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Literature Discussion -


Bring to an End the Cycle of Lack

By Titus Mutuma (Kenya)


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1.0 Introduction


My story seeks to enclose my personal factual encounters in my life towards fulfilling the tenets of human beings integrated in our day to day activities. I also intend to disseminate this information to like-minded people and as well expect your response. Later, we can join hands together in trying to reduce some of the negative experience. There are elements that may make you have compassion, plea for unity and need for you to make an urgent abridgment or intervene as an institution or individual. The family status, educational road, financial statuses, level of humanity and compassion for the environment, childhood development and the rights guiding every human being are the main concerns in my piece of writing. “The cycle of lack” equally means the continuous scarcity level of almost all the basic needs hence promising no light at the end of the tunnel experienced from one generation to another. The cycle of lack can act as a source of pandemic strain. Isn’t the right time to end this extreme poverty? Africa is a beautiful and a well endowed continent and it is important to raise the downtrodden attitudes and morale of the generations towards enhancing independency.


Education can act as a remedy. For instance, in my extended family I am the only person who managed to join the only competitive public university (the premier university) in Kenya. This was back in the year 2003. Despite the great opportunity and this dream that is in every school going child, when only determination matters, financial constraints completely created a road block in my education’s way. In addition, I was born out of wedlock. I have been in the hands of a single parent, my late mother. She passed on when I was in my second year in the University of Nairobi. She was the only one who made sure that all that I needed was brought to the table. She worked as a clinical secretary and she earned 70 USD per month.


I sometimes found my way out of the university grounds to go and seek for any kind of opportunity that could fetch something little for my upkeep. It is challenging to get anything and there is a culture of ‘it is who you know and not what you have’ that can help you secure a decent position. The potential few people fall into their ethnic cocoons, creators of corrupt avenues and kinship-based opportunities over merits as expected by the majority. I also went for some few classic and fashionable pieces of second-hand clothes (mainly for females) to sell for some profit in the college hostels. I did it secretly and I didn’t let many know especially my  family members. Nevertheless, my mother ensured that my needs were catered for, although in terms of installments, (paying fees, accommodations, food, and all other basic needs considering the high living standards in Nairobi), it acted and still acts as the source of my high esteemed motivation, courage, humility, focus, hope and commitment. I remember that while in secondary school (2nd level of education in Kenya), she had made an agreement with the principle (headmaster) of the school (Gikurune Boys School-Meru), through a written letter, to be paying school fees on monthly bases. She managed to pay 25 USD per month in order to complete a yearly total fee of 400 USD. The written agreement worked on condition that I was a hardworking student. She is the one who shaped my life. (I have attached receipts herein for reference)


And so, the search for support either locally or internationally will be a high lift towards achieving my goals. I wish to act as a bridge to my community and help the other needy students who are committed to hard work. I will stand for the generations where the able people have ignored.  I believe that my value will create footprints - authentic and can be emulated by societies from all parts of the world. As earlier learnt, whoever or whatever a person leaves behind is the most important phenomenon and the center of interest.


My intention seeks also for your attentions and your understanding of African problems which are common to every society, like extreme poverty and the unnecessary illiteracy levels leading to stagnated and limited socioeconomic developments. It also shares part of the solutions that institutions, NGOs, potential individuals and developed nations, among others, can consider to facilitate bring to an end the ‘cycle of lack’. And as they say, ‘education will set you free from the condemnation of poverty’. 


2.0 My three word-Personal Principles

My ambitions are great and my personal code of conduct is based on Positive Dynamic Progression. The three words drive me towards having a positive mind, accepting inevitable changes and in a developmental mode of livelihood in respect to the nature.


2.1 Mission:

To ensure that my community realizes that education is the key to collective success. To encourage young people to invest in education slowly but surely until we achieve the goals.


2.2 Vision:                                                                            

Investing in education will help bring to an end the cycle of lack by 2030.


2.3 Core Values:

Commitment, Focus, Hope, Humility, Integrity and Networking (Communication)


3.0 My Nickname Is; the Foreign Son


I am nicknamed the foreign son. This beguiling name is reflected throughout my life. Firstly is the fact that I am the exceptional person in our family who has never sat on one table with both parents. I therefore live in a foreign land. A land that I can not inherit. You can only get a piece of land from your father according to our up-dated, conserved traditions. As it is, I plan to own a piece of land in the future; I intend to purchase one in a foreign land. I foresee that if all goes well, I will be able to purchase a piece of land in the neighborhood.


Secondly, to all places of safety and people of good will I meet, they all seem to be foreign too. In marriage people meet each other as strangers. The global norms don’t expect people of the same blood to marry. It was because I needed my basic education and that I needed to walk barefoot for long distances to local schools, even during hard sun or muddy seasons. I believe that it is an exceptionally self drive towards a likeable productive action that instills unity. During my still un-completed university education, I left home for Nairobi, a distance of 300 kilometers. When on vacation I went visiting my foreign temporal relatives in the city. It is in these periods when I made opportunities to try real foreign food and interact with foreign nearest and dearest who hardly spoke in my mother-tongue. In Kenya, there is a newly evolving language called ‘sheng’ (city language). For example, mother is ‘mthama’, city is ‘mtaani’, and teacher is ‘mtidhaa’ among others. This doesn’t act as a challenge in any way. I have learnt to accommodate and adopt rightly and very fast without any complaint. As they say, quitting complaints helps one see good in every situation.


Thirdly, the foreign son wishes to create a home away from home. The foreign son believes that his success will be gladly treated like ‘our own son’ back at home of birth. Recently, I represented all the public universities in a conference in a foreign country. I was among the best seven students Africa-wide in an essay writing competition organized by the center for human security based in Nigeria, Ogun States. The theme was; youth perception of human security in Africa.


Fourthly, back in the college I couldn’t join the university soccer team simply because the team captain wasn’t from my ethnic background, despite my excellent and unique football techniques as a striker! I was therefore made a local foreigner and the oneness was at stake. This one is but just the beginning. ‘For us they ploughed the hard earth, they sweated----’ and now is the time to bring to an end this cycle of lack.  


4.0 Family back ground


I am a Kenyan male, born (1985) in the rural regions of eastern province in a place called Imenti South District, Mweru location. All my development has been contained in an extended family and in a rural set-up. As earlier stated, I was born out of wedlock at a time when my late mother was in her final year in primary school. She realized that the foreign son was chosen to be a blessing over being a burden. This means that she was too under the care of his father (my grandfather). There was no other option than both of us receiving fatherly care from my grandfather (her father) and sometimes at a child’s age I referred to my grandfather as ‘Dad’. I lately understood why my elderly family connections laughed at me whenever I called him ‘Dad’. My Experiences of partial affection from my parents have never created any regrets in my life.


According to our culture (morals and ethics), male children are not expected to ask their mother about issues concerning the real father, considering my case. Therefore I got used to a single parent and it became normal to me. I have no blood sister or brother. As it happens, my sisterly and brotherly hood has all shifted in full to my friends and cousins.


Our family is below average economically. The only source of income and other resources is based on small scale agriculture. We practice small scale farming, which is mainly meant for subsistence purposes. Today the climate changes have negatively affected peoples’ livelihoods and productivity in farms and have decreased, therefore making it impossible to cater for the increasing population. The casual laborers have no posts to reap for their daily bread. There is a continued moiling and toiling by the peasant farmers at home. In addition, the people work endlessly without increase of products. In the recent years the majority of our society depended mainly on coffee as the cash crop. Today, its productivity has gone down resulting from poor markets. Farmers receive little or no pay from the sale of coffee products. We keep subsistence chicken and milk cows. Consequently, unfavorable weather and diseases infect them and, within short time, a family is left without any cow or chicken.


During my childhood and even now it is mandatory for me to attend to the farm chores (digging, weeding, harvesting among others) at all times when I am in the village. ‘No work, no pay’. This slogan is equally distributed in both urban and rural areas. Time management was (and is) very important in order to be able to balance between time for school and home work, home chores (milking, fetching water from borehole, fetching grass for cows), exploiting my talents (football), seeking for divine intervention and hobbies like listening to music, writing articles, travelling and watching soccer in the nearest shopping centre on a TV. I made my way without complaining even though I have sometimes felt overburdened. In reaffirming the greatness of my will, I continue to work hard to earn it. As they say, ‘where there is a will, there is a way’. My journey has never taken any short-cuts or has never paved way to being hopeless. In my own observation, being hopeful it is part of hardworking.


Even though our family is united, especially during the times of need, and socially up to grade. In some cases most of the members fail to stand for you due to other commitments and limited resources. I seek support through education, which is a guarantor bridge towards bringing to an end this cycle of lack. Self determination is the mover and motivator of the life that has never settled for less but rather has endured as humble, loyal and the maker of things which are today rarely realized and celebrated. Poverty causes increased rates of crimes and conflicts. People view each other as useless and hence owe no value to their lives. People end up slaughtering each other; (you may think) to feast. As they say, idle minds are the devil’s workshop. Education is the way that leads people to self realization of talents and put potential into action. Political interferences with socioeconomic issues are major cause of disparity in development. People hardly understand the common policies governing societies. And today I seek to bring to an end this cycle of lack.

5.0 Personal Achievements

As they say, the courage to move ahead to the next step is pushed by rewards achieved either individually or communally in the previous stages of life. In March 2009 (at the University of Nairobi), I was awarded a certificate of participation in the First Africa-wide Essay competition organized by the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library Foundation (OOLPF) in collaboration with the Centre for human Security in Africa. The theme was; Youth Perceptions of Human Security in Africa. I was among the only top seven students from various public universities in Africa. Other students were from Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon, Mauritius and Zambia and me from Kenya. The conference was held in Nigeria, Ogun State. The main issues discussed at the conference were Education, Agriculture and Health. I was able to become the best in Kenya simply because I understand issues that affect my community. To other countries in Africa we share these problems. They resolved that investors should target the most vulnerable regions in Africa, especially in agriculture-wise motivated through the art of humanity. (Herein are photos taken at the conference)

I am in my final year in the University of Nairobi in the faculty of arts taking specialization in Sociology. I am willing and ready to catch up at any level once you offer me an opportunity to continue with studies or even work as a volunteer. Until the early 90s, all public university students in Kenya were provided with free accommodations. Free meals and other extra basic needs like books and fees were subsidized by the government. In addition, students from unstable backgrounds were given bursaries to cater for their other needs. The government resources were distributed fairly to both ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. Today all the advantages turned to be the opposite such that college fees were hiked and general high living standards have become unaffordable to the foreign son and the majority of students. Dropping out of the college has never been my option but a lutte continuer.

Realization of my talents like playing football seems to be facing a diminishing point. It is in the tertiary level where one will expect to exploit his/her talents because of availability of adequate resources. Locally, my essay papers collect dust on the shelves.

I attended a provincial school in my second level of education. Provincial schools are ranked to be the second best after national schools. Later in my first year, I was unable to manage the high fees and I settled for a district school during the third term of my first year. Gikurune secondary school produces dismal results at the end of every year. Mostly, out of 100 candidates, there are  three students with the grade required to join the public universities yearly. Despite ups and downs as pertains to school fees, I never settled for anything less. I aimed for the best. In some subjects like mathematics we lagged behind due to academically slow learners. I was always ahead of the teacher and I always performed better every time. I was the best in mathematics.

During my final exams in the forth year of my study, I was among the best three students out of 106 candidates. I scored a B+ (plus) of 70 points. This wasn’t a land to the sun. In this school,since its start more than three decades ago, I was the first student who produced a university grade in my first trial (attempt) unlike others who managed it in there second and third trials.

In addition, this made me become the first and the only person in our family to join the premier university in Kenya. Today I offer free guidance and counseling to fellow youth and young people. It is a self-driven commitment. I have witnessed changes in negative attitudes of some classmates towards education, family and relationships with significant others. I believe that, given space and time, I can help change the world in a positive progressive direction. I as well commit myself towards offering guidance and counseling to people. My source of drive is ‘put your shoes in too’. I usually perform it voluntarily at any place and any time. It is a bestowed chance in my day-to-day activities with unlimited fields. I easily learn from the relevant others’ actions and reactions and put it into realization in the best way possible.

6.0 Expectations and Future Plans

To secure a scholarship in an institution to study a course in mathematics or statistics or economics or law or any business related course and also mass communication and information technology are my primary dream courses. In addition, I am too ready and willing to work as a volunteer in a challenging position and location. On the other hand, my community up to date doesn’t have any hub for training ICT. Even some of the local schools have not yet realized the importance of ICT. If I secure a position in your institution I will eventually transfer ideas to my community through projects like introduction of an IT training centre and provision of Internet to my community. I will ensure that, through my project, all the learning institutions encourage there students and teachers to learn IT. (HEREIN IS ONE OF MY PROPOSED ICT PROJECT PROPOSALS: TAKING DIGITAL ICT TO RURAL IMENTI SOUTH DISTRICT TO HELP MEET THE VISION 2030). This centre will help create jobs and create interest of the community towards IT as the source of information, potential jobs, news up dates and other kinds of information like business ideas. As Mahatma Gandhi says, ‘we should never lose hope in humanity. When a drop of dirt falls in an ocean the whole ocean doesn’t become dirty’.

Through these opportunities, I will be able to further my studies at master’s level (research), which helps one to enhance innovations and inventions vital for the community and international organizations like UN and also with institutional research departments. I will therefore dedicate my time to advancing living standards of the community through innovations and inventions necessary for the society. I plan to continue with education as much as the field of my profession demands. I always have interest in learning, which helps one to realize other potential transformations. As it is said I also believe that education sets one free from the condemnation of poverty, learning more acts as an eye opener.  

More institutions should realize more needy people from developing countries who are hard-working and young people who are focused towards raising socioeconomic levels; bring to an end the cycle of lack. There are more young people who are willing to participate in the economy building but there are limited opportunities and blurred hopes. On the other hand, more young people should present their thoughts and opinions for test.

I will further open a consultancy office at the convenience of the population who seek advisory services especially for youth, and present more project proposals all aiming to bring to an end the cycle of lack. This will include business advisory services and other related ideas. Education, healthy services and agriculture are the major challenges in the world today.  

7.0 Conclusions

Bring to an end the cycle of lack is an essay that is based in a rural set up. Rural areas in Africa are considered to be mainly associated with poor people, despite being the center of agricultural activities. Poverty, insufficient in/out door education, extended families, conflicts, corruption, ethnicity, unfair distribution of resources (health services, community development project funding), among others, are the major shortcomings that affect communities in Kenya. In order to end these crises, it is important to consider the very basic requirements that will fuel socioeconomic development. Firstly, education should be the first priority for children. Through education people are able to interlink their ideas globally, enhance innovations and inventions, and enhance communication among others. Through education people are able to learn about ways of agricultural practices (methods of farming, book keeping); education helps people global demands through participation in local and international demands, education promotes unity and prosperity among others.   

There is need for interventions by institutions, non-governmental organizations, and scholars’ foundations to intervene at community level and directly support projects and productive education through investing with people. It is important for the people to know: What to do? How to do it? Where to do it? When to do it? Whose? People are too willing to participate in community development programs.  

-Bring to an end the cycle of lack- by Titus Mutuma/Undergraduate student/University of Nairobi-Kenya/Bachelor of Arts–Sociology/