You dream about it, don’t ya? The perfect land. Utopia. There are no creaking doors, no getting mugged, the terrain is enchanting, the government of the day is honest and accountable, there are golden walls stacked with book shelves, a plethora of jobs waiting for recent graduates, you can walk around without a mask. And a V.I.P pass to movies.
Then, you get out there. Balloon meets needle- pop.
Things are not as advertised. No, you don’t get a job simply because you passed your K.C.S.E. Matter of fact because you have amassed a degree, or diploma, or certificate. There is no manual for what happens out here and you will soon realize to comport with the flow. Perfect land is for movies, out here it’s survival for the fittest/ or those who know important people. For those with heart they dig for bronze in the fields, or at least that’s what Francis Maina tells me.
He stockpiles used goods like plastic cups or gumboots from homes and takes the main warehouse where they are weighed and he gets his dividend. He hopes to make a difference in his life with this job his brother got him into.
“Don’t ever pick any items from a kid in the field,” he starts off ,”Kids own nothing. Everything they have belongs to their parents. You could pick something from them, their parent catches up with you and you are labelled a thief.”
We chat alittle about that and I then ask him about his worst experience in the field. He hesitates, (probably thinking of them good times and contemplating on which to give).
“This one time in Murang’a, a mob of villagers surrounded me in a homestead. I had just stumbled in their compound, there was no-one there, in a whim, this woman appears and starts screaming , -mwizi! mwizi!.”
He froze. People in Murang’a are famed for their avocados and riotous crowds. Anarchic bands ready to eat up new faces who are in the wrong end. Now here he was in their scoop, his mother in Nakuru couldn’t save him. As the mob snowballed, one volunteer called the cops, and they were better hands than the mob that had plunged on him. At the back of the police range rover, he explained to the cops his nature of work and his intentions. There being no evidence of a stolen item, he was let go.
“Some of my best and worst moments are in the field,” he says as he unpacks his collected items from one sack and situates them in another, “In the field you will find something or find something, get it?”
I can tell he is proud of his philosophical moment, so I dive in and ask: What does that mean?
“I will either find an item on the field or a good lesson. Each is just as valuable.”
Am a lass who is intrigued by the controversy of human nature. Try as I might, I can never pass up the chance to ask: what do you think of humans? their natures?
“There are good people just as there are bad people. I’ve met some pretty good people, people who treat you like a human. Then there are those who lock doors and peep in their windows when they see you coming. They see you like a beggar who they would rather not deal with.”
Francis, this young man hovering around thirty, has had a lot of jobs before he got to this one. Immediately after high school he became a shamba boy, getting a monthly stipend of two thousand Kenyan shillings. Has baked cakes to pay rent. Life in the bakery wasn’t ivory and gold. They toiled for hours (5:30- 11 pm) for meager wages. He then quit that, left his hometown for Tanzania, succored by his friends. “Jeshi ni kindu kia bata, “(Friends are important), he keeps telling me. In Tanzania, he undertook a course, sales and marketing. Tanzania years were his best years- customers hardly bargained, they were polite, beautiful accents, the whole package. He had an en route of deporting goods from Kenya to Tanzania, macadamia and avocados. He abandoned that , never said why.
He was part of the S.G.R construction. Has worked in a car wash in Nairobi. Has been a hawker. At this point an thinking, damn, what job hasn’t he had? Well most of them, except the one he went to school for.
He seems almost done with piling his collected items, so I point to a measuring unit and he is quick to remind me that he can’t forget it. I let him catch his breath in between the stock piling. Once in a while , he lifts a metal up and gushes about it like you would a new shoe.
“See this, this is bronze, a kilo goes for 100 shillings. This was a good day,”
When he is not showing me his field valuables, he spews wisdom.
“You have to leave the field in the field. Don’t enter a new homestead with whatever attitude you got in a previous one. And when the day is over, I get on the motorbike, I leave people I have found there.”
“You told me, you would to make a difference in your life? What does that entail? Which is the future you seek?” I ask him.
I know I sound like one of those people who ask kids, who do you want to be when you grow up? At some point in life I wanted to be a surgeon, then a psychiatrist, then end up a news desk. Now all I want be is un-depressed. My young self would be disappointed in me, kwanza when I tell her I ventured into blogging and am the only active reader of my own blogs. Wahala!
“First, a clean bill of health is all I ask for. Then a piece of mind. If I could have my own warehouse where all these things are bulked, that would be great too. Because there is no greater freedom than being self-employed. I refuse to have a master. “
You tube motivation has taught me the concept of seizing the morning, the 5 am club, being the early bird and so fueled by that I ask how he seizes his mornings and he says, ” I begin my job at around 10’00 am, that way I give ample time to the villagers to milk their cows, take it to the dairy, tend to their cows and organize themselves a little.”
Just so you know, for the times I have woken up late, I was giving people ample time to take their milk to the dairy. But you cynical people won’t believe, your gonna be like , not with her late night you tube watching.