I was at a forum the other day as one of the key speakers, talking to more than 1,000 youth about their expectations and future.
Since I have been in many of such talks, I’ve learnt to change the format of my delivery and I usually start by fielding questions from the audience.
The young people raised several pertinent issues affecting them, which I’ll touch on.
The first is the education system and what can be salvaged. When I was growing up, we were among the last age groups in the ‘Someni Vijana’ craze as the song was exiting the charts.
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The message of the song was ‘go to school, get good grades and eventually you will get jobs’. That was the message our parents were subjected to every year and they had no option but to believe it and pass it on.
I will not blame our parents, because some success stories had been witnessed through that mantra, and sometimes that meant investing all the family wealth in education.
But in recent years we have had many students stranded after completing school. Does that mean the education system has failed its youth?
I will boldly say, yes. Unless your story gets in the media you will not get the job you studied for, very rarely do we see success stories. When I was in America I noticed that their system is efficient and practical, most of my friends who live there have jobs and in their chosen careers.
The good thing is that the government is owning up and is introducing another system that is most likely to work. But we can’t just point fingers at the government, even in a poor country like ours there are those who are wealthy. See opportunities even in problems, that is what entrepreneurs do.
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The second issue was the 10-year experience. People in the audience pointed out that King Kaka now gets paid a lot of of money to perform; one of them said that whatever he gets in six months I get in a night.
This was my response: As much as I get paid thousands of dollars the ‘experience’ factor cannot be ignored.
I remember when I started music, no one knew who I was and I needed to work my way up the ranks. That is the same situation with volunteer and internship programmes. Sometimes we get offers to volunteer and fail to take them up, without realising that they are a mentorship opportunity.
In my case, I would scout for places where there were gigs and get on stage just to sharpen my performance even though I was not getting paid.
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You will only learn if you put your knowledge and skill into practice. I remember drafting Sh5,000 contracts when I started and over the years I have risen up in ranks to an A-list artiste paid six-figure sums.
I would confidently say that the pay I am getting now is for 10-year experience and just like the CEOs you see in various companies, I was not born King Kaka but I worked and consistency is playing a major role in where I am today.
Start small - which many people are not willing to - and rise through the ranks. It takes a lot of sacrifice.
Third is to find paths, be innovative. People are designed to trust what works, thus they find safety in the familiar. The youth asked, how do you break from the norm?
We are living in a technology-driven society and what that means is that there are many opportunities around us. For example, a few years ago we didn’t have social media managers but now almost all companies have one, thanks to the Internet craze.
I watched an industrial documentary a while back where they estimated that the gap of industrialisation was 100 years. This meant it would take us 100 years to catch up with America economically. Then the argument of technology came to play, which meant that I can even assemble a car by just going on the net.
With that said, let’s look for new opportunities rather than just relying on traditional jobs.
A friend of is a puppeteer and he is making a living from that; another one is a set designer while yet another is an editor who got the skills from YouTube tutorials! What’s your excuse? Disrupt, disrupt, disrupt. Let’s stop pointing fingers and hiding behind excuses. There is a lot that we can achieve.