Dead End or Fresh Start?

“Education is the best weapon that you can use to change the world”, said Mandela, but what if the weapon that you have been handed is blunt and unuseful? In that case the game will never be fair to you.

Last week we saw over ten thousand fresh graduands receive the powers to read from their dons, in campuses the country over. One could not fail to notice the manner in which our social media timelines were decorated by snapshots of smiling faces adorned in academic hats and the long, black academic gowns.

By the way, why did whoever chose the color of graduation gowns, settle on black? Black is for funerals. Oh wait – what if graduation days and funerals have something in common?Mmhh,well, that’s a story for another day.

The fresh graduants, when posting their photos on Facebook, are often seen flashing forced (*ouch!*) smiles, as they break under the heavy hat and sweat in the unventilated gowns. After all, that is what they are supposed to be – happy. Like everyone else, they understand the situation that awaits them after the graduation day. The fate of the Kenyan graduant is an open secret. And they are the partakers of the bitter reality at this moment.

Allow me not dedicate this space on how these deserving students have toiled their way through the grueling system. That we all know. Much congratulations are in order. If you are a fresh graduate and reading this, that right on your back is a pat from me. Have a drink on my bill. You made it. But, let us face the hard reality for a moment.

Several hundred students of civil Engineering graduated from our campuses in this year alone. Those are now professionals who have been certified as fit and ready to take on engineering projects in civil works, projects that will potentially change the landscape of this country. Now, hold that there for a moment.

If you watched closely one of the largest engineering projects in this country since independence,the Phase One of the Standard Gauge Railway, just recently completed, it did not escape your eye that the project was managed, run and controlled by Chinese contractors and engineers from start to finish.

The question that begs our attention is, where were our locally trained engineers in this project? Do we train professionals that we cannot trust to build our highways, railways and bridges? Will China employ our engineers because we give our contracts to theirs?

Take another example, our medical students. Thousands are graduating each year with medical degrees, to join the prestigious medical profession. Yes, the saviours of our lives and holders of the secret magic that heals our pain. The special few who are capable of putting us to a temporary ‘death’, then take out our kidney or heart or liver or brain or whatever other vital organ, treat it, sew us together and bring us back to life. ( yeahh..that was a bit overstretched. I have a thing for doctors.* winks*).

Good. Well done our fresh medics. But, news flash- while your heads were buried in books, your counterparts from Cuba took your jobs.Yes, literally. Cuban doctors were flown into the country, the same way we import maize from Mexico. Therefore, when you go drop those well decorated CVs looking for a job, chances are that you will be disappointed. The government has aborted its own children.

Ladies and gentlemen, these are the realities in every profession. The government that educated you cannot employ you. Teachers, accountants, linguists, scientists- all of us. Your degree does not mean much in this country.

I know what you were told: Go to school, work hard, pass the exam, graduate, get a job, get married, have children and then retire. I am sorry, it just does not work that way.

They told you that your degree is the key to success in life, what they didn’t tell you is that they changed the locks.

Dear fresh graduate, pause and think. Take a week, even a month. Find a quiet place and ponder. Unlearn all that the system has fed you with. Yes, question all they taught you about yourself, about life and career and success. Not all of it was true, actually most of it was crap.

Ever wondered why you were taught taxation math in High School? They were preparing you to have your salary taken back to the government in form of taxes. All along, you have been taught how to be a servant and a follower. No one showed you how to think for yourself; to look long and hard at the facts and make up your mind independent of any previous status quo. The system wanted you to become a robot- controlled by the thinking of other people.And that’s where they got you.

As you ponder, begin to reinvent yourself. Thats the only way you are going to leave a mark, and stamp your legacy on the world.

Read books. Read insatiably and exhaustively. How many times have you picked a book and read it cover to cover, not because you are revising for an examination or because your lecturer suggested that you read it, but because you want to widen your intellectual horizons?

Great leaders are great readers. Read about politcs, business, economics, literature, religion, history, science and technology, and whatever else you lay your hands on. Because information is power.

Ever heard of the saying that, people with big televisions sit infront of them to watch people with big libraries?

There you have it, fresh graduate. You have been given the powers to read. Now, go ye and change the world… Because you can.