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They refused to stay down after life served them the wrong dish

With both mainstream and social media dedicating all their ink to the intricacies of the coming elections, I have opted to keep this column away from political discourse until the elections, unless some momentous development demands a commentary.

In that spirit, this week’s column shares the stories of three uncelebrated Kenyans who have impressed me with their resilience and determination against difficult odds. They define the spirit that will make Kenya thrive, whether the coveted political trophy goes to the Kenya Kwanza or Azimio Alliance on August 9.

Because the stories I share have personal details, I will not use the persons’ real names, but the facts are real as presented.

The first is a young lawyer who I met five or so years ago. This young man came from an extremely poor family in some village in Western Kenya.

Having realised he could not complete his studies due to lack of school fees, he eventually made it to the streets of Nairobi where he lived off begging and selling basic merchandise in traffic jams. He has amazing stories about the horrors of surviving Nairobi streets.

He eventually found his way to Mombasa where a Good Samaritan felt pity and gave him a menial job in her kiosk.

From that acquaintance, he saved enough to go back to Western Kenya and register himself back to high school in his 20s. He tells me he was as old as his teachers!

He was eventually admitted to the University of Nairobi’s Law School. Several years later he is one of Kenya’s best lawyers and a compassionate gentleman.

He totally flummoxed me when with his first fees windfall, he built a home for his mother and siblings, none of whom had gone beyond primary school.

Every time you see a “street child” at your window, make a humanly connection, that could be Nairobi’s big-time lawyer in a couple of years!

The second story revolves a caddie I met in a golf club some weeks ago. You would imagine that the average caddie is a school drop-out scrounging for a couple of bucks for a smoke and survival. Not so this young man.

As we strolled through a bad golf day, I learnt that he was a fourth year Actuarial Science student at one of the public universities.

Coming from poverty, he had taken himself through school caddying. What was interesting is that I literally extracted this story; he was not telling a “woe is me story” to seek for charity.

The youngster impressed me with his big dreams, including becoming an accomplished professional and a great golfer. Hats off to his kind!

My last story is of a young lady I met when she was struggling with fees in one of the local secondary schools. I learnt from her story that her mother was a lady of the “oldest profession”.

The young lady was however bright and exceptionally hard working and eventually managed to get into university and undertake a course in Architecture.

With her first HELB loan, she removed her mum off the streets and settled her in the outskirts of Meru complete with a small shamba and a couple of cows. In university, she passed with first Class Honours.

Today, she is an architect in one of the major companies with some of Nairobi’s buildings bearing her imprint.

I could fill these pages with narrations of such people who refused to give up even when life served them the wrong dish.

May those stories inspire you so that when life feels impossible, you will remember that as long as you refuse to stay down when life knocks you down, there is hope. May that also be the story of this our Motherland.