I was 20 years old when I wrote a 10-year strategic plan for my life. It followed a major life decision I made a year before. On February 2007, I woke up with the urge to go to church. Unsure where to go, I walked from Ksouth and found myself at KAG Buru Buru. That’s the day I got born again. That decision woke something dead in my soul. I had lived a rough life coupled with poverty, rebellion and trauma that had a serious toll on my dreams.
I penned the plan in 2008 when I joined Stima Sacco as a sales representative employed on commission basis. My first earning amounted to Kshs 1700. Despite discouraging circumstances all round me, I took my pen and poured my heart on that paper. No limitation was going to hold me down. I trusted God for the impossible because I had faith He has power to do it.
When I wrote the plan, I was young, driven, and hungry. An unquenchable ambition burnt within my bones. I wanted God to do the following for me (Habakkuk 2:2 encouraged me):
Marry by 28
Have two kids and close the chapter by 30
Get a master’s degree by 28
Finish my house in Syokimau by 30 years
Join the third floor while in a middle level management in a national organization.
Before I joined KAG Buru, all I dreamed of was a collabo with JuaCali (arguably the most popular musician in Kenya then). I was a fanatical supporter of Genge and Kapuka music even though I loved Ukoo Flani’s hiphop.
One hot afternoon while bored in class in Lela Secondary School in Kisumu, I penned a song with lyrics as crude as Nyundo by Flexx former Calif records musician. My heart was convicted that my breakthrough to national fame was coming through the song. I was in a turbulent teenage phase where vanity drove me but God had a solid plan for my life.
When I joined KAG Buru Buru, every foundation I had lived my life upon was torn to pieces. My value system changed. Also, I met peers who were focused than I was. A good number of them had cleared fourth form from National & prestigious schools. I finished high school in a rural day school. They were waiting to join campus while I hadn’t attained a grade to grant direct entry to University (in my year, one needed a B plain of 70 to get a slot).
It’s been 12 years since I wrote the plan. Most of those goals haven’t been achieved. As I turn 32, let me write a letter to my 20-year-old self:
Dear Odongo, I see the pressure you are putting on yourself to change the narrative of your family. I can see the fire burning in your soul. Some of the plans you have written may take a while to be achieved but never lose hope. You are going to encounter painful setbacks along the way. Sometimes you will build only to collapse when you are almost done. Never lose hope no matter the season. Just like a colony of termites, let resilience be your guiding principle. Never lose hope no matter the setback. Rise up and dust yourself because your biggest setback will bring your greatest comeback.
Odongo, now that you have known God, never walk away from His loving embrace. You will be tempted to walk away from faith. Along the way, you will read all sorts of books. You will question the faith, the validity of the Bible, whether Jesus rose from the dead. You will meet agnostics and aetheists. People who aren’t from your faith will walk into your life. Embrace the questions and grow your critical thinking ability. That season will strengthen your faith. Be a tolerant person. Accept people for who they are. Let your light shine that they may see how different you are.
It’s hard to see clearly when you are in the eye of the storm. Sometimes you are so preoccupied with putting out the storm that you lose control of your vessel. It’s hard to believe this but the storm will pass and the sun will shine again. While in the storm, master your vessel and don’t let the waves crush you. You cannot worry yourself out of the difficult situation you find yourself. Neither can you be anxious until you pull yourself from the miry clay of pain?
Don’t stress yourself about this matter. I dare even say that don’t be anxious about love. Like a cough, it will one day catch you and everyone will see. Heck yes, even you will notice that you have it. But as you wait for true love, work on yourself. Deal with the junk in your trunk by confronting your past. Take time to work on your emotional health because whomever you get will most likely reflect whom you are. Remember broken people break people and hurting people hurt people. But if you are dating, be kind and patient, and hopeful. Your partner is not perfect and neither are you. To expect them to live like angels is to put unnecessary pressure on them. Forgive quickly when you are hurt, and pursue adventures while you are still young and restless.
Most times it is difficult to see the purpose of why you are going through what you are going through. You spend more time asking God why and he seems to be deaf. Therefore you have more questions than answers. But let me tell you that it will make sense ultimately. Along the way, God will do something that will enable you to make sense of why you went through what you had to go through. It may be difficult and extremely painful to be where you are. It would be unfair to expect you not to be anxious, worried or even to question the value of the pain. But with the gift of hindsight, I can tell you that it will all make sense. When you will lift up your hands and thank God for the season of chiseling and moulding.
Start saving as early as possible. The brain may lie to you that you have a lot of time before you retire. But remember akiba haiozi. Put money away because you can only make hay while the sun shines. To save, you need to have a budget. If you don’t track your money and where it’s going, it will leak out. You will work hard, earn a lot of money but if you don’t track how you are using it, you will feel like you are carrying water from a river in a potato sack. Also, it’s never too early to start investing. Put your money where it will yield more returns. Cut down on unnecessary expenditure and save where you can. A shilling put away is more valuable in the long run because of compounding benefits than if you spend it on things that don’t matter. Avoid debts if you can, unless it’s a loan taken for development purposes. Sometimes because of the allure of living the life, we stretch ourselves to live beyond our means just to fit in and please people. Try to acquire financial discipline as early as possible because financial mistakes may seem small but recovering from them is an uphill task.
Cherish your loved ones and put them close. Blood is thicker than water. When everything falls apart and you have nowhere to go, your family will be there for you. They will shoulder you and accept you just the way you are. Spend time with your loved ones, spend your resources on them and give your time. Visit your parents and spend time with them. You may not be able to build for them a house or provide for all their needs, but just being mindful of their presence and taking time to visit them will yield unknown joy to your heart. Being close to the family will cure your anxiety, calm your heart and heal your bones. Even if they are imperfect, they are still family. They may not always be understanding and supportive of your ventures but just know that they come from a place of love. If you have unresolved conflict with them, find ways to make amends and forgive. While you may not understand why things happened the way they did, but try as much as possible to find peace from the past mistakes.
It’s good to have friends who will help you do life. You need a close-knit group who will be there for you. But guard your heart against over expectations. Your friends will disappoint you many times. You will expect some of them to be there for you in the times of trouble but they may not and that’s okay. Because they are human beings who have flaws just like you. While it may be hard to recover from betrayal by friends, let go as soon as you can because it’s from such imperfections that the bond of friendship is created. Once in a while, be selfish and put yourself first. It’s absolutely okay to be selfish and put yourself first. If you are not there for yourself, nobody will. You may give your strength and remain with nothing. Watch out against parasitic friends people who only withdraw but they never deposit. Love you and care for you. Be your own cheerleader. If none of your friends appreciates or cheers you on, go ahead and be your own number one fan.
But don’t waste time seeking the approval of friends. If your gut tells you it’s right, go ahead and do it. Let your results speak for you. I can tell you that you simply belong because you are from the right class.
Son of Kano May 21 2019