You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you had left. Take courage!
A few weeks before I cleared campus, my father had requested me to make time for a tete-a-tete. His voice over the phone had betrayed his insecurities and concern. Over the years, I have seen a man I once saw unshakable, a relentless provider and archaic letting his guard down.
He was becoming more vulnerable and forthright with the family state of affairs. In most of my continuing struggles as a young man; often I saw much of his reflection in me; of the sacrifices, disappointments and resilience.
In the heart of Murang’a land on a Sunday afternoon, we took a stroll around the farm. The El-Nino rains had brought with it a bouquet of blessings. Among them was a hefty paycheck from the favourable crop yield that season and from the maize surplus, we would prepare ngara (roasted maize kernel) as a quick snack or sort of.
“Are you showing me my inheritance?” I quipped.
The old man smirked shaking his head side to side. “What makes you think this land is yours?”
“As your firstborn son, isn’t it customary to ask of my father half of his assets once it is time? It is my right you know…” I was cut short.
“The Kibaki generation,” he muttered “Where did the mentality of feeling entitled to things that even aren’t yours legally coming from? Why are you young people so susceptible to quick fixes? That explains the reason many of you are dying early.”
Off topic, I know, right? It’s parenting as we know it. One bears the indiscretions of his/her peers as a whole; collective reprove.
“Any plans after campus, am I a grandfather and I don’t know it yet? You know campus is a cesspit of all manners.” He was now examining the ear of a corn. Sarcasm runs in the family. I once remembered the old man saying that children are like herpes, they stick for life. My brain was too innocent then to contemplate its meaning; probably because of a particular vocabulary stated in his rant.
He was attentive while I took him through the humdrum of job applications I had submitted so far and some viable business ideas I had in mind that would keep me afloat financially in Nairobi before something more committing came by.
“Son, you have become of age to begin living your life as you please. Your mother and I have to come to terms that we have already lost you to the world” He maintained his eye contact.
“Obedience was demanded of you during your childhood and adolescence. Now that you are an adult I beseech you to honour me as your father till my last breath.
One man to another; I am personally not as ease. I am perturbed by thinking of what lies ahead of you. For a man’s life is full of one test after another. Many of which we begin with zeal and determination but fall short after finishing strong. The world, unfortunately, will place judgement on whatever your hands find to do by how you completed it.
Being young as you are, I ask of you to take courage, for the world is very unforgiving to men. It will push you so much against the wall that you will break into pieces at one point. Should this happen, you have two options. Be bitter or be better. Son, please take courage to reinvent you, for bitter men poison whatsoever they touch.
The young are an oppressed minority. Never let it get into your head that you are entitled to anything. The elderly will always guard their self-interests and will hold you back from achieving your full potential. You will be used, exploited and wasted. However be smart about it, in these circumstances try to always have leverage. Learn the art of persuasion for people will be difficult to work with.
Life will cost you two coins; lack and excesses. When we lack, we become resilient in adversity. We invent and find solutions to problems. Find it in yourself to appreciate the challenges in your life. For man and challenges are inseparable. When in excesses, please remember that wealth is a responsibility; a God given chance to heal your society. Therefore free from pride and complacency, for they will cloud your vision.
As a man you are called to lead, love and protect.
For you to lead, you must serve. It is necessary to starve your ego, only then can you have the right attitude to learn and listen. A leader has a vision, passion and a defined path. He does not follow his heart! The heart is very deceitful and no one can understand it. Lead with dignity, gentleness, confidence and in love.
As a leader, you will be called upon to guard and protect what you love. Choose your battles wisely and always be proactive. You will also need to protect you from yourself. Remember that a leader’s sin and iniquities has consequences even to those who follow him. A fish rots from the head.”
It was a long walk back home. The deafening silence between us as we trudged uphill, spoke in volumes of a love a father had for a son; one that can only be expressed by instruction.