Every year thousands of Kenyans fly out to realise the ‘American dream’, which mainly entails studying, getting a job or hustling in that paradise of an economy. America and other first world countries may be riddled with their own economic problems but they surely tower above the rest when it comes to creating opportunities for their people and good environments for their businesses to thrive in. They have some of the best schools in the world, a proper education system, fantastic roads, not to mention their all-conquering media and entertainment industry.
You would surely forgive them for their ignorance and pride. Whilst their forefathers were busy struggling to build a nation, ours were somewhere seeking hands in marriages, littering the villages with kids, and consequently being colonised. Colonisation may have been unwelcomed but had the British not invaded this country I would probably be somewhere in a forest hunting for my family’s night time meal and not sitting behind an Acer laptop screen on a cold Sunday morning. Definitely a cloud with a silver lining.
As for the other 44 million of us left behind every year, in the famous words of Samora Machel “A luta continua”. The Kenyan youths simply refer to it as The Struggle. Piss poor pay, bad roads, demanding girlfriends, broke boyfriends, corrupt political representatives, sexually transmitted grades, high rents, drug lords, money launders, gambling, just to mention a few of the problems experienced by us Kenyans. Us poor Kenyans. We middle class Kenyans.
On the surface plenty might have changed thanks to a handful of Kenyans but sadly a majority of us still have a comfort mentality. The same mind-sets that made our great grandparents comfortable in the warm Sub Saharan region is the same one which makes our current generation comfortable with just going to school and getting a job and pretty much achieving nothing meaningful in their life besides building other peoples’ companies and siring children. But that’s the majority.
A small minority of young people are full of dreams and ambitions some of which are realised whereas the rest remain pipe dreams. After the GES 2015, hosted by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta and American President Barrack Obama, everyone now wants to be an entrepreneur, which is a good thing. We cannot all be business leaders but at least the young people are thinking about creating wealth rather than just falling into employment once they are done with school.
So what happens to those of us who want to live the Kenyan dream? To those who are patriotic no matter what? To those who choose to grace the Kenyan media industry? To those who support our National team despite recurrent poor performances? To those men and women who want no one but a Kenyan partner for a spouse? To the young entrepreneurs currently entering a particular market? To those men and women who work their asses off 9 – 5 so as to put food on the table for their families? To those musicians who despite the little they get, they still give us great music? To those who expect their government to make the country a better place for business and pleasure?
As young kids we jump into a cruel education system. A system that is rigorous. A system that only praises the best students and admonishes the rest. A system that teaches us to be lawyers, engineers, doctors and bankers. A system that teaches us to be good employees and not good employers. A system that teaches us how to work hard but forgets to teach us how to think smart. A system that does not teach us how to create opportunities for others or ourselves rather it teaches us to be dependent on others for validation. A system that praises the end result and not the effort put in. A system that focuses on success and not mastery. And with the new sexually transmitted grades, our educational system is now valueless.
From there we are supposed to join the job market and be the good employees that we were taught to be. We tarmac. We send CVs. We find a job outside our speciality, we take it up and build our experience. We look for other jobs with better pay. All this while we forget about creating opportunities for ourselves. We are focused on impressing our friends. We have social media a platform to show off where we have reached. Many brag about their jobs and turn ups but none ‘brags’ about starting a company or creating opportunities for others. Maybe its because those that are actually creating opportunities are too busy to be on social media or too humble to brag. But they understand that Kenyans love the spendthrift and not the frugal. We die without having achieved much.
Then we have the rich. They build flashy hotels, top notch companies, state of the art malls for the middle class to stream in and spend their money. They run our country. Not the politicians. The politicians are puppets. The rich work with the politician who will give them favours probably in return of small political campaign money. We need more rich people than we need middle class and poor people. They create opportunities for many. They may not all get there cleanly but their empires dictate whether or not our economy will be better or worse.
As for our politicians, they don’t make the country any better. Kenya can probably do better without any politicians. Politics should be made into a profession and taught in schools. Maybe that way our leaders will know what to do when in office besides just stealing huge chunks of moneys and sharing with their families and friends. Political leaders should be well educated people of high integrity and not just anyone with a following.
Leaving room for any idler to represent well educated people is a recipe for disaster and corruption. It is the only explanation behind the Eurobond thefts and politicians bickering daily in political rallies or funerals about who is the real deal. Politicians scurry off later on in their big cars with young beautiful girls yet the fool with a wife and kids at home is busy preparing for battle against a fellow Kenyan pauper. That is where mediocrity takes us.
With all these endless negatives in our country right now, you can’t help but weep for our young ambitious, up and coming Kenyans. But diamonds surely go through extremes before they become diamonds. Pressure creates diamonds.
University of Nairobi, School of Law.