Rediscovering Me: Kenyan-German Child Shares on Connecting with the Land of his Father (Kenya)

Tobias Mwango
Tobias Mwango Photo Credits

What does “motherland” mean to you? In this age of the internet and globalisation, do we need something as archaic as  a “motherland”? This was the theme of a school project at the USS in Öhringen. It received numerous answers from the school and here we feature one of a Kenyan German pupil, Tobias Mwango.

Since I’m half Kenyan, from my  father’s side, I have always been interested in my Kenyan roots. In this report, I’ll narrate about a trip there. When one hears of Kenya, one thinks of the savanna and their legendary animals like the lions or elephants. One also thinks of the beautiful beaches that can be found there, the glorious sunshine or the tourist attractions such as the safaris. Kenya is a beautiful country on the African continent, where I have seen and experienced a lot since the age of five years. But this time, I have took a “journey of rediscovery”.

Having arrived at a huge beach hotel, I run up the stairs to the hotel room reserved for my mother, my brother and I. I can hardly believe it: a room twice the size of our living room, a balcony with a perfect view of miles and miles of beach and right next to it a tree, with a monkey living on it. I wonder what I should do first, right before my mother says. “We could go to the beach, then you can both finally get to know your other relatives”. When I get to see my relatives for the first time, they suggest that we go on a safari. Boa, a safari! When my mother agrees, I jump for joy because I can finally see the animals: lions, hyenas, elephants and giraffes, which I had heard so much of in Germany. 

The Safari.

Our safari, surpasses them all of my expectations. We see the various animals in their flocks wandering around. Young lions rub against the car and as they play together. Antelopes in a large herd jump across the plains. In the evening as it was getting dark, a dark surge approached us. Initially no one noticed  it other than the tour guide. Smiling at us, he declared “These are just bats …”, as they fluttered around us. The Safari was by far the greatest highlight of a trip to a country that is a part of me.

The down-side

But I can not only tell about the beautiful side of Kenya. Kenya is also a country where there is famine, terrible outdated traditions and hatred of homosexuals who are criminalized and persecuted. In Africa, more than five percent of the population is HIV-positive which has tremendously decreased the life expectancy there. Child prostitution especially of girls aged between twelve and 18 years who occasionally exchange their bodies for money or sell their valuables, is quite normal in cities. To date, there is no proper medical care, which leads to many deaths.

Kenya has its beautiful side but also its downside. In the end, this country remains a beautiful country that is visited and loved by many.

Farewell

Every wonderful experience has an end.

The whole visit ended with a big farewell dinner, where my whole Kenyan family gathered. This offered yet another opportunity to get to know them better, like my uncle, Omari, who took me on a boat. Or my half-sister who lives with my grandma on a small farm. Even after years of separation, it felt like I had only been away for a short time. It is not a sad farewell, for I am glad to have finally learn something about my Kenyan roots, even though Germany remains my home.

By Tobias Mwango, class BVB, USS Öhringen

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