THE KENYA’s MIDDLE-CLASS NIGHTMARE!

I’m seated on a wooden bench under a makuti shed located at a vantage point deep in the heart of a national reserve watching a herd of elephants grazing peaceful below, oblivious of the chaotic world out there. A fortnight ago I handed in my final year project which marked the end of a 5-year pursuit for my Undergrads. Faced with the biggest dilemma of my life, I traveled down to this remote camping site in south coast to strategize on my next step. The decision I’m about to make is to either take the job offered or turn it down and instead follow my passion which happens to be unconventional.

Having interned in more than three different companies in the city where I interacted with the Nairobi middle class citizens on a daily basis, I came to abhor the kind of lives they lead. Nothing scares me like the idea of being sucked into the middle class vortex, lose my zeal for achieving greatness and getting into a comfort zone should I take the job.

You have probably heard the news about Kenya being categorized as a middle-income country and how Kenyans consumerism spearheaded by the middle class influences the economy. For your edification (according to KNBS)the middle class consists of households which spend Ksh 24,000- 120, 000  per month. The rich class comprises of those who spend more than Ksh 200,000 a month. To fully understand the nightmare of ending up a rich class wannabe a.k.a middle class, my life would play as follows.

Graduate with a 2nd class upper and get a job in one of the already established companies in the city thanks to my parent’s connections. Having saved some money three months into the job I decide to take a soft loan to supplement the savings in order to move out of the nest.  My choice of new digs would be influenced by what my acquaintances consider cool. High chances are that I would end up in an overpriced SQ in Kileleshwa instead of a decent house in a less envious part of the city where one gets true value for their money. A  huge chunk of the loan would be spent on furniture, home electronics and to throw a house warming party.

Keen to maintain an image, taxis would become my preferred choice of transport until the application I made for a car loan goes through. The next step would be to acquire a noisy Subaru or a serious Toyota like Mark X. The operating costs of the latter car model can be quite grueling for someone depending on a fixed income. As soon as the word goes round that I have some new wheels the few opportunistic ladies I know from my nascent years would magically regain interest

Hey mark! Haven’t seen you in a while…Can we hook up this Friday?

As a man, the last thing I want is to turn down a pretty lady so I would agree to meet her at some elegant joint on the outskirts of the city with the aim of impressing her.

On Friday, the said lady makes an entrance with two friends in tow. They go ahead and order pricey liquor with names I’ve never heard before while I squirm in my seat. Nonetheless, we spend the next few hours partying like it’s the end of the world reminiscing the great times we had back in campus. At around 4 am the lass asks me to take her back home which is on the other side of town. Upon reaching her place she gives me a peck on the cheek before scampering upstairs bashing all hopes I had about getting lucky that night.

The next morning I nurse a nasty hangover exacerbated by the thought of having wasted all the money I had planned to invest in the stock market the previous night. There is always next time, I console my troubled soul. Since I don’t have many responsibilities partying all weekend long becomes permanently ingrained in my schedule. No cool party within the city, Machakos or Nakuru ever goes down without my presence.

Five years later I’m approaching 30. My mother’s incessant demands for me to settle down finally get to me. After goggling on the best way to propose, I settle on an idea then borrow some money from Njoroge to finance it. My On & Off girlfriend and I head to Masai Mara during the wildebeest migration. While on a hot-air balloon ride I go down on my knee and pop the question. “Will you marry me?” Of course she says yes. Who in their right mind turns down an amazingly romantic guy like me?  I ensure every bit of the charade is photographed so that I can later publish the pictures on this blog to arouse envy especially among the ladies who rejected me…hehe.

This stirs a buzz on social media as young Kenyan ladies call on their men to emulate me while the guys try their best to criticize the whole thing. A few months later I round up 2 dozens of friends and relatives then extract a substantial contribution from them to go towards bankrolling my wedding. The wedding has to be glamorous. Something so grand that everyone will talk about it for days without a care of the kind of damage that would do to my finances.

As years progress I sire two beautiful kids. I decide to take a loan to pursue an MBA. A smart move since upon graduating my employer promotes me to middle level management. Now that the pay is better, I move into a bigger apartment and take yet another loan to buy a bigger ride befitting a man of my stature. The changes don’t stop there. Soon enough I switch joints where I shop, eat and drink for fancier ones. I also transfer my kids to private schools whose annual tuition fee is more than the price of a quarter acre plot along Thika Road.  The changes put so much pressure on me that I have to take an advance salary almost every month in order to stay afloat.

Life is still good thanks to my employer who occasionally sponsors me for trips abroad where I acquire a phony accent after a 2 weeks stay. Back in the city I make a point of attending events like Blankets & Wine with my beautiful wife. During Easter and Christmas holidays I take my young family to north coast.  All these trips are closely followed by countless pictures uploaded on Instagram for the world to see. As for spiritual growth, my family worships in hip churches whose ministers only preach about prosperity after all who wants to hear about hell? When it comes to gadgets, I would sale a kidney if I have to in order to acquire every new version of the iPhone. It’s official, I’m in the middle class bubble.

One day I wake up only to realize my potbelly has grown so huge that I can no longer see my junk down there thanks to a decade of leading an unhealthy lifestyle.  It also hits me, I ought to plan for retirement and how to put my kids through college. With all the money I borrowed in my youth to support my fancy lifestyle the future looks grim. I’m left with no choice but to take a mortgage since a man of my age ought to own a house. I start a small business on the side to help me dig myself out of debt. The business goes under in less than a year.

As if aware of my desperate situation the boss puts me on a short leash, threatening to take action should I fail to give in to her unreasonable demands. Fully cognizant of the fact that without the job and incentives it offers my family would sink to abject poverty. I work even harder, wake up at 5:30am every weekday, maneuver through heavy traffic to work, skip lunch then pass through the local bar on my way home. I virtually turn into a robot. Same people, same schedule every single day. Afraid of losing money I only make safe investments which are often less profitable.

Midlife crisis strikes. Career stagnation turns me into a constant grumbler. I find faulty in everything from the country’s governance to my wife’s cooking. I mistreat anyone whom I think is beneath me. It depresses me further to see former classmates’ lead better lives. This resentment grows bigger every single day. I keep wishing I had pursued my dreams when I had a chance instead of choosing the safest option. Sometimes I even contemplate suicide.

To stir some excitement, I go after young impressionable campus girls. The pretty young things laugh at my dry jokes making me feel all young again thanks to my generosity.  Tired of my philandering ways and neglect my wife gets a toy boy on the side. Our differences grow exponential to the point we amicably decide to divorce. She takes away my kids.

Loneliness and depression leads me to seek solace in the bottle. One morning after binge drinking I drive into a stationary truck. As life drains out of my mangled body, my whole life flashes before my eyes. Who will take care of my kids? What will I be remembered for? Would things have turned differently had I pursued my passion? Having not lived my life to the fullest, my demise doesn’t even stir a buzz on twitter.  Instead of leaving my kids a fortune I leave them with endless debts. They grow up without a father figure and soon enough forget my existence.

Fellow young Kenyans, when did living an average life become so enticing? The only way one can amass real wealth is by applying the law of delayed gratification; planning for the future, cutting on expenses, saving and investing. Taking endless loans to maintain an image is bound to result in dire financial consequences in the future.

It’s time someone said it, average living (read middle-class) is not good enough!

SEE ALSO: 8 Secrets To Becoming a Multi-Millionaire 

Written by Mark Maina

 

437 Comments

Add Yours
  1. 4
    Phanis Obwaya

    I really love your choice of words. Awesome piece, very insightful. A perfect contemplation of the future ahead.

  2. 12
    Eric Kabuthia

    Dear Mark, *hi five* I now want to buy you coffee and find out what more you have to offer to the world and possibly give you a bigger platform to preach this fantastic gospel. Big up man!

  3. 13
    Juma Yasin

    Mark, finally I read sense from a youngster! That is how it plays out without fail! Hope your friends are listening!

  4. 20
    Wufwuf!

    At some point when people grow up, they realize that if they want to be happy they cannot resort to this sort of comparison of your life to the lives of anyone else. Everyone has their own path, unless they choose to imitate others. Then it is no longer their path. Three things: (1) Debt is not always bad; it all depends on what you are borrowing for. (2) It is better be in the middle class than to be in the bottom class. At least the middle class offers higher chances of upward mobility. All that matters in whichever class one is in is life choices. Not everyone in the middle class enjoys traveling to Nakuru or Machakos to drink every weekend. (3) Life is not just about money. Some ideology beguiles people to believe that all there is to success after school is how far up you get on the corporate ladder. Wrong. Decisions on personal relationships mean a lot more than money.

    • 22
      JK

      Impressive! Life is not all about money though money plays a very central role in our lives. When we are young, we think money and ‘big’ job will give us happiness. When we arrive there, we learn that it is sometimes the opposite!! Today, I work on living a happy healthy life. That way, I can enjoy life for a long time!

    • 23
      OKano Oyuke

      I agree life is not all about money at a point where money is already sufficiently serving its purpose in your life.Before that(or even past that) brother,Money is part if life

    • 26
      Valler

      Yes very true… One can Live the life they want (after all, what are you working for;)) just work as hard for it and plan better! Nonetheless, financial need is just but one aspect of a healthy life, one still needs to work on their physical, social, sexual & spiritual needs as well. #hapiness

    • 27
      MMM

      Best comment ever on this article. The writer has a great message beautifully written, he only misses the point by equating the problem of wrong choices to the middle class

  5. 38
    Isabella Mfaida Bonsu

    Great lesson to our society. Today family life is considered as stress and yet family and life is a big blessing and need to be celebrated.

  6. 43
    Mahugu Nuthu

    Mark, this is a great piece. This is a global problem. As an international business author who specializes in situational awareness, delayed gratification, planning for the future, cutting on expenses, saving and investing, I am very impressed. Keep it up.

  7. 44
    Claire Amdany

    wow…that was deep and real….someone close sent me this link and its has made me see things on a whole new level. Thank you.

  8. 48
    Wakafa

    For a minute I thought: my neighbor, noo sounds more like my girl’s cousin, or it describes my second cousin more accurately. My point? Real.

  9. 55
    Rita

    Sad but all true. Good Job Mark! Hope some young Kenyans on this path read your article and learn a lesson or 2.
    Hehe. I loved the ‘noisy Subaru’ part 🙂

  10. 58
    James Keru

    Wow, the article is so real. It goes in line with what I keep teaching youth on Kuza Biashara blog…”Get busy living, or get busy dying.” Thank you for the nice article bro.

  11. 64
    Sam waltz

    Welcome to capitalism and it’s effects on the world… The mentioned problems are global. I live in the US and it’s the same here.. Instant gratification is something capitalism requires from all of us and greed follows and we all see what greed is doing to the world.. The top 1% has all the money, the middle class borrows money from the top 1% and the poor, have no money. If nothing is done to change this trajectory, the worst is yet to come

  12. 72
    Knight

    This is painfully true. I wonder what would have happened, if you followed your passion..am thinking you would have to work hard to put food on the table hence no time for a flashy life. I might be wrong…anyone who has taken this path please enlighten us.

  13. 76
    Sylviah Commarmond

    A million thanks Mark Maina for opening the eyes of our fellow youngsters, to see there’s more to life than showing off, drinking and belonging to a certain class. Aim high and let’s work together for a better future.

  14. 77
    Wanjiku

    While your age mates are out there living it large, you are here making sense. I applaud you young man. You make a lass want to propose.

  15. 83
    Amos

    This is a great write up. In my opinion, everyone should have some sort of a long term plan for their lives.

    While preparing this long term plan, keep in mind the periods you are living in and the realities of the day. As in a business, lay out your life’s objectives. Do an analysis of your strengths and take the path that maximizes your value to the world while keeping you happy.

    Taking a job especially in well established entities may also give you an opportunity to have greater impact if it’s in line with your life’s plan.

    My 2 cents.

  16. 85
    Ida

    #realitycheck………….This is an amazing mind.There should be more platforms to let our young people know ;our present determines our future. Thanks for this Maina…

  17. 95
    mikemnoma

    Insightful post … considering that I already refer to myself as an entrepreneur and am already doing something about it despite still being in school, I couldn’t agree more. Coming from a middle class family I have seen my parents make the same mistakes. They haven’t taken a myriad of loans but you can see the worry in their eyes now that they are old. Something I am honestly working to avoid. P.S I have reblogged the post.

  18. 100
    Brian

    good article Maina. it also applies here in Uganda. I have surely learnt alot from this Sunday morning read. good work.

  19. 104
    starulla

    Don’t get me started on the female version of going down the rabbit hole. Marriage before 27 lest we expire, kids before 30…heaven knows what kind of a disgrace we would be without kids and etc… I wish more women would seek to excel, not even all, just a considerable number.

    • 106
      beargrylls

      Yes..this article speaks against a certain lifestyle. Not much about how one can follow their dreams and live a fulfilling life

  20. 107
    Joshua

    Good read…this is the life many of young people will go through if they are not careful and creative enough to work for the best…

  21. 109
    kenz

    Nice read…my concern however is you should have highlighted the alternative path to follow..it’s not easy turning down a job opportunity that may eventually lead down the middle class life course,particularly when your parents struggled to put you through school, need to support your siblings,…it’s much more easier said than done…
    With that said, it’s important to have something to supplement ones income…

  22. 111
    lee

    Hmmm…. Good piece. But am I the only Kenyan who thinks a lot of this grief can be avoided, just by giving the boot to that most Kenyan of diseases… The dreaded kinywaji (drink)? This is the best decision I ever made myself a decade ago. I live in the diaspora where even some so called middle class Kenyans here are busy drinking themselves into their early graves pursuing this above life cycle. Which I might add is quite familiar to most Kenyans. “Basi tuko wapi this weekend”?… (So where are we this weekend?)… a very familiar saying to many urban young monied Kenyans and all that it entails.

  23. 112
    Savz

    Eye opening read for me as a lady who’s had so many unanswered questions that the men I’ve asked always fall short of explaining. Scratch that! The ladies I’d asked fell short too. And I was one of them!

    You’ve decribed the middle class of any capitalist economy quite aptly.

    To answer your last question: ‘average’ is relative. My ‘aha’ moment which actualised in my 40s came when I decided that every thing I do is for me first. Until then, it was for for what I thought others expected of me or what they said they expected of me.

  24. 123
    African Simba

    what a crock of shit. There is no real value that you have put forth in this “article”. If you want to advise the Youth, give them sound financial advise, not hypothetical “how my life may turn out” stories.
    And lets he honest about some things, there has to be different class levels, not every single person in Kenya can be “wealthy”, if so, then everyone would be back to being “poor”. Achieving what you call “greatness” in terms of economic/financial success, is not an absolute, its is relative.
    If you want to be “great” get out of your narcissistic ways, create, collaborate and put forth noble ideas that will spur the human species to the next frontier. Not blindly following capitalism to the letter, expecting that the mediocrity of existence that we live today, will not apply to you.

    • 125
      coldturkey

      Simba, the comments will tell you there is value in this. Perhaps not to you but to others. There will always be rich and poor but you don’t have to be the one representing the poor. The writer is pointing out his own fears thanks to what he has seen around himself and coincidentally many can relate to that too. As for financial advise, an article that points out probable financial traps is the first lesson in financial planning. The rest is called avoiding those traps. How? The needy will find out.

    • 126
      sweshe

      if simba can’t see any wisdom in the article then he’s not wise enough….check out and see if there’s any one who will have a lame reasoning capacity like yours

    • 127
      nkurunziza

      This guy already described you;

      ‘Midlife crisis strikes. Career stagnation turns me into a constant grumbler. I find faulty in everything from the country’s governance to my wife’s cooking. I mistreat anyone whom I think is beneath me. It depresses me further to see former classmates’ lead better lives. This resentment grows bigger every single day’…….

      Actually at the end of your comment you start blogging instead of commenting.
      Dude, Go to Mathare Hospital
      #ADVICE…HEHE LOL!

  25. 128
    Godiah Rocky Imbukuleh

    You are spot on. Just live within your means and invest the little you can afford. Trying to impress or be like others can only lead to trouble.

  26. 133
    Evelyn Wangeci

    My exact sentiments! In fact people who are getting into employment should consider life plans and a good place for that is from Britam! Save money when commitments are fewer! My email address is eve.thamu@gmail.com

  27. 134
    kendi

    A fantastic article with so much truth it shocks.
    Well in,and I hope all those middle class kenyans get to digest it.
    Thanks.

  28. 141
    Joe

    There goes a true masterpiece of todays’ middle class..let this article be a game changer for the betterment of next generation!pronto

  29. 146
    kenyafreelancer

    Its like yu have read my mind especially that part about young graduate taking loans to buy fancy furniture and cars and maintain an “image”. I’ve always felt like writing an article like this one but procrastnated it coz i thot i was the o nly one who is against tjis trend. the trend is actually bad fir our economy. 20 yrs from now kenya will be full of middle age people who are frustrated by debt and wat happened to USA economy will happen to our economy. give me permission to reblog this in my website at Kenyafreelancer.com

  30. 147
    GG

    Good thoughts all, and an interesting read, but you really should get a good proof-reader to take it that last step. Too many grammatical errors in an otherwise great piece! Keep ’em coming!

  31. 153
    Brian

    Sad but true…It’s the upbringing we got from our parents;go to school,study hard and get a job..the moment you land a good job you feel accomplished and therefore get comfortable.I reckon in a few years to come those friends who got just basic education and had to look for alternative means of survival other than formal employment will be the wealthy ones while we the ‘educated’ will be neck deep in debt!Employment gives a false sense of security,its high time we realize that real security is in business and innovation. Brilliant minds going to waste in exchange for a pay check.

  32. 154
    Enock

    True, middle-class earners always die in a rat race. Our lecturer once warned highlighted that middle class are the reason that our economy is struggling.

  33. 155
    Geoff

    Nice read. The middle class here have a choice to make. Be different n be great in your area of strength. Stop complaining about everything leading to WASTE of time. We learn from every experience. Live well today for tomorrow. …life bila regrets.

  34. 159
    Victor

    Problem with kenyans is we get “eye openers” like such and vow to make that u-turn but once tomorrow sets in with its own Christmas sack of problems its always back to square one…i mean let’s face it poor folks work their asses off just so one day they can level up to their counterparts, this while those who’ve reached this accursed middle class level strife to out do their mates…its just a blasted cycle and by my book its what society now looks at as a measure of development and keeping and maintaining image is just part of the contract. What am saying is as much as you may think of achieving “greatness” you don’t just take the lift, there’s a flight of stairs you’ll have to manoeuvre through so its just a matter of priorities.

  35. 160
    Douglas Wachira

    Hey! You are brilliant! And, wise too.
    please write a book with all the m8ssing details in between of a similar life lived.
    well put bro!

  36. 161
    newt

    fak yeah! …..i thot i was alone for turnin down jobs that wud put me in the cycle… despite mwah grades ….just 2 yrs dwn… my small businesses r learning to walk…..yrs coming i know i will av the last laugh….my resolve is cemented…ua article awoke that zeal…needed it……biz biz biz. (rolling sleeves)

  37. 162
    Brian Ochieng

    Baba this is an eye opener to many youths and adults who still live in this bubble. You should write more article of this nature though I must admit it’s fortuitous. Keep up the good words.

  38. 164
    Bonvicks

    This is the reason as to why stupid people and drop-outs succeed in life while the bastards thinking they are educated more than others fail.

  39. 167
    Joy

    i am impressed with this article. Most definitely i have to share it! This is the bitter pill we all are afraid to swallow it’s happening in the corporate world and it should change because the debt crisis in the future is awaiting.

  40. 171
    barbaraester91

    Nice…got me thinking hard.do not live on debts.focus and care less what the world thinks about you.this article should be a MUST-read for any young Kenyan aspiring to be successsful in life

  41. 177
    Dylan David Ng'eno

    This is a real eye opener, and good food for consumption. I’m 21 years of age but feel challenged. I definitely do not want to live a life like that…

  42. 185
    samuel

    You are a life saver….may God help you to achieve your dreams, this article will save me and many others if we humble ourselves and heed.

  43. 189
    Wyco

    Am so educated with this article. At the point of awaiting my graduation, this comes as the best pathway advice from this point onwards.
    I had to share it even after reading the first paragraph. Am sure my friend will learn a lot from this.

  44. 190
    Mandela

    Great article. Let me mention this: there’s nothing important in life, so, we all eventually do what we want. Also, there’s neither regret nor blame for our actions. we all die, a perfect end for a perfect life.

  45. 191
    Wakari Irene

    this is sadly the reality and truth of the matter…..for once i reading an article i resonate with…i have seen this with my uncles.
    I suggest you do a follow up article on how the youth who are in the middle class category can avoid falling into the same hole.

  46. 194
    Evans T

    Interesting read al-right. A few grammatical errors. Nonetheless, doesn’t spoil the flow of the story. It would have been more real if you were writing this from the comfort of your living spaces rather than a remote camping site in South Coast. Am sure it does not cost a few cents. It kind of waters down the pivotal message of your story which I perceive to be frugality. Then again, after five years of sweat, toil and blood, a retreat is more than welcome. Good job. Still a lot of polishing to do but you’re on the right track.

  47. 206
    hermain101

    Haha. This is the story of ALL the middle aged guys I know: impressionable campus girls, pot bellied with debts up to their necks and a boring stagnant life, not to forget the wife thing. I dread that life. Haha, spot on Mark. Spot on.

  48. 207
    Alex Burton

    Good stuff.
    On the flip side, highlight instances where contentment is depicted and “competing with the Jonnesses” is shunned

  49. 216
    Judy

    Wonderful how you pen your thoughts,Mark. Sometimes we all need a reality check. I guess I would say ” Cheque”… I just got paid…hehe. Thank you.

  50. 217
    House

    This is a bit Pessimistic, I say never pass up on opportunity! The guy suggests we pass on job opportunities and work at our hobbies/passion and try to build great empires from scratch, with nothing in the way of savings or proper experience, that is absurd. Never pass up on an opportunity but be smart about it, If you can build capital whilst in a job to persue your passion later, anyone can tell you its easier to borrow frm a bank when on some kind of income, Any decent enterprenurial venture requires capital. I like the writers thinking but he reminds me of the loads of youngsters who drop out of college to try a Bill gates/zuickerberg trade, end up realising that 97% of people who drop out of college end up working minimum wage with little prospect of upward mobility,3% make it Big am no pessimist but 3% isnt a really good statistic . Life is not a dress rehearsal, never pass up opportunities for unknowns.Take up up opportunities, build a base then try your passion.

    • 218
      254Rich

      Excellent sentiment @house; the youth should never pass up a job opp especially when starting out; but it is critically important to use your 20s to try and set up businesses when you still have low responsibilities; the false sense of comfort in employment and wasteful spending are the real danger; not jobs themselves. A job can be the fastest most effective catapult out of poverty if used wisely.

  51. 220
    ninakimani11

    Reblogged this on ninakimani11's Blog and commented:
    Well said can’t add more on this but I have seen it even here I’m europe. Sad that people try hard to put up with others in order and land into debts forgetting that the people whom they’re trying to put up with are in debts too.

  52. 222
    Esther Osiel

    This is a very educative article! I’m glad someone shared the link on her Facebook page. People, more so we the youth should learn to live within our limits,save and invest early so that we don’t suffer in future.

  53. 224
    Muthoni

    There is no reason that you taking the initial offer you now have will lead to all these events. Its the choices you make as you go along that will then determine if you are average or you are great.
    Even great people start somewhere, and its not their initial step that is remembered, it’s where they end up.

  54. 226
    Kasyoka

    This is more of a slap with reality pertaining instant gratification and a buzz kill to those in that kind of life.
    Invest early, epuka madeni.

  55. 227
    Khamis Athman

    very true. sad thing is, i am at one stage narrated therein but i believe i can change…it’s not yet too late.

  56. 231
    Wilson

    I received a similar message from a prosperous gentleman. He could be in his late 60s and runs a successful QS firm.He referred to it as a ‘status virus’.
    The problem as he indicated is that the youth want to march the old generations by whatever means within the shortest time. In the end it leads to this scenario.

  57. 259
    mbigievikie

    Good story, very informative and educative. Well this is not limited to Kenya but many other countries Uganda, my own inclusive. Leading a “corporate” life. So many lessons to learn, worth reading.Joan Apio thx for sharing on FB.

  58. 262
    Maggie

    That’s a really nice read. And it’s absolutely true I’ve seen all of it happen to people I think I shouldn’t happen to. So to every one like me just handed im your research project and looking at life and those middle class wanna bes there can be redemption. And limit borrowing for consumption.

  59. 266
    Njoki

    The fact is most of us know this but how many are willing to give up their small comforts today in order to live a richer life later? The ‘YOLO’ mentality has us in chains.

  60. 267
    bendyourhead

    The sad thing about this article…is that the writer, even after being able to have such a gift for observation, still thinks that the important thing in life is to amass wealth….or as he puts it “amass real wealth”…..that idea alone, forms the root of a mediocre tree of life.

  61. 273
    Chosen

    So interestingly true! Someone once defined status as ‘buying things you don’t need, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t like.’

    God help the young Kenyans come to their senses!

  62. 279
    Tom Omariba

    This is an interesting article. But it is unfair to attack an entire middle class. Trust me. i am in middle class and I did not take a single loan. I simply plan my salary well to the point I am almost completing my own house. I think you need to specify which middle class (a sub-group within a middle class????)

    • 280
      Kevin

      Sasa hapa ndo ujinga huanza….. Human…. Do u laugh to Churchill shows…. If yes… They got jokes on kikuyus, luhyas, kambas, kisiis, merus, luos etc…. Do they apply to all…. Ofcos if no u aint even middle class.. U r a third class wannabe… Dude….?
      Say NO! to ujinga

  63. 284
    teamtestimony

    Great wit.
    This message is good for me as well as to most young professionals and undergraduates.
    I urge you on to reach out to many on this unique nature of benevolence. Cheers.

  64. 291
    timworia

    This article has unwittingly put forward a great argument for a live-fast-die-young/YOLO lifestyle. Should not have implied that consequences of poor financial choices during youth come later in life but rather immediately.

  65. 294
    Nabanda stella

    Wow!!Its amazing that dis is the same cycle that even ugandans go thru &Africa at large . Thanks Mark,this article is worthy sharing.

  66. 309
    Sylvester

    One of the very few articles on Kenyan blogs worth reading!! I love the article…

    (But I can’t fight the urge to correct u where u wrote “The middle class COMPRISES OF…”.

    We say…. “Consists OF households….” or “comprises households”…….

    It’s wrong to say “comprises of”.)

    Looking forward to more articles 🙂 🙂

  67. 315
    Corazon

    iIalways thought everyone in kenya wanted to be seen “rich”…
    Thanks to this post i hope my future after campus wont be this bad ..ill follow my dreams thank you

  68. 317
    Enock Onyambu

    Im greatly touched by the plain facts highlighted.I feel like reading and rereading it again.Delayed gratification,cutting on expenses,planning for the future ,investing and saving.We gotta to be real.Leaving other pple’ s lives should cease and we need to stay focused on what we real want in life.Congratulations Mark!

  69. 336
    KENYA’S MIDDLE-CLASS NIGHTMARE! | TZ Business News

    […] Fellow young Kenyans, when did living an average life become so enticing? The only way one can amass real wealth is by applying the law of delayed gratification; planning for the future, cutting on expenses, saving and investing. Taking endless loans to maintain an image is bound to result in dire financial consequences in the future.  It’s time someone said it, average living (read middle-class) is not good enough!  Article lifted from the blog, Markmaish.com […]

  70. 340
    Dr. Michael Odero (@oderomichael)

    Very good thoughts. However, there are more fundamental laws to success than the law of delayed gratification, which is purely money oriented. True success is lived today, lived now, and lived first! True succeed is about pursuing your purpose with definiteness. If you are pursuing this with service to others and no harm to anyone, it doesn’t matter what you spend doing it, you can even spend more than you actually possess because nature naturally over compensates.

    More focus needs to be put on purpose rather than money. But we’re in a capitalist society where no one sees the sense in no cents. I suggest study the works of multidimentional success philosophers like Napoleon Hill, which emphasise on the battle against the biggest enemy known to man, HIS OWN FEARS. Be a little critical of the powerful works of modern day financial success gurus like Brian Tracy or Robert Kiyosaki. Saving is actually a fear-based habit. The only thing certain about life is death. So its pointless to think about what will happen when you die. It’s more important to actually start living the life you want now. If you do that right, you will naturally be planting a seed for your dependants to harvest when you are no longer there.

    If you spend your life denying yourself happiness pleasure for a tomorrow which you are not sure will arrive, you miss the point of actually LIVING. The middle class have a point in living the way they do. The problem is that the vast majority don’t do it with definiteness of purpose and thus are not successful and are not actually living their lives’ potential.

    I believe in a grey area in everything. The difference is perspective, determined by mental attitude and value system.

    Dr. Michael Odero

    Twitter @oderomichael
    Email oderomichael@gmail.com

  71. 345
    Joel

    Good read. However,
    I wouldn’t call it a nightmare though. If those are your problems, I wouldn’t feel sad for you, given that there are alot of Kenyans who live hand-to-mouth and would love even a chance to sit in a room and talk about car loans. To have parents who connect them to a job. Think about the large percentage of undergrads who don’t have those ‘connections’ and regardless of how good they were, will have to tarmac for years before finally giving up on getting a job (to start a ‘bizna’) and even if they do, they get a 30k salary for their troubles (almost a job). Am I supposed to feel for the middle-class then? That their self-built gutter involves living a debt-ridden psychologically-depleted life but materially comfortable life. I fail to find a shred of sympathy given theat there are alot of people on the other side of the tracks who would relish such chances and would lead their lives better, given that they have seen poverty fisrt hand. If what’s described above has been your life’s journey, I feel nothing for you. Sorry.
    To take from Kanye, having money is not everything, not having it is

  72. 346
    Tao Chwani

    […] if you do otherwise. Unless that mortgage you’ve been waiting for gets approved. Remember Mark Maina’s middle class nightmare?! Then as you get to your alight (I avoided the word stage for a reason. It’s Nairobi.) you […]

  73. 353
    King Muindi

    That’s a very insightful breakdown of the possible outcome-reality of the Kenyan middle class (average living). The advice on ”delayed gratification; planning for the future, cutting on expenses, saving and investing….. ” is very helpful. Thanks Mark.

  74. 359
    Philos

    And another important thing to remember is always to look in the situation you are in and ask the following questions:

    1. Why am I in this position?
    2. Should I get out of this? Why? what’s motivating me?
    3. How can I live and improve myself (and others) without acting as if the world (anyone) owes me anything?
    4. What steps can I take to go from where I am to where I want to be?
    5. How can I tenda wema, nenda zako more often and not advertise my generosity.

  75. 361
    JOSIAH

    hey mark youre the kind of blogger this continent never had for the last decade. Nobody can pretend to ignore your uniqueness. ure addressing topics that not very many young people will want to hear about, thanks for those REALITY CHECKS this site has become a true inspiration keep up.

  76. 362
    Peter

    I like the law of delayed gratification, let us think of creating jobs rather than the already existing graph that majority falls in.

  77. 364
    Munyole

    You are spot on on this one. It is a nightmare to be a middle class in Kenya. The peer pressure and influence for more riches occasionally drive an appetite for accumulating more even going to the extreme to acquire what you really want

  78. 370
    Nimmo Wathiomo

    This piece got me thinking seriously, for the first time in weeks, about my future. I completed my undergrad a few weeks ago and, just like you, I’m faced with the same dilemma.

  79. 376
    Winnie C

    What an amazing article! My words cannot express the intellect and wisdom in which you pen your words. You are an amazing writer and as I shift from the middle-class mentality, I take your words with me. An average life, a life not pursuing your passions, is not worth living! Thank you for sharing.

  80. 382
    Mikes Kocholla

    Oooh i love your choice of words and the flow of the story. it got me thinking about these so enticing middle class boom. We have to plan very well for a better financially stable future.

  81. 384
    elvotis

    A good read. Totally relatable, i enjoyed every line in it and the fact the it mirrors what the reality of the Kenyan middle class. Nice piece.

  82. 390
    Erastus ignitius

    Very true, well said and articulated in perfection. Its a clear depiction of what is happening in the world today esp in Kenya.

  83. 391
    Onyango Stephen

    Thank you Mark. Through your art of writing I get to know of what lies ahead of me.
    Through your writing I’m able to learn the reality of life so that I don’t make mistakes when I get there.
    Keep it up. ???

  84. 393
    Shaquille

    Hello Mark. Is There Any Way I Could Contact You? I’d Like You To Write A Piece Or Two On A Particular Subject.. Please Get Back To Me,,
    Thanks

  85. 401
    Kira

    Men following the above script will land them in turmoil, am here to forge my own path, the decisions i make today will reflect who i will be tomorrow.Action results to reaction.Build business from life earned skills.Follow your skills not your dreams.

  86. 410
    Dennis

    This Is The Real Meaning Of Individualism- Living in the world as “alone you came, alone you shall return”!
    A Great Challenge/ Food-For-Thought!

  87. 414
    Esther

    Great article. That’s why I decided to live in Limuru. Pay cheaper rent, access fresh food and still commute to Nairobi for business during off-peak hours and pay cheaper fare than most my friends in the surburbs of Nairobi.
    The middle class bubble is so real

  88. 420
    JM

    The attack on middle class is overrated. First of all, there are people many people who have grown in employment and became rich from employment. Second of all, while we are working to become “rich” should we all move to umoja or kariobangi until we become rich and move to Rwanda? Then we should sleep on the floor and not own anything as we save up every cent? Third,there are people in middle class who are happy, still working hard but happy, with successful children etc. Lastly, life cannot be simplified by how rich you are, some people actually value family friends travelling etc. So no need to attack people for hosting house warming and other social functions. I could go on but let me stop here.

  89. 431
    simon wandete

    The article is so deep, i read it each time i am stuck in a rut then reflect about the future. Thanks Mark Maish for penning such an insightful piece

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