The other day, I was out here roaming in these streets trying to find a house. You know how it is trying to look for a house online these days; pure scams. I repeat, do not attempt. You’ll cry in the toilet. Needless to say, it was a very exhausting undertaking. One that I feel could be much easier if you are not very picky. If, say, you want the interior design to be fantamaglorious, and your veranda to have a marvellous view of the delightful skyline, then you’ll be in for a ride. Unless of course, you’re paying cash to have it all custom-made for you. In which case, my bad, and you are truly ‘life goals’.
Anyway, against my personal bias, I decided to enrol the help of a house agent. I mean, I could get conned, kidnapped, robbed or a myriad of other possibilities from the stories I hear, or you know, I could finally get a house. So on referral, I chatted up one house agent, let’s call him Ginga, and told him what I needed. You know, my budget, the utility factors, and the what-nots. He sounded like he knew his business. Well, at least that’s what I was hoping. For real though, I was just happy not to walk around much anymore.
Ginga was a chatty and focussed guy. He loved telling his stories. Ever trying to sound polite with a ‘madam’ here and a ‘please’ there. As he started showing me around, I quickly realized that the houses he was showing me were nothing like what I had asked for. So this guy, our guy, had independently decided to show me what good money can buy in this Nairobi. So he was taking me from this very fancy apartment, literary to die for, to another even fancier one that could make you drool. Okay, maybe your saliva won’t drop uncontrollably from your mouth, I know you’re classy. But the breathtaking sight of the apartment could make you sweat. Like a little bit. From the excitement.
So you know, I love sight-seeing and even role-playing. Like occasionally going to that car dealership and test driving cars I can’t afford. You know, just to get in character for the real deal? But that day was not one of those days. I had only a few hours to do this house hunting thing and Ginga, sweet Ginga, was not being very focused. Aha, I get the irony. So I thought it’d be cool to remind him of my priority for the day. Like hey, really cool houses. Just not what I’m looking for today. Let’s stick to what I need. Then guess what he says? “A pretty girl like you should live in these kinds of houses.”
For a second there, my mind was like, I am not objecting at all, good sir. Girl wants to live in an expensive, posh house for no reason at all. A thousand of a thousand dollars here for some nice sofa and another there for some nice massage chair. Yeah, so what if I can afford it? But Ginga was not your typical guy. You see, he said exactly what was on his mind. I would have it no other way. But I did wonder whether it got him into trouble, and how often. He looked unscathed, but still.
So he tells me that I should call my boyfriend and tell him that I had found a house so he would cover my rent. In case you are wondering, no, this is not those cute rags to riches couple story where my guy now lavishes me, his loyal girlfriend. Neither is it the story of a rich handsome prince who falls in love with a poor innocent village girl and is now determined to drag her out of poverty. Naah, Ginga liked keeping things a little more interesting.
He told of a story of how many girls, and even boys, in these suburbs and middle-class to upper-class neighbourhoods are ‘kept’. How they make easy and good money just by posting hot (read naked) pictures in certain online groups and platforms offering adult services. I did tell you he was chatty, right? He continued to explain how it’s just a business arrangement. How you could do it for a short while, time yourself, make as much money as you can and then get out of it rich. He particularly emphasized how it’s only stupid girls who suffer because they don’t plan and end up only being used.
This guy was making a whole argument there. It almost felt like I was being recruited for something. I know you’re smart. I won’t insult your intelligence. But just in case I need to spell it out, Ginga was simply saying, lady, get a moneyed guy and live your best life. All along, I just let him talk. What do I say, I’m a curious one. Also occasionally doubling up as a good listener by offering the cordial ‘aha’ and ‘eeh’ in between to fuel his momentum. You know, just to keep the good stuff coming.
But not much about what he was saying was new to me. I’d heard these stories on social media. What I had really not experienced before was this idea or way of life being outrightly suggested to me. I was bothered to say the least. Not so much by the story itself as a thing that happens in these streets but more so by the casualness of his proposal in the conversation. How normal he made it all sound. Like it’s the in-thing. Like I was missing out on something. Like the promise was much more than the cost.
I’ll tell you this, I don’t care much for people’s life choices. At the end of the day, people do whatever they want. What concerns me is, what would you want to wake up to every day as a normal reality of life? What should be so popular that it’s considered normal and an everyday way of life? You see, whether we like it or not, culture plays a big role in what kind of generation we are and the generation we become. What we grow up thinking and believing is what we really do become. More so, whatever drives us today to achieve what we all want from life, will be the building block of whatever drives the next generation. On and on.
So tell me, do you want your daughter growing up thinking that the way to her financial freedom is only by sleeping with rich men? Do you want your son to be that guy who spends all his time in the gym flexing, just to find much older women to foot his bills? How about the children of your children? I mean, what generation will we have built for decades to come if no one is willing to work to earn what they want? If everyone wants what they want today and now?
I know, the fight is against poverty. Even a thief will justify stealing by saying he needed to feed his children. And it almost sounds right, until you think again, and it doesn’t. So I’ll call it, it’s not okay to advertise cheap efforts to get ahead. It’s not okay to popularize sexual favours as a means of trade. The same way a thief knows that it’s not right to steal, though they may still steal, should be the same way a young boy or girl knows that sponsors are not their key to financial freedom, though they may still get them. Our duty as a society is to build a culture that allows each of us to thrive by being our very best selves.
See, the thief may get caught, or not. The sponsee may learn their lesson, or not. But what we won’t have is a press conference or public webinar on how to steal or how to become an escort. There’s got to be a reason why someone won’t come right up to you and say, “Hi, I’m Mark, and I’m a thief.” Even prostitutes don’t like being called prostitutes. Let’s accept that it takes honest work to become a resilient and self-fulfilling person. You get better at the work you do by doing it; honing your skills, paying the price and being worth it financially, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically, when you get to the next level.
You know what they say, real gold does not fear the test of fire. Not that life should be about suffering. It’s that you know you’re gold and your efforts are worth it. You’ll need to have the focus and patience to learn and be a master at something. Something that will allow you to express yourself, to make new things possible and maybe even contribute to the world. While at it, to make lots of money and be the keeper of this gold that we all seek, and live that good life. With or without money, everything you need to succeed, believe it, you already have within you.