Sunday, March 22, 2009


I have been thinking lately about defining success. What qaulisfies one as successful. In the short of it it should just be said that success is the attainment of ones goals and aspirations. thats simple and some 19th century prime minister said once that success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

My thinking in my student days was that success was like calculus where they say dy/dx and for this case the dy/dx need to be positive. By that I thought that you could not talk of success if your situation remained largely the same. Or if it came down. So if you were 100/= rich and became 1000 richer you would be more successful that Bill gates this year ( he lost 40 % of his wealth though is still a multi billionaire!)

Lately though I have been thinkning that for one to be thougt of as successful, he must do at least better than his parents. If your dad was a high school teacher, at least try and become a mid level college lecturer. If he bought one car maybe you could do with two or a higher capacity one etc. So for me I think that if Uhuru Kenyatta does not become the Lincoln of Kenya and doesnt unite the country, heal the wounds inflicted by his dad or even return all that stolen land , he would have failed as a politician even if he gets to succeed Kibaki.

But the other day I was being told of the school fees paid at St. Austins Turi or at Pembroke or even Brookhouse school. Others are hillcrest and so on. and I asked my friend ; where will those guys work? Will they compete for the same job with Mr. Odhianja Biru who went to Okolo Kudho mixed secondary school? If they competed for the same job and both were employed as accountants in a leading bank in Kenya, who among them will have counted as successful. Seriously if you are going to invest 300,000 shillings a term for a kid who then goes on to compete with another who invested 10,000 shillings a year then you cant talk of him being successful.

Last week I celebrated the win of one Edith Kimani at the conclusion of the KTN show The Presenter until I learnt that she was schooled at Hilcrest, I immediately pitied her. To me getting a job as a presenter in KTN is not a good return on investment of schooling at hilcrest.

Thats another reason why I seldom celebrate the likes of Starehe boys centre, Allinace, Mangu etc when they top the countrys exam. What else should they do apart from topping? They take the best kids in the country and they get allocated the best resources as the top most secondary schools in the nation hence the term national schools.

On another note, am thinking seriously that our collective failure in Kenya is not that we havent been able to democratise our institutions but rather that we have been unable to create a nation. Its sad that we still refer to each other as if they were aliens or strangers. The major thing to do is make ourselves a people after all we have too many common enemies namely lack of water (which is worsening by the decade), lack of forest cover, lack of visionary leaders, poverty diseases, coruption, traffic chaos etc.


  1. I agree you can't count yourself successful unless you have done better than your paros.
    UK-if he gave up drinking (think what he'll be like in 10yrs at current pace), at least half of the 0.5m acres of land; his tribal ways; then i might relook his political prospects. So it won't happen.

  2. Wow, this post resonated with me so much!

    I have asked myself the same question before...about taking kids to expensive schools..I mean you take a kid to do a degree course to a foreign university at about £10,000 tuition fees a year and pay this money for three years. Then your child doesn't get a job and goes about sweeping the underground?

    The return on investment on some of these things we do is unbelievable!

    Of course I agree with your statement and believe that a successful child is one who does better than the parents.....woe unto you if you have a parent like Nelson Mandela (beating him would be no small feat)

  3. @mainaT, do not give up on him yet

    @mama, very true, thank God am not mandela's son but don't you think the man is over-hyped. Remember during his leadership in SA is when crime rate was highest and he had more than one failed marriage. Just being real

  4. Edith Kimani schooled at Hilcrest on a full scholarship. Hilcrest identified her talent in performing arts (drama) from an ordinary public secondary school and natured her to what she is today. For her, this contract with KTN is a huge success and a big inspiration to other young people out there. Of course not many know this and when people hear she schooled at Hilcrest, they feel like, this success will not quite impact on her the way it would someone from an ordinary Kenyan family. To me Edith is a story of success.

  5. A different perspective: when a poor, orphaned kid makes it to Starehe, enjoys 4 years of adequate resources and dedicated staff and finally makes it to university, there certainly is something good about that. Whether you call it success or whatever name it goes by, there is one more Kenyan who can take care of himself.A simple ROI calculation will not capture it.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.