BY: Collins Odhiambo Ochieng
My head was high and I had hopes that were unmeasurable. Every time I sat on my desk, starting to achieve my great dream, I would read an inspirational story of the great Eng. Philip Okundi.
That was in 2012 when I started my degree in Telecommunications at Kenyatta University. I wanted to be a great engineer; also admired Prof. Akeyo, a highly pitched speaker who gave us talks at Ober Primary during the Zonal Education Day.
I never knew I would meet a stumbling block on the way until I received a strange call from school. I was all tears when I received my discontinuation letter from the University senate.
It was a dark day, with light weight, my heart held on my hands. Where could I run!! I thought of commiting suicide! I don’t even remember how I reached home. This was 2016, just a year to my graduation 🎓.
I stayed home. Facing the disappointed face of my parents.
Mum: Nyathina ang’o manotimore? Dad: In niber to idonje oyuma (What happened?)
Dani: Nyakwara aketi e lamo.
I was broken everytime a discussion on education was being done. In the family meetings, I have been the center of some discussions. Fingers pointing at my lack of seriousness with education. I really felt the stigma, really wishing to die. All this time, I just kept my parents at bay and never disclosed anything to them, even at gun point.
To my friends and people around, I had to adjust and ensure that they don’t focus on my predicaments. Some, I would tell that I’m on my masters degree. Some knew I’m done with my education. Some called me engineer. Deep down, I broke into silent teers, wearing a fake smile on my face🤤. My way was blocked and the stigma was itching like a conc acid. I have been belittled; desparaged; trivialized; rediculed; maligned; vilified; dismissed; depressed coz I hadn’t achieved my education dreams; a top student, right from primary. Who are you? Where do you work? These questions breaks lots of youths. I am sad for you.
1st June, 2021, after long moments of depression, I got a real inspiration. Uhuru Kenyatta was holding Madaraka Celebrations in Kisumu. Amidst the hate that Luos had built against the Jubilee Government, I saw love. Osito Kale killed the moment by the “Ouru inie Rais” phrase. I was in tears again. The feeling of loving a country.
I didn’t know that the day would be a turning point in my life. I thought of the need for patriotism. Can everyone love his or her country?? I said that this is the moment to be patriotic and formed an organization, Paint Kenya Patriots. My main aim was creation of patriotism through paint. I would focus on making our Kenyan Flag brighter.
My first design was the KU gate. I wrote a letter to the VC (Prof. Wainaina) and he accepted my proposal (see photo). That’s when I met Mr. Machua, PR director of the school. I shared my story and he saw a bright future in me. I then wrote a letter to request for my resumption. I doubted coz I had lost hope in my education. But, I made a trial. Months later, I was again in class to complete my degree, obsessed with Patriotism.
I am sad. No, I am happy. No no no….I am a sad man as I approach my graduation 🎓 tomorrow. I am not sad because I have taken long in school, not even because I haven’t achieved much in life. I’m still young and optimistic. Today, I mourn the comrades who have lost lives in such struggles. Some have taken their lives due to disappointments. Sad!. Look at this, life has no spare part. I mourn with the parents who have lost their kids coz they didn’t have time to give them hope again. Frank and Kevin, the least I know since highschool, RIP comrades. I wish I celebrated today. I couldn’t see this day if I did let stigma and depression weigh me down. I sob dearly🥲. I’m sad. People face a lot in silence.
Thanks to everyone who kept the fire burning in me. Special dedication to my parents, wife, kids, siblings, and friends. I have a reason to achieve my best. Along, I have built survival mechanisms. A times undertaking academic writing for pay; a times being odd. I have developed the confidence and belief that life is for the brave and bold. I want to press it on.
I want to dedicate my life in nation building. Patriotism would be my major focus. I thank Uraia Trust Civic Education Manager, Abubakar Said, for having commended my project. I also laud NCIC for their great efforts in the development of an integrated and just society. On this, I quit lots of my engagements to dedicate my time in building UKENYA. Everyone I wronged on the way, I say POLE SANA. We start a new chapter. I have gone through the Nyayo Philosophy, the Loyalty Pledge, National Anthem, The Flag, The Presidency, all symbols of national unity and I believe in the beauty of building PEACE, LOVE and UNITY. I will give a date of painting KU gate, which will be the start of THE PATRIOTIC JOURNEY, where EQUITY and ONENESS would be the hymns.
I am a KENYAN.
I invite you all.