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I was once interviewing one of the prominent and active Mombasa women who has led to development in her area and there was something she told me that I will never forget. ‘The problem with us (people of Mombasa) is that we have the PHD’s (Pull Her Down) certificate holders. People will try to bring you down at any cost. They never like the idea of anyone being more successful than them.’ We all laughed at this amusing yet very true statement. I know the PHD’s are obviously in all places in Kenya and in the whole world as well but unfortunately, Mombasa has greatly been characterized with this shameful behaviour.

I have never really understood why this is the case. Is it just a bad trend that eventually became part of the culture? It’s funny that in situations where you expect your own people to be happy that you are climbing up the ladder, their dark hearts will ache; ‘I was the one supposed to be owning that car or that house’ or ‘she doesn’t deserve her husband; he should have married me instead.’ It’s like something my father was telling me the other day, ‘why can’t people just share the happiness and joy of others even when it’s not personally their success?

The sad yet hilarious reality of Mombasa is like that one whereby in a small area where there has never been a graduate and some day there emerges one, the news will spread like fire. But these kind of news don’t always come with the jolly and merry as expected. You will hear women speaking in whispers as one cooks her mahamri and others wait to give their orders. They will talk of all kind of bizarre things; you will be amazed. They will talk of how the mother to the graduate went to a witch to make his son graduate, or of the loan they had to take from a bank so as he could complete his studies or of how her daughter allegedly slept around with her lecturers to get her the A’s. They will talk of everything and anything connected to the success but never about the success itself. Or in another scenario is of the men who will sit in the baraza busy chewing miraa, discussing this same graduate; ‘Ah yule hana mpango! I asked him to find me ways to get a scholarship like he did but he didn’t bother.’ And even interestingly, the rest will join in even when they know nothing much about the young man, ‘ah bro achana naye, ana maringo kama mwanamke!’ At this point you will hear all kind of insults, old stories, his/her past will all be undug from the earth at this stage. Just so as to prove one thing; he/she doesn’t deserve the blessings he/she is in.

I am assuming that this is mostly brought about by the high levels of idleness but on second thought, until when are we going to blame idleness for all our selfish, evil and dark souls? If we have nothing to do does it justify our envy and malice for others really? So now it’s all like a competition; today I wore a buibui from Dubai while you wore one from Markiti, My daughter is studying medicine while yours is sewing clothes. There’s that unsaid; unspoken competition going on. All this goes to the extent that when a person has a problem let’s say with their fridge, and the next door neighbour can repair it, she’d rather call someone else from very far to come over, do the work and pay him for it. The mentality is often, ‘my son here is jobless, why then should I give it to him?

This drama gets to the peak when it is in office whereby you have to rub shoulders with people every.single.day. Yes they will try to bring you down every.single.day. They will bring up all kind of drama and misunderstandings just to prove one thing; you don’t deserve the job or probably you don’t deserve the post that the boss is about to give you.

Oh, it’s so amusing how people think. It always gets me thinking like ‘really?!’ Is it really worth your energy, words, sweat, saliva, time and sometimes even money to try putting someone else down?! Why can’t we just for once be genuinely, whole-heartedly, purely feel happy when someone is able to achieve something that we haven’t? I actually feel like laughing at this; laughing not because it is a good thing but because it is hilarious how people are.

Please if you’ve never tried feeling happy for someone else then please do give it a try sooner than soon. I promise you it’s going to be an awesome feeling that you’ll never regret. Try doing so and see how your own doors will open up for you by God’s will for shunning away all that envy and malice.

As for you my dear friend, as you keep struggling your way to the top, do know that you will meet several people who have graduated with the PHD’s. Some will show it to you right on your face, some will act as your friends yet they are your biggest enemies in disguise while some will just whisper around all kind of bizarre things to break you to pieces. When you do meet them, I hope you neither give up nor lose hope. I hope you are able to hold your head high and fight your way through to the very top. I hope you succeed. Ameen to that 🙂

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A freelance writer, journalist, poet and blogger venturing mainly in social and community issues, study and analysis of behaviour and life, and the plight of the under-dogs in the society. 'I feed on human stories.'

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