I pity the talent

Michael Onsando
24 September ,2019

“Life is cheap here, but wisdom is free.”

  • Knaan, What’s Hardcore

It was August this year that the Kenya Morans basketball team posted a video online talking about how they haven’t been paid despite being in the quarterfinals of the FIBA AfroBaesket Women Championship. The Kenya 7s team is yet to be paid for last year’s Safari sevens and have had several payment woes that I’ve written about here. This week Moses Ojuang writes about Philemon Otieno in the Nation. He talks about how, having been injured and in need of knee surgery it doesn’t look likely that the nation is going to pick up the bill. And even if they do now, or in the case of the Morans (or many other athletes) it’s often after a few rounds of loud public shaming. Which makes one wonder about the other athletes who are too proud or too shy or too anything. to put their matters in public.

“To play for Harambee Stars these days is a curse that many may not comprehend. It is a curse that cannot be stemmed.”

“I mean it’s sad traveling and living in all the 5star hotels and coming back home to a locked house because you haven’t paid rent, I mean how do you expect results with this kind of environment?”

The competency-based curriculum is designed to let students focused on the areas in which they thrive. In essence the new system is preparing the children coming up to live in a world where there is dignity in all forms of labour. In a world where labour is labour is labour. Whether they decide to pursue a career in arts, sports, finance, medicine, mechanics or anything else, we will have made a space for them and trained them to see the dignity and skill in their field of work.

In Africa our career options are lawyer, doctor, engineer and disgrace to the family.

  • Twitter Proverb

“There is no dignity in poverty”

  • The wolf of wallstreet

Recently I’ve wondered about whether these decisions we thought we were shamed into making came from a place of hiding our shame. Whether the limitation of the choices available to us were because our parents were only trying to get us on a path that would allow us to take care of ourselves. It’s not that our career options were limited because there is anything “superior” about the labour undertaken by more traditional professions but more that their value is easily recognised and monetised and, in some cases, legislated. You MUST have a lawyer to start a company, you MUST have your books looked at by an accountant of sorts. With the way our budgets are shaped and the perspectives of our leaders talent is easily replaceable and excellence is not necessarily a guarantee of success (then again, excellence isn’t a guarantee of success in any profession).

And it’s not just sports that are suffering. The response to this status by Tetu Shani shows that music is struggling with proper models and infrastructure for musicians outside “write us a club banger.” And this video of Ethic shows vitu kwa ground ni different. Not to mention we haven’t even gone into the struggle of a visual artist.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not even looking to create millionaires (although that wouldn’t be horrible). Just wondering about whether it is possible to be a working class artist/athlete in the country. And about the kind of world we are so willingly training more artists and athletes for. Are we doing the work to plug the infrastructure gaps that exist in the world around us? Or will we wait for them to come out into the world holding nothing but dreams and hoping against hope that they don’t get injured playing for their national team? 

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