Dedan Kimathi’s is one person who left a true Kenyan success story is the story of Dedan Kimathi above. There are many other success stories when it comes to the online scene.
The online scene is one which you can use to make it big as an entrepreneur or waste as an avenue to post silly Facebook statuses, while opening emails about rich Nigerian princesses asking for your help to withdraw vast sums of imaginary money. I’m in my mid to late twenties, and the first time I had contact with the worldwide web was when I was eleven. Back then, it was just a place to download movies and read up on really cool stuff. Fast forward to 2012, and this platform has become my main source of income and career progression.
I graduated with an education degree ; a major in French, and minor in English Literature. As you know, teachers in this country are paid peanuts, and I was determined not to die poor. So I sat down and thought: what skills do I have that are in demand, and what’s my passion in life? One thing that comes naturally to me is literature, languages and self-expression. However, after years of submitting many of my fictional pieces to Kenyan newspapers and not getting even a ‘thank you for your email’ kind of reply, I was ready to hang my writer’s hat and try out some ‘legit employment’ ; you know, teaching, and all of that.
It just so happens that I am huge Oprah fan (unapologetic about it too!), and sometime in January, she came up with a new show called Life Class. The show took viewers on a 30 day journey on what she has learnt in the 25 years of the Oprah show being on air, with each episode dealing with a particular lesson. I remember watching these episodes, enraptured at what she was saying. Every lesson hit home, and after 30 days, I was a new person. The lessons were powerful and life-changing, and I vowed to use them to live my best life.
I also work as a French<>Swahili<>English translator, and was working on a medical translation contract at the time. The pay was decent, but I felt it wasn’t what I deserved to get paid, in keeping with my skills and qualifications. I thus started applying to a truckload of jobs on oDesk, and with each rejection, my drive to succeed kept growing. I knew that it was only a matter of time before someone noticed my persistence, dive and passion.
Eventually, I caught the eye of an oDesk recruitment offer, who offered me a chance to take an interview that eventually led me to joining an American writing outfit. I have been with this company for five months now, and my writing skills have grown exponentially. I have written more than 350 articles, and I now know I’m exactly where I was meant to be, doing what I love most – writing. Granted, my writing isn’t the best, and there are people out there who can beat me hands down when it comes to this art, I am still proud of my accomplishments and progress so far – and it only took me 6 months to get here.
I also worked on a Google project as a translator, which was a blessing and an opportunity of a lifetime. All this happened in the span of six months, through self-belief, some luck, passion, discipline, listening to my instincts and intuition. I realized that we are all born with gifts, and that not all of us can be writers. If you’re not doing what you were meant to do, you will never live up to your full potential, and the question you should be asking yourself is this – whose life are you living? Because evidently, you’re not living your life. If you’re online looking to make a quick buck, let me be the first to tell you this: it will never work, and all that time that you’ll spend clutching at online straws will be wasted time; time that you’ll never get back. It’s up to each one of us to recognize our gifts, nurture them and look for the right avenues to enrich the world with them.
I had the choice of becoming an academic writer, but who are we kidding; that isn’t my forte. Now, there are lots of Kenyans doing the whole academic writing thing, simply because of the fact that it’s an avenue within which they can earn some money while they wait to be employed. While I have no objection to that, I still think that we were all meant to live our best lives, and one of the ways we can do that is through the use of our unique gifts. Perhaps you’re into science and technology, or you’re a fashionista. There are numerous other positions you can apply for online, without having to sacrifice your essence by writing dreary and stiff academic write-ups. You could be a fashion blogger, tech writer, or developer. At the same time, I know many Kenyan girls who have a passion for helping other people, and have great interpersonal skills. How about applying as a customer service representative online, or personal assistant? Do you have a passion for social media, and are good at selling things? Then you’d be better off as a Social Media Marketer. I for one know a Kenyan girl who’s making at least 150,000 shillings a month as a Facebook business marketer. She was the first person I made contact with when I first ventured online in order to look for jobs to keep me going. She is hardworking, polite, humble and knows where her gifts lie.
What I’m trying to say is this – before even considering going online to look for work, you need to know what your passion is. I don’t care if your grandma ridiculed your talents, and told you that you’d never make any money with your gifts. There is an infinite amount of work online, and if you use the invaluable tips found in this resourceful website, you’ll be on your way to success in no time. I’d also like to emphasize on the fact that most of the clients you’ll come into contact with online are globalised individuals, from countries whose economies provide no room for error or dishonesty. Please perform your tasks with the needed discipline and integrity, as I noticed that many Kenyans kept losing jobs due to the fact that they lacked these values in the first place.
I work for a great company, with a workforce of around 400 highly qualified writers, and an amazing team of editors, some of whom are Harvard graduated, PhD candidates, and experts in their chose fields. Working with Americans, Brits, and other nationalities has shown me that there are better, more honest opportunities out there, and that I am a hardworking Kenyan who lucked out, and persevered without compromising his values. This country of ours did me a great disservice, and denied me some opportunities due to one reason or another (corruption, favoritism are only some of the reasons I can mention), so I chose to look outside. I’ve been vindicated, and want to do this for a very long time. I am a writer; this is what I do best. It’s up to each of us to know what our gifts are, and discover the online avenues that we can use to achieve our dreams and full potential.
Mwajita M is a freelance writer and translator. He currently lives in Nairobi, and is passionate about literature, music, and helping people live their best lives through training and personal coaching.