Every day, we get some work done. Our days are filled with paid and unpaid work, voluntary and involuntary work, skilled and unskilled work, and everything in between. We work because we must. We work because it is the right thing to do. We work because everyone is doing it. And we work to earn our living and make a contribution to society. Work is so embedded in our lives that it often defines who we are. We often refer to John the teacher, Mary the nurse, or Cate the journalist. Other times, we refer to someone’s place of work as part of their identity; ‘mama yule wa mpesa shop, ama yule wa kuuza samaki’. At the mention of Michael Joseph, there is an immediate association with Safaricom which is unlikely to die off soon. The fact that our work largely defines us means that work is part of who we are.
As we work, we exert our physical and mental strength. Some exert it to its maximum, thus stretching themselves. Others fear being stretched, and their work often becomes characterized by mediocrity. Taking up a job, building a career or following one’s passion provides us with immense opportunities. I often like to listen to stories about jobs that we held in our early years. My first paid job away from home was as a polling center clerk. I had never thought that one could work for 24 hours without sleep. At 18, I did my first 24-hour shift. Working helps us discover ourselves. We identify our strengths and weaknesses; we build our level of knowledge and skill. In addition, we develop new attitudes as we work with and through others. As citizens, when we do what we must do and do so in an honest manner, we contribute to the greater good of building our nation. This alone is adequate motivation to roll up our sleeves and get the work done!
I joined the workplace when the late Mzee Mwai Kibaki was the president. I recall his passion to build a working nation with no ‘kieugeus’. He admonished laziness. We have witnessed other political leaders across the globe building working nations. For example, during the tenures of former presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, many jobs were created in the USA. How many jobs are we creating today? How many jobs were created by county and national governments in the last decade? How many jobs will be created in the new administration? I believe in building a working nation. A working nation values work, its citizens can easily find work, build their careers, and put their passion to work.
We are exactly one week away from the general elections here in Kenya. The elections will come and go. Soon, a new president will roll up his sleeves and get to do the job applied for. Casting our ballots will take us a few hours or even minutes. If we are truly a working nation, we will go back to building our nation as the new administration settles in. As citizens of this country, we need to take actions that make Kenya a better country for all. Together, we can build a more competitive country that is able to provide basic services to its citizens. Let us, together as one, build our lovely nation, Kenya!
Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy