Your parents were wrong, money really does grow on trees

Your parents were wrong, money really does grow on trees. Photo | Photosearch

What you need to know:

  • One of the downsides of the internet is that it makes you feel like you're not enough
  • Suddenly, people are parading their shiny cars and live large, yet you are stuck as you try to save the pocket change for a rainy day or to invest 

One of the things that keep me in Nairobi even though it wants to suck my soul out is the fact that it's the land of opportunity. It is. It does not mean that we will all be wealthy, but at least we all get a shot. 

What I realised though, in my early 20s, was that these opportunities weren't equal. My once straight and narrow view of acceptable ways to make an income suddenly became a bit hazy as tenderpreneurship became the tale of success. 


Why work hard when all you needed is to work in the government and issue tenders or become a vague "flamboyant businessman" who sells air for millions? Let's face it, the myth that hard work equals success, are ogre tales that should be told to the birds. 

I asked a couple of weeks back, what's the point of morality and ethics if you always end up at the bottom anyway?


This week, yet again, I was proven right, well sort of.


All hail the King of gossip, Tea Master Edgar Obare! Edgar single-handedly broke the internet by exposing what we've all suspected has been happening but had no proof of. He managed to tackle money laundering (wash wash), gold scams, and fake currency all in one swoop. Wasn't it a delight to watch the scandal unfold!


Let me give you a crash course in wash wash, as a way of giving you highlights of the expose. What do you do if you're a government official who's made a ton of money off kickbacks from tenders issued but you're stuck with more money that you can't deposit in a bank without questions being asked? You have to figure out a way to "wash" it and get it into the formal banking systems without raising suspicion. 


What do you do? Simple. Look for a celebrity—the ones that are fast and loose with ethics, who are keen on projecting a certain image in public and want to appear put together— and start a business for them. You can put in 50 million shillings to start it and use them as a front. When the business reports its profits or sales, double what they actually made or triple it. If they're making half a million shillings in a day, deposit Sh2.5 million per day and that's Sh75 million per month in the bank of 'clean money.' You then announce how well the business is doing, pay tax, and withdraw the now clean money. Now repeat the process with multiple businesses.


The same script goes for any dirty money—drug money, piracy, fake gold, fake currency, and many other dubious deals. 


The expose shone a spotlight on local celebrities who flaunt fancy lifestyles, travel to serene destinations drive fancy cars while wearing designer clothes. It unlocked the puzzle of how people with no discernible sources of income were living it up in an economy where everyone else is trying to survive.


One of the downsides of the internet is that it makes you feel like you're not enough. Suddenly, people are parading their shiny cars and live large, yet you are stuck as you try to save the pocket change for a rainy day or to invest. 


We then learnt this weekend that we have been competing with people who don't have to sweat much for their money, and all they need is some connections and protection. 


Simply put, we should quit the comparisons. The ground is uneven and the only person we need to be competing against is ourselves. 


We all have that friend. The one who's living large but they're not very straightforward with what they do for a living. It's always some vague business with scant details. They used to hide under the cover of import/export business but they've now evolved to being investors, dealing in cryptocurrency. You ignored it, perhaps even felt challenged that you were so far down despite graduating top of your class. Now you know the real moneymakers in this town. I hope it eases the pressure off. Only, I am not sure our minds will let us off the competition wagon. I mean, we all want the life, don't we? 


The thing about trying to earn an honest living is that it doesn't come with a plush life or quick gains. It's mostly days of toiling, monotonous routines while hoping that the next day gets better. What everyone needs to do is to measure their own growth, at their own pace, and maybe only then will they realise that they're doing pretty decently given their position and the cards life has dealt them. 


If you don't figure this out early enough, you'll be courting high blood pressure at 30 while trying to measure up to the pacesetter in this town. 


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