Kenya: A Country Where Engineers Sell Insurance And Bankers Sell Shampoo

The script they sold to us was pretty straightforward. Toil in primary school, struggle in high school, labour in college and graduate. That is where things will get interesting,. They said.
So we did exactly that and in our final year in campus, we celebrated and had daydreams. We knew (or hoped) that at worst, we would send out a few applications and get excellent jobs.

Yes. With our degrees in Engineering and Pharmacy, our entry level jobs would be superb.
The Kenyan system has a gap between actually completing academic coursework and graduation.
So for between five to eight months, we were hanging around. Happy to clear university but still jobless.
We saw the numerous tasty adverts.
The candidate must have graduated with a minimum of Second Class Honours (Upper Division). They said.
See we had not yet graduated. Technically. All we had were provisional transcripts, which are hardly sufficient to get a sweeper job at an insurance company.
Anyway, eight months until we get our final certificate. Not so far.
Something changes when you complete school. Your parents no longer consider you a child, therefore no pocket money. What for? Buy alcohol? No way.
So there we were. Stuck at home. Meeting friends occasionally. Broke.
All we did was watch the latest movies and TV series.
Our mothers told us to try to apply here and there. We sort of did. Or didn't. Everyone was asking for at least one year experience and our graduation certificate.
Well, at least we had sixteen years experience in sitting for exams. Unfortunately, that did not count.
So laze around until graduation.
They wanted a graduation fee from us.
Why was it not factored into our fees since our first year on campus?
Of course. Inefficient system.
We had to hire the gowns. We had no money. We had to get loans or no graduation.
Daddy, please help.
Our parents gave us the money. But the look on their faces was clear. Let this be the last time.
So graduation rolls in. The glitz, the glamour. This meant the 'fanfare' and the 62-seater bus from the village that brought aunts and uncles we never see.
'Our daughter has graduated.' They said.
Those celebrations trick you into thinking the system is smooth. Easy. Straightforward.
It is not until months later that we realized. Holy mother of whoever! We are on our own.
There are two types of employers. Those that have the courtesy of telling you your CV sucked.
Then the rest. Those who make you question if you really sent your job application.
Did I really hit send? Let me confirm in my sent items.
Yup. I did.
So days turned into weeks into months. We could almost hear our parents complain and claim we were baggage.
All we did was eat, sleep and watch movies.
Some of our lucky friends got jobs. Rumour has it that they have friends in high places.
The only friends we have that reach high places are those who smoke weed.
The choice of words starts to change.
'Unajua hufai kudharau kazi. Kazi ni kazi.'
But I have a degree in Electrical Engineering.
'Utakula hio degree?'
We were slowly beaten into submission.
Our friend in a high place heard that there is this new scheme in town. Sell shampoos and beauty products and get a commision.
My goodness! The picture he painted was rosy.
We only needed ten clients and we would stop working. We would get a cut in all that they sell. Millions.
It's been two years now. I hate this job. I live with a friend. We share costs. I camouflage when I see friends from way back. They seem to be doing well. Judging from their Facebook and Instagram posts. Maybe.
Some of us sell insurance.
Kenyans hate that stuff.
So we sometimes lie to close a sale.
We just want to survive.
We wish we saw the reality while in school.
Never wait to clear school to start making a life for yourself.
The system is rigged.
Learn the rules before you come out here.
We have learned them. It will take a while to get out.
We'll do it.
We have to.


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Kenya: A Country Where Engineers Sell Insurance And Bankers Sell Shampoo

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