Why I Gave Up Politics
As the 2007 Kenya's General Elections were nearing and getting riveting, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine at JKUAT when I remarked, "This politics of Kenya are very tribal." The friend agreed, then he sagely added, "And very local."
It must have been around then that I set a dream of becoming president of our nation someday. And I nurtured that dream for the next ten years with a goal of becoming a different kind of politician that Kenya has never had before: a charismatic and eloquent leader with a nationwide appeal.
In an effort to bring that dream to fruition, I found myself reading biographies of my role models in politics (most of them Americans) as well as listened to their speeches on Youtube. I particularly came to love Bill Clinton's 1993 inaugural address and Barack Obama's 2004 U.S. Democratic National Convention keynote speech. Those two speeches are in a word, inspiring.
Some time last year, it dawned on me that the observations my friend and I made in 2007 about Kenya's politics - that they are tribal and local - were right and spot-on. Unlike America, Kenya is not a mature democracy. Still, it has a long way to go given its current state of affairs characterized by tribal-based voting and rigging of elections. Bill Clinton actually confirms that in his autobiography by saying that many democracies in the world don't have the kind of effective institutions and legions of dedicated public servants that Americans take for granted.
The immaturity of our nation's politics as well as the high levels of disorder and corruption that are often too much in evidence in our governmental affairs and bearing in mind that I am a good-natured young man are what led me to eventually give up my ambition to become president of Kenya someday. Expecting me to thrive as a politician in Kenya is both cruel and unrealistic.
I sincerely don't know why I stuck for over ten years to that dream of getting into politics. Maybe it's because I have always been inspired by the school song of Starehe Boys' Centre, my Alma Mater, in which we pledged to serve diligently when our time in government reached.
Or maybe it's because politicians here in Kenya seem to attract all the attention. You see, newspapers' front-page headlines are almost always about politics. And when you eavesdrop on people talking idly in pubs and cafes, their talks are usually about politics, if not football.
Coming to think of it though, we don't have to be politicians to impact lives and leave a lasting legacy. History is replete with heroes who have made pivotal contributions in other fields of endeavour besides politics. Like William Shakespeare in literature; Albert Einstein in Physics; Alexander Fleming in Medicine; George F. Handel in music; Charles Lindberg in aviation; Henry Ford in entrepreneurship; Isaac Newton in Mathematics. I could go on and on to list more examples but I beg to stop there in the interest of time.
Of course the point I am trying to make clear is that I don't have to get into politics to impact lives and leave a legacy. So I am at peace with my decision to give up a career in politics.
But just because I gave up politics doesn't mean I have become disinterested in the affairs of my Motherland. I am always wishing for peace and stability to prevail in Kenya so that I don't get displaced from my beloved home-town of Kiserian as a result of tribal violence or civil war. And I have vowed that should I ever note an upcoming Kenyan politician in the mould of Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, I will endorse and support his election, morally and financially.
You may be asking - now that I gave up politics, which career am I pursuing or planning to venture into? Well, I will tell you about that in my next story, God willing. So stay tuned to this lovely blog of mine.
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Telling The Truth
One afternoon in the early '90s when I was a small boy, my Mum, who used to run a grocery shop in my home-town of Kiserian, sent me to the market to buy potatoes for our supper that day. When I went to the market, I saw one trader selling some nice-looking bananas. I decided to buy potatoes of lesser amount than what Mum required and use the remaining money to buy the bananas which I planned to eat hurriedly before going back to her thinking that she wouldn't know what I had done.
Guess what! The trader from whom I was buying potatoes and bananas sensed I must have been engaging in mischief. He asked me to take him to my mother. I did. Then he proceeded to tell her that I had bought some bananas instead of potatoes. Mum thanked him for letting her know of my mischief. And after the trader left, she scolded me and gave me a beating for what I had done.
I guess it's from that experience that I later on developed an instinctive feeling that there is always a more intelligent being who discerns all my actions. And that feeling has haunted me in my adult life for the lies I have said. Let me tell you of one lie.
As I have pointed out before in the lovely blog of mine, there was a time (beginning the year 2010) that I loved to plagiarize other people's stories and share them with friends on social media and email - all the while making them appear as if they were my own work. And I used to love it.
But one evening in 2010 or 2011 (can't recall the exact year) as I walked home, I became consumed with guilt over a speech I had plagiarized from a book and shared it on Facebook as if I was its genuine author. The guilt led me to think that a former school-mate of mine at Starehe Boys' Centre named Bugei Nyaosi must have discerned that I had lifted the speech from a book and edited some parts to make it appear genuine while it wasn't. I don't know how Bugei Nyaosi popped up in my mind because it's probable that he didn't even read the speech. Okay, let me tell you a little about him.
Bugei Nyaosi was three years my junior at Starehe. He had topped the 2004 national primary school exams known as KCPE that led to his admission at Starehe in those days when the school was renowned for its excellence. During my time in Starehe, I heard on several occasions of how brilliant Bugei was.
When the 2008 KCSE exams were getting released and which Bugei had sat for, I told my younger brother Symo to expect hearing Bugei Nyaosi's name as the Minister of Education prepared to announce the list of top students in a ceremony that was aired live on TV. How right I was! Bugei emerged as the second best student nationally in that exam.
Bugei went ahead to get accepted at Stanford in 2009. What I found remarkable about Bugei's admission to Stanford was that he had applied to the university when he was still in high school and gotten accepted. Imagine I applied to Stanford when I was in Starehe Institute, then again when I was a first-year student at JKUAT, and then again in 2009 after I dropped out of JKUAT and gotten rejected in all those three times. And here was Bugei getting accepted at Stanford straight from high school. How brilliant he was!
I didn't get to interact with Bugei during my time in Starehe because we didn't board in the same house and, as I have said, he was three years my junior. Later on in 2009 when I was applying to Stanford for the third time, I befriended him via email and was pleased to find that despite the fact that he was an academic heavy-weight, he was a nice, approachable guy. He let me know the scores he had gotten in the SAT exams and went ahead to forward to me the email that Stanford had sent him when he got accepted into the highly-esteemed university.
Coming back to my story of how I was racked by guilt as I walked home one evening in 2010 or 2011, I guess it's because of the way I had come to admire Bugei for his brilliance that I started thinking he had discerned the speech I had shared on Facebook was a product of plagiarism. This instinctive feeling I have had that there is always a more intelligent being who discerns all my actions is what has led me to post truthful stories in this blog. The policy I follow as I write and edit my stories is: tell the truth, only the truth and nothing but the truth.
You see, I would like the stories I post here to live on after I die, much in the same way the writings of Abraham Lincoln have lived on to this day, more than a hundred years after his death. And should my writings survive for hundred of years to come, I don't want future scholars to discredit me after figuring out a lie or an inconsistency in even three stories. For as Lincoln said, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and you can fool some of the people all the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." Adieu!