Humble beginnings

Nuggets of wisdom about success in life come from the most unlikely sources sometimes.

So there I was in slow moving traffic along State House Road in a cab some weeks ago. Usually, I’m chatting away but on that sunny morning, I was pensive, looking at my surroundings without seeing them. I vaguely noticed the old man shuffling along in tattered clothes with akalas on his feet, begging bowl in hand, a young fellow guiding him with a hand on his elbow, from car window to car window. Nothing new. A common sight on Nairobi’s streets.

Some motorists hastily roll up their windows when they saw the pair coming. Staring stonily ahead, brows knit in concentration at some speck on the horizon when the dark man with the weather beaten face drew parallel to their side mirrors. Perhaps imagining that if they didn’t look at him then he didn’t exist. Or perhaps wishing he would move on quickly.

Others looked at him curiously, perhaps taking in the lines etched on his face like an ancient piece of parchment, lines that marked the endless roads and valleys he had crossed to get here, a beggar in his sixties perhaps? I’m never good at telling people’s ages just by looking at them. Few dropped anything into his bowl.

I’d already dismissed the man and his young friend (or relative) from my mind and gone back to my silent musings when Kingori, my cabbie suddenly spoke. “That young man,” he jerked a thumb over his right shoulder as the car crawled forward, “He is young and strong. He can work and provide for the old man. So why is he walking him around in the hot sun begging?” Continue reading