If you have no mentors fear not

breaking chains

 Don’t swallow everything your friends say. It’s your calling

Photo credit: Samuel Muigai | Nation Media Group

When I started fervently pursuing my writing calling, all my friends thought I had lost it. Why? I would lock myself in the house for hours daily, and practice my craft; putting in 10,000-plus hours. I had not yet enrolled in writing school. Yet I knew this was what God called me to do.

“No one in our ‘hood ever made a life out of writing,” my friends discouraged me. “You’re wasting your time.”

“I’ll have a computer in my house and I’ll be working from home,” I made the mistake of sharing this dream with several friends.

“What?” they scoffed. “Do you even know how much a computer costs? You’re a ‘hood guy and you should stick to ‘hood’ realities. Computers are for folks who live on the other side of Uhuru Highway.”

That was approximately 30 years ago.

I don’t blame my friends. That’s what they knew.

To be fair to my buddies, I also didn’t know any other person in our ‘hood’ - Jericho Estate - who had made a living out of writing. Which is why, in hindsight, I believe it is important for us to share our stories. It’s important for us to leave indelible footprints in the sands of time so that others who are coming after us can have easier walks.

Hall of fame

It was only last Saturday that I learned my ‘hood’ produced some leading lights in literacy circles. During the 2nd Edition of Jericho Hall of Fame (HOF), which was held at Jericho Social Hall, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Philip Ochieng’ and Joseph Odindo - both who plied their pensmith trade at this esteemed establishment - were proud products of my Jericho.

Years after I started my career, I learnt that Barack Muluka was also brought up in Jericho. Yet, as a budding writer, I thought I was stumbling in the dark alone and there was nary a soul in the vicinity to hold my hand and show me the ropes.

Strangely, if I started my newspaper column, Philip Ochieng’ wrote and counselled me.

Just  do  it

I have learnt that, at times, we will stand on the visible and physical shoulders of our predecessors. Other times we will stand on the spiritual shoulders of giants. There are footprints in the spiritual realms too and, if a man keeps doing his thing, the spiritual marks left by his predecessors will guide him to his destiny.

It would have been foolhardy of me to give up my dream because, supposedly, what I was attempting to do had never been done before. On the other hand, I would have had an easier time - and my faith would have increased - had I known there were other greats who had blazed the trail ahead of me.

Many dreamers are still up against the same predicament I faced almost three decades ago. No mentors.

My advice is, even if no one in your clan or ‘hood’ has ever done it, do it.

If, at the moment, there are no visible examples to follow, you have to dig inside your inner man and find reasons to keep moving. Don’t swallow everything your friends say. It’s your calling. As Lao Tzu said, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear; and when the student is truly ready, the teacher will disappear.”