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Nothing changes, but if I change, everything changes

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31 October 2017

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to visit Kenya with my family. It was a trip we had dreamt of taking for a long time, a dream that finally came true. The trip was interesting in many ways, as well as the scenery and wildlife what was most enrichening were the experiences and life lessons we took away from it.

One such example was the story of Rakita and Monwüi, two brothers from a very large family. One day, their father got the older brothers together and asked whoever wanted to go to school to raise their hand, and those who didn’t would stay with him and take care of the animals.

Nobody raised their hand, simply because this meant being separated from their family, in a far-away city, where they could no longer provide the help they really needed. Their father decided to split them into two groups: those he considered the cleverest, and those who would be less likely to succeed.

The first group, Rakita's group, were rewarded with being able to stay and look after the animals. He was happy because he knew this decision meant that his father had put him in the clever group. Monwüi, on the other hand, was “sentenced” to ostracism in a private school, and to city life. “I’m not clever enough I suppose”, he thought.

We met Rakita on our trip to the famous Masai Mara park in the South East of the country. He stayed with the “lucky” group for many years, looking after goat herds in the village, near his parents, spending night after night outside in the bushes, scaring away leopards, lions or any other predators that could attack or weaken the herd.

He told us his story and what he thought had been a stroke of good luck turned out to be quite the opposite. His brother Monwüi went to school and later to university. He got a scholarship in the UK and, finally, became a manager in the best lodge in the Masai Mara Reserve, one of the most well-renowned parks in Kenya, and the world.

But his father was right about something, Rakita was one of the smart ones; he never gave up, never cursed his luck, never tried to justify his situation with excuses, and launched initiatives to change and improve. He taught himself English by practising with tourists, listening to the radio, reading tourist booklets and guides...

Five years later, his English was good enough for him to become a tour guide. This helped him increase his quality of life and improve his family's future. At the same time, he trained to become a farmer, helped his community to improve with projects for more efficient cultivation, taught English, and educated as many children as possible.There is a lot we can learn from Rakita about change and life:

As we said to him when we left: “Thanks for the life lesson!”

  • Your personal context shows where you have come from and how far you have come
  • We can all change our context with the right amount of bravery, determination and confidence in our skills
  • The culture of hard work and not making excuses based on our circumstances, but instead flying the flag for change

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