As cases of the Diaspora Kenyan men running into hard times in the USA and other parts of the world have increased in recent years, a group of men has come together to form the first group that will be focused on being my brother’s keeper. Kenya Men Empowered Network (KEMEN) was officially launched on Saturday, June 16, 2018 in Taunton, Massachusetts as part of 3 days of activities planned for the participating men.
Over 150 men from across the USA gathered in Taunton for activities ranging from a golf tournament to empowerment workshops to nyama choma eating on the final day. Coincidentally, the launch happened during the month of June, which is Men’s Health Month in USA, International Men’s Health Week, June 11-17 and on Father’s Day weekend.
Founder member, Antony Kamnao speaking during the event said that the group aims to create a forum where Kenyan men in the Diaspora can address issues that affect them and find appropriate solutions to solve them. “Through the KEMEN platform, the association will engage, inform and educate the community of Kenyan men on how to address the challenges of their daily lives,” said Kamnao. “The ability to generate, access, and use information has become a key factor in personal, social, and economic growth. That’s why through free flow and sharing of information, this forum will expand its global outreach to the Diaspora society in reshaping our personal, education, and social activities and values.”
Empowerment workshop topics included higher education and careers, health and wellness, mentorship and entrepreneurship. The speakers who came from across the USA and each connected his presentation to an issue that was selected as important to Diaspora men.
Speaking during the launch, Dr. David Angwenyi, Founder, Global Connections Kenya (GCK) said that the launch of KEMEN has opened a new platform for Kenyan men in the diaspora to network and empower one another in an unprecedented manner. “The open discussion and the sheer talent that was on display at the launch should send a strong message to anyone who is quick to dismiss this organization. In one sentence, KEMEN has opened a new frontier for Kenyan men in the Diaspora to move the great ideas and unity of purpose into action, and the power that would come out of this organized group of men is simply unstoppable.”
Toward the end, the men who were present were encouraged to reach out to a fellow man if they needed help on issues that could lead them to major issues.
Former Presidential candidate, 2017 Dr. Jeff Kaluyu who graced the events noted that KEMEN would succeed because of the integrity of the men behind the idea. “For me, KEMEN is a practical approach and a refuge for men issues on both Diaspora and domestic fronts,” he said.
“As I leave here today, I have learned that many times Kenyan men don’t ask for help. It is an ego thing. Don’t let ego kill you,” a participant in the launch said. “You cannot squander this opportunity now that we have a group dedicated to men.”
After Saturday’s launch, KEMEN will focus on making its structures stronger so that the organization can focus on being a go to place for men seeking help and for empowerment.
Diaspora men in the USA seeking to start a chapter in their state or engage in other ways can contact KEMEN through their website, www.254kemen.org.
The next KEMEN event will be held on June 28 – 30, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia where the first chapter of the group was started. Massachusetts, where the launch event was held, takes the bragging rights of starting the second chapter of KEMEN.
By Erastus Mong’are
Erastus Mong’are, HSC, is the Founder and Executive Director, StartUpAfrica and Board Member of Kenya Men Empowerment Network (KEMEN) where he also serves as the National Events Director