Know when to quit living your fake life and start making it

The story was one of triumph, of a young man who had overcome all odds, battled serious adversity to find fame and fortune and becoming the toast of town. So great was his story that he was being feted as one of Kenya’s finest - one of the Top 40 Under 40. Last weekend, this story came undone when the fellow (who likes to call himself Wilkins) was called out for his fakeness in a rather blistering social media attack.

When I read his ‘fake story’, I must say it was quite imaginative and had all right ingredients - the poor upbringing, the entrepreneurship – mentoring story and the Larry Madowo - Obama association was a stroke of genius. Rumour has it that this guy is now contemplating suicide, but he really should not be blaming anyone. He forgot that there is an art to this faking business - and knowing when and how to quit makes all the difference.

Faking is has become somewhat necessary in a world that notices and rewards those who stand out, and ignores and punishes those who do not. It is really hard to stand out in this city, when you are a nobody - could be because you were born, raised and educated in the wrong part of this country.

It is hard to break out and be noticed when you have no serious pedigree, schooling or patronage to fall back on. It is an unending struggle to try and get noticed in today’s Kenya where we only recognise those with serious bank balances, who drive fuel guzzlers and have the right surnames or have the most social media likes. The way to stand out is to fake a persona that can help one command some level of attention and in some cases money. The old adage fake it till you make it has never had more relevance than in today’s world. However, for those who want to fake it, they must develop some method to faking. For those who want to fake it, till they make it, here are a few useful tips: -

a)     The name is everything: Names are everything when it comes to faking it: One must have a name that rolls off easily on peoples’ tongues and one that does not result in weird questions like “were you named after an arachnid?” Some well meaning parents give their children names such as Melchidezek or Phelgonius, only for those names to become a painful pull down in future when the same children want to climb up the ladder of fame in the city. Some ingenuity is required to deal with this problem; one can choose to shorten the name, use sound fancy sounding acronym or initials or just come up with a totally new name. That is why I could not understand why this fellow chose to replace Edwin (which can be shortened to Edu or Eddy - with Wilkins- a name that means small Willy.

b)     Spend time creating the right story: If you want to be taken seriously then you must have the right kind of fake story: one that has enough believability but also one that cannot be easily verified. For example, it is easier to claim to have attended some random school in the village than to say you dropped out of school in Form Two (just to clear a bit of education scores more points than being a school drop out). If you have never attended university, then it is better to say that you are taking evening classes instead of claiming to have a degree - such things are too easy to cross check these days. Be careful about over repeating this story and only use it as and when necessary, lest some hawk-eyed person calls you out.

c)      Infiltrate the right social circles: If you want to be considered a success, you must find your way to the right social circles. This might involve making certain investments by joining certain clubs or by hanging out with certain people in very specific joints. Once in those circles, one must invest in getting the right phone numbers, email addresses so that one can use them as evidence to demonstrate the ‘new-found’ status. Once in these social circles, one must find a smart way of being accepted without too many questions being asked. This might involve taking some lessons to wipe out any tinges of ‘funny sounding accents,’ improving vocabulary and also adopting impeccable table manners and etiquette.

d)     Appearances count for everything: People pay attention to looks so if you want to appear like you have made it, then you might need to dress the part. This might mean investing in a decent wardrobe; one that respects the current trends and rules of fashion.

One must also shed those grooming habits that belong to the days of yore such as having the body odour of an outdoor labourer, or having the index finger looking like an overgrown talon. It helps a great deal if such appearances are posted on social media – preferably on Instagram. However, some moderation is also required because too many posts are also bound to attract the naysayers.

e)     Know your end goal and know when to quit: It is usually assumed that those who choose to fake it have just taken a different path that should lead them to making it. However, many fakers get so carried away with their persona that they forget to make it.

We know some successful fakers who have faked their way to powerful jobs, lucrative tenders and into the right marriages and families. If you are faking it, it might be advisable to tread carefully and avoid getting too ambitious and making outrageous claims - that is where Wilkins got it very wrong.

The secret is to know when to quit the faking and to start the making it. If you notice that after years of faking it, you are still short on real cash and real fortune - then perhaps you need to change vocations.

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