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Kenyans in Canada rally against the deportation of renowned chef, John Mulwa

A Kenyan national who is known for his philanthropic work in Canada and is also credited for introducing managu and kunde dishes is facing deportation.

John Mulwa, a member of the Kenyan Community in Ontario and a professional chef has less than a week to fight not to be deported for allegedly contravening the country’s immigration laws.

Mulwa, who moved to Canada in August 2014, seeks humanitarian intervention to prevent the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) from casting him away.

The community is decrying this removal order which they see as cruel, and a WhatsApp group created for this discussion is flooded with testimonials of Mulwa’s connections to individuals and the community.

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Among them is that of a young Kenyan health worker Hellen Wendy who drowned in August while live streaming on Facebook, Mulwa was the chairman of the committee that planned the repatriation of her body to her family in Kenya for burial.

In March 2019, when the Kenyan Community in Canada gathered for a vigil at the Hamilton council chambers to honour the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines that had crashed days earlier, which included five members of the same Kenyan family, Mulwa was involved.

After the vigil, attendees were invited for a time of connecting with song, prayer, sharing a meal, and socializing to begin the process of healing together as a community.

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Mulwa was one of the people involved in organizing this evening event at Mohawk College where he worked as a chef.

In another testimonial from the group, Grace Mugambi was new to Canada in 2018 when she got sick and had to have life-saving surgery.

A call was put out on the Kenyan-Canadian socials for anyone in Hamilton who was available and willing to help out a sick newcomer. “A young man showed up at my door one day. I was new to Canada and I knew no one,” Mugambi recalls. “He took very good care of me, even taking care of my shopping and cooking until I was well … I consider Mulwa my son,” she adds.

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Mulwa is also given credit for partnering with Murphy’s Country Produce to add acres of African vegetables like kunde (cowpeas), saga (spider plant), managu (nightshade), sukuma wiki (collard greens/kale) and maize, to the usual Canadian staples.

According to an online petition, the community which held demonstrations on Monday to try and stop his deportation, they are decrying this removal order which they see as cruel.

“Returning someone to a country that they sought asylum from carries particular risks and consequences for the individual, and the unnecessary decision to remove a dedicated leader, humanitarian, employee, taxpayer, volunteer, and generous community organizer has touched a raw community nerve and they are pushing back,” they said.

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He hopes that this means something to the Canadian government and he has retained the legal counsel of JM Law Professional Corporation led by Joshua Makori and Lucas Mirera.

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