Let’s Pray for a Bungalow

Every one aspires to own some real estate in Kenya.  Some trouble makers may want to know who said so; well now you’re hearing it from me (tweet please). We are such that if you keep acting busy all the time with some sort of job, the only success we want to see is a kaplot either developed or not.

The irony is that some people have built hundreds of flats, bungalows, townhouses, bungalows, castles and other types of houses while others struggle to pay rent for a multi-functional 10 feet by 10 feet single room. I was thinking it would just be easy if banks gave out loans to these poor chaps and have them build a decent place for the many kids they tend to have.

However, and very unfortunately, lending money to the poor folks contravenes the Kenyan Banking Act number one of firsts section 101 – only lend money to people who don’t need it at all. People who need money tend to not to pay it back. This is not necessarily due to inability but because they needed it in the first place – who wants to give away something they need? I think Imperial bank must have broken this rule when they fell for a butchery owner’s tale and did an unthinkable 10billion loan for him – Keroche Industries could only qualify for half of that from a different bank according to recent reports.  It’s not really clear what the lucky butcher must have said but the rest of the bankers took a longer look at imperial bank after the unusual gesture and closed them down.

That explains why an ordinary person isn’t doing very well in the real estate realm. Landing the kind of money that buys land and builds a nice house remains a dream to many. In fact, for some, it has been on the list of New Year resolutions for too long that it has understandably been scrapped for the last few years.  It is now a matter of luck, winning some lottery some day. Even that has a complication – the winnings these days are too little to cover land expenses and the family and friends excitement that come with them.

SACCOs are making a killing promising people easy huge loans. But even for those, they are pegged on one’s income and savings, a factor that is not going so well for random folks.  Yet people are building all over. Nice houses left and centre. You pass them each day, praying, fasting (sometimes not so willingly) and hoping that someday, in an inexplicable way, you will be the proud owner of a bungalow or whatever those  big houses are called. You will be a proud resident of a place that’s arguably not a slum.  My prayers are with you.

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Surviving the Job Market

I remember in 2008, Obama was my greatest inspiration. His speeches seemed to open doors for me, they had a bigger effect on me than a huge part of the then American audience I suppose. The same feeling was hardly anyway near me this 2015 on his much publicized visit to his fatherland I happen to live. I probably found out over time that speeches and a great feeling can’t change anything. The reality is the sad and difficult toil i have to put up with to experience any worthwhile good.  In fact, I now prefer the much blunt Donald Trump.

A lot happens after every step beyond the hype. This is what goes on when you finish college and get stuck in being a perpetual unpaid intern. Even after you finally get someone willing to pay something for your services, they just feel don’t ashamed offering 10,000 shillings to starve with every month. Yes, Mr politician, life is that hard, Instagram photos notwithstanding.
As a person with first hand experience, I can with with lots of authority, give some advise regarding this pitiable situations you might be finding yourself in.

Firstly, I want to start by saying, the economy is f’ed up and nothing other than sweat and brains can get you through. Nothing is actually easy for the majority sons and sons of peasants. So please know yourself and know that – your problems are from the village you come from and shaking them off isn’t easy.

Having known that, stop living like you are not. You might want to cut down on the expensive Tuskers (yes there is such a thing puppy), the expensive girlfriend, and the multi-bedroomed house (when you have been sharing a room with ten siblings all your life). Please don’t get comfortable with money. It’s what you don’t have. If anything, you have to cut costs to get anywhere with your peanuts. In case you have a problem, just remember that your dad had a decent salary but still blew it on alcohol and other poverty seeking habits.

Whatever you do, make sure you put away something for the rainy days and something worth mentioning in a drinking party back home (I’m not talking about the oversize suits I see in church though).

This discomfort will also put you in a good position to keep your job seeking business up despite the futility it keeps showing itself to be. I can’t emphasize this well enough, finding a good job is very difficult, but keep trying while getting very good at your shitty one. It is never easy.

Lastly but very importantly, please have fun. Nothing is as wrong as being a sulky underpaid person. Look at the carwashers, the bodabodas and the mjengo people. They have fun at their jobs and everything, what are you sad for? You have things that happy people don’t have. So thank God and make merry, of course without blowing away any hopes of advancing financially. Don’t also forget that only prayer will push you, pray and be very thankful while at it.

The Beggar is the Best Customer

The church is a great business idea. The founder is usually a person that requires help from God and perhaps genuinely heeds to “a divine call”. He has to bear with the doubts and difficulties that come with all start ups. For starters, nobody might believe the cock and bull story that the poor guy has to craft. Thankfully, his loyal spouse and submissive children usually don’t have a choice.

Nonetheless, he has to work hard and win the trust of some few other family members and friends to put up a funny structure and buy drums and other equally loud musical instruments. I’m sure you will agree that some of the loudest noises that come from churches are made by congregations that hardly exceed ten individuals that look somewhat inebriated.

But the many doubters (or more fashionably, haters) are soon put to shame as the passionate pastor now buys better suits and mobilizes more flock. The church is now big and within no time a sleek car starts to be a reality for the pastor.

But to sustain the dream, the pastor shifts from focussing on the service of God to what the congregation can give to God – which some “haters” mistake for himself. The preaching Sunday after Sunday is aimed at coercing the congregation to respond to the needs of the church and by extension the “man of God” as a means of meeting their own. Promises of prosperity now form the bulk of summons and the condition is invariably giving to the church’s projects.

This is the trend in most churches where pastors are reduced to poets keeping their congregations hopeful amid deepening misery in their own lives. The pastors nonetheless prosper – making themselves richer and richer. Politicians are not any different but that’s material for another day.

There is one thing a struggling person can learn from this common trend, desperation fosters creativity and is the best opportunity for business and success. Many people are born desperate, in families that kill morale. Your dad probably looks happy herding goats and your mother is contented with selling illicit brews save for the few times the cops have to carry her on their less than elegant pick-ups. Your brother could have died of starvation and your sister couldn’t make more than just a starving prostitute. You see failure and suffering all around you. Everyone is comfortable and resigned to this less-than-perfect conditions – but what makes you feel special is that it bothers you.

If you can relate to this I have some good news.

The obscure truth is that the best business ideas start and thrive on widespread desperation. The best businesses promising jobs to thousands of jobless lads waiting for that elusive splash of opportunity and actually delivering a decent fraction of their song and dance were started by jobless people. The best teachers are failed practitioners trying to run away from their own mediocrity. The sellers of hope were once hopeless and with problems worse than any of the people they have had an opportunity to preach hope to. All the same, they made themselves millionaires by looking around and seeing how they can meet the needs of the majority average. They have looked at their experiences and managed to view the desperation and the failure as their main opportunity – and they are never wrong.

An average pastor has a car, an average officer of the poverty NGO makes more money than a car salesman. The person advertising jobs for the jobless is self employed. And the list is longer than you can imagine.

Please, kindly send me an email so I can forward you the invoice: the guy that is always begging you for coins has enough money to be your customer. All you have to do is find a way to make his existence a blessing.