I will always remember Megan and Rachel and that fateful ride when I first scouted the routes that cut through one of Nairobi’s more affluent neighbourhoods. I was sitting on the back seat of Megan’s Land Cruiser; she was driving and her Australian visitor, Rachel, was seated on the passenger side making small talk. I do not know what prompted Rachel to ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up; neither do I know what made me give her the answer I did.
“I always wanted to be jet-fighter pilot. I would so love to work in the Kenya Air Force.” I told her in all honesty of an eighteen year old unsure how to act around two mature white women. I was many worlds away from home, this was an alien setting for me altogether. Physically, however, I was only a short way from home — it is only twenty minutes from Runda to Mathare, much less if you are not using public transport.
Rachel came back with, “Why do you want to kill people?”
I was taken aback, that was never my first impression when I thought of working in the armed forces, “Well, I wouldn’t have to kill them if they weren’t guilty of something.”
“So do you think all the children and women who die in war are guilty?”
“Of course not. Which is why I want to be a jet pilot so I can be diligent enough to drop the bombs more accurately and avoid innocent victims.”
But by then Megan had had enough and decided to cut in.
“Go ahead and be anything you want to be, Kelvin. Don’t listen to what anyone tells you you can or cannot be.” she said to me.
I never made it to the armed forces, matter of fact, I doubt that my application for cadet openings even warranted being looked at twice before being trashed. It turned out that the world was calling me elsewhere. That turned out to be a young university, deep in the African jungle where people still study under trees (This is not such a bad dogma amongst white folks, think of all the tourists who come searching for that jungle). I ended up taking a course in engineering, perhaps holding on to the hope that it was not too late to be a pilot.
Anyway, Rachel went back to Australia and I never heard from her again. And Megan went on to start a charity organisation, Tushinde, so she can enable more and more African kids to be what they want to be and not to listen to anyone who tells them otherwise. I can tell you from experience that to survive in the slums, these kids really need a lot of help. Personally, if it weren’t for organisations and people like Change Lives Now, Megan, Mogra Star Academy, etc. I might not have gone through high school let alone know how to use this computer and write this blog. That is why today I only wrote in honour of those who weren’t obligated to help me in any way, but went ahead and did anyway. They are the ones who make me deaf to the world until I get what I set out to achieve.
PS: I use British English because Megan is Brit, but I must apologize beforehand for the grammatical errors I cannot spot. The other day a professor read my blog and told me that my English is bad. What I didn’t tell him was to suck it; he is still marking last semester’s exams, you know. But his pompous criticism almost made me remind him that my blog is read by more people than his dignified and correct academic papers. He is more evidence that the world is full of haters, and people too ready and willing to put you down. Learn to ignore them and keep moving forward, move until you are what you want to be and not what the world says you will become.