There was a joke going round saying, ‘Kenyans don’t say I cannot afford, they simply say, utakuwa hapa kesho? Utafungua kidu six?’ (Will you be here tomorrow at around six?)
Sadly, our society in Kenya makes it look like a crime when a man goes broke. There are very high expectations for the boy child. They expect that when you look good, you automatically have cash but when you look rugged, you are obviously a thug.
People will say things like, ‘Hana pesa na venye ana kazi mzuri?’ (He has an amazing job and he doesn’t have money?) or ‘Hana pesa na venye ameng’ara? (He doesn’t have money and he looks clean?) or Hana pesa na ana gari? (He has a car but he doesn’t have money?)
The society equates looking good and driving a car to one having money. No one really believes that one can have a car and lack liquid cash. This explains why we have the slogan ‘Fake it till you make it!’ This is why you will find very many young men trying to look rich but in real sense, they have totally nothing. This explains why so many young people are struggling to keep up with the Joneses and even going to the extent of taking mobile loans to buy things they do not need to please people they do not like.
Is it shameful to say I do not have? Yes, to many who are living the fake lifestyle of impressing others. But to the people who know who they are, what their goals are, and what they stand for, it is never a big deal for them to admit they cannot afford something. So anytime you feel ashamed to tell that girl who sells khaki trousers at Moi Avenue you cannot afford them, remember that you need to work on yourself. Just because you have some good watch, second hand Nike shoes and you are dangling some car keys, doesn’t mean you afford the world.
When you do not have it, simply say, I don’t have it. When others are talking about their first cars and you have never owned a ‘mkokoteni’ (handcart) just be quiet, do not try to fit in with your lies. It is not shameful to be in your position. It is a phase in life. It is a stage which will surely pass. Don’t try to impress women by living a life that’s not yours. Don’t try to show the relatives who do not give a hoot about you that you have made it in life. Be you, accept your current state and start making steps towards your goal. I always say, “No matter how slow you go, keep moving, others may jog, run or sprint but focus on yourself, keep making those steps however little. Don’t also compare your 1st step to someone else’s 99th.”
Again, be brutally honest with the situation you are in. Simply say, “I cannot afford this thing!” Period!