Last year towards Christmas, there was a twisted joke that made rounds on Whatsapp and Facebook. One meme-lord decided to compare a class eight dropout who owns a motorcycle, is married, has two or more cows and poultry in the village vis a vis a young graduate living in a rental apartment in Nairobi earning a salary of less than 1000 USD, a flashy second hand Subaru Forester and a string of slay mamas. The point lay in the village lad’s life being more fulfilling as compared to his city counterpart whose life could be clouded with utawezana and parte after parte point of view. It honestly is no surprise when community watch in Ngong Hills’ Milimani area fire complains of loud late night music at the revered picnic destination. Such is the life the city conditions you to.
I spent the early days of my life in a tiny, remote village in the middle of Vihiga County. In those days, life was simple and attractive. My seniors were not worried about starch consumption or being diabetic. That village lifestyle was enough to keep you in shape and eat fresh food. It was terrific to produce over 60% of your total food consumption. I can convincingly say I miss my younger days, the days I could quench my thirst with fresh stream water and fleshy guava from our farm. However, life grows you in the most begrudging ways possible. I have been pleasured to bank life in rural areas, small towns and big cities hence my arguments herein will make sense. After all, the bible says it clarifies that some messages are seasonal, that’s a word for every season.
In my childhood, electricity in my village was a curious phenomenal. That was a privilege lined for the city dwellers. That was two decades ago. Now we enjoy electricity, piped water and 4G Internet in the village. Mode of transport has equally improved especially with the invention of motorcycles and mobile money transfers, especially M-Pesa, have made villages rural heavens. The onset of the County mode of governance has seen small, sidelined, rural areas sprout with opportunities and employment at the grass-root level. Medicare has become affordable and accessible as artificial intelligence will makes diagnosis easier regardless of where you are. That’s the 21st Century village for you.
I still remember how the horns of Olare, Mbukinya, Eldoret Express, J express, Benways, Nyayo bus and Stagecoach made me admire living in Nairobi. Each day on my way to school, Vokoli Primary School, I could see the buses looking all mighty and ‘city-ish’ every morning. I had a classmate whose father worked in Nairobi, who could bring me muffins each time the dad visited. That right there moulded my appetite to move to the big city Nairobi one day. The scars left by yearning for the classier life and greener pastures could make a young boy work as twice hard. The legends will remember the famous rich bread. My classmates used to brag how they have eaten that bread. I made it a point to brag about it one day, thanks to my older siblings I also had a chance of shining in the face of my enemies of progress after partaking that bread. As a matter of fact, I carried the wrapper to school to shut the doubting Thomases absolutely.
I agree living in Nairobi was the key to success back in the day. Most of the developments that happened in remote villages were as a result of money decentralised from Nairobi. It’s sorrowful that the Kenyan system makes it hard to get an excellent job outside Nairobi. Most companies have their head offices in Nairobi. So even if you work in Busia, chances are, you did your interview in Nairobi before being deployed in Busia. However, things are changing with a bloating population that doesn’t match available job opportunities. If you have a job, you must be grateful. It is not a guarantee for a graduate to be employed. Every year we have thousands of graduates coming to the job market. As though job hunt doesn’t count as a sole struggle, life in Nairobi presents a range of stresses right from traffic jams to rising rental prices. Many parents must wake up early to be in the office on time and come back late in the night. They barely have time for their kids, which prove dangerous in child growth and raising a responsible generation. Strained time also stimulates stress which has made those divorce statistics increase steadily with time. As though it couldn’t get any worse, you’re at risk of consuming heavy metals from the foodstuffs you consume if the tale on aflatoxin and mercury in eatables is anything to go by. Couple this with the emergence of COVID-19, voila you have sure prove of being likely to contract the contagious virus if within Nairobi.
My point is, the focus of life should be happiness. The reason we work hard in school, in our jobs and marry pretty partners is to be happy. While I agree it’s more comfortable to access services that can make you glad in Nairobi, I reckon it’s more comfortable to be happy in rural areas or smaller towns. Living in rural areas doesn’t demand you to be earning as much money as living in urban areas. You can produce most of your food on your farm, which makes you healthy. If you have kids, they can still access good quality education in the village. Besides, social harms are less prevalent in rural areas, especially for young kids. You will have more time to spend with your family, and this will make you happier. Additionally, you will be breathing fresh air and subtle aroma from flowers. The lifestyle in rural areas keeps you busy and thus no need to have weight goals, saving you time for other essential things.
While many still believe you can only make money in Nairobi, the story has changed. Agribusiness will see you making a financial kill outside Nairobi. The future lies in green economy. New modern farming technologies like aquaponics can change your life. I think its time we rethought about our strategies in the quest of a life fortune. I admire teachers and those professionals who work in rural areas and smaller towns like Eldoret. Although they earn less, they have more time to manage their investments. I do know many of us have a goal of retiring in the village, why not start early? Hit me up with your thoughts in the comment box below.