The excitement of visiting a foreign land is and will ever remain unvoiced. Castles are built and all sorts of ideas cloud one’s imagination. Awesome ideas might I add. A land of endless possibilities where all troubles disappear and dreams come true. “South Korea? Really?”
Of course a few will always hate on progress. My bad, who am I kidding; a lot of people will always have something negative to say. “Yaani of all places ungeenda ni huko kwa machinku tu ndio ulichagua. Na eti unaringa unaenda majuu” (Of all places you could choose to go, you decide to go to the Chinese? Then boast you’re going abroad.)
Well…folks at home have this mentality that all Asians are Chinese. And the mention of Korea warrants two responses, one, North Korea undeniably. Secondly, the land of dog and cat meat lovers. I was just excited to be going ‘abroad’ and was not going to give one skerrick about the palavers of the judgy world.
My cousin kept on telling me that the excitement will be short lived and it won’t be long before I became homesick. I saw all these as a bluff. Days later in the new country, I could not believe my taste buds craved for home food. I longed for someone who understood and talked the same language as I did. A friend in school happened to set a small meeting that would take place at the “consulate” with fellow countrymen. Consulate was a name given to the apartment where the ‘who was who’ in Korea lived. All the cool social events took place here from house parties, movie nights to serious Kenyan meetings. It’s ironic how I quickly suggested we eat “ugali”. Any Kenyan will know how the young generation (dotcom generation) will die to eat something else but “ugali”.
This does not happen when the nostalgia hits you. New and strong bonds that will go beyond time and distance were created as friendship ties were made. I was also privileged to meet the then chairman of the Kenyan Community of Korea (KCK); Dr. Kwemoi Benson Kamary together with his able team.
It was fortunate that South Korea had a lot of public holidays hence Kenyans made use of these days to meet and catch up on each other’s life. There was a spectacular Fireworks Festival that was taking place during one of the Korean holidays. One of our friends lived by the beach made it easy for us to get access to the rooftop, which was a perfect spot to watch from. The night was so colorful. We all sat together under the magnificent sky, feasting and chatting the night away.
As the famous Swahili saying goes “mgeni njoo mwenyeji apone” (a visitor is a joy to the host) KCK members made it their duty to organize a small welcoming ceremony for new Kenyan citizens who happened to come into the country in pursuit of their goals. This was mainly to make them feel they belonged and know they have their brothers around. I was fortunate to attend two of such functions. I could see the ease on new members’ faces during our interactions.
It was a happy feeling.
To be continued…
By Belinda Addikah