Unemployment. That’s hell of a monster that has taken the country decades to defeat, but still growing stronger each day. It’s something that can consume and lead you astray if you are not that careful. The process of life is systematic, you are born and when you become of age you go to school. You put all your efforts and concentration towards studying and passing exams. Hell, they will tell you, “… education is the key to your future. All you need to do is to cut that key into the right shape”, “Cut it well”, they will say, “… it will take time, energy, creativity and efforts but remember the padlock is before you.” They will assure you that education is the only hope you have, and without it you are just a hopeless wondering maniac. You have no choice, you will listen, and they will give you the tools and send you to battle. Like a mindless sheep you will fight, and fight you will. Eventually you will succeed, pass your exams, graduate with good grades. Then they will cast you into the world, and proclaim you mature enough to fend for yourself. That is when reality strike in.
You are now 26 years already. Three years have passed since you danced like a stripper on your graduation day. You have sent your CV to every prospective employer with no reply. The world is looking at you with bare eyes. You have walked miles and miles to submit your applications and attend interviews, if luck shines on you. Those sharp shooters of yours have hit the road hard, until they have taken the shape of wedges. Your shirts have turned yellowish below the armpits. The collars torn out, the food of rats. Your beautiful brown baby face is now dark poking of huge pimples. The only friend left, is dust. You will be told, “… you are doing this wrong, what you need to do is to create connections and broad networks. Don’t just apply for jobs, who does that? Attend events, contribute at forums; that is how people will come to know you.”
“Maybe I chose the wrong career path, I think I should have done education instead of finance, law instead of engineering, computer science instead of procurement…” the list goes on and on. Then the advocates of education will approach you, sympathize with your situation, their mouths full of advice; call it experience. They have been through the same predicament, you have to give them that. “My dear, education is not everything, what you need is to think beyond it, think broadly. Look at your father, he never went to school, does not know how to read and write, but he has never begged or lacked anything in his life. Sit down my son, my daughter, and bring your thoughts together, you don’t have to be employed in order to succeed in life. You don’t have to wait till end month for a five figure salary in order to know that you have made it, to know that your education has paid off. No, why not think about self-employment?” Then the vocabulary of being an entrepreneur poops up. “Come up with an idea that resonates with your focus area and do thorough research about it.”
Entrepreneurship. Here you will pay yourself. Your resilience, effort, struggle, commitment and dedication will determine the amount of money you walk away with. They will not support you, naah, because no one can easily believe in you. Not they. “My son, my daughter, go out there and start something new, think of what the world needs and ignite ideas that will fill that gap. You have our blessings and unwavering support”. Then the man or woman you are, you will sit down, in your 85m2 bedsitter, if you are lucky enough not to be living in your parent’s house. With a piece of paper and your smartphone at the palm of your hand. You will google and google about ideas, your pen will scribble down the few that you can manage. You will beat your brain until you narrow down the one that you are passionate about. “Tomorrow I will start on this one”. If hungry, noodles will call it a day. You watch a movie and lay down on your bed. The next day you wake up at the 10.00 am, time is of little essence now. Lazily from your bed, you remember about the idea that you had. “I will deal with it later”, you procrastinate. Time goes on. Your folks from the village will be kind enough to remind you, “… what happened to that idea that you were talking about?” “Oh that one!” You have already forgotten about it. Then you will peg your excuse on lack of capital. Again time goes on. They will keep calling, “… find a purpose for your life”, they will say.
You resort back to applying for jobs. Every day you flock to the internet to check out new postings. You will apply for every damn job that meets your eyes. Applying for jobs becomes you daily job. If there is anything you have learnt in your experience of applying for jobs is, to never restrict yourself to jobs related to your degree. You will apply for anything and everything, from cashier to content writer to sales person to bartender. You won’t mind even being employed by a dog as long as you get paid at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter if you are paid peanuts without benefits, what matters now is at least you get in. From there it will be easier to climb the ladder.
Then one day you get lucky, this Indian guy needs a shop attendant. After a short interview he settles for you. You close your eyes and say, “Thank you God”. He offers you a basic salary of Ksh 15,000 and you gladly accept it. You come up plans on what to do with the money, the kind of investments you want to make, can take one by surprise. You dedicate yourself to your work, producing the best results. Your boss is impressed. You become too comfortable and forget about hunting for jobs. As the payday draws near, the devil takes over. You remember about WhatsApp status, Instagram and Snapchat. You want to declare to the whole world that you have a job now and today you will be paid your salary. Your pool of friends, that has been ashes all along, starts to make plans for the night. You will not be left behind on this one. It’s your time to have a little fun. At the club you are the one buying drinks, entertaining any figure that resembles a human being. The next day, when you wake up to nurse your hangovers, you get a rude shock, did you just spend Ksh 7,000 the previous night? Regrets move in. You make resolutions not to drink again. Boundaries are set. I will start saving from next month. But next month becomes next month.
Three years down the line. Your Indian employer, shocks you with the worst news. He will be closing down the business to go back home. As if you were sleeping, you wake up from the dream of your life. What was I doing all along? The monster laughs at you. It’s time to be unemployed. You start the process of applying for jobs again. You forgot to advance your education. The degree you got 5 years ago is the only weapon you have to compete for a job in a deteriorating economy. Your child is two years now, soon school fees will be demanded from you. Next year you will be 30. You can’t even inform your folks of your current situation. Your bills and expenses push you to the wall. Time is not on your side. You start selling items from your house. Poverty kicks in. You have no moves left on your chessboard. You are ready to try anything the world has to offer. The only way you can see this out, is construction. Taking home just Ksh 200 a day. You take a look back at your life, what is left of your education is casual works. But what matters now is survival. You are back where you started. Unemployment.