6 Reasons Why Your Job Promotion is Elusive

Why am i not getting promoted2

 

In my last blog post (check it here: https://mokinda.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/how-to-get-that-promotion-easily-a-personal-testimony/ ), I highlighted how one can get that much desired promotion at their place of work. Today, I would wish to look into some of the reasons as to why most of us stagnate at a job position for years without prospects of ever rising up the corporate ladder.

#1     Not showing your worth to the company

The corporate world has a way of spotting capacity and rewarding potential. As such, people that do not exhibit any form of motivation towards adding value to the company would never be rewarded. As an employee, it is upon you to show how you are worth by employing and exploiting your talent and competencies. It would be worthwhile if you exhibited to your company how much worthy you are by exhibiting your potential and how it can help fill gaps in the company.

Everyone has a passion. It therefore means everyone has the potential of being promoted. Why are you not?

 

#2     Not living the brand

All corporates have a value system they ascribe to. Values are what shape a company’s culture in its interaction with the outside world. Of particular importance is its relationship with its clientele.  If one does not ascribe to the set corporate values, their behaviour would be in-congruent to the desired values and norms within the organization. It therefore behooves all members of an organization to first ascribe to and ultimately live the values of the brand for it to bring it out alive.

Failure to activate these means that one would not exhibit the desired ethos of the organization and as such, not fit into the corporate system of that particular company.

 

#3     Non-performance

It is obvious all enterprises exist with the ultimate purpose of returning value to the shareholders. Indeed, if one is not performing to the expected standard, the firm would have no reason to continue holding onto such a person. It is a fact that them that do not get exited from companies for non-performance are never promoted.

Have you realized that you have been mark timing on a position for long? Most probably the reason is you are just an average performer! Salary raises and promotions are now more than ever based on performance. Your value in a firm is held in high esteem in accordance with your level of performance.

Why am i not getting promoted3

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4     Doing the basic minimum

Everyone in an organisation has a prescribed job description. When you restrict yourself to only performing what is within your job jurisdiction, you limit your chances of your other abilities being noticed by your seniors. I remember when I started my banking career in a local multinational, most of my colleagues would rather deliver on their set job roles and leave for home. Whenever I was asked to perform jobs outside of my roles, I would willingly execute and deliver. With time, I got to learn jobs that fell out of my assigned roles. I never knew my supervisor was noticing and in record time, when chances fell open for promotions, she rooted for my enlisting for interviews. And I got promoted after three years into middle management position. Most of those we joined the industry with are still where we were, over a decade ago!

Strive to go beyond the expected for there is immense power in giving!

 

#5     Lack of enthusiasm

You cannot get what you do not expect. Enthusiasm and interest in an area always works in a way to attract it to you. It is called the Law of Attraction. You need to have a plan for your career growth. If you can tailor your behaviour to your ambitions, it would not be so hard to show enthusiasm or interest in your growth. Your behaviour should show your desire to climb up the ladder.

A person who is enthusiastic will exhibit passion in whatever he puts his mind to do. He would execute his roles and exceed expectations with ease. A passionate employee is one who is a deliverer.

Most probably you are never considered for career growth positions because you are slow, indifferent and grossly unmotivated in behaviour. It is time to change and attract that which you desire – promotion.

Why am i not getting promoted

#6     Poor Relationships with colleagues

This is one of the biggest reasons many are never considered for promotions. In any organization, synergy is important for promotion of efficiency and effectiveness in execution of roles and delivering value to the client. However, when interpersonal relationships amongst employees are not healthy, the delivery of set objectives becomes a challenge.

Employees who fit in are those that get along with others and complement the efforts of each other towards achievement f set organizational objectives.  A person fitting to be in a higher office is one who can relate well with his juniors. It is a characteristic of any leader to fit in well with almost all types of people in an organization.

It is therefore expected, if you really want to be a leader, you have to relate cordially with your colleagues, be a team player and assist in helping others execute their roles. Most probably the reason why you are still stuck in that position is because you have not been one who gets along with others. You cannot support others from a higher position if at all you cannot do that in your present position. Start where you are by working on your social skills.

business woman - growth and success graph

Well, I think I have demystified this area of job promotions and I believe if you practiced these very simple principles I personally applied in my life, you too would get to benefit from these upward vertical movements that we so much desire.

Indeed, there is no glory in stagnating in one position at work for years. It is therefore upon us to rewire our attitudes and start working towards earning these promotions.

Happy working peeps!

 

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The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How to maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:              https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:             @Mokinda

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Does Past Accomplishments Guarantee Future Success?

vision

The past two months have been a depressing time for me, being a celebrator of local ingenuity in business. Indeed, nothing is as depressing as seeing a business entity, you have literally grown with it since childhood and now, when you are almost in your midlife, you see it gradually go down.

Nakumatt is one instance. I first encountered Nakumatt, then known as Nakuru Mattresses as a small store in Thika in Pilot Estate while still a pupil at Thika’s Kiboko Primary School.  Then, we would sneak from school during lunch hours to go and wander in between the shelves just to awe at the marvelous displays of commodities. It even made Pilot based pupils to puff up their pride since there was no other supermarket nearby that equaled Nakuru Mattresses.

As we aged further, the outfit grew in leaps and bounds to be East Africa’s biggest retail outlet by branch footprint. It opened over sixty outlets in number across virtually all of East Africa’s countries with a workforce of over five thousand employees with most of their branch outlets operating 24 hours daily.

success

Indeed, the conglomerate that grew from a tiny shop in Nakuru with a few sales calls, had gross revenues of almost US D 500 Million. Conservative estimates put their market share five years ago at 20% in Kenya with their Brand Equity Index hitting a high of 55%. With it came many accolades and awards. These include the Price WaterhouseCoopers East Africa Most Respected Service provider for the year 2006 and 2007, Planet Retail ranking as top retailer outside of South Africa for 2008, Planet Retail Award as Second Most Innovative Retailer in the World for 2009, East African Super Brand for 2007 and 2010, recognition by the East African Community as a pioneer East Africa Investor in 2011 and its CEO recognized in the Financial Times Top 50 Emerging Market Business Leaders for 2010.

With all these accolades lining their cabinets, it was expected that the enterprise would be much more stable and vibrant. However, beginning over two or three years ago, cracks started to emerge. Suppliers were paid late, eroding the creditor confidence of the firm. In a flash, stores in the home country and away started closing up as most stores within the domestic market and beyond, further eroding the public confidence that was celebrated before.

But then when did the rain start beating Nakumatt? Many theories have been put through and deliberated. From their strategy to compete their suppliers through their ‘Blue Label’ strategy to their ambitious expansion plans which choked their working capital outlays.

But I beg to differ. I guess the management realized like the iconic Titanic, the firm was too big to sink. And they became lax with time. Internal weaknesses in controls went haywire and losses started building up. Corruption, inefficiency and lack of corporate governance ideals took over. In a way, it is not external factors that brought down this beloved retail giant – internal ones did.

Which brings me to what I needed to communicate – we most of the times take pride in our past achievements to the detriment of forging ahead and firming up our strengths.  Do past milestones surmounted give us a guarantee that our future would be rosy and good? Not at all. The past belongs to where it should be – the past.

Past vs future

This is the main problem most of us have – looking back and taking pride in past achievements and forgetting that we have a life to live ahead. We most of the times blame the external environment – the economic situation, the government, etc. for our own-caused failures.

To avert this, we need to always focus ahead and be mindful of the red flags raised as we trudge along this journey of living. And as I said, ignore what is past. Let it remain where it should be – in the past. Future success is only guaranteed when there are solid plans and commitment to realize the future vision. For whatever achievements you made back then is not significant in the present times. It is history! So do not make the mistake, either as an organization or at the individual level, to glory in past achievements.

 

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                              pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:                       @Mokinda

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda

What Is Your Price?

I always wonder how premium brands sell yet they do not advertise neither are they cheaply priced. For instance, how many have seen an ad on television for Ferrari? But Toyota and other Japanese brands are a permanent resident on our screens. And how comes Ferrari turnovers are higher than Toyota Corporations? Or Apple being much more appealing to sell than let us say Nokia phones?

I bumped onto this analogy online as i was browsing, and i copy paste here for illustration purposes:

A friend once went to promote an new soft drink in a rich kids school. The drink was going for 10 bob (promotional offer) while Coca Cola was going for Sh. 40.

He realized very few were buying the soft drink at Sh. 10 and they were all flocking on Coke’s stand.

He quickly changed the pricing from Sh. 10 to Sh. 60 and the tables turned. People started buying the drink even more.

When sending bids, note that rich clients may NEVER even check your bid if you price too low. If a client is looking to pay someone Sh. 20 per 500 words. High chances are that he won’t even check the Sh. 2 – Sh. 10 bids. He’ll consider them desperate.

Therefore, NEVER bid too low for projects in bidding sites. Always check the client’s budget and bid either at their price or slightly lower. I’ve seen that even bidding slightly higher can work wonders. Aim to get to at least Sh. 10 per 500 words as soon as possible.

Are you surprised as i am? Yeah, i am sure you are. We expected that the cheaply priced items and bids would have a higher number of users than the premium priced but then, practically speaking, it is the premium priced ones that outdid the cheaper ones.

The secret herein lies:

People never buy the product for what it is. They buy the motivation behind the product. What touches the human soul of the potential buyer is what moved the producer to produce to manufacture the final product. That is what makes them buy. If it was pricing, we would be seeing the cheap products’ turnovers being much more than the cheaply priced ones. How then does Apple, premium priced as it selling more than Nokia, which is cheaper? The motivation for the manufacture of course!

In the same vein, we always reach a point that desperation make us to just accept what life brings our way. I always get so many inbox messages from people looking for jobs and when i ask them which job they desire to linked to, all they would answer is ‘any job’! And i tell them off that there is no job titled “any job”. You must know what you want and be psyched to go for it. That is what one who has a vision and is principled carries himself. Now worse off, are those who when they go for interviews, they quote a low amount of cash as monthly pay. What the interviewers see is that you are desperate and you have no intrinsic value attached to your skills.

I remember when i got employed, i had a perfect career development plan. That in five years, i should be made manager from being a graduate clerk. And yeah, i exceeded my expectations and was promoted in two years to be assistant manager and two years later, a unit manager. When i landed into my new position, i set a target to work and if am to move, my new employer had to add a specific amount of cash on my monthly pay if successful in convincing me to. I achieved that. And since the game was sweeter by the day, i purposed that my next employer would have to double my pay on poaching me out of there. And yes, when the time came a year later, they did exactly that. And how did i achieve all this? By building a track record and using it to sell to those who needed my skills and services.

Clients pay for quality. If you know you have something worth being paid for, do not undervalue it. Because the price you attach to a product or skills speaks much about the motivation behind the service or commodity you are selling.

So, what is your price? Let it reflect the worth of your WHY.
The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:
Email:                              pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:                       @Mokinda

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda

Monkey See, Monkey Do Syndrome

When i heard of this idiom, i never actually appreciated what it  implied. Actually it holds much water for us who are still growing and finding our footing in life.

So the story goes that a group of pupils organised for a trip to a zoo and on the way, they each bought hats. When they arrived at the zoo, they were amazed at the different animals on display. One stand fascinated them – monkeys upon a tree. And they were so engrossed at enjoying their presence with them that a slight wind came and blew away their hats which the monkeys grabbed. They wore them on their heads just as they saw the kids do!

The kids got mad. They beckoned to the monkeys to go to where they were and the monkeys did exactly that. Whenever they did anything in an attempt to get their hats, the monkeys did the same. They realized there was a way to trick the monkeys, by making them ape them: they took their scarfs and tied them on their heads to look like hats. The monkeys did not copy that since the way they looked was alike to them – as if they wore hats. Then in tandem, they removed the scarfs from their heads and threw them into the air. The foolish monkeys, as was their character, did the same and pulled the hats from their heads and threw them into the air. The hats flew down to the ground and the kids took them back and ran away, laughing in joy.
Funny as the story is, it holds great lessons for us and is a clear mirage of how most of us live. How many of us have a clear vision of what we want in life? It is said almost 92% of people in the world today die before realizing their potential in life. It is therefore not a surprise that the richest place in the world is the graveyard as in it lies ideas that were never fulfilled.

I know of friends who purpose to do stuff but along the way, out of external pressure, they bulge and start aping their fellow men’s ideas. Of particular instance is  a pal whose passion was doing marketing. When a fellow came into town and he held an event, he chose to shift to doing events management. Well, he organised his and it never went down well. He lost a lot of cash and when i met him, he chose to go into environmental consultancy, saying that that was his forte. Well, i just sat back and analysed his adventure at self discovery and i pitied him. I have never heard of him since.

Like the monkeys in our analogy above, many of us never have confidence in what we put our minds to do, and get derailed when challenges come in. We are uniquely created with individual and specific strengths that make us to be who we are. No two people can therefore do the same thing likewise. If i was to write down my speech, and gave it to you to go present at a conference, trust me you would not deliver it as perfectly as i would even without the write up. Because we are totally different. That is the reason why anyone who apes fails in execution.
I always admire Thomas Edison, the great  American inventor. He tried 999 times to invent the light bulb. And every time he failed, he said he learnt one way not to do it. Were he to start letting his eyes wander off his purpose, someone else would have come along and did exactly that and take all the glory, plus the rewards!

They say the grass is always greener across the fence. But then, if you water yours, it would also be green. It is just a matter of effort and skill. Or better still, be greener and more attractive than the one across the fence. So, why cross the fence? Tend to yours!

 It is time we stopped seeing what people do and ape and start living our lives as we were created to, in business and in the workplace. You can only be the best version of yourself and not the other person! If you want to have a fulfilling business or work quality, just choose to be the best you can be of yourself. Because it is your passion that would power your life dream!

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                             pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                        https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda

Overcoming ‘The Square Pegs in Round Holes’ Syndrome

​In modern times, it is a common fallacy to insinuate that for one to flourish in business or otherwise, one has to conform to a given set of traits and mannerisms that have been assumed to guarantee success. These stereotypical domains have created two classes of people in any entity  the able and the unable. As a result, many of the people in the world have lived to consign their life to chance in conformity to these stereotypes. But then, does it mean that if one is not ably gifted as per their prescribed mannerism then they cannot make it?
Maybe it is time we review the history of past world changers. Starting with the most famous of all – Honest Abe. Abraham Lincoln was not known to be an achiever of any sort. He failed in his entire life a record thirteen times.  After twelve unsuccessful attempts at love, doing business, politics in various levels, he finally clinched the highest office in the land. The sixteenth President of the United States of America is the most popular of the American Presidents and renown for the execution of the Declaration of the Emancipation, the document that abolished slavery in the United States of America. 

The only billionaire writer of our times, Joanne Kathleen Rowling, famously known as J.K. Rowling, was a depressed pauper by any standards, living on social benefits from the government. Actually, out of her frustrations in life, she chose to do her first Harry Potter novel based on real life characters. She then took the manuscript to twelve established publishers who all declined to publish her book. The thirteenth one accepted, albeit unwillingly. He even pointed out that there was no way should would be able to live on her writings and children books for that matter. Well, the rest is history. She is the owner of the Harry Potter brand that includes multiple books, movies and screenplays. She was declared by Forbes magazine as the worlds first dollar billionaire writer in 2004 with gross earnings exceeding USD 25 Billionaire. She also has numerous international awards to her name.

Michael Jordan is a famed sports personality especially in basketball circles. It is said that when he was starting out, his coach could not see potential in him because he was of a lesser height. Actually, when the time for selection of his schools senior team came, he was left out and his friend, Leroy Smith was picked. He never gave up. He purposed to work more than norm, waking up early to go to the basketball court to practice his dunking even before the other teammates would call for morning practice.  He later perfected his play to the extent that the senior players would come watch him play and admire his style. Consequently, he was enrolled to the senior team from which he grew to be a superstar.  As we speak, it is said that Michael earns much more than all the workers who spend their entire week working at the Nikes factory in Malaysia, yet he has never spent more than eight hours on any day at the factory. How does he do this? Out of his stardom, Nike, the famous apparel company, manufactured a branded attire kit in his name and through his performances, popularized their uptake among his fans. And such, the young boy who could not qualify for the basketball team for deficiency in talent, is a now a Basketball Hall of Famer. Apart from this, he was also Forbes’ 20th most effective celebrity for the year 2010. 

Take the story of Jack Ma for instance, mainland Chinas wealthiest man alive today. Out of his love for the English language, he would cycle for over 45 minutes to Hangzhou Hotel to practice his dictum while translating for Western Tourists. With time, he developed a desire for the language and studied teaching as an occupation. It was during these encounters that he met a foreign girl who could not pronounce his Chinese name well and hence the nickname “Jack Ma” was coined. It is told that he failed in his Primary School exams twice. He again experienced failure in his Middle School exams where he flopped thrice before eventually passing. His desire to pursue English studies made him apply for admission to Hangzhou Normal University. He once again failed in his three attempts before finally being admitted for a Bachelor in English degree. Before graduating, his desire to master the English language made him seek employment as an English teacher.

Jack Ma’s life is punctuated with rejection. He made a record thirty unsuccessful job application attempts.   He thereafter chose to pursue a teaching career path after graduation, working as a teacher at Dianzi University on a monthly pay of US $ 12 a month. When the KFC franchise went to China to set up shop, he and 23 others applied for jobs. The 23 were employed and his application declined. He also applied for a Police Force job. Other three applicants were taken on board. His application was declined, once again. His reason for being left out was he “was no good”. 

After getting frustrated at getting formally employed, he chose to entirely rely on his English language skills to earn a living. He then started a translation service business to serve the Chinese when they needed to interact with foreign companies from the west on business matters. This offered him the chance to visit the USA in 1995 on a government project on the building of highways. At that time, China was heavily communist and Internet penetration was low if not nonexistent.

The story goes that when he landed in Seattle USA, he visited a friend who had this seemingly funny looking box in his study. On inquiry, he was told its called a “computer”. His first action was search “beer” on its search engine. The browser brought up many results and none was from China. On searching “china”, he realized no information came up. 

On return to China, he purposed to introduce the Internet to China. His initial two ventures failed, including one, China Yellow Pages that made him exit due to bureaucracy associated with government agencies at the time since he co-owned it with the government. On launching China Yellow Pages, he received numerous emails from interested people around the world that sought partnerships. Later on, he started Alibaba.  At the moment, Alibaba is one of the biggest electronic commerce networks in the world. It is only second to Walmart, the world’s biggest distribution business entity. Its worth is higher than Facebook, the world’s largest social network. It is on record that the platform processes more goods on a daily basis than eBay and Amazon combined!

All these and many others just drive home the point that one does not need to fit into any system of thoughts to make it in business. They are classic cases of square pegs fitting into round holes. They are people out to solve societys problems in a different way and deliver value due to the ultimate consumer. They choose to overlook their limitations and unfitting geometry in psychology or otherwise, to ensure common problems in society are solved in the best way they know how. What would we talk of Albert Einstein who was written off in his younger days as one who would not amount to anything, but lived to become a genius of repute? How about Walt Disney, who was dismissed as one who lacked creativity, but lived to build an entertainment company with its own brands of films and cartoon characters in addition to a fun themed park?

The secret lies in how they dealt with their lack of conformance to the hole. It all started with appreciating their squareness and need to fit into the hole.  I have had such an experience before, with many wondering how a First Class Biomedical Science and Technology graduate would deem it fit to pursue and excel in a banking and financial services career, and even perform exceptionally well! If we are to study the above personalities, including myself, several common denominating character traits are common.

As pointed out, square pegs are deemed unfit for certain roles in society, business and work related areas included. It therefore means that society has a mindset and behaviour set that if one has, they are assumed to be ones to excel in such areas. However, history has proven otherwise  the world changers are them that are considered misfits, as elucidated above.

How then can a square peg personality fit itself into a round hole, one may ask. The first step is to appreciate the weaknesses they have. The limitations are what makes the external environment fail to appreciate their relevance in society. Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein and the others mentioned above realized that they had limitations and embraced whatever deficiencies they had. I have a firm belief that each and everyone has a drop of greatness in them and if harnessed, it can create long lasting and life changing value to humanity. Allowing the world to shape us would in effect, restrict us from achieving our life dreams. The world is the circular hole. We are the square pegs. It is upon us either to shape up and fit into the round holes or force ourselves to go through the holes and fit! It is all about going out there and kicking ass! And that forms the second step in customizing the square peg that we are  shaping up. Shaping up demands effort and time investment. It demands that we develop shock absorbers for pain for it is no easy task to train yourself to fit or adopt to a new environment or condition.

That is the spirit of achievers. Be it in business or at the work place, leave nothing to chance. Thomas Edison, the famous entrepreneur and inventor, failed more than nine hundred and ninety-nine times in his attempt to invent the light bulb. When he was asked why he never gave up, he responded that every time he failed, he realized he had learnt one more way not to do it! Which brings us to the last thing to do passion. Develop passion around whatever you want to achieve. Steve Jobs, the late Apple CEO, said that one can never do anything well unless they loved it. Passion is a core component of any undertaking. I always say, when currency fails in business transactions, gold becomes the standard for trading. And so is passion to success! For long it has always been believed that for one to succeed, their competencies and abilities were the determining factors. But the new order in the world is all about passion. Choose to start to develop a liking for what you aspire to be in future. develop a desire fruition of your objectives or ultimate dream.

All in all, the world needs people who would challenge the established system of thinking and doing things to help solve its problems. It wants entrepreneurs whose business is to provide solutions. It would be imperative to appreciate that business disruptors are not the ordinary, but the misfits, those considered unworthy but in them they harbor potential unexplored. These are the square pegs that need to fit into the round holes! The world is not waiting for your business idea to cheer you on. It waits to see if you will deliver on your promise. It is upon you to go out there and prove them wrong, by being the square peg that fits in the round hole.

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How To maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or professional a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                             pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                        https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/maikol.okinda

Walking In the Leopards’ Lair (A story)

If you should take my child Lord

Give my hands strength to dig his grave

Cover him with earth

Lord send a little rain

For grass will grow

If my house should burn down

So that the ashes sting the nostrils

Making the eyes weep

Then Lord send a little rain

For grass will grow.

( Jonathan Kariara)

A-typical-leopards-lair-if-ever-we-saw-one.-BLOG

The climate was cool in Nanyuki Town.  The sun’s rays pierced the skin in a soothing, refreshing manner. There is nothing as rejuvenating as a sun burn after an almost whole day spent indoors, lurched in an office chair.

The afternoon breeze did not disappoint, cooling the hot rays resulting into a welcome sensation on the skin. It was a Saturday. I was happy that the day was over, ostensibly at noon when we usually closed for the day. The thought of being free and having the weekend at hand was welcome! After leaving the office at close of business, I went home to my home to have a change of clothes into the weekend casual wear.

I chose to put on my favorite blue denim pair of trousers and casual brown t-shirt to set the weekend mood on. I had hosted my girlfriend, Sarah for the entire week. After the normal clean up and packing, we left the house since I had to go away for the weekend in Nairobi.

Down the hill, a boda boda motorcycle rider sped towards us from their stage, a few hundred yards away. As we approached him, I noticed my leg was not functioning as usual. Some form of hardness prodded my left foot ankle bone making me to limb. I assumed it to be a side effect of sitting for too long, being the end of the week.

My love, Sarah was pensive. She would not let her eyes off my feet, as I struggled to walk. I begged silently for the ever growing pain would go away as I got on the boda boda seat behind her and requested the driver to deliver us to the Nairobi Stage.

For those who have commuted through a growing, highly populated Kenyan urban centre, people mill all over the roads oblivious of the dangers lurking. Nevertheless, they cannot be entirely blamed. Years of mismanagement and ineptitude have worked their way on the basic infrastructure and rendered it useless.  However, since there was no alternative, men and women lumbered their produce through it in an attempt to get the early buyers and return home early and done.

After tortuous meandering through the throngs of people, we eventually were dropped at the Nairobi stage. Actually, the public service vehicle stage was on the extreme end of the market with a narrow passage made onto the perimeter wall to act as the entrance into the terminus. It had a flight of stairs constructed on it to aid in convenient movement of people especially when it is rainy and muddy to reduce slippage.

As we reached the steep incline to the entrance into the bus terminus, the pain became unbearable. I could feel a sharp excruciating pain on my left ankle that shot up my leg like a bee sting piercing from below into my upper leg. Strength was failing with time.  By the time I was mounting the third stair in the ramp, I became frail and tagged at Sarah’s arm and beckoned her to go to book us boarding tickets.

Meanwhile, the conductor ushering in passengers into the matatu helped me with the back pack and boarding the vehicle. As I settled into my seat, I felt relieved. The weather had been a bit favorable, going by the indoor temperature. The vehicle was almost full and by the time Sarah had rejoined me in the front seat, the last passenger was boarding. The driver, after exchanging pleasantries with his fellow stage operators, went to the booking kiosk and came around and took his seat and roared the old battered engine to life.

I did not realize how long it took to reach the cool but noisy city of Nairobi. I was woken up by the acrid smell of vehicle exhaust fumes coupled by the noisy commotion of matatu conductors in the public service vehicles’ terminal. It usually takes at least an hour and a half to get to the city. Nonetheless the journey seemed shorter most probably due to the slumber in the afternoon heat.

The walk from the terminus through the throngs of people competing for space with matatus was maddening at best. With my limping leg, I could not keep up pace with Sarah, who then had two bags slung on her shoulder and tagged at my arm for stability. I felt like I was going to fall the next minute. I realized it would hurt more to go to queue at our connecting bus stage. I thereafter asked Sarah to take me to an off the road café for a rest. She had decided to go to her sister’s place in Kitengela where she resided. I had hosted her for a whole week and the chance for her to reconnect with her siblings was welcome. I could not resist calming my insides with a warm cup of Café Deli’s chocolate. Indeed, it had been long since I left to Nanyuki to have a taste of this cherished beverage! As they say, chocolate was for long been a preserve of royals. It fit that exclusivity perfectly!

I whiled away the time sipping my drink with bitings of the black forest cake. I thought of my new pal, Lizah, whom we had met online a few weeks ago. I invited her over for some chit chat. She did not disappoint.  Chatting her up established she was interested in having a relationship. For a man like me, a little opportunity for adventure would not cost much, I supposed.

She walked tall, her artificial hair wig showing prominently above her tiny head. I realized her bosom was not as she had shown on her Facebook pages. Additionally, I noticed she was not as chocolate – skinned as the social media page picture had shown. Indeed, online content sometimes misleads!

I was seated on the far end of the room.

She lifted her fabulously decorated mobile phone and dialed the keypad randomly, swinging her hair to one side and placed the set against the exposed ear.

Almost by instinct, my phone keypad flashed up and the glow attracted her attention to the table I was seated. As I picked up the phone to speak, she replaced the phone into her sling bag and made for my table, a visible wide grin on her face.

“Hi John!” She said extending her right hand to me for a handshake.

I labored to stand up and a shot of pain pierced my left leg as I struggled to clutch at the table top and stood.

“Liz I presume,” I said responding to her greeting.

“Yeah, I am Liz. How have you been?” She responded as she offered a warm hug. I could smell the heavy perfume she had put on as she settled on the seat directly opposite me. I mused over the feel of her warm, rather wet palm on mine. Smiling, I beckoned at the waiter to come to our table.

“What will you take Liz?” I asked on settling down.

She said, “Uhmm…” pretending to think.

“I think I will take….maybe chocolate like him.” She said with finality facing her heavily powdered face to the waiter. The male waiter sauntered away into an adjacent room which doubled as the kitchenette of the hotel.

We then went ahead and engaged in a conversation, starting off with the generalities like weather and politics just to break the ice that was noticeable from the body language of both of us. By the time we were sharing on our personal life experiences, her order had been delivered. I later gathered that she was from western Province of Kenya. Her yellow skin and voluminous legs gave her away!

At the end I sought to know what she was doing for a living. She confessed she was just a wheeler dealer for politicians in town who wanted to run errands in town. In actual sense, she hob knobbed around political figures to get handouts as she mobilized hooligans on their behalf. Not a bad idea, I thought.

“Well,” she said as she took a gulp and leaned over.

“Mike”, she said, “I would want you to know that it’s not my wish that I be single at my age.”

I leaned closer to get every word she muttered.

“Why is this so?” I prodded.

“Most of girls of my age are already having families…” she went on.

“Hmm?’ I urged her on.

“Yeah..! You know, I am a musician.” This startled me.

“I sing.” She retorted with some form of finality to reinforce her point.

“So have you recorded any songs?” I inquired.

“Yeah, I have been in studio trying to do my album.”

“How many songs so far?”

“No I have several but I have not released them yet.”

“Okay. The best thing to do is to do a single and release it through our numerous radio FM stations and test the waters to see how it fares.”

“Yeah, I agree. But let me finish…”

“Ok,” I   said.

“I have been recording at Ding Studios and do you know Zax?”

I shook my head in affirmation as I swallowed a mouthful. Ding Studios was owned by Maxwell. He was a prominent Nairobi City music producer who specialized in recording popular Kenyan artistes. He was among the leading music producers in the City with many upcoming musicians under his stable. He provided a platform for launching of many artistes’ careers, most probably due to his easy going nature and cost conveniences which favored the struggling stars.

I first came to know Zax back in my days when I used to dwell in Kawangware[3] slums. He was a fellow Church youth who at times helped with worship sessions. He was good at playing the piano. Later on, as is the norm with gifted adolescents, he felt too ambitious and shifted to secular music to cash in on his popularity. A few years back, I had noticed a few posters for his shows in the neighborhood and I had hoped he had made the big break into commercial music performances. For disenfranchised slum youth, talent exploitation seemed the only way to earn some decent incomes. Zax was no exception.

“We used to work with him there”, she continued.

“Okay I see”, I said.

Many upcoming artistes like to associate with big names in the industry as a way of gaining mileage and popularity. My younger brother, after failing in his O level exams, walked the same path trying to copy his idols but to no avail. It is a fact of life that no two lives are similar and as such, attempts to ape another always ends up disastrous.

“So, as I was saying…..we used to record with Zax in the same studio in Umoja Estate. And we would go practice even when the producer was away in readiness for recording.”

“One day I was left alone and Zax came along and asked where the producer was. I told him he was not in till later that day since he was running some errands in town. He then suggested we practice a few of his lines as we waited for him to come.”

“In the process he started to act funny and got close. He indicated that he had a liking for me. Of course I refused his advances just as is normal with mafisi[4].”

“With time, he persisted until I couldn’t sing anymore since he had become more physical.”

“Oh my God! What did you do?” I asked.

“I couldn’t do anything. Here was an overbearing man, literally pinning me into a chair begging for me and restricting my movements with his huge frame. You know how Zax is big and muscled?” she said, eyes wetting.

“Yeah I know.” I quipped.

“He then went ahead and raped me. I couldn’t scream since he said if heard got out about it, he would use his influences to shut me out of this life.”

I heaved in astonishment.

“Am sorry Liz,” I said. She pulled out some cream coloured handkerchief, blew out her nose and finished off with wiping her teary cheeks.

“Yeah, so after that I left for my aunt’s place and left him in the studio. From then on, I have developed a hatred for men. That was the ultimate end of my singing career.

“Did Producer Maxwell ask about your whereabouts and the unfinished project?”

“Yeah he did. Just the other day.”

“And what did you do?” I retorted.

“Well, he required more cash to facilitate the recording and that’s when we met on that dating page on Facebook.”

Gotcha! So this was it? I thought.

“I see. So how much did he request you pay him?”

“Twenty thousand shillings and I didn’t have it.” she ended on a low note.

‘Twenty grand,’ I thought…..and the pain in the leg shot up into my calf muscles and I grimaced.

“What’s it?” She asked, diverting attention from the topic.

“Am sorry but I have a bad leg. I need to go have some rest in my place. Maybe you escort me to the bus stop I board my matatu as we part?” I requested.

“It’s okay dear”, she said as she offered to help with my back pack holding my right arm. I paid on our way out.

As I boarded the Kasarani Estate bound matatu, I saw her wave at me from across the bus stand. I pressed a grin on my face, not from the joy of meeting her, but from the pain that now had made residence in my left leg.

The ride home was comforting. At least, the madness of the past years cramping in box like automobile structures had been replaced with relatively decent, comfortable passenger coaches. The matatus had indeed undergone a revolution!

It was a relief to alight and struggle my way up the eight flights of stairs up to my fourth floor one bedroom abode. I was so exhausted and the dusty film all over the furniture surfaces could not escape notice. The air smelt of dust.  The heat buildup in my body system warranted a warm bath and a short stint in the bathroom was therefore necessary. I could not resist the temptation and undressed and rushed into the warm, calming flow of water under the shower.

**************************

I woke u and realized I was in a grey walled and ceilinged room. There was an eerie silence. I noticed some hazy movements in the background. I thought there was a grey cloud over my face and eyes.

I could hear murmurings in the background. I could not get the words but most definitely they were human sounds.

I tried to turn over and sleep on my sideways but could not make it. I stretched out my arms and tried to feel my chest and I realized I was okay. I moved my palm down to the stomach, the hips and beyond. I could not feel my hips. I made an attempt to sit upright but some strong arms held me down.

“He is up! He has woken up!” Someone was shouting. It was an unfamiliar kind of scream.

I rubbed my eyes and stared even more. The light shone brightly into my eyes and I got even more blinded by it.

“John! John!” A familiar voice pleaded.

“Eeh….!” I muttered. The voice then became familiar.

“Where am I?’

“You are in hospital…..the Nairobi Hospital.”

“What happened? Why am I here?” I asked trying to get up. I had not noticed that my arm was bandaged with a drip line attached to it and it pulled me back. The drip line restricted my arm.

“Be careful you can injure yourself,” the female voice of a nurse cautioned as she restrained my arm back to my body’s side.

“Ooh thank goodness you are back!’ My brother said, “Maybe you should help him up?”

They both approached the bed and attempted to heave me up to a sitting position with my head resting on the raised head rest. I attempted to find balance but I could not again. Something was definitely wrong.  It then flashed on my mind that I had not come to the hospital on my own accord. I was brought!

*******************************************

So there I was in the hospital, with no knowledge of how I came to be admitted. My upper appendages and lower limbs would not bulge, however much I tried to move. No wonder I was being assisted to sit upright on the bed!

“John, you should rest”, insisted the nurse.

“Yes, pumzika”, my brother reinforced. Pumzika is Swahili word for ‘rest’.

Now what the people in the room had not realized was that I was fighting a battle of my own, an incessant fiery, battle of wits within my soul.

After separation from my girlfriend Betty several years back, I had made a decision never to trust any other woman again. Betty was all a woman a man would have dreamt to have: with beauty, and the height. She was however, not as educated as I was. To her, I was an elitist and a figure to look up to, giving her an assurance of a better life.

We had dated for quite some time, after meeting in her elder brother’s funeral in their rural home. It was love at first sight. My pal, her brother, could not help notice the fatal erotic attraction. He eventually helped us link up before the three day mourning and burial period was over.

After a few months of seeing each other on over – the –fence dates, we were tight and her mother could not help notice. We were in love. Mothers always have a way of reading their children’s conscience. When her mother sat her down and demanded she confesses what was going on, she spilt the beans: we were indeed in love!

It was therefore joy to me to receive her missive that her mama had approved our emotional attachment.  From then on, I could not spare a weekend without cycling the over 35 kilometers journey to her home just to sit down with her and chat, even if it was for five minutes! Love makes people do crazy things, they say!

The amorousness bloomed on until I got admitted into university as she pursued her Ordinary Level studies. After she graduated she went to live at her brother’s place in Nairobi City as she pre-occupied herself with computer literacy courses. In between the short holidays, she would come and stay at my house that I had rented after securing an accountant’s job in a multinational. Indeed, nothing was as gratifying as having a beautiful girl for a love partner and a wonderful job. By any standards in Kenya, I was doing excellently in life at my age.

The romance yielded into a commitment. In the course of time, it came to my realization that she had not been faithful. Apparently, Betty had involved herself with another man while I was away in college. The realization hit me so hard. The pain was akin to a cold stake through my heart. It was beyond imagination that my six years of keeping myself in college, devoid of any luxuries and denial, would be treated as casually as she had done.

I had to confront her. I chose an opportune moment and faced her with my discovery.

That night, we quarreled. She vowed to leave at the crack of dawn the following morning. To me, it was not an issue. She had betrayed my love anyway. However, it had never hit me that we had had unprotected intercourse a few days before. True to her words, she packed all her belongings and left.

I resigned my fate to drowning my sorrows in taking alcohol, and throwing caution to the wind. Actually, people close to me were not aware that I was a drunkard. Being drunk provided an escape of sorts from work pressure and the sorrows of being unappreciated by the person I loved most. To some extent, it offered some relief. The only limitation was that I had to go drinking under the cover of darkness, almost always buying a bottle of alcohol and gulping it as I walked home. By the time I reached my rented abode, I was completely done! My dependence on alcohol progressed with time from beer to more hard alcoholic drinks like brandy and vodka.

In some instances, I would be sent on relief duties in our remote branches. Nothing felt better than being sent for these extra duties – what with the allure of additional allowances and fully paid up accommodation! The outstations were remote, with few elite employees of my caliber. My favorite past time was to go lazy in the bar lounge at a local inn. The village gossip formed a worthwhile engagement, amid gulps of bitter stout. The bartender, Maggy, a young girl, noticed my prowess in taking the much avoided stout beer. We hit out and she became an acquaintance of sorts, in most cases letting me go sleep with the bill and settling it the following day. Once in a while, I wouldn’t refuse the urge to go sleep with Maggy. It was an adventure of sorts.

******************************

One day, just before I slept, I noticed a missed call on my cell phone. I could not decipher whose number it was since I was deep in a stupor. I shrugged it off and slept away the cold night.

The following morning, after struggling through a cold bath and an unpalatable breakfast, I noted a text message on my mobile phone:

“We need to talk”, it said.

I shook my head and raised the cell phone screen closer to my face for a better view.

I re-read it again. It then became clear to me: She was seeking for a chance for us to converse – Betty!

Anger welled up in me. I could feel the acidic taste of bile from the stomach rise up as I remembered how a few months back she had broken my heart.

I hit the reply button and started typing….’what do you…’ but then stopped.

I deleted the text and locked the screen pad and shoved the gadget into my side pocket and walked out of the house. I walked fast to the office in time for a morning briefing.

While in the meeting, I again heard the chime of the cellphone as notification signifying reception of another incoming text.

I slipped the phone out of my trouser pocket and checked. It was another text from Betty.

“I said we need to talk”, she wrote.

“Okay, I will call you in a moment”, I texted back and locked it before replacing it into my trouser pocket.

It was unusual for Betty to request for something twice. And this time round, it was an exception. Something was definitely amiss.

After the conclusion of the brief I went out into the open and dialed her number.

“John, I had wanted us to talk.”

“Yes, I am listening.” I responded casually.

“I think I am pregnant!”

“What? You cannot be serious.” I was thrown aback.

“Yes, I am pregnant. And it is your baby.”

I was thunderstruck and dumfounded. It seemed the world stood still for a few moments if not minutes.

Strength oozed from my body. I could feel the knees giving way. Even the hunger I had nursed all the morning ebbed away. From the head, I could feel butterflies flapping in my belly.

“So you say I made you pregnant? I thought we mutually agreed to part ways?” I recovered and started my defense in a matter –of-fact way.

“No, this baby is yours John. And it would not help you denying it.”

“No it is not mine. It is five months since I saw you, and you know that!” I retorted.

“The pregnancy is exactly five months old….!” she answered with an empathetic voice.

“Now what have you brought me into, Betty! You know I was not prepared!”

“But when you insisted we do it you knew of the consequences.” She said.

“Oh my God…..does James know?” I inquired. James was her elder brother who was hosting her in his Nairobi residence.

“I don’t know. But his wife knows. I informed her last night and she suggested I inform you so that we plan on how best to raise our kid.”

“Okay, let me figure out what to do, okay?”

“It is fine. But it has to be fast before James knows this. He will kill me since I am now in my third month in the Computer College he helped me get admitted to.”

“Okay, I will call you back.” I answered with finality before signing off.

Making the decision to call her back really worked me up. My peers advised me to deny responsibility. But then, all her relatives knew I was involved with her. There was no way I could escape that responsibility.

**************************************************

As a man thrown into an unknown territory, I had to grapple with the reality of being a parent. Killian was born on a late Sunday afternoon at a nearby hospital with a weight of 2.4kgs, by any standards, low. It was a joy to see my first born son in my arms, at least, a different experience from the lonely home environment I was used to.

With the new baby came a renewed lifestyle. I changed my friends and started going home early. I reduced on drinking considerably. I tried by all means to be a good father, almost every evening going home carrying something, as my good old father taught me. They say the fruit doesn’t fall away from the tree!

The boy grew up in well in his first months of babyhood. However, he was unusually silent most of the times. He was particularly alert and responsive to moving objects in his environment. He would stare into the television screen whenever the set was put on, rarely crying especially when he was fully fed.

If you asked me how my baby was, I would gladly and happily respond in the affirmative.

Killian grew to be a light skinned, averagely built baby until he was five months old. At that age, we noticed his feeding behavior was abnormal. I noticed one night he was crying loudly, a sign of having not been adequately fed. I inquired from the mother what the problem was but the mother insisted she had fed him with milk.

A week later, the boy fell sick. He was passing loose stool and had lost appetite. We chose to rush him to the nearby pubic hospital and he was treated and we were discharged. By all means, the hopeful words of the doctors gave us assurance that all will be fine.

A few days later, we noticed he had reduced his eating and his condition had deteriorated. By then, he was losing weight fast. We rushed him back to the hospital but after being put under a drip, we were referred to a private hospital in town.

Killian fought hard. He attempted to eat to fight out the hunger pangs to no avail. He later died a few days later.

Actually Betty was with him that particular morning and intended to change his soiled clothes when she noticed he was not moving. On calling the doctor on duty, they tried to resuscitate him but realized he had passed on. I had gone with the morning change clothes for him when I found her crest fallen in the waiting bay, his shawl in her hand, looking pale.

I sat beside her and she confessed his passing on, amid sobs of pain.

I had never felt so sad. I stood up, loosened my tie and walked to the nurses’ station. I met the nurse in charge walking out and I prodded her for an answer.

“What happened sister?” I asked.

“Am sorry. He passed on during the night.” She responded.

“…..What?” I stammered.

Almost immediately a bespectacled doctor in a white apron approached Betty and took her hand. He led her to an enclosure and I followed, just to be sure.

“Oh here he is.” Betty said, gesturing at me.

“Mr. John, I am Doctor Wambora. Was Killian was your son?” He asked.

“Yes he was.” I responded, hoping to be given a different version of events.

“Yeah, I believe you have been notified of what has transpired?”

“I shook my head in affirmation.”

“Yeah, unfortunately he lost the fight early in the morning today.”

Betty couldn’t hide her grief. Tears welled out of her eyes freely. I placed my arm on her shoulders to comfort her, fighting back heartache in my chest.

“Killian had died from complications coming from foods taken,” the doctor added. “Unfortunately he couldn’t keep up with the poisoning since his immunity was greatly compromised. Killian died from AIDs related complications.”

“What are you saying?” I asked.

“Yeah, am sorry. He was infected with HIV virus. Have you been tested for the same?”

I did not wait to answer the query. I felt the clouds descend down as I fought off the haze in front of my eyes. I felt strength ooze from my body slowly….my life instantly ebbed away into oblivion.

The reality struck me like a thunderbolt in a cold, dark night: I had killed my baby. And I hated myself for that.

*********************************************************

I woke up to a rather unusual emptiness in my belly. I lay on the hospital bed, with the usual grey walls and ceiling glaring blankly back at me. I tried to recollect what had happened.

After what seemed like an eternity, the curtain surrounding my bed was pulled aside and a young lady came up to me.

She was smiling.

“Hi John!  How are you feeling?” She asked in a melodious voice.

“I am feeling fine. Just a little bit grouchy.”

“Oh that’s good. You are in Nairobi Hospital. I hope you are aware of that?”

“Uhmm….” I started murmuring, scratching my temple.

“Yeah, you were brought in yesterday by your brother,” she retorted.

“Oh….!” The realization hit me as I recalled the previous day’s events.

“Yeah, can you feel your legs?” she said as she reached her gloved hands towards the soles of my feet.

I tried to lift my right leg by bending my knee but I could not.

“Just try lift it up slowly…” she said as she leaned closer to help me uncover my partially sheet covered legs.

I made an attempt but could not manage to lift them up again. I heaved and even tried seat upright on the bed but it was practically impossible. It seemed like I just could not command my limbs altogether.

She reached out and helped prop up the bed head rest recliner to enable me sit up and pulled me up to a sitting position.

“I know you may be surprised but it seems you have lost functionality of your lower limbs. We are not yet sure how much damage is done but your doctor will be coming in to explain….” I couldn’t register the rest of her talk as my mind waded away into emptiness.

I couldn’t imagine that I was paralyzed. It was not to be!

I had been sick before. But I have never been down to the point of being admitted. Actually I am regarded as Mtu Saba (A man of seven lives) by my siblings, a name for being known to overcome challenges.  The sickness had indeed hit me hard.

After the death of our child, we opted to go for post trauma counseling and the counselor motivated us to undergo treatment under anti-retroviral drugs.  For us who are regarded as elite, it was unimaginable to ever think of ourselves to suffer from the same illness as the common man. HIV/AIDs was a disease for the immoral, the lost, the reckless, or so we thought.

Accepting to go back to hospital and be admitted into the medication program was a big challenge in itself. For a long time, I denied ever being infected. However, with Betty’s encouragement, I was able to accompany her to an out of town hospital clinic to be supplied with the essential drugs.

We later decided to sire another child as a way of filling the emotional and psychological gap left by Killian.  Our post – trauma counsellor had advised us so. But that time round, Betty opted to go raise the kid from their home.

*************************

A dedicated team of four specialists diagnosed my case. Three of them were medical professors. They did all forms of tests but nothing was forthcoming. My samples were extracted and sent to South Africa and later to Italy laboratories. No result was forthcoming.

The wait was slowly eating me up. I was losing weight and fast. My muscles wasted away, ostensibly due to disuse and physical malaise. I looked thin. At least, the few friends who came for visitations to confess that way.

I remember once when my friends came to see me, they tagged along my ex-girlfriend and our son. My boy could not withstand the sight of his father in a sick bed looking fray. He was visibly startled. I could feel that. I tried to show face by smiling back at him but in vain. I stretched out my hand and reached out to him to pat him so that he could feel assured.

Well, those were the times I saw the real colours of people who constituted my social circle. Friends avoided me. It was not because they knew what I was ailing from, but from being associated with the shame of me being invalid. I felt I was a burden to them. I was no longer the John they used to run to when in need of cash bailouts. I was no longer the John they came to whenever they needed to be entertained. However, some good hearted acquaintances who heard of my predicament came in droves. And it was a relief from the monotonous grey walls and ceilings of the ward coupled with the sick smell of medicine in the air.

My boss was very supportive. She came to visit me in my hospital bed and offered prayers to console me. She even brought me some fruits and an accompanying get well –card.

Through social media, I would reconnect with long lost friends who found their way to the Nairobi Hospital to come for my hospital visitations. Actually, one was a fellow undergraduate course mate I had seen last in ten years during our graduation ceremony.

I also developed a sense of closeness to my Maker. I would use my online bible app to read the Holy Scriptures and pray daily that He may come through for me. Indeed, I was at the lowest point of my life.

This point in my life time made me realise money could not solve life’s challenges conclusively. Neither did doctors or physicians. I only held onto hope. In three and a half months, I had lost quite a considerable amount of my body mass. I looked frail. Still, half of my body was paralysed.

In the long run, the Doctors’ Team decided that I had to be discharged. It had become clear that neither money nor doctors could save me from death. I felt depressed.  It was unimaginable that I was then to adapt to the new lifestyle. I saw it next to impossible to adapt to using a wheel chair or crutches for that matter. Up and until then, I was not able to sit upright. But I had an unwavering faith in God that all would pass. This, despite the fact that everything had worked against me.

It was not long before the day came when I was finally wheeled out of the ward I had resided in for three and a half months. The feel of the sun’s rays on my skin was welcome. The light blinded me momentarily. I appreciated the sweet outdoors. It was a different experience altogether. Those were the times I appreciated the simple pleasures of life that we took for granted like the fresh air and sunshine in the outdoor outdoors.

On our way back, my brothers assisted in purchasing a wheel chair and ensured I was taken to my house from where I started the painful, almost impossible task of recuperating.

It never occurred to me that I could walk again. Doing simple exercises like lifting my lower limbs required an extra hand. I had to be nursed to undertake simple tasks like shifting in the bed. I couldn’t even at times eat well and had to rely on fluid supplements to survive.

Learning to sit up was a big struggle. Learning to stand was another bigger huddle. Many a times, I would fall as I firmed up myself to attempt stand against supporting objects. But I will forever be grateful to my sister who is a trained beauty therapist. She would offer me massage exercises at a subsidized fee.

A pal, Tina, would always stay at my place to ensure am properly fed and cleaned whenever I messed myself up.

The struggle was real. But the biggest battle was in my mind – the thought of disclosing what was really eating me up. At least, only two people in the world knew what I was suffering from – my doctor and myself. It was a struggle to find relevance in a familiar world. A walk in a jungle too familiar yet punctuated with hounds out to chase you into oblivion through stigma.

It was therefore a surprise when three and a half months later, I was miraculously cured of the paralysis. The day I was able to walk albeit with the assistance of a crutch into the day light remains etched in mind like a black spot on a white washed wall. Indeed, positive focus and determination pays. I am still on life sustaining drugs. I stopped taking alcohol and a peer counsellor for many who are suffering out of fear of stigmatization.

A day will come that we will comfortably walk with confidence in this human jungle who least understand the battles raging in our souls. That day is coming, soon when we will walk with leopards in the lair!

[1] Bodaboda – A motorcycle used as a taxi for moving goods and people. Used mostly in East African countries

[2] Matatu – A public service vehicle used in Kenya, usually minivans that operate between towns and are boarded at designated termini

[3] Kawangware – A popular slum dwelling in North Eastern side of Nairobi City, Kenya.

[4] Mafisi – Kenyan slang term for hyenas. A derogatory term for boys who go about looking for girls to exploit sexually. Usually used for any young man with wandering eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Be Known

Recently, I read a really encouraging snapshot of some corporate news- that McDonald Mariga has been appointed the Brand Ambassador of Safaricom Kenya Limited, Kenya’s top corporate and flagship telco and Fintech Company. The worth of the contract was undisclosed but I bet it was some good dough!

And I thought to myself, how comes Mariga was picked. Why not you, or me? At the end of the day, it was not because Mariga was the first Kenyan to play in the English Premier League. There must have been something that out of all the international starts our dear country has; it picked on only one  Mariga. It is his brand. The Mariga brand is what makes any corporate worth its salt is able to pour millions of shillings just to be associated with it.

I did a book on passion and I was amazed at the many prominent personalities who have employed the power of passion in the attainment of their life dreams. Take for example Michael Jordan. He is agreeably the best basketballer of all time. But apparently, he earns much more than the full time employees of Nike who work in its Malaysia factory eight hours a day, yet he has never been in the site for more than a few hours on any day. You would ask yourself how? He has apparel with his signature name and by playing his sport well, he endears himself to his fans and this in turn boosts his sales. In actual sense, he commands his payroll. And there are many examples of people who have discovered their passion and employed it to earn as per their life dreams.

To get back to the start, we ought to ask ourselves what really matters in life. Most of us are concerned with how the world perceives us. To most therefore, what is crucial is being accepted by the world. We always want to be seen to belong so that we are accepted into the social circles we hang out with and in effect, earn psychological satisfaction.

The more the reason we allow the external environment to influence us to an extent that we lose track of our reason for living and we ape others to live their dreams. I know of several acquaintances who had bright ideas for life but when they started out and got carried away by other people, they chose to abandon their life dreams and started copying what others were doing and got lost. Actually they have failed. It is a fact that one cannot ape another and succeed. The underlying reason is that each of us is wired differently and hence, therefore, our abilities are distinct. By copying another, one abandons his strength for the other and that is how they fail since they cannot perform as the originator of the idea.

But the worst cause of failure is lack of focus. I have seen many urge about the merits of undertaking several life dreams at nice. But it has been proven these serial dream chasers have slim chances of success. Focus gives you power to concentrate on one line of pursuit, learn to execute it perfectly and deliver.

It all is underscored by the reason why you exist. It is time we sat down and did an honest evaluation in order to better appreciate ourselves. Why do you live? Once you understand the reason why you exist, you will strive to live for that reason and that is when passion is created. You can only derive power from passion if you truly have discovered the reason why you exist. And that is what makes winners like Mariga to be who they are winners. A winner in life does not need to prove to be someone. His passion shows him to the word why he is and becomes his brand. Even businesses whose underlying principles of operation are values are the ones that become dominant.

Let your WHY be the reason you are known and you will not regret. Because your WHY is your personal brand. Let I sell you. So, what are you known for?


The writer is the author of ‘Passionpreneurship Demystified’, ‘Business Networking’ and ‘Face The Elephant’, all acclaimed business books. He is also the Lead Coach at PBL Africa, a firm founded on the Passionpreneurship principle.