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“For careers and the future: It is time for Africa”
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“For careers and the future: It is time for Africa”

Venturing overseas for work can be a fraught experience, writes Eric Omwanda Nehemiah, 26, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Nairobi in Kenya. He makes the case for growing opportunity by investing in Africa.

After a long day of work, my friend Darius from Lithuania engages me in a conversation. He tells me that the majority of Africans travel from their home country to go abroad to do any kind of casual work. According to him, this is a sad state of affair. We have devalued ourselves.

I want to start by saying that life abroad is not a bed of roses, according to a book titled ‘Home Stretch’ by Velma Pollard. It is prerequisite for people to decipher that anywhere in the world you have to work in order that something lands on your table.

According to my friend, who happens to be a Mandela Washington Fellow, he saw during his recent stay in the USA how lecturers would leave class only to go and work at a supermarket to earn extra cash. Life there is expensive.

It has been shameful for people who have gone abroad only to squander their time and life. Some people go to America or Europe with qualifications in a certain field, but the sad reality is that whether you are a qualified doctor or lawyer you end up going back to study to ‘re-qualify’ in their way of doing things in medicine or law. It is not that easy. You have to work at all times. Life in abroad is equally expensive as compared to the one back home. If one does not save and have a plan for life, one is destined to fail and live miserably abroad.

I have friends who are doing quite well abroad and I have others who have gone and came back, but unfortunately 80 per cent are living a pathetic life. It is a shame that such people live in very small or shared space so that they can be able to foot the bills. They sacrifice to save money, send some money back home and cater for daily expenses. Others do not send money back home, or they don’t even save. When they come back to their home country, they have little or nothing at all. To me, those are wasted years abroad.

We Africans have to understand that we have a lot of resources to build this continent instead of leaving Africa to go abroad to do casual work such as watchmen, house girls, barmaids and club bouncers. We should instead go abroad and do decent jobs and follow respectable career paths. The responsibility of building Africa lies on all and sundry. It is the pride of Africa to see an African scholar such as Kenyan Professor John M. Mugane teaching African languages at Harvard University in the United States of America. The indefatigable efforts of African businessmen such Alison Dangote and Chris Kirubi, who sell products in Africa  and employ people from different races to work for them, is another success story.

During my time at the Young African Leaders Initiative Fellowship, a session on “This is Africa” was taught by the current Chief of Party David Kamau.  I realised Africans need to refine their thinking so that other people could see Africa through different lenses. We need to be innovating, to kill the culture of bargaining for less, and go for more decent jobs and careers.

People, we should now start investing in Africa more.

Now is the time to work for our beloved continent for generations to come. Let us believe in ourselves and let us be our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper. It is a shame that our people are ending up being sex workers, being physically violated and being poorly paid for jobs that they do in the Middle East and other parts of the world. Gender based violence among people working as household help has been on the rise, with women and girls as victims in 90 per cent of cases reported.  This is the right time to question and analyse ourselves.

This is the time to think beyond the horizon. This is the time to act, my people. This is the time to transform. This is the time for Africa.

Photo credit: MrJamesBaker London New York Tokyo and Moscow Clocks via photopin (license) “https://bestreviewsbase.com/”  bestreviewsbase.com

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About me: I am a Co- Founder and Project Manager at the Mathare Foundation. I am the 2016 Commonwealth Youth Worker Award winner for Africa region. I have been writing for the Commonwealth since 2013. You can see my work on www.matharefoundation.org.
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/
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