A Diaspora Guide To Returning Home

So you wanna go home, you’ve had it up to here!!! Even Africa wasn’t this bad, not another winter!! I remember I said the same thing every year, for 14 years, then I came home in 2007. What I have seen in those six years has made me realise that there are a certain number of ways you can come home. I have seen many come home to settle but I saw many more that were fed up and went back. Before you take the plunge, think, what are your reasons? Are you just fed up with life in the West? Or do you want to come home and build something? If you are just fed up with the cold, it won’t work, you have to have a reason to be here or you’ll just be floater.zamunda If you want to return like the Prince of Zamunda with petals thrown at your feet everywhere you go, think again. So there are a number of packages a returning African can choose from, from platinum class to economy class, to no frills. Each package has its perks and its downfalls.

Golden Parachute – $30,000gparachute

This is the top package on offer, the one we all dream of – the Golden parachute that can absorb your fall from the sky, and land you lightly on the savannahs of Africa. Say you get hold of some money, James got redundancy pay after the company he worked for folded, he got $10,000 and decided to go back home. He got back to see relatives and the expensive lifestyle eating up that money quicker than a cheetah on fire. He had to go back after his money finished in 2 months. Then there is George, he worked at an Airport in Winnipeg, started out on security systems, then eventually did air traffic control. He applied for a job with the Civil Aviation Authority back home and got it, he came back to a good package; $2,000 a month with $1,000 in living allowance, a house with a perfect view over the hills with a slight breeze that kisses your cheek. The job is soon a nightmare, the ethics, work practices, different attitudes make you clash with all the zombies in the office. They soon conspired to make his job untenable and George had the choice of quitting or going mad. Choose the job very carefully, many choose NGO’s because the pay well and have good work environments. The Golden Parachute can turn into the Golden Noose, the chilling words “you don’t know how things are done here.” And you’re gone.

  • Choose your job carefully, more money is more stress, choose a mid-range job.
  • Watch out for an expensive lifestyle, eat natural, shop local, save money to build
  • Have a good work-life balance, hobbies are essential in Africa
  • Integrate with locals, these barbed-wired villas are safe but it becomes a bubble
  • Always read what you sign at work, you can be set up, you will be arrested if things go wrong
  • Be resourceful, always find ways around obstacles, have a problem-solving mindset
  • Stay within the law, money breeds jealousy and any slipup is punished for a price

Left foot in, right foot out – $1,000 per monthTwister-game

This is the best of both worlds, come here on an extended break, take a month off, when you get to Africa do interviews, try and get a job, then quit the one in the West. The whirlwind gets you, you get here, party, party, party, everyone wants to see you, relatives, school friends, conmen, and you miss the days ticking away, before you know it, you are back on the plane, BROKE. You have to control who you see, treasure time here, be in Africa but on European Time. If you come back and stay with relatives, you can earn less and live well, you need a starter job, even volunteering, just to get in the system. Living with relatives after freedom in the West is hard, like my friend’s dad has to key to the gate and won’t let anyone in after 9pm. Staying with friends is also tricky, coming from the West they think you are rich, it can be a free room but cost you more in beer than renting, as you take him out every night. The best arrangement is a 3-month contract with a local company, enough to see if it works for you. Having one foot in never lets you adjust either way, your mind is there, when you are here, and here when you are there. A time comes when you have to make a choice to go back or stay, like a bungee-jump it can yank you up and back where you came from.

  • Helps you experience it before you commit
  • It is a “soft-landing”
  • Needs real budgeting to extend stay
  • Relies on friendship networks and family
  • Doesn’t allow you to fully integrate
  • The short period allows you to miss “home” in the West lessening the chances of staying
  • It is hard to adjust mentally

Down and dirty – cost $0 + hard sweatdirtywork

The problem is adjusting to the life when you get here, many want to keep the same lifestyle they had in the West, shopping in supermarkets, driving a big 4×4, living in a palace, as is befitting a person of their status. You can live in the NGO bubble, I can go to parties with Africans as a tiny minority, where all the Africans speak with an American twang and complain about Africans all day. Many of the locals are on Golden Parachutes but cannot adjust mentally to locals, they speak the language badly on purpose, they never came home mentally. My friend Patrick was called by his uncle to run his farm, he knew nothing of farming but took a chance, took the farm from 15 cows to 50 milking cows and used methods he got from Europe to increase capacity. After a hard struggle he succeeded but few returnees are ready to get down and dirty, to lead by example, he shovels dung along with his workers and sweats equally to them. It is hard, you are dealing with people who live for the day, hand to mouth, you cannot explain long-term goals to the average African as their needs are immediate. This willingness to work hard as a team also helps you integrate better to the local system, and increases your chances of success.

  • Gives you a fuller experience
  • It requires sacrifice, to live humbly and connect with locals
  • It needs patience and adjustment to the local way of thinking
  • You are committed to a project, you will never return or give up until you have achieved your goals. You commit to the project not just the country.
  • You truly understand and can build your country
  • The rewards are great, understanding yourself, the country, your people – you make a difference

Prodigal son/crash and burn – $1,000 plane ticketprodigal

This can be a curse or a blessing; it is when matters are out of your control. Your visa expires, you lose your job or you have a bad experience that makes living in the West less viable, so the decision makes itself. Returning to Africa is hard, you encounter what we call the “Prodigal Son” complex; you always want to come back like a King, rolling in money to show it was worth it. The truth is; many Africans are too ashamed to come back until they have the money to show for it, so they slave in the pig pens of the West, shovelling shit because it is less embarrassing than having to tell your family that it didn’t work out. The truth is that your family loves you for who you are, not the money you make, they would rather see you at home broke than suffering far away. Eventually you find yourself back here but if you choose to make the best of it then it can work. The effect of this crash and burn is hard, but the biggest problem is solved. The hardest part is to break the mental hold that the West has on people, the lifestyle, the convenience, the order, the variety, and the sense of place. Then you return to a place with a harder lifestyle, total inconvenience, lack of order, lack of variety, and where you feel displaced. Crashing and burning allows you to start from the bottom, to redevelop your humility, reset your life goals, rebuilds your family ties, and teaches you the importance of living. They say “never let a crisis go to waste” so next time you crash and burn, don’t repeat the cycle, try something different and come home. I crashed and burned and 6 years later I’m still here in Africa, it was hard but it had to be, to remove all the mental cobwebs I had in my head and reset my aspirations.

  • Crash and burn can be traumatic, depends on your mental attitude
  • Forget the shame of returning empty-handed, your family loves you
  • Breaks the mental hold of the West, there is no going back
  • Restores African values
  • Rebuilds your humility
  • Teaches the importance of  people over property
  • Resets your life goals
  • You always bounce back and you have lessons to teach others

Like a Bawse – $10,000likeaboos

This is the Platinum package, but you make it yourself,  it is even better than the Golden Parachute, it is to come back on your time, on your terms, and your own money. It takes years to prepare for it, saving, building, and learning. When done correctly you have 95% success rate, and it is beneficial to all. For Diaspora people with citizenship abroad and access to capital who can help bring their native country up. It is very hard to save money in the West, the cost of living requires expensive choices, and harsh sacrifices. If you have Nationality in a Western country you can get credit at much lower rates than in Africa, here we pay minimum of 12% up to 25% per year, which makes the loans hard to repay, but in the West you pay as little as 3% to 6% on average. There are so many gaps in the market, so many opportunities, for $10,000 you can set up a business that will earn $1,000 a month and with a responsible lifestyle that is plenty in Africa. What a Returnee needs is a “Cash Cow” something to bring in money to furnish the basics while they make the next move. Aim at a small-medium sized business, a T-shirt printing business, a chicken farm, a bar, a restaurant, a consultancy, a cyber-cafe, a shop, any of these could be started for $10,000 and earn money back quickly. This gives you freedom and self-reliance, and eventually you can earn capital to invest in your other ventures. It allows you to become an “Overnight Success” but no one will know the years of planning and hard work to get there.

  • Use your residency or nationality to leverage saving or credit to invest back home, every African can get $10,000 for a car loan, but none to invest back home?
  • Plan and research the sector you want to invest in thoroughly
  • Open a small-medium size company that requires less capital and outlay, Cash Cow
  • Be fully involved with the business, don’t hire managers and sit back
  • Always innovate new things to stay ahead, new business are popular at first but fail to keep customers as they cannot innovate
  • Watch out for copy-cats, your ideas will be copied very quickly by locals, if you open a T-shirt printing shop, another person will open another one next to you
  • Always diversify and reinvest in other sectors, that cash cow will not last forever, you need other cash cows, and slow-earners and prestige investments
  • You get success on your terms and are self-reliant.

The rewards of returning far outweigh the risks, but it requires a lot of planning, patience, and hard work. In Africa you feel like you are making a difference, you don’t have to explain who you are, or justify your being there. You need a strong will, to avoid falling in to the hold of Western guilt, seeing a beggar with no legs can shock you as if you never saw it before. Then there will be the endless stream of relatives asking for handouts, it will be hard to say no. Always remember that you are no one’s saviour, the same God who kept them alive will keep them alive tomorrow. You can easily blow all your investment money on trivial stuff, or just giving them to drink it away. You are dealing with societies that live for the minute, from minute to minute, they have hungry bellies and will tell you to eat the seeds you saved for planting. Like once I saw a mother digging in a field, her baby was wrapped up in blankets on the side, crying relentlessly, I said to the mother to stop digging and tend to the child, she said if “I sit and cuddle this kid and he stops crying, who will dig this field? I and the child will starve to death if I don’t dig, let him cry he’ll get tired soon enough.” Cruel to be kind, and that is the focus, to see the big picture. All Africans live for family, but you cannot let short-term problems of others destroy your long-term future. Africa is rising, come home or you’ll be left behind.

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53 Responses to A Diaspora Guide To Returning Home

  1. Gadgetpnp says:

    I must say thanx for the time to enlighten us on the matters above, am on my way & coming across diamonds like this on my way adds power to the flesh & mind.My only question is how many are at target to view this well written eductional catalyzer (Africa is Rising). Go & see for youslef & while your there don’t for get you only went to pick up from where you left off, just a different environment. Will do my best to spread the new. Once again thank you!!

  2. Thuku says:

    Good read. A must for every “Diaspora” whatever the fuck that means.

  3. Girmay says:

    Honestly speaking, the piece is written eloquently, touching and at times with brutal honesty to say the least. Many thanks!

    • Kip says:

      Love it. I always wished to write something like this. I am glad someone has thought about it and did it so eloquently. The harsh reality.

  4. Kavi says:

    Awesome read!

  5. Justus says:

    Wonderful advice, I am half way home and such a piece just gives me more reason to be optimistic and to pack my bags. Somebody once said that “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” the African dream is alive and the chance is now. Thanks again for the wonderful piece.

  6. quiet inspiring information. it is touching and would indeed make some of us think twice. this place would never qualfy to be home.

  7. waruingi gathoni says:

    God bless you.for the good enlightenment

  8. Rish says:

    Good article, very refreshing and you kept it 100%. There is light at the end of the tunnel and a better chance of retirement life in our golden years, instead of nursing homes or assisted living barely paid by the state.

  9. ajabosblog says:

    A wonderful Guide for the diaspora returnee to be!

  10. Benson says:

    This indeed is a master piece to say the least. Thank you for sharing the truth.

  11. Richard says:

    good and interesting post, thanks

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  13. agasa.asa@gmail.com says:

    Good ********************

  14. Nje says:

    amazing…..I love ‘ Crashing and burning allows you to start from the bottom, to redevelop your humility, reset your life goals, rebuilds your family ties, and teaches you the importance of living. They say “never let a crisis go to waste” so next time you crash and burn, don’t repeat the cycle,’
    Africa, give me 5 years or less, AM COMING HOME!

  15. fmakwi says:

    Very we’ll thought through thank you for sharing this vital information with us!

  16. ensigntongs says:

    Interesting read. However I found it a bit difficult to compare to myself as you didn’t really specify WHICH African country you were referring to. Every time I read “Africa” it felt as though you were referring to a country, when in fact it is a continent.

    I lost a bit of relevance as I was reading as a result. The options that you have put above have a few other things that they depend on. One’s level of education, their willingness to do the hard graft, are some to also take into consideration. When I left the UK, it was with the intention of leaving Zimbabwe and going back to look for work. Of course I also left the UK during the credit crunch and various other economical hardships, which in hindsight would have made no sense for me to go back. It took a few years of going for interviews, and working for no pay before I eventually got a job that was in the same industry as I studied.

    I didn’t come back with any money as I was fresh out of university. All I had were my parents waiting for me and a believe that the UK was never going to be a place I refered to as home. I always say to my friends and family who are still in the diaspora that being tired and fed up of being in the diaspora should not be the main reason of wanting to come home. You should WANT to come home.

    • rwandareview says:

      I am from Rwanda but I wanted to make this apply to any African nation because we face largely the same problems and historical background of colonialism and the disappointment that followed independence. I hate to think of Africa as a country but in order for us all to benefit I never named the country. Each country is different but it is your attitude that determines success, having a problem-solving mindset, being motivated by a wider goal, persevering through all problems and defining your own success

      • ensigntongs says:

        I understand. The difficulty then with generalisation then, is that the $10,000 that someone comes home with to South Africa will give them access to something different to the $10,000 someone comes back to Zimbabwe for example. The same pressures will be there, but they will be less amplified in countries like SA where people have access to credit cards etc, than in Zimbabwe where people don’t have access to credit cards

      • rwandareview says:

        That $10,000 is a figure agreed upon by venture capitalists as the average start-up costs of a Starting a business. It is a reachable number for most in the west who want to return. Even if your country is expensive you should stick to that number. It depends on your research, you can even start with $1,000 or even $100 as long as you multiply it. In The Apprentice Show one of the tests is to buy fruit and go to the market and sell, you buy stuff for $100 and sell it for $150, that is $1500 profit a month, then you look for more capital to increase your scale. Even in your country is not conducive you can move to a neighbouring country, Zim people in Bots are doing very well and can still visit. One of the reasons USA works is if things don’t work in California, you try Texas, then Alabama, then New York, 50 states to choose from.

    • Double Em says:

      Nice read! I actually thought you were from Kenya as I could relate perfectly…so much so that I lost the ‘Africa’. I’m sure that there will be more that find it as relatable to their specific country in Africa. After visiting home for the last few Decembers’, I’m finally very interested in a longer term relocation back… And I want to come back like a boss. Great writing!

  17. British Columbia, Canada says:

    Well written article. Interesting piece

  18. Mo Kanja says:

    Mkono mtupu haulambwi.i chill down here in texas thinking how I can come do this am doing at home I think every day and my eyes wide open.i fells mortivated with such kind of epistle God knws where my heart belongs.its all about a well made moves. Thats all I can say time and oprtunities

  19. kalio10 says:

    Reblogged this on Kalio's (Limitless thoughts) and commented:
    I totally agree….

  20. Grace Jones says:

    Thank you for sharing this…very interesting to read. I am from Rwanda too…and I have been living in UK for all most 15years, and i can totally relate to one of those packages you mentioned….i like “going back as your own boss”!

  21. JP says:

    Good article, politics and security are some to consider as well !

  22. Canada says:

    Thanks for this great article! I will sleep better now having greater insight as to what I can and must do to keep the dream alive.

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  25. Eychenne says:

    This was a great read. But you should have also addressed the subject of having children in the west (either through a fellow African or by marriage to a westerner). This creates a whole new dimension in the analysis and decision-making process when one is considering the move back. At least that’s my predicament. I’ll have to consider benefits vs. risks for both as well as my partner’s in put. Talk about complicated. Lol!!!

  26. Jamaonline says:

    Reblogged this on Discouraging nepotism and commented:
    absolute great read.

  27. Linda says:

    Interesting article & comments …. When I first came to the US I met a Lebanese woman who had lived in the US and Canada and after 20 years she felt like an outsider because she wanted a little bit of every place she had lived in one country. Her insight was invaluable to me because I decided to love my life away from home as though I was living my best life at home or put simply to prosper where I was planted, instead of living for the next move. I grew up in an African country but it was not the county of my birth and I remember my parents always talking about how wonderful people and life “back home” was like so many dissatisfied foreigners I have met in the West for whom the grass is always greener on the other side. No matter where you go, you are the common denominator …. grow, learn, assimilate … prosper wherever you find yourself and maybe you will start enjoying life instead of postponing life …. after all many of us left our home countries simply because we didn’t like living there and unless you have changed and grown as a person moving back doesn’t solve the problem of not feeling at home out here …. just a thought

    • rwandareview says:

      when I called it “Diaspora Guide to coming home” Home is happiness, peace, your dreams. So “Home is where the heart is.” Even in this mad place called Africa, you can find your own little spot, your little country. Our nations will not be sane for a while but we should look within to find happiness. Get a plot, build a house, get your job and circle of friends and you can insulate yourself from the madness. Africa is the people, I missed the people more than the land, if all the guys I went to school with were in Oxford, I’d stay there. We get bombarded everyday with “Africa is messed up” stories that we believe it. We are doing better than before, you can work around the problems, I always say “Problem-solving mindset” I am now geared towards solutions, I make so many calculations to get around the obstacles that it is 2nd nature now. As for business, only 30% of people are psychologically suited for business, most would prefer half a loaf guaranteed than 5 loaves one day and none the next. Most people are not risk-takers, they will take safety over success with a chance of failure

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  29. bala abarshi says:

    Outstanding. This article is very true and is a good read for anyone who plans to make a return to the mother land. Africa is truely growing fast.

  30. jm says:

    Good and entertaining read overall. But how can someone call themselves a boss if they have to borrow $10,000 after +/- 10 years of living in the west ? After liquidating your assets plus savings , you should come up with at least $100,000 then maybe you can call yourself a boss even though for me I would need to be a multi – millionaire (in dollars ) before I start calling myself a boss.

  31. John Keita says:

    I truely. Wish I will go home. I got it up to here!! I need help for some one a brother or sister to help me return home with respect with my family. I am a certified agriculturiest yet. They cannot hire me because of my phonetic or origin. If I have my way , I will leave this week with my family. Please contact me on 3014075462 or john.keita77@yahoo.com I have much to say.

  32. saveadollardaily says:

    Make the grass greener right where u are. Don’t wait for tomorrow just to find out that the grass might be very dry on the other side!!!!

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  34. You can not put a price on some things. Being close to your people as they celebrate or mourn is priceless. Try to spend some of your life especially the evening of your life among your own. Nothing will beat that any day. Once you make up your mind to come back the rest will fall in place. Richard Mulumba.

  35. AKAbu says:

    Nice article..i am always thinking going back home, but i don’t know when, and God knows better.

  36. fay says:

    What an inspiring article.No matter how I tried to be happy in the place I was in I just could not do it.The past 11 years in the UK have been miserable. Although it has not all been bad, I learnt a lot from the diaspora which I hope will help me as I intend to start businesses back home. I am in the final stages of planning. home is where I want to be.

  37. Admin says:

    Reblogged this on OODAKORE UK and commented:
    Very good guide, I like it. Thanks

  38. Thynna says:

    How can I thank you for the time you have taken to write this article? The narrative is great, you are giving us options! If anyone has read “The Alchemist”, the irony of life is to go far far away to find oneself and later realize that returning home is where you belong and where the treasures are. Especially if home is Africa! How did I think for more than 20 years that Europe or America were going to give me… ME? Only my ancestors can give me myself back, my essence, only home I can contribute to a community that yes may reject me at times but, like someone said earlier, sitting with your own is priceless… I am 37 and expecting my first child. Alone in the US, a good job, great friends but as soon as my child is born and is legally allowed to travel, I AM OUT. I will not even return to a city, I will go home to the source of it all, the village! I will go learn from the grand mothers, the uncles, the cousins, I will sleep on the floor with my child, eat beans, I will listen to the birds, watch the lake, touch the ground, learn the cycles of life and be part of it. I am already there and it puts a smile on my face. Corporate America, the European Union, nobody can do anything for us. They have exhausted all possible solutions even for their own future, let alone ours. They are empty… When I sit in management meeting with CEOs and CFOs, I am so bored! There is nothing more these foreign lands can offer us. We were once GREAT, we still are and will be. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  39. I appreciate the well-written piece on the insight of returning home to the motherland. Many points that you touched on are in the minds of many wanting to go home. Admin for MeetKenyans.com.

  40. William says:

    Great insight full article. Do you happen to have any more material on this matter?

  41. Aleki chigwenembe says:

    I thought you were a Malawian….very interesting note and very challenging to many of us….yes, facing relatives, friends and all those would be a night mare if you were not prepared for your return journey…

  42. gabe muir says:

    Good writing bro.am therre too burnt too often.as great president said we have nothing too fear but fear itself.if you adjust your vision home is paved with oportunities.so be it.but your guidlines are very sound.good write this one.

  43. Tichaona Gumunyu says:

    Home is always the best, the jungle will never be home. Its good to be abroad, but that depends on the nature of life one is leading while in the diaspora. I once met a guy who told me he would not come back home because he had spend almost 12 years abroad without doing anything tangible back at home and also that he had nothing to bring home with him. Sometimes this is why many people are scared to come back home because the people at home would be very expectant, that is, depending on where one was living and the kind of promises (implied or actual) they made to their relatives. living abroad one of the in thing many people are hungry for these days, but not at the expense of one’s peace. its good always to check with the home country when you are abroad so that you avoid the risk of finding it difficult coming back home when the need arises.

  44. wanjiku says:

    Great article!

    What would you say has changed since you last wrote this?
    I anything, please update. Considering coming home

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