally, if you are in Diaspora, keep close contact with your family or friends back home. Being in a foreign country can be very lonely if you do not have people to talk or relate to. Explore and learn as much as possible while away.