In Kenya, we all know about the national cake. We’re all dying to share it, divide it, and eat our slice of it! That’s why politicians have been able to divide us so that we detest each other for where we were born; something none of us has any control over. That’s why elected official’s first order of business is to ensure they have salaries befitting their new status. That’s why changing the faces in parliament seems to have little impact on corruption. And that’s why we have graduates tarmacking for years and many in the civil society complaining about a government that is not providing jobs fast enough!
The problem is that the so-called national cake has been shrinking since independence! Our increasing population means that our educational opportunities and formal job market will always struggle to keep up. We have subdivided agricultural land as inheritance for the next generation until the small plots remaining are no longer agriculturally viable. Instead of devolution bringing services closer to the people, it seems to only be increasing wastage and inefficiency. In other words we are only increasing the rate at which we are consuming the already rapidly shrinking cake.
I’m reminded of period in biblical history when Israel faced terrible oppression because there were no blacksmiths in the country. In order to sharpen their farming tools or weapons of war, they had to rely on their enemies the Philistines. As a result they were powerless to either feed or defend themselves.
Just as Israel was in trouble because of no blacksmiths, our nation is in similar trouble today. Who are our blacksmiths? Blacksmiths are solution providers. They are entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Entrepreneurs are people who create solutions in businesses that they own, while intrapreneurs are people who create solutions while employed by someone else.
Our lack of blacksmith training means that people leave school with advanced degrees but don’t know how to use their knowledge to invent simple technologies that address their fellow countrymen’s needs. It means that many Kenyans start businesses primarily to make money as fast as possible rather than to create solutions to real needs. It means that employees just do what they are told to do, and rarely come up with innovative solutions to problems in the companies they work for.
As a result, many problems in our nation go unaddressed. And for the ones that we solve, we use imported solutions, which don’t address our unique needs.
Where are Kenya’s bakers and blacksmiths?
Are there giants facing your workplace right now that nobody has a solution for? Don’t just plug in your hours and wait for the weekend. Don’t just do what’s always been done. Create ways to do things better for your employer and gain a name as a solution provider!
In a nation & continent filled with bystanders and complainers, its time for Kenya’s bakers and blacksmiths to arise!