By G Oguda
Those graduating today, I want to tell you something.
I earned my BA (Anthropology) degree in December 2007. It was the happiest day of my life. My late grandmother travelled all the way from Sigomere, in Ugenya, to show solidarity with me. She is the only member of that party who didn’t ululate, or make any celebratory gestures. Nothing moved her. She had seen it all. After the event was over, she pulled me aside and gave me a short lecture. “You see these people all over here splashing their cash showing you love, do not be fooled. In this world you were born alone and you will struggle alone. Friends and relatives will help you only when you are already on the move. Do not ever be fooled that anyone you see here will give you a ride when you are down. If they do, consider it a privilege. If they don’t, do not begrudge them. Man is still a selfish being, and they will always have their self interests first. This world owes you nothing, it was here first.”
That, over there, is the gospel truth.
A certificate is just a piece of paper. Everyone, including Babu Owino, has one, or two. The first job interview I have ever attended was at the, then, Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission. They wanted field officers for a governance research study and I was waiting to graduate. I did well, they told me, well enough to be hired for the 6 month project period. They were giving us some decent money. It was an aptitude test. We were not even required to produce our certificates on the first three sets of interviews. Just me and the respective panelists, picking my brain on everything relevant to the study – including common sense that we were not taught in school.
That interview opened my mind up. A lot. If you are one of those boys and girls thinking that that paper alone is enough to guarantee you a job, my kind advice to you is to start getting busy. Because it is nothing.
Two weeks ago, a 15-year old girl knocked on our offices. She studies in one of those schools that pay school fees like you’re buying a million acre of land in Kitisuru. She had just been elected the President of the environmental club and she wanted to know more about an environmental conservation programme we were running. I was in Form 2 at 15 years. I had not even seen a computer with my naked eyes. This girl had already done her research on potential organisations she could speak to and even called to book an appointment. She told me she was on vacation and she didn’t want to lazy around at home watching television and attending parties. That young girl is a genius. Any 15 year old who can discuss climate change like she is speaking at a United Nations conference is not any other 15 year old. After the short meeting was over, I decided to go back and do more reading on my own. My ignorance had been sufficiently proven.
That is where the world currently is. You blink, even for a second, and you’re dead meat. This world is fiercely competitive you have to be on toes all the time.
My late grandfather once told me that school should help expand your knowledge-base and worldview. If you are one of those who go to school because you are angling for a promotion or wants to please your potential soulmate, then, I tell you, I am very sorry that you are wasting your time and money.
Because you will, ultimately, realise that you are chasing the wind.