by Prudent Ndiho
What does the American dream have to do with African immigrants? Is there an African dream? African immigrants come to the United States, most of us, fleeing various kinds of trials and tribulations, hoping to reach a safe and fulfilling environment. Here in Maine, compared to where we come from, there is total safety. We don’t hear guns shooting or burglars breaking into homes as so many of us experienced in different countries in Africa. Furthermore, most immigrants in Maine have enough food to eat each day, whereas in Burundi, where I come from, more than 50% of the population struggles to eat twice a day.
What about the American dream? Is it relevant for African immigrants? According to the dictionary, the American dream refers to equality of opportunity – the ability for each of us to reach our aspirations and goals, regardless of differences of social class or background. African immigrants want to share this dream, but most of us believe we can’t. In a small, poor country like Burundi, where every day you must think about how to feed your family, it is hard to have many dreams other than that. In my case, my dreams broadened when I got to the United States. In Burundi, I did not think of myself as a writer. In school, I never heard of anyone dreaming of becoming a writer. But here I saw the possibility because I was exposed to people whose lives are based around writing. So my dream has become American, in a way, with goals beyond subsistence.
I encourage my fellow immigrants to dream big here in the land of the free, and make use of every opportunity you can. If you have a dream, guard it, dedicate yourself to it, and never give up.
Prudent Ndiho is a writer who loves music, people, and God.