I remember wanting to be a pilot when I was a stubborn primary school boy. I wanted to fly those big planes that I used to step out in a hurry from my grandmother’s house one time and see, hovering a few thousand feet above the sky, climbing into the clouds. Every trip on board an aircraft was an opportunity to touch the clouds. I wondered to myself how they feel like. Most of all I wanted to see places that I would only see on Twitter when ladies my age retweet photos of destinations they’ll probably never visit with their own money.
Then I watched Air Crash Investigation on National Geographic which scared my plan off my system. The horrors of hearing almost to zero chances of surviving a plane crash despite air travel being the safest mode of transport. I decided ‘yup, that’s not for me.’
The dream would later switch to being a shrink. As a matter of fact, my high school crush’s interest in psychology plus getting played by a 4″11 tall girl, whom I also had a crush on was the main motivator behind pursuing psychology in campus. However not many psychology majors were assured jobs in their field other than working in a mental hospital. That plus listening to people’s problems to which I had no solid answer to meant that plan also went down the toilet.
At that time the quickest way to shut people up as a parent was to tell them your child was in law school or studying medicine. That time there was no psychology. Journalism was a looked-down-upon career and people were more interested in fellows assured of driving our nation forward economically.
If your son was spotted in a courtroom wearing that white wig which aged as far back as the colonial rule then your mother and father would have been accorded the respect and adoration of the entire village. Ad infinitum, it is not easy passing those bar exams in order to practice law in this country.
However if your child turned down courses that had even the slightest taste of mathematics and winding up on ‘something that dealt with languages’, then walking into town was like walking past Mama Mboga whom you owe twenty shillings from that chopped spinach you took from her promising to pay back. Worse yet, if rumour had it that your son was struggling with ICDL (International Computer Driving Licence) and harping about IT, then you generally stopped showing your face at your grandmother’s sister over Christmas outside the Nairobi Metropolitan and appointed the lastborn as the official family male ‘mbooch’.
Things have changed. We have the tenderpreneurs to thank for shifting the blame game with parents. It’s like a father who was rubbed off by a lady CEO’s parents then pulling the finishing move in Fergie Time by preaching how his son was supplying notebooks and pens for the Executive arm of government, including the President himself and that his friendship with President Uhuru Kenyatta allowed him to own part of the 500,000 acres of land in the country belonging to the First Family, using nothing more than his pocket money to build an apartment in Ruiru. One thing I’d laud the Kenyattas for doing is stealing that teaspoon of respect back from us.
You probably were told that farmers were a bunch of broke people who wore gumboots to the tea plantations on top of a steep hill and smelt as though they didn’t shower in two weeks. The kind with faces that can make a Nairobi slay queen take off at the first instinct.
They are in the same league as Mama Mboga, the old ladies way past their sexual prime who welcome you with mean looking faces every time you buy something from them. Farmers and old market ladies are indeed millionaires without Forbes mentioning them.
The very thought of making a career out of sports or deejaying at a club or event was enough to earn you a beating and endless lectures from your parents as they drilled into your mind that those two things, even being a radio presenter were a waste of time and that you should focus on getting grades good enough to be hired as a slave IT expert to help your boss operate Microsoft Windows at his company for meagre monthly pay.
Here’s the truth they never told you about; entertainment is where the real money is. Sports can make you richer than Kylie Jenner. A kid somewhere defied his parents wishes of becoming a doctor to play for the biggest football club in the world. Another dropped his dreams of becoming a lawyer and his talent at deejaying has him playing at the biggest electronic dance music festival in the world. The other, from a single mother is the most popular radio voice in the country. All of them combined are twenty times richer than that IT guy who can be booted out at a whiff when the fat CEO who used to make noise at the back of class gets what he wanted.
Playing video games was unheard of, parents believed they were just for recreation and had the right to lock that PlayStation 4 up just so their child can study for an exam that won’t matter a lot in his future. Now it is a revenue generator, just like your smartphone and laptop. One part takes their game console and TV to a single room and puts up a game lounge so that his peers can play at a fee. The other is using it to make money through winning tournaments around the world and within our local territory. Mobile gaming is slowly emerging and newer smartphones coming with bigger storage and improved RAM offer the best indication of what’s coming. They’re not just for storing thousands of selfies.
Speaking of smartphones and laptops, gigs are popping up online. Just recently, it was announced that more online jobs would be created for the youth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has taken a virus the size of a red blood cell for our stubborn government to realise that the economy can be generated through the internet and not by hiring youth to do manual work for a few coins that only sustain their bellies. Same goes for companies. Suddenly they realised that working from home is another way to keep their revenue cash cow smiling. Let’s ignore the ignorant ones who are waiting to lose their income and try to save it by declaring almost to their whole staff redundant.
Online gigs suddenly have people raking money in quick fashion. Social Media jobs were long frowned upon because it involved being paid to run someone’s social media account from the comfort of your couch. I remember pitching such an idea to a friend who ran her own company, those tenderpreneurs stealing allocated funds for this and that to keep for themselves. She put me off, saying I would need to go to an office. The virus came in and said that anywhere can be an office, even your bedroom. Those social media jobs are everywhere now.
Content writers, creators and what have you are surfacing everywhere you look. You don’t need a degree or primary school certificate to start a blog or YouTube channel, just a smartphone or laptop and internet. The previous generation calls it ‘vitu za online’ but unbeknownst to them they have taken an influencer to Singapore, Seychelles, Hawaii…those places they can go but can’t because they have to wait for their “boss” to give them travel money.
What the 21st Century has done and will continue to do is rubbish the importance of a degree in someone’s career path. It therefore means one can drop out of school and become a radio show host, musician or deejay…or even running your own lipstick company. Even with a degree in business administration one doesn’t have to work in a bank. A huge percentage of graduates pursue careers different to what they studied in campus.
Only small minds would criticise someone who became a senior news anchor after studying zoology. You can be anything you want. Even a comedian. Coonavirus says the office days are over.