It is the year of our Lord 1999 and you are chasing a grasshopper in a small field outside your parents’ house in the remotest part of Butere. You are only 7 years old so chasing grasshoppers is the in thing. Of course this was before play station was popular.
A few meters away from you, your father is seated half asleep as “amigo” by Les Wanyika band cheers him on. Lying at his feet is Simba the dog. With the radio tuned to KBC, the song on radio is interrupted as the presenter starts to announce “Matangazo ya Vifo”. Now this is a segment that had massive ratings back then. Part of the reason for this was that Mark Zuckerberg was only 15 years old in 1999. Unlike Facebook where people rush to your wall to type” RIP” even before you die completely, the chaps at “Matangazo ya Vifo” always got their facts right. If they said you were dead, anyone who met you alive after the announcement was allowed to kill you.
Anyway let’s go back to that day of 1999. So your father shifts in his chair, reaches out to the radio and increases the volume. He listens keenly for a moment and then lets out a loud sigh and a classic head shakes that indicates something really tragic has happened.
You finally get your grasshopper and you are so proud that you run to your father and show it to him. He places his hand on your shoulder and looks you straight in the eye.“Son, a very important man in our country has died today. I don’t know of anybody who is as educated as him. Right now you are allowed to bring me grasshoppers but when you are old enough, I will send you to Nairobi to bring me a degree.”
You wonder what he is talking about. Is there anything more important out there than the grasshopper you are holding? Eleven years later, you leave for Nairobi to chase your dream which is actually your father’s dream. No one can blame you, after all your mind was programmed to think that Nairobi is where all dreams go to hatch. Thanks to your good grades in high school, you get a chance to study in one of the public universities in the city.
This is a proud moment for your parents because none of your two siblings ever made it this far. Joan, your eldest sister eloped with a boda boda rider while she was in form four at a local day school. She showed up with three children after her husband left for Mombasa never to be seen again. Yohana your other sibling was given school fees for the whole year to go pay at Kaimosi Teachers Training College several years ago. Somehow he didn’t and instead ended up in the very able hands of a Ugandan barmaid who was working at a bar in Butere town. The love birds disappeared for a while before the prodigal son showed up again, tail between legs. Yohana now sits at the village center narrating tales of his exploits in Uganda and other lands far beyond. Every time you call your parents to check on them, they always remind you not to be a disappointment like Joan and Yohana so you work hard like you’ve never done before.
This article is part of a two-part series written by Captial Campus Contributor Collins Pasi.