Every year, approximately 700,000 graduates in Kenya flock the job market. The employment gaps doesn’t match the job seekers. For most of university graduates in Kenya, their future seems dark and unpromising.
Karis, (a fictitious name) shares his pain as a graduate. “I’m among the few people who made to university from my village called Gakorome in Murang’a, and therefore I’m a beacon of hope to school-going children. I must admit it feels good when I go home and by next day’s dawn, the whole village knows I’m around. You somehow become the village Celeb and when walking around kids will look at you and say, karis athomagira cukuru Nene ikoragwo nairobi (Karis studies at a big school in Nairobi).
The schooling process has not been an easy one. It has been characterized by unending strikes from the lecturers which has had effects on my education. As at now, I will have to go for my industrial attachment after clearing my course in May. There isn’t much to complain about my school life. However, being a university graduate is not an easy thing. There is so much expectation from the society, some of which are hard to achieve if not impossible.
My old mzee in the village is not so much conversant with what goes on in the job market. For him, his Karis will clear his university education and instantly get a job. As for the hustle of getting a mere attachment or internship, mzee has no clue. For me, that’s where frustrations start, I have a month to finish my degree course but getting an attachment is hard enough so getting a job is worse of.
Most employers say they prefer employing diploma or certificate holders because they don’t ask much in terms of salary and my question is, in an economy where taxes are raised so often not to mention the high standards of living and the Helb loan to settle, should one take Ksh. 5,000 as the gross salary?
Few months after finishing school, my first lady (mum) will start making calls and say things like Karis, ira turanyuire chai utari cukari. Ikia kanyamu niwe wi Nairobi (Karis, yesterday we took tea without sugar, send some money because you’re in Nairobi). Mind you, I’ll probably be trying to survive in an attachment where I don’t receive even a penny. Probably I’ll get lucky and find a friend to live with as I do my attachment and get foot in Nairobi. You know how hard it will be to explain to her that I’m working without being paid. It’s impossible to say no to mum so even if it means getting a loan from fuliza, I’ll have to and send her some money.
One year down the line, probably still unemployed or doing a side hustle that can help me pay my rent for my single room house in Kawangware,( after attachment I’ll have to move to my own place), buy food and other expenses, mzee calls. It’s one of those calls you wish you had switched off your phone not to receive it. He starts, Karis, niwakimenya niwe Wa bere na ari na ariu aku me cukuru, Ng’ang’a araingira form one mwaka tutorete riu turenda urihage bithi yake. (Karis, you know you’re the first born and your brothers and sisters are in school. Ng’ang’a; younger brother to Karis is joining form one next year and we want you to pay his school fees).
My mzee is one of the kind of parents who takes you to school with the hope of someday helping to educate the rest. Telling him that I’m barely surviving in Nairobi is out of question. My plan would be moving to a better house come next year, preferably a bed sitter but with Ng’ang’a on my small payroll, I might have to move to a cheaper house. The law of compensation in social science is that the poor dress well to hide their poverty but the rich have no point to prove to any one so you can wear anyhowly.
Three years down the line, I can manage to buy one or two suits apart from my common attire which comprises of a shirt bought at Riverroad, a simple sweater from Gikomba and a trouser from Muthurwa. When I go to the village in a suit my mum starts, niwamenya muiritu Wa kimani akoragwo Nairobi. Na miaka no irathie na nidirenda tucukuru. (You know, kimani’s daughter; their neighbour lives in Nairobi and you’re not getting any younger and I also need grand children) you can imagine I have Ng’ang’a on my payslip, mummy’s sugar and dad’s new shoe, and mum wants me to marry yet my salary can hardly sustain all these needs.
The girl from the neighborhood she’s telling me about came to Nairobi and turned out to be one of these slay queens who say; your money is our money but my money is mine. With this economy I have her for a wife? Not possible. To worsen the situation, because I’m still a village champ who wears suits, the nduthi guy sees me coming home and he’s like, Karis, wathire Nairobi ugitonga ukiriganiruo niithui, jikia kia meri nganyue gachai Mani) you went to Nairobi, became rich and forgot about us. Give me 200 I go and take tea.
Though that was not in my budget while going home, I’ll have to give him but feel the pinch when I will be in Nairobi and it starts to rain and the fare that is normally 50 sh. Shoots to 150. Worst of all is when you meet more than one nduthi guy and a few primary classmates who never made it even to highschool and they want some tea too. To avoid the hustle I’ll have to have around 10 notes of 50 sh to give when going home.
While all this will be on my shoulders a month from now, I can only hope that I will be lucky enough and get a job that will help me deal with my hustle after school and the current pain of a university graduate.