Happiness and Migration – Is Life in Germany Better than Life in Kenya?

Kenyan learning German in Berlin

When Africans move to Europe, it’s stereotypically assumed they do so because life is better in Europe but is it really?

Simon Okello moved to Germany five years ago, from his life one would assume he’s finally made it. He owns a nice used car, works in a warehouse, living in an apartment with a balcony in the middle of the city close to Stuttgart. He came to Germany as a single young man but has now married and has children. 

Simon enjoys the surety and punctuality  in all sectors of the German society from health care, at work and even in the traffic. Simon passed his KCSE and did a business diploma but couldn’t get any good job. He sold cell phones for a while in the shopping mall but that couldn’t support him and the job was too dangerous. He now works in a warehouse without any real training and is working towards getting an ausbildung.

One would think food is cheaper in Kenya than here but a kilo of sugar in Kenya easily costs four times what it does in Germany.

But even with all that, life in Kenya isn’t all doom and gloom. The weather is much better, you get to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Simon also adds that in Kenya people live like one family. People do a lot more together. Evenings and weekends are easily spent with friends and family. Friends and family visit you at home or at work without calling, “we consider visitors to be blessings”, Simon adds. In Kenya one can easily knock on the neighbour’s door at 10pm and borrow salt or sugar without anyone finding it weird. In Germany, Simon always calls before visiting people. On weekends after leaving work, he simply goes for shopping, runs a few errands and waits for the new week. “In Kenya people don’t have much but they are happy in the little they have”.

Simon isn’t sure where life is better but he misses the closeness in Kenya. He plans to return to Kenya when he’s older. He plans to build a house and return back home.

Peter Oketch is an IT expert also from Kenya who is doing his PhD in Dresden for the past ten months. His experience has been ok, he has never been attacked for his skin colour but he knows there are areas he shouldn’t visit.”Even in Nairobi I don’t go everywhere, for example I never go to Dandora”. Although his experience has been ok, he misses his wife and children. He has noticed that Germans aren’t very open but that could be because he doesn’t speak any German. In Nairobi, he would simple go to a pub and get into a conversation with a stranger but that hasn’t happened in Germany. He plans to return home in a few days, moving his family to Germany would be too expensive for him.

The life expectancy in Germany is 80 while in Kenya it’s 63 that could be based on the health care system in both countries. “The social security, insurance coverage and the health care system here is excellent”, Eva Makau says. Eva is a 33 year old Kenyan who works as a geriatric nurse and is a mother to one child who came to Germany 12 years ago and lives in Stuttgart. She shares of an experience in her home in Kilifi where a pregnant lady had to be taken to hospital but due to the bad roads, the trip to the hospital was delayed and the baby passed away due to complications.

“Life is good in Germany,” Eva says, “with a decent job and the money you can live well in Kenya as well. A friend of mine is a businesswoman in Kenya – she lives better than I do.”

Original by Christoph Link

Where do you think life is better, in Kenya or in Germany?

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