Written by Esther Kanyua
“I need to go to the gym” he says, as he gobbles down a freshly made roasted-tomato-and-mozzarella Panini. I can see he was starving as he tosses the tissue into the empty plate and leans back on his chair rubbing his belly in a circular motion.
“I can remember the day,” he says in a reminiscent tone. At the tender age of 21, Robert Bundi arrived in Wichita, Kansas from Kenya to chase his American dream, “to gather information and knowledge.”
Unknown to him, Wichita was not the place he was going to realize his American dream. Bundi relocated to Dallas, Texas after a year and a half. His move to Texas was quite adventurous as he got to experience “a whole new breed of Kenyans.” Compared to the Kenyan community he had left in Wichita, he found the Kenyans in Dallas to be very aggressive.
He turns to me and says, “It took me seven years to finish my undergrad.” He sounds disappointed, but unapologetic. It didn’t take him long to discover that Dallas is a city where one can easily get lost in the fun and hype of life. Then he proudly asserts, “I had my fun in Dallas, but I also went to school.”
Mr. Furahiday, The entrepreneur
By 2006, Bundi had lived in Dallas for several years, working and getting laid off from several jobs. He quickly came to the understanding that the more money he made, the more debt he incurred. To break that cycle, he decided to embark on a new chapter in his life.
He pursued his entrepreneurial dreams by surrounding himself with business minded people. He also realized that as he grew older, his money smarts were increasing and his priorities in life were changing.
He learned a lot from Mwenda Thuranira, a businessman who now resides in Nairobi, Kenya. He remembers admiring his charismatic ways, and after spending some time with him, he learnt that “business is people.”
“The way you think as a person at 25 years old is very different from the way you think at 30.”
“I am a people person,” flashing a brilliant smile at me, as he reminds me of his “Happy Furahiday” text messages. Every Friday for almost a year, Bundi used to send a text message to his friends in all states including Kenya, and it soon became part of his Friday routine as well as that of the recipients of the message.
Bundi held his 26th birthday at a friend’s club in downtown Dallas. It was here that he discovered his sphere of influence. The owner of the club encouraged Bundi not to waste his talent, which was the ability to gather a large number of people in an entertainment setting.
By the summer of 2007, Furahiday entertainment was established as an entertainment company. It hosted a number of successful memorial weekend parties, establishing Bundi as a force to be reckoned with among the various veteran entertainers in Dallas.
Furahiday entertainment’s niche market was the classy, grown and sexy.
Banging his fist on the table, Bundi says, “If it’s something you believe in, keep doing it!” He then recalls being encouraged to cancel the Furahiday entertainment red and white affair launch party because it was supposed to rain and the party was to be on at the roof top. Although it did rain, the party still took place in the basement of the same building turning out to be a successful launch after all.
“It wasn’t only about the money, ” he says, “everyone dressed up in red and white and they really had fun.”
Over the years, Kenyan memorial weekend celebrations in Dallas have grown to attract a large number of Kenyans from other states as well as Kenya. The number of events to attend has increased from just two to six or seven parties in one night!
Furahiday Entertainment events were among the ones that people looked forward to every memorial weekend as a way to socialize with fellow Kenyans. However, in 2011, they were nowhere to be seen.
“Memorial became politicized,” he says, noting that despite all efforts, the various event planners had failed to join forces to plan “one memorial event” for 2011.
“What is it that is so different that I am doing here that I can’t do in Kenya? Nothing!” Bundi exclaims. Now that he is mentally and f ready to go back to Kenya, he looks forward to the opportunities that will be available to him there.
He received mixed reactions when he informed people that he was going back to Kenya. Some could not understand why he would want to leave Dallas while others admired his brave move and wished him the best.
“Yes, I have political ambitions” he says his face lighting up, and his mood changing altogether. He continues, “I really don’t know too much about it” saying that like most of us, he relies on the internet to keep him informed on political issues. He aims to get a lot more involved in the political scene once he returns to Kenya, as he believes that the politicians in Kenya have let their people down.
In a bitter-sweet tone he admits that he is leaving behind a great Kenyan community. “Kenyans in Dallas have a way of coming together to help each other especially in times of need,” he emphasizes.
He does urge others to go back home if they are ready to do so, saying “People need to stop making excuses about moving back home.” He further adds that “If you feel like you fit into this society and it makes sense to be here, then well and good. However there some who are just hanging around.”
As for the new comers to Dallas, Bundi leaves you with wise words: “Hang on, it’s gonna be a tough ride!”
He is already embarking on a project that will establish an education fund for high school students in Kenya and he hopes the Kenyans in the Diaspora will be support him in this cause.
Bundi, thanks for hosting a fantastic all white affair…what a way to make an exit. Best of luck, Bundi, Dallas will miss you dearly!