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I’m happy to make Kenya my new home, says African American woman

My name is Preshay Knight but my friends call me Shay, I am an African American who has been living in Nyeri County for the past one year.
On September 2015, I packed my bags and headed to the airport, I decided to give up my American dream for an African future, I boarded a plane and decided to come live the rest of my adult life in Kenya.
I was born in the US in 1984. My mother was a single mum. In the 1980s, she had come to Kenya to do some missionary work and lived in Nyeri County for several years where she met and fell in love with my father.
When I was conceived, my mother went back to California, US and after I was born she raised me as an American. It was not until I was 16 years old that my mother informed me that my father was Kenyan, and explained why we were not in contact with him.
I had never visited Kenya or reached out to him before I came to the country last year, but I was glad to know where I came from.
After high school, I joined Georgia Guinnet University to study Special Education, and I had to work three jobs to make ends meet.
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It was really hectic because I worked as a waitress, transport officer in charge of child safety and as a care giver for persons living with disability while attending university lectures.
I started to feel that the American dream is overrated and seemed unattainable to me. I was also unable to keep up with all the pressure and strain of living a life of constant running around just to meet my basic needs.
To make matters worse, being an African American there were blatant issues of inequality facing me because of my race. The Black Lives Matter movement was just beginning to form after several African American young men were gunned down by police under controversial circumstances.
It was then I made a decision. I wanted to make a drastic change in my life and while I had never visited Kenya, I knew in my heart it was the place to start my life over.
My mother also decided to join me and we flew out together and are now living in Kenya as I start getting to know my father.
We have both applied for permanent residency permits which will allow us to become Kenyans if our applications are successful, and hopefully we shall be Kenyan Americans one day.
Today, I hawk and bake cakes. I have the necessary permit and documentation to do what I do and atleast three times a week, I carry a variety of cakes in a basket and offer free samples to customers before I sell them their preferred flavour.
I did not know that hawking is a profession that people look down upon in Kenya, but I am not afraid of the judgmental stares I receive.
The only real challenge has been overcoming the language barrier since my English is very accented. I have, however, learned a few Swahili words which help me sell my cakes.
I consider myself a professional hawker and even though it is difficult to start my life over and I do miss my family back in California, I know I made the right decision in coming to Kenya and making it my home.
The atmosphere is very welcoming and relaxed, I can make a living without being harassed because of my race. I am hopeful that I will have a bright future here and will one day settle down and have a Kenyan family of my own.


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