The world is full of vast opportunities, and all we have to do is to stretch out and pick them.
“Your papers are commendable but we are sorry we cannot take in more staff, we are not in a position to keep you around with the raging hardships,” he will tell me in a solemn tone.
“…but leave your papers behind, we shall consider you when we need staff,” he will call my hard-earned degree, my elaborate C.V, my booster diplomas and professional certificates’ papers’. And papers belong to the shredder machine. Once I’ll be out of the premises, he will order the receptionist to chase away the likes of me. This will be next year for me, going through the infamous after school ‘tarmacking’. It is that testing, loathsome and arrogant step-mother. I will wake up every morning, say a prayer of supplication, take a quick bath, down a cup of almost sugarless black tea and a bun, fit my sore feet in a pair of shoe that was part of the graduation outfit but which has been the better part of life, pick my papers which are in their semi-permanent home-a brown envelope and seek my way out. It will be a routine for a while before I drop the prayer bit after thinking that it no longer works for me. I shall decide to kick start the day with a follow up in several factories in Industrial Area. I shall knock on the first gate and get the now familiar response, ‘we are sorry nothing has shown up yet.’ By noon I will be dusty, sun-kissed-not the instagram caption way but ravenous and hopeless. My enduring spirit will guide me to where casual laborers are having their lunch in a certain Kibanda, they look worn out like old leather as they eat. I join them and order chapochoma.
Disclaimer for those from Kileleshwa and Kitusuru, ChapoChoma is not Chapati and nyamachoma, it is sliced chapati softened with boiling bean soup. Sorry I know you feel like sleeping already, chapochoma does that to you.
“You came looking for a job,” one of the laborers will say to me.
“Yes,” I shall say hopefully. These are the times everything gives you hope. Even the flies hovering by my food will give me hope.
“What do you have in there?” he will gesture towards my envelope.
“A degree in Biochemistry, several other certificates and a diminishing hope.”
“Singh no longer takes in graduates,” he will say to me.
The reason being usual fallacies; high salary demands, arrogance and below-par performance. Our brain has been limited to think only in line of our courses. The education we have so depended on to enlighten us has enslaved us. I lost you, right. Take a look at the film The Lord of the Rings, Sauron’s ring is very attractive to the bearer, it gives power but slowly it casts an evil spell on them. The spell weakens the bearer and after sometime the ring is branded as a burden. I shall not blame education lest I stand judgment and criticism. I shall blame me, for learning what I was taught and not learning to learn. Education in all its majesty has not only limited our scope of thought but also our ability to compete in a dynamic world. A good example is one of a friend who pursued a course in electrical engineering, power option. It is a kick ass course, demanding the best grade in secondary education, the clearest of thought and deepest of patience and could lead to a handsome career. He accepted the invitation to university, spent five years mastering the dynamics of energy and quantum physics and in December 2014 the nation received a fresh graduate with a first class honors, top in his class and among the best in the field. He approached many a power stations only for them to turn him down. As Nairobi has it, money is part of every equation and so our unlucky lad resulted to wiring, some craft done by apprentices. That was the end of him and engineering and as we speak, he is designing Jubilee and NASA campaign posters and flyers and making a kill out of it.
I am not trying to discourage any of us but in all sincerity thinking outside the box is mandatory. Education offers us an eight to five work scheme for the rest of our lives but learning from education makes us our own bosses at twenty. I attended a networking and cocktail dinner someday last year and a fashion designer from Ghana was keen on the point that it’s not how much he earns but how much he makes per month. He takes pride in knowing that he is his only limitation. In the short time I have been around, I have seen people labor to sustain their lifestyles while others are living large. Survival is a tactic and living is a skill dependent on our thinking. Most of us-me included think that living a happy life is correlated to the amount of money we make but an early disclaimer is that the happiest people are those who live within their limits. We mortals have set wealth as the gold standard for success. The number of parking spaces in our home garage, luxurious apartments and frequency of holidays we make abroad will not make any sense if we do not delight in them. I have been accused time and again for being prejudiced towards rich people but I have nothing personal against them. Most of the time wealth blinds us from seeing what is really important in life and sometimes deters us from realizing our true purpose. Allowing us free time, dressing up simply and taking a walk in a ghetto teaches us a lot about life. Taking a turn of events and instead of touring the Caribbean’s you opt for a trip down to Lesotho and experience the culture there could be equally refreshing.
‘Become the rock that many will be built upon’
Back to the topic of the day, I want to do stuff I really like. I want to work at my acme, to feel it like a biker feels the wind blow through his hair. I want to experience the zeal of starting a venture and watching it fail, fail and then succeed. I will want to test my limits, chart my path, establish my strengths and learn to appreciate my weaknesses. Such a list which I share with many cannot be achieved with a job but with a career. I write this in first person singular because I want to believe it, and I want you, especially gentlemen of my age, to read it too in first person singular. They are not exactly my words but a collection of utterances from my mentors, bigger brothers and men of dignity. I share them because it makes them more convincing to me.