Anyone who has been through the Kenyan education and professional system is familiar with how extremely challenging it is to get a job — either as a university/college student or as a university/college graduate. There has been a growing number of jobless university graduates in Kenya in the past two decades and there’s no sign of that situation changing anytime soon.
Almost all Kenyans know at least one college graduate who remains jobless or earns peanuts compared to the amount of money he/she spent on post-secondary education such as bachelor’s degrees. Even worse, those who benefited from the HELB program are faced with the debilitating debt on top of having to pay an array of taxes on their meager income. There are those who have been fortunate enough to not owe HELB either through parallel programs or coming from families that have enough money to pay for their university education. Unfortunately, very few of them have been able to escape the monster that is unemployment. The most memorable indication of how dire the situation is is the recent spurt in the number of young Kenyans taking to the streets with placards displaying their credentials — university degrees in otherwise lucrative fields such as accounting and engineering — and begging for jobs . Comical for some, embarrassing for others but they all have a common denominator: desperation.
There has been an ongoing debate in Kenya on empowering the boy-child vs the girl-child and vice-versa. The bottom-line is that they both need to be empowered, and given the opportunities to be independent and productive members of the society, earning their living in a healthy and honest fashion. We may laugh about slay queens, team mafisi, mafisilet, masponsor etc.; however, the reality is that just beneath the laughter lies a cry for help. Not a quick fix. Not a handout. But a need for security and stability.
One thing that has become very clear over the years is the need for all Kenyans to be open-minded and to diversify their livelihood, hence challenging the assumption that white collar jobs are the only reliable sources of income. Many Kenyans in the United States and in Canada will tell you that it doesn’t matter whether you are a nurse, a lawyer, a model, a truck driver, a farmer, or a janitor as long as you are able to pay your bills at the end of the day. There’s nothing more fulfilling than getting that paycheck after long working hours knowing that you worked for it.
If there is one thing that Kenyans have in common, irrespective of their area of residency, is their willingness to help whenever they are called upon. African Vines would like to facilitate this through its “Raw Talent” subcategory. We believe that it is our responsibility to inspire both the boy-child and the girl-child by giving them a platform to showcase their talents to potential employers/ talent scouts in order to give them the means to be independent. Nothing pretentious. Nothing fancy. Just talent.
Helping one person has the butterfly effect of helping a whole village. It’s no longer enough to educate a village. No longer enough to teach the village how to fish. It is time to give the village a net and bait to go fish. Give jobs to their children.