My fascination with the lives of Online writers, Politicians, and people with formal employment in, say, banks, has reached a pen worthy level. The point is that there are a number of relationships that can be drawn from these ways of obtaining sustenance. Politicians and online writers have several things in common. But for the purpose of this post, I would like focus on just one area of concern. These guys share, albeit in different platforms, a loophole in which lack of accountability sprouts. In addition to this, they often have a mentality that they are ‘self-made.’ For avoidance of confusion and disarray of facts, we should restrict our imagination to Kenyan online writers, bloggers, and, of course, politicians. Many of these people, when confronted with the question of work or employment, their response will always be, “work? For who?” It is not a humble retort beseeching you to help the source to identify a work opportunity. Neither is it a lethargically resigned tone grounded on the high rates of unemployment in Kenya. Not really. The message herein is often an arrogant outburst that is laced with the pride that one doesn’t really need to work for or under someone. In fact, it means that everyone can climb the ladder of affluence without actually working for/under someone. And this is the connection, and the source of the lack of accountability, among many politicians, online writers, and thieves.
This got me thinking about this senior at my current work place. I shudder at the thought that I work at the bottom of the hierarchy, earning miserable coins that are quite ugly in their numbers. My hope while growing up (not that I have stopped…but…damn it! Just follow my line of thinking) was that by the age of 26, I would have acquired my own automobile and living large like, you know, say, Mzee Varaq? But certainly, life and realities are intervening quite well. They have conspired against me and surreptitiously landed me into some small “office” with a chair and a bunch of files to work on. Hoping you have adequately quantified the “bunch” of files, I will proceed and talk about this boss of mine who is quite advanced in age and is still working under someone. You see, as a young man or woman, you have this blood that boils in you as you acquire the title of an intern. You easily show your tag through the various security checks. And you feel important.
“I work at the Ministry headquarters,” you easily can announce to your village.
Aside from this sense of promising beginnings, you also possess a highly inquisitive and rebellious mind. You would like to know everything at the same time. Who is the boss? I mean boss boss? Why are people ever in ties and suits? Do I have to come to work every day? Why is everyone so serious? Gosh. Who hurt you? These are some of the questions which you give voice to. Sometimes loudly, sometimes softly. Well, the syndrome never left me unscathed. I have asked questions and I have had answers. Some answers, you get without a syllable coming out of anyone’s mouth. Some you get from the wise words of the kind people you find in the working environment (and this is by an immense amount of luck). Sometimes, Google. Looking back, I realize that at one point in your life, you have to appear like a whimsical dimwit with a quest for knowledge. This is the first lesson you learn as a young and new employee. Something that some guys will never learn as they say work for who?
The question to which an answer was not directly forthcoming was based on this old man, who is ever the earliest to arrive into the office, the last to leave the premises, and knows every rule and regulation concerning the organization. Learning that he has been here for the last 40 years did not do well in reducing the number of questions in mind. 40! Achiel…ariyo…adek…ang’wen…prang’wen! I am barely a month old in the institution and am all over the place with everything I learnt from Wikipedia.
See your life!
“This is my 41st year working here. I started just like you. An Intern barely from college. Working under different capacities, I have seen many a colleague go through the system. I have seen many young men come and go. I have seen exemplary people fail the test of work ethic, same as I have seen unpromising people become some of the best workers we have ever had here. But to answer the question that I know still lingers in your minds, there are other people who have been here longer. Anyway, what keeps people long at their place of employment is money. What keeps them longer is passion. What keeps them longest, is satisfaction,” he said. Other characteristics that stand out in him include accountability, timekeeping, professionalism, communication, and interpersonal skills. These are not things one can learn in one day, month, and year or from the www. He adds. They are acquired and inculcated in environments in which they are abundant.
To work as an online writer in Kenya is the simplest of things. All you need is a functioning keyboard (some say that you do not need to have a screen), access to the Internet, and a writing account. Two ways of getting an account exist for all to explore. One can sign up and join some of the writing companies. On the other hand, you can amass funds and acquire one of the account’s log in details. Either way, you become an online writer. No school to go to. No accreditation. No nothing. And then you will have earned the right to work along the streets claiming you are self-made. And Work, for who? But here is the catch, problems such as conman ship, unethical practices, unprofessionalism, shameless plagiarism, and high levels of charlatanism emerge from more than 50% of people who claim to be professional online writers.
I did not agree with the opinions that inundated the social media about the “failures” in the 2016 KCSE having to opt to be bloggers. Well, I will not delve into saying why it is utterly wrong to propose that bloggers are failures. The magunga did it well here. However, I will not hesitate to say that where there is smoke, a fire could be nearby. Or a burning bush. Bloggers and online writers have been associated with several morally questionable practices. Some do not have a stable stance. One day they are attacking this Company or CEO for defrauding the general public, the next day they are overwhelming him/her with praise. They do not have something to stand for. In fact the scale of their work is balanced on the pivot of money. Take a look at our HashTags and trending topics, for example. These are the few elements that tarnish the name of bloggers in Kenya, and perhaps the entire globe as they claim they are self-made
The same goes with online writers and consultants. The young people are at a disadvantage in the current economic and fiscal dynamics. Many are in the campuses and cannot afford to have all three meals of the day. With expenses such as house rent, school fees, transportation, among other inundating their daily budgets, three meals a day could be too much to ask for. Of late online work has become a major source of reprieve for them. However, as with everything else, the industry has its own fair share of cons who prey on the needs of the writers and students alike. Many prospective writers approach me with the question on the best way to get into the industry. There is no way to give the best answer to this question. The reason here is that some of the so called organizations are headed by “self-made” individuals who get lost with other people’s hard earned cash. If the companies do not steal from you, the “consultant” will rob you. The most recent case I handled involved a friend of mine losing Ksh. 150,000. Just like that. Kaput!
You know, a writing account is not like a piece of land. A physical property, which you will always see. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
The tough love talk will ensue once you have used your 150k to buy the air. These guys own the air. They are self-made! And they do not work. Work, for who? And this is the pathetic mentality that the typical Kenyan politician possesses. They do not have a sense of keeping time in implementing what they promise the people. Their word means nothing. It is not even worth the saliva he spits while uttering it. Their salaries rise exponentially by the day. They grab whatever they see lingering owned by another person or otherwise. They loot, no matter who from! And most of them are self-made and have never worked under someone in a disciplined environment. Those who have the little bit of decency remaining in them, can be bought off. Everyone has a price. They say.
Be wary of the self-made politician!
To the good youth of this Kenya in whom the embers of integrity still glow, follow the proper channels to inculcate indelible values, inclusive of accountability. First, you have to learn and acquire as much knowledge as possible. In the practical scene, learn under someone as an intern or apprentice. In your early twenties, work under someone, be flexible and ever ready for guidance. In your mid-twenties strive to work for someone, learn how people act when in power, how they treat the juniors and subordinates. Understand, the relationship between the cultures of the place of work and the tendencies of the person heading it; how it is determined by the kind of leadership therein. Start learning how to work in a team, obey rules, and uphold honor and respect. In your late twenties and early thirties, work with people. Learn to forge productive relationships, invest in people, become a leader, and begin to develop your own “sort of working culture.” At this point, make sure you have begun doing something for yourself. Either build a career based on the foundations of what you learn or venture into independent business. Backed and catapulted by the values you have learnt, at the age of forty, you should be comfortably running your own budding empire or positioned at the top levels of leadership with people working under you! Go into politics perhaps! Begin saying, “work, work for who?” In your late fifties, let people work for you. Guide them. And spend the rest of your days enjoying the returns on your investments.
Say, Work, Work for who?