Maliha Mohammed, a young self-taught Kenyan chef recently entered the annals of history by breaking the Guinness World Record for the longest cooking marathon by an individual.
She prepared over 400 recipes in 75 hours of non-stop cooking. In doing so, she joined a galaxy of Kenyan achievers who set world records in diverse human endeavours.
The 36-year-old is an authentic role model and an inspiration to our youth. She has demonstrated that nothing is impossible.
And that success is the result of determination and persistence in whatever one excels in regardless of their background.
The same lesson comes from great Kenyan athletes like Tegla Lorupe, Samuel Wanjiru, Paul Tergat, who have shattered world records in their stellar careers.
Other Kenyans in the Guinness World Records are Joseph Love who in 1992 milked 30 cows in 24 hours, and Kimani Maruge who in 2003 became the oldest person in the world to enroll in primary school.
There are many lessons from the accomplishment of these and other outstanding Kenyan achievers.
Notably, they all came from humble backgrounds but went on to defy all odds and set world records. They used the little available resources they had to become world champions.
For Maliha, she honed her cooking skills via YouTube tutorials. Her path to success mirrors that of Julius Yego, the self-trained Kenyan javelin thrower and former world record holder.
Our youth should borrow a leaf from Maliha and Yego first, by identifying their talents, then acquiring the skills and knowledge to actualise their potential.
In other words, lack of formal training or college fees should not be a barrier to success in life.
Given the high levels of unemployment, we should encourage our youth to pursue their talents, for example, through entrepreneurship.
Many Kenyan youths have undiscovered talents they could use to change society.
Maliha is a shining example of how human endurance, resilience and grit contribute to success.
Prior to breaking the world record in August, she had spent many gruelling hours rehearsing for the big day - 36 hours in June and 54 hours in July.
The key lesson is, there is no short cut to success. No matter one’s vocation or profession, we must constantly strive to be the best by tirelessly perfecting our skills.
Another important lesson from Maliha’s feat is that to have an impact, we should set the bar high. Maliha set out to compete with the best globally.
The previous world record for the longest cooking marathon was 68 hours by American Ricky Lumpkin in 2018.
Great human achievements have no boundaries. By setting her sights on the global arena, she put Kenya on the international map with her new world record in cooking.
The likes of Maliha need all the support they can get to flourish.
And not just from the government but also the private sector which should be encouraged to support local talent. This is crucial to unlocking hidden talents in diverse fields among our youth.
Many talented people do not have people to mentor them or even offer crucial financial and logistical support.
This is exactly where businesses come in as part of their corporate social responsibility to transform lives and communities.
This thinking inspired Pwani Oil to offer logistical support to Maliha through providing food ingredients and paying her participation fee to Guinness World Record.
There’s need to identify and support more talented Kenyans to showcase their skills to the world.
Kenya’s international profile rises when achievers like Maliha put Kenya on the world map with their accomplishments.
Think of the way our athletes have made the country famous. We should replicate this success in other fields including arts, entertainment, literature, science, and so on.
In addition, youth engagement is required if Kenya is to realise her targets as part of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda. The youth constitute the bulk of Kenya’s population.
Promoting youth talent is a sure path to eradicating poverty and achieving common prosperity as envisaged in the SDG framework.
Besides, young people should be empowered to become innovators and drivers of social and economic change.
They are capable of being leaders who can shape the future. Encouraging and supporting the likes of Maliha is an important step toward building a better world.
Mr Malde is the Commercial Director at Pwani Oil