When you’re a “village hero”, campus is either a make it or break it point for you. For those not familiar with the term, village hero is used by the cool kids to refer to those sons and daughters of peasants like myself who’d never step on the City’s soil were it not for higher education.
You come in with big dreams; dreams to make your life better, if there’s someone who believes that education can take you far, then it’s you. You are a living witness. “You cannot change you background or past but you can alter your future” are the words you live by; your daily bread.
As culture shock hits you and you realize just how lucky some of your classmates are, these words become your source of strength, your rock, your shelter in the time of storm. You discover that your whole semester’s allowance is your friend’s weekly or sometimes daily allowance and somehow you feel a little sad. You look around at how your peers seem to be living “the life” and your insides quiver. You aren’t jealous but you can’t help feel bad. Why is the world so unfair? Why were you born into such circumstances? Where were your ancestors when others were engaging in trade or grabbing some land on which to build their empire?
Finally you resign to the fact that injustices are all over, we can’t all have the same dose of fortune. “I wield the future in my hands” you tell yourself. And so you hit the books hard, you get the A’s and B’s through hard labour, others stroll their way through the same grades using the infamous “Mwakenyas”. The end justifies the means. You begin getting depressed. Is there hope anymore for the honest, hardworking man? Why all this injustice?
You decide to stick to you “principles” because after all, what is man without them? And so you resort to living a straight path; following instructions and working diligently. You network as much as you can, seize all opportunities and by all means you become the model student. There is no debate that you are among the few outstanding students in your class, more so in a university system where people are in just to get a degree, regardless of whether or not they actually become more knowledgeable in the process.
Then comes the search for internship. You follow all application procedures; you forward them way before time. And you sit confidently, assured of your credibility, waiting for feedback. It never comes. You tell yourself that perhaps the firm you applied to wasn’t the right one for you. You try others, still; nothing, no vacancy.
You decide that perhaps you should become more aggressive and follow up your application just the way your communication skills lec told you to. Imagine the horror when you walk into the firm that told you “we are not taking any interns this time around” only to find the classmate who never has an inkling of what they are doing in class seated there, browsing some nonsense on the internet.
Surely, the universe must have conspired against you. Why, Lord? Why me? Surely, of all people, why me? You’ve done your best. You’ve worked hard. Why? Then you remember the wise words, the world owes you nothing. You tell yourself to stop the pity party and man up…well woman up!
You decide to swallow your pride and ask the “incompetent” pal how they got the position, perhaps they ain’t as incompetent as they seem after all, maybe you’re the problem. “Connections my friend, connections” is all they tell you.
Well, I speak for the village heroes with no connections. The unlucky few who come from those families that are not known; those who do not know people either. Those of us who were called to courses no one back in our county has a clue about. Those of us who believe that education can liberate us from impoverishment.
Until when shall the likes of us miss out on opportunities just because we do not “know” the right people?
Whatever happened to rewarding excellence and merit? I dream of the day when I shall be judged solely based on my ability to work rather than my background and the people I know.