Tuesday, July 28, 2009

American Success Story - Pius Nyamora

In 1994, while working as Manager of a Ritz Camera & One Hour Photo in suburban Detroit, I placed an ad in the local newspaper for a sales position. A man called in response to the advertisement - I marked his name in my Franklin Planner for the following day at noon ... Pius Nyamora.

The interview was unlike any other that I had ever had. Pius spoke more with his eyes than his voice. We didn’t discuss his qualifications – we discussed his story. His life’s journey. Where he had been and why, at the age of 44 year, he was sitting here seeking a job for near minimum wage.

Pius told of his writing and critical views of the oppressive Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi’s government. How, as editor and publisher of Society, Pius sought greater democratic accountability in the Kenyan government. He spoke of government oppression, of being unlawfully arrested for speaking out against Moi and the fire-bombing of his office. Of how he and his wife, Loyce were granted political asylum in the United States. But asylum doesn’t pay the bills.

Pius was struggling to make ends meet selling Kenyan curios they brought with them. It was obvious he needed a job. Explaining his qualifications to my superior was another matter. The Regional Manager, Chuck Crawford was somewhat skeptical of his sales ability, but gave me the choice none-the-less. I took it and hired Pius rather than the other candidates.

In my twenty-seven-year-old eyes Pius was a hero. He believed in democracy and often talked fondly of his homeland and people. Pius also believed in what many call the American dream. Ritz Camera declared bankruptcy this year, but Pius now has two master’s degrees, teaches at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, and is an expert in local and foreign policy, democracy, immigration and diversity issues.

The collective melting pot of America is stronger for giving Pius and his family domicile from the oppressive Moi government. Pius is a survivor and I am blessed for having known him and perhaps helping in the smallest way get established in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.