Shem was born and raised in Rongai, Kenya. He is an only child to his parents. After High school in 1999, Shem earned a scholarship to study Biomedical Engineering at the University of Iowa. In his final year as an undergraduate, Shem received another pleasant surprise-A full scholarship towards graduate studies. When he thought that time was ripe to return to Kenya, a Green Card awaited him, meaning he could legally work in America. It did not take long for Shem to get a ‘dream’ job. He now lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife, a Latina and two sons. This is his second marriage after the first marriage, to a Kenyan, ended in divorce.
3 years ago, Shem became an American citizen, and with it came the right to vote. As a registered Democrat, on Monday, Shem will participate in the ‘organizational gathering of neighbors,’ where Democrats meet to conduct party business and declare their Presidential preference. (Hillary, Sanders and O’Malley will be competing to win over a set number of county convention delegates, which are determined by the Democratic turnout during the most recent presidential and gubernatorial elections.
That number translates into a “state delegate equivalent,” based on a ratio of state to county convention delegates. When you hear about which Democrat “won” the Iowa caucus, you are really talking about who got the highest number of state delegate equivalents). Shem will caucus with social democrat, Bernie Sanders.
As you would expect, later in the year, Shem will cast his vote to decide the next president in America. No matter who wins in Iowa, Shem expects to cast his lot with Democrats.
Shem has a number of investments in America. To Shem, “home is where you are,” and as such the reason for opting to invest in Iowa. He posits that the returns he gets are as good as what he would get in Kenya, minus the headache of wondering if someone would corrupt his or her way into his assets. Shem has also been able to bring his parents to America.
Shem is a strong believer in the essence of transnationalism, the belief that the world has no boundaries; that state boundaries are just physical and people should not be localized. What Shem does not believe in, is the idea of split loyalties, or what others call ‘dual-citizenship.’
Shem has only been to Kenya twice since his transition. He has not ‘experienced’ Thika-Superhighway or used any ‘By-pass.’ He does not think he will have visited Kenya by the time his motherland holds the next General Election.
To Shem, Diaspora voting does not make sense. It takes away the sacrosanct role of electing leadership from the people who bear the consequence of the voting process.
Shem notes that pegging remittances to the idea of Diaspora voting is baseless; “We send this money to our relatives and not the government.”