Heart-breaking tale of aspiring medic breaking stone for a living, instead of joining college

A woman breaks stones at Kiganjo quarry in Kieni, Nyeri, to make hardcore stones. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]

I'm irritable this morning, so I'll serve this straight and simple: we are a nation full of upumbavu. Well, we probably knew that already, given the pretty asinine things we have done to ourselves. But I didn't know things are this thick.

Here's why: a brilliant lad, somewhere in Baringo, secured support to attend high school from a leading commercial bank. Nehemiah Koech kept his part of the bargain by performing exceptionally well in his final exams three years ago. He scored an aggregate of A- and was well on his way to achieving his dream of training as a doctor, specifically a cardiologist.

But when he went to the bank to seek financial support to join university, he was told that the kitty had dried up due to the ravages of Covid-19. But that very bank posted some of the highest profits that very year.

And since Nehemiah isn't one to give up easily-just about everything in his life has been hard fought-he traversed his county knocking on doors, seeking support from the Ministry of Education, to politicians' offices. None heeded his call.

The only door that opened for Nehemiah belonged to a landlord who offered him board in return for his guarding services, at a monthly wage of Sh6,000. He also does the odd job as a fundi which means fixing just about anything from plumbing to dressing building stones. He uses the proceeds to support his ailing parents and keeping his younger siblings in school.

It is a safe bet that millions of bursaries have been issued in his county to kids who had better connections, but were by far less qualified and deserving than Nehemiah. And the self-same politicos will yell the loudest about the merits of retaining the kitty to ensure poor lads remain in school.

It's heart-breaking to read stories of this kind early in the morning. Nehemiah's tale is emblematic of a nation literally gone to the dogs.