When Dr. David Wachira ended up in USA as a young boy back in 1997 with his Akorino turban on his head, he had all the expectations that his dreams in life will come to reality as he was in the land of opportunities. He was in the land of opportunities and indeed opportunities came his way.
However, growing up in Texas USA was not that easy as reality of racism dawned on him at a tender age. Appearing on Jeff Koinange Show JKL Live on17th Wednesday February, Dr. David Wachira recounted how it was challenging growing up in USA.
Dr. David Wachira a Public Finance Specialist at World Bank revealed that his first encounter with racism came after 3 months of being in the US.
“My first experience with racism was after 3 months of being in the US. We were playing with young boys who told me I could not be President because I was black…This was in 1998…Thank God that changed.” Dr Wachira recalls.
Despite having attained highest level of education and having worked with various top institutions in the USA that has earned him a name, Wachira still lives with every day’s challenges and threats that comes with being a black person in USA.
“I went through school till I attained my PhD at 27 years of age. I was a lecturer in the US at the age of 22 before I applied for a job at the World Bank” he stated.
The young Wachira who started school in Elburgon Kenya but ended up in the US because his dad was in University in the US recounts incidences where he has to put all his hands on the steering wheel at every police stop just to avoid any confrontation with the American police for allegedly being armed.
Not even his status earns him the freedom he would so much wish.
At one point Wachira narrated how his black friend was ordered to leave a petrol station by a white man at gun point just because he was black.
Akorino in America
When Wachira landed in US with his family, there was a cultural shock and people were always curious as to why they wore turbans. The family of 5 where the only Akorinos in the US.
“There are no Akorinos in Austin Texas. When we got to the US in 1997, my family members were the only Akorino…It was a bit of a culture shock…. People were curious as to why we wore turbans.” Dr Wachira recounted.
However, Wachira stated that they maintained their Akorino culture and spoke Kikuyu or Swahili at home.
Asked whether he faced the same cultural challenge at school or work, Wachira recounted that initially he would get so many questions from curious classmates and workmates as to why he wore a turban but he has always found it easy explaining to them.
“I do not have a lot of challenge with that because once I explain it to anyone, they are always contented. “He stated
He recalled that many have always attributed his head gear to someone who has had a head injury and on may accession he is asked whether he is sick.
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Wachira recently got married to his Norwegian girlfriend. He says he has the best partner and friend in his wife of 7 month and their families have approved their union.
“I am married to a Norwegian wife…One tends to fall in love with people they hang out with or associate with. My God does not tell me that I have to marry a Mukorino. I picked and this is who I ended up with”
His wife Cecilia Wachira says her family adores him so much and on the other side Wachira’s family are happy with his choice.
“I met David in Washington, DC 3 years ago. His turban did not bother me. It intrigued me actually… But I understand it now. Cecilia stated
“My family members were very happy I married Cecilia…My aunt says she has an easy name to pronounce” Wachira on the other hand stated.
While the couple has family blessings, Wachira says people always thing he is her driver
“Most people think I’m her driver…” he stated.
He recalls an incident where he drove in one of the famous Nairobi hotel with his wife only to be addressed and treated as Cecilia’s driver.
Wachira who is on a journey to impact lives says he has partnered with friends to give back, support students with scholarships, inspire and engage with young people.
He yearns to see a future where all people will be treated equally. However, Wachira is not running away from the reality that racism is still a challenge in the present world.
Wachira’s biggest fear now is that his children might be discriminated against in future based on color.
Dr. Wachira resides with his family and most often visits his extended family in Kenya. He is a Public Finance Specialist at World Bank.