Kenya’s 20 Year Old President-in-Waiting

(c) Bliss Sites

I’m on my way to Nairobi for meetings that include the World Social Forum. After days of meetings in Uganda, which had fun-filled moments unlike most of my previous trips when I have had to go directly to meetings venues from the airport and depart the same without a chance to see the new city. I am now in the second phase of the three-nation working visit in East Africa and my Ugandan visit provided the opportunity of meeting fellow blogger Ore Somolu whose intellectual and physical charm can’t be ignored.

I arrived at the Entebe airport quite early to continue my search for access close enough to the airport — as I have since learnt that last minute access at the hotel is a sure invitation to a missed flight. I found what should have been the answer to my desire at the airport’s post office but it was closed at 4:30pm even though the sign said it was open until 6pm! That meant Plan B was next — getting something to eat and checking in to search for access close to the boarding gates. This proved to be useful even though I had to pay throuh my nose to use the access point at an elite longue, whose access chose to freeze just before I started using the system (or how do you explain the fact that all I could do in 1 hour was to clear my inbox and wait for eMail windows to open).

I walked into an old Ugandan friend I had met in India in 2005, also on his way to Nairobi. We discussed the 3-nation network that Celtel supports and I thought it was really cool to have a SIM card that worked in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania — hoping that it would one day be possible across the continent. Did I also mention that the flight was delayed for a few minutes because of a young man who left his book at the waiting longue (please don’t ask who ). Once inflight, I had to make a decision between two newspapers that were avaialble for passengers — The Standard and Nation. I was trying to guess which was a better option through the frequency of request but sitting at 6C meant I had only 1 row ahead of me. 🙁

I chose The Standard and must thank the guys who work on the Education section for giving me the opportunity of meeting Kenya’s 20 year old President-in-Waiting. George Gachara’s story was featured on page 7 of the newspaper and I was thrilled to read that he said, “Someday, I am going to be the president of this country…” I would not have been moved by the quite popular phrase (don’t we all dream) but could not avoid the description of the author (Maryanne Waweru) on George: “At his youthful age, Garacha already has a vision of his rule as president”. Trust me on this one, this young man is one of the new generation of young men and women who will take the continent by surprise when we ascend their desired thrones for which we spend endless hours planning and working hard at.

George is a recipient of many public speaking awards and deliberately enrolled for a degree in Communication (Public Relations and Electronic Media) towards the fulfilment of his leadership dream. A good sign was also his election to his university’s governing body as the first year representative only four months after he resumed at the school. George’s mother (a single parent) died when he was very young but there is no way you can stop an idea whose time has come — especially one that has a man and his dream in action. In spite of his humble background, George is busy making others better. “I have a passion for my generation, and I try to inspire, motivate and encourage as many young people as possible” was how he put it. By the way, he is also CEO of Delserv Synergies along with website designs and bakery that help pay his tution — plus he’s also not missing out on the stock market.

Just listen to him: “Youth need to be original and think beyond what is expected of them. They should never think of things as out of their reach…. I create time for all my engagements, and only undertake activities that add value to my life. I am not the kind of person you will find idling around campus. I work by prioritising issues, working on only what is important”. You can bet that Gachara reads widely — with Stephen Covey and John Maxwell leading his favourites’ list. The need to plan for the future cannot be over emphasised, and you can also predict how a leader’s youth was by the way he carries out his leadership duties today. Africa hasn’t been very blessed with good leaders because those who spend their youth pursuing other pleasures can not grow up to make the best of leadership that is often stolen on their behalf!

In my local language, we say “omo to ba maa je asamu, kekere lo ti n’senu samu samu.” You can predict a child’s future by his present livelihood is the closest that translates to in English. George may not even become president, but I will not be surprised if he does — and if he enjoys relative ease when he launches his presidential campaign, and when he eventually sets down to the task of governance. Watch the news, and when you hear his name and how his days as president keeps Kenya on international headlines, remember that he said so many years ago (even when many of us laughed off his youthful dreams. The future only belongs to those who can dream and hold on to the value in such dreams. This inspiring story was so strong on me that I had to write the draft of this blog on kenya Airway’s Air Sickness Bag — another event that made me miss my stolen laptop, which was always a ready companion anytime I had a brain-wave, regardless of location or altitude.

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