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Blooming Where Planted

These are some of my buddies at Starehe Institute where I bloomed (from left) Duncan Kinai, Stephen Mutevu and Theophilus Kamwaro. Now that I am in touch with Kinai via Whatsapp, maybe I should ask him why he was shouting. No, I will not.


Starehe Boys' Centre, a well-endowed institution of which I am a proud alumnus, had an institute during our time where students from the school's high school division could enrol to pursue a course in Accounting or Information Technology (IT). I didn't want to proceed into that institute as my high school years came to an end in November 2005 because someone had led me to believe the institute was not for sophisticated young men like the one I was striving to be.

As fate would have it, I failed to get a job after high school and my attempt to enrol at the upscale Strathmore College in Nairobi backfired simply because my parents could not afford to put me through that college. So I had no option but to report back to Starehe in January 2006 to join the institute where I had wisely applied for admission just in case things failed to work out.

And alas! My experience at the institute turned out to be wonderful because I took advantage of the marvellous resources at Starehe to grow intellectually. Like I learnt how to use a computer in the Institute labs that had a commendable student-computer ratio of almost 1:1. I also kept aflame my interests in public speaking and music thanks to the student meetings and several pianos in the school.

But the greatest resource at Starehe Institute was time. The IT course I pursued was relatively easy and the teachers were lackadaisical. Like one Mr. Kagete would at times go for a week without turning up in class to teach us. I took advantage of those free times to swim, play football, do personal reading, improve my computer programming skills and browse the internet where I learnt more about the top American colleges where I applied for admission.

And on Sundays, I would sneak out of Starehe early in the morning to be with my hometown Catholic Church youth group where I almost fell in love with Gloria Thigwe, a charming young lady who has long since been married to another man. I used to sneak out of Starehe because I thought it wise to interact with the outside world instead of getting confined to the school throughout the week yet I was an adult complete with a national identity card.

As I reflect on those good old days at Starehe Institute, I feel proud of myself for blooming at the institute where I found myself planted against my wish. And that's the kind of blooming I am trying to achieve at the moment when I have found myself planted in my rural home at Kiserian in the Great Rift Valley. I am blooming impressively given my current levels of peace and creativity which I thought I could have attained only by attending Harvard, Yale or Stanford where I was denied admission thrice.

So I encourage you to also bloom where you are planted. If you are in a remote village school, study like never before and mesmerize students from elite schools with your literary skills. And if you have been forced back to your rural home because you went broke in the city, farm with some passion till your agribusiness becomes a case-study at Wharton Business School. Bloom!

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