Thanks for Faith Mwaka Musyoki to share her thoughts, Keenista is proud of you.
China has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. In the recent past, we have seen her prowess in technological advancement, infrastructure, industry, medicine, agriculture, education and other sectors. There is definitely something to learn from china, that’s why I have titled this essay “keeping up with china”. As African growing countries, we need to get there. One of the ways of doing this is strengthening the youths in our countries.
The association, between Kenya and china has had its two sides of the coin, from the ‘Chinalets’ deep in the villages, to the magnificent standard gauge railway that has changed out travel life forever; From the people whose lives were changed by getting jobs in the construction, to the changed face of the Kenyan transport system, especially from Nairobi to Mombasa. Lessons too have been learnt, typical Africans who find it hard to keep time have had their worst fear –time getting ahead of them. I know this because I am a victim, and I have learnt a very important lesson about life, that time waits for no man. These are just but highlights of what our friends and recently, immediate neighbours, the Chinese have taught us.
Someone reading this is already beating their heads up, neighbours? How?! I feel like I have already earned the right to refer to them as neighbours considering I live, travel along Mombasa Nairobi highway, alongside which the standard gauge railway was built. I have seen hundreds of youths get jobs, both casual and office jobs. I have seen lives change. I have seen people move from rags to riches during the span of the construction, then, with excruciating awe, I have seen almost two-thirds of fortune makers from the standard railway gauge stumble back to utter poverty and subsequent stress immediately after the construction.
This has had me thinking, where are we going wrong? This is an essay about the youth, but this question goes to everyone who feels me out there. We complain every day, with the ‘Serikali saidia’ slogan (government help us). We whine day in day out, give us jobs, give us subsidies to start businesses, give us this, give us that. But if that is the solution, 2018 would have been a different year. I live in a small market,( I work for the government by the way).This town is just a few metres from a major station, and I can attest that the face of this town changed, activities, rental houses were full to capacity, shop owners and club owners were smiling all the way to the bank. However, this was cut short after the completion of the railway. People moved back to the village. Money stopped coming. The smiles faded, our little quiet town was deserted once more. Where did these people go?
Am not a gossiper albeit being a woman, but word travels like bushfire. Poverty came back whistling, like the seven devils mentioned in the bible. Kiosks selling food to the workers during the construction of the railway closed. Women carried the utensils they were using to their homes. Houseboys took back their jobs where they had left them, housewives went back to their daily boring lives and it was all back to the way it was before the Chinese came. This was expected. It’s not the first time it has happened in our African countries. What happens when we get fortune? In the Chinese case, those who were displaced were given millions of money in compensation. For me this meant more estates, more shops, but these are nowhere to be seen. What I see is more clubs, more wives and concubines, what we have branded in the present generation as slay queens and kings.
Our generation is awfully unguided! It’s shocking millions of opportunities slip in our hands day in day out. We complained no jobs but what did we do with them when they presented themselves? Excitement! No time to plan, no time to think. This is the biggest problem we are facing as youth of this century.
We invest future money. It’s interesting how we make conversations, me included. When I get money, I will buy a plot, start a shop, well, those kinds of stuff that lasts. How about now? Why invest in the future? Someone once said, future is something you design today. What happens to us when we don’t design our future with what is at hand now? Plainly, there will be no future if you don’t make it today. Make your future today. Invest today, tomorrow it will be more than it is today. If those young people who had got contracts on the standard gauge railway had learn to build their future in the immediate present, things would be different. Your hand can seize today, but not tomorrow, and the thoughts of tomorrow are nothing but desire. Think about this and act fast today.
Mr Mwambo (not his real name) was employed as a driver for one of the tapers the Chinese were using. Being a seasoned driver, I guess he was paid a reasonable amount of money.
Kenyans will always be Kenyans. We take every small opportunity, whether it leads us to heaven or hell. He started moving some of the tools they were transporting and selling them off to neighbours at throw away price. Several culprits of the same escaped their erroneous ways, but Mwambo was caught. Let’s just say he paid for it with his own life because he attempted to commit suicide the next day. He lost everything. There have been hundreds of cases of youths who lost track of their lives, lost jobs just because they weren’t content with whatever they were earning, which is just enough. Youths out there, there are thousands of ways to get blessings and just one way to lose it all; lack of trust. Learn from people who have risen from office cleaners to manager of companies just because the boss trusts them.
Some of them earn the names of pets, just because they look out for their source of income. We don’t want to destroy the source of our livelihoods. That is the way to go for everyone. Earning trust is the best thing that will ever happen to anyone.
Losing trust on the other hand, well who works with a thief anyway? It’s good to learn from other countries where people have to work with minimum supervision. Illegitimate property doesn’t last, I have seen and heard, just be legit to build a stronger youth foundation.
Just like the other part of the 97% percent of youth that gamble in Kenya, am scared for where we are headed. I have tried to stop, and I succeeded.. for a day! Then I was back at it, just as I try to stop, Abisai wins the jackpot. Telkom cars were won, people are winning millions! I want to be a winner too. I have seen youth who are tomorrow’s millionaires throughout their lives. We keep stacking for those millions, but how about today? Can’t we see that we are destroying our future by excessive betting? It’s not something that can be controlled and most of our youths are lost in it. It’s worrying and painful to watch.
I know you can be that millionaire, and yes that feeling waiting for the results is excruciatingly sweet and over the moon, driving my tomorrows, Prado, in my mind booking my first class ticket to watch the world cup at Russia, but how about the reality. Betting life is like watching a movie. Nothing is real. You can’t live by betting. I repeat, gambling is not a way of life, please don’t make it one. Live the reality, multiply money by investing it, not by hanging it on the tips of your fingers, because, you will lose I all. I am not a prophet of doom, but again, you will lose it all. Do not gamble my dear friends. Do something worthwhile. Use available real opportunities to earn a tangible living.
The recent upraise of Saccos, has seen several young people change their lives. Saccos are run and managed by all the members, so every person who is a member of a Sacco is a manager in their own way. Saccos are or everyone, regardless of your status in the society, whether civil servant, housewife, taxi driver, or bodaboda, every group has their own Saccos and its highly advisable to join a Sacco because it helps to save and invest, in addition to earning dividends each year. The rule for saving is, save, then spend what remains and not vice versa. Saccos have enabled us to achieve this. More groups should also partner to form Saccos which will have ample benefits for such members.
I mentioned before something to do with ‘chinalets’ in the depth of the villages. These are remnants of the Chinese genes which has managed to gain roots deep in the villages, and our daughters have fallen victims. Girls are taken to the camps at night, so I heard (no hard evidence though) but the evidence is clear in the number of light skinned babies that we have since been born. It’s a blessing, but still, it’s a lesson to the girl child to be careful when it comes to these kinds of relationships. Rising kids can be a challenge especially when you are single mother, with no much of resources to rely on. To build a strong root as youth, there is a timing for everything. I don’t blame anyone here, I just blame the system, and somehow, girls should learn hard lessons especially with people who are round for just a contract because it may have adverse effects on their life.
Did I mention my experience with my first trip in the SGR train, that never was, simply because I couldn’t make I to the station on time. Okay this is my story. I was at Kenyatta University for a session, and I wanted to get home for a function. I had booked the train two weeks before. On the material day, I left at 12pm, and the train was to leave Syokimau at 2pm. At 1.20pm, I was at Railways stage, in a Matatu that wasn’t filling up, time hadn’t moved so fast in my life. Fast forward, I arrived at the station at 2.00, I saw he train move away before my eyes. Valuable lesson there my fellow youth men and women, keep time, always stay ahead of time. Time is an arrogant fellow when it gets ahead of you, it will mock you in your face.
A gentleman keeps time. Interviews, own jobs where you need to meet clients, office work, require time consciousness. The best luxury you can have ever have is the luxury of time. My experience with life has taught me this. Slowly, we should pull out from the stereotype of Africanism and time, because keeping g time is keeping wealth, since time is money. This also comes with the responsibility of managing the time we have, such that we don’t waste it. You can keep time and achieve nothing, every moment should be accountable. Like I can account for the last 10 minutes, I have been writing, how about you? What have you been doing with your time? Is the result matching with the number of seconds you have spent on it? A great woman once said, work like the deadline is now. Putting deadlines for ourselves is the only way we can conserve time, and this also means that we are focused on goals. That is like killing two birds with one stone.
I have seen my former classmates driving big cars, going to fancy hotels, yes they dine with the rich and mighty. They have made it in life, so they say. What does that make me? Well you already have gauged my level by now, so someone would say my self-worth is less, right? I haven’t bought a car yet, I am still struggling with life at my own level, but yes, I have also made it in life because by what I do, I am earning a living. And this is where most of us get lost. We sit and watch our friends who apparently have made it. We are all alive, yes, we have made it halleluiah! Know you self-worth, work at your level, compete with the you of yesterday, everyone has a life to run and a report to return when all is said and done.
We are all worth a lot. Nobody can take your place wherever you are, work to make yourself better. You remember the biblical story of the slave that buried the bag of silver he had been given to invest, what happened to him? Don’t bury your silver .Don’t give up just because you think your friends or kin are the ones that should be. Work to be the best version of yourself. That’s all that matters. Despair is an enemy to advancement in life, keep moving.
Every day, look forward and work for a better day tomorrow.
There is so much to correct, also much more to share as African youths but one thing is for sure. Working together, with help of KEENISTA and sharing ideas is what will give us enough pace to keeping up with the Chinese. This doesn’t mean china can’t learn from us. We have got a lot to admire and we should proud of ourselves. Let’s all arise, brace ourselves and match to that aspired future. God bless KEENISTA, and the continent as a whole.
Well, am not the hero of this story, and after all this, I might be forgotten when I die. Monuments may not be written in my memory, but changing someone’s life through writing, that’s enough legacy for me. I work to make an impact in people’s lives through any way I can reach out to them. I know someone else has already changed mine, and that’s the spirit of wanting to be a role model. Be spectacular for people to see, and someday, someone will attest, ‘he/she changed my life. Those are marks that last forever, never erased, even if the mind forgets.
Thank you KEENISTA for giving us a chance to participate in African development.
Faith Mwaka Musyoki
Faith is an enthusiastic 28 year old high school teacher, with 4 years working experience. Born and brought up in Kenya, she has a passion for writing albeit teaching science.
She also boasts first-hand experience with the Chinese, being an immediate neighbour to their main station during the construction of the standard gauge railway.
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