I had a visa interview this week on Tuesday. I am planning to visit Her Royal Majesty, The Queen of England. She invited me after reading my blog a couple of times. I hope I have successfully fooled someone here. After all April Fool’s Day was juzi tu. Applying for a visa is one of those processes where one has to look for all the papers that describe your existence. Birth and marriage certificates for you and your dependants, bank statements, title deeds, evidence that you don’t live on a tree and so on. Soon we may be required to give a pint of blood, our shoe size and the toothpaste brand we use at home.

I reached for a suitcase my Dad bought me after high school where I keep all our important documents.  Back in the day I used to look for opportunities to show it off to my pals because you opened and closed it using a secret three digit combination on both ends. How cool was that in 1992? The only thing missing then was the gun and stash of well-arranged bank notes inside. V.O.K (Voice of Kenya) also had movies back in the day. I believed only President Moi’s finance minister and I had a suitcase like this in the whole republic. I even considered hiring mine out to the then minister to carry his budget for the country on budget reading day. The hustle has been there all along as you can see. My dreams are valid folks. Hehe…

As I went through my few important documents, I came across my form four school leaving certificate from the Duke of York, (which in locally means, Lenana School). This school even had a golf course and I hear rabbles (form one students) were the caddies sometimes. Clearly golf was meant to be part of my life. God accidents I tell you.

For some reason this paper caught my attention. The first item to be filled out on the head teacher’s report on the pupil was ability. It read ABILITY: AVERAGE. I got stuck there. There were other parameters like initiative and leadership that were more positive, but my focus was on my ability. At the bottom, my headmaster Mr Maneno (a.k.a check man) had signed and stamped the certificate. I noticed I had also signed (by writing my name), accepting this report.

That has bothered me kidogo this week. The authority in my life (through this report) declared me average. As I look back 25 years ago, I can’t help but question if this report has influenced how I have responded to life subconsciously. I remember how I admired my classmates who always topped the class and how I wished I’d be cloned to be them (not just like them). I went through a huge part of my schooling very self-unaware. In fact, for a long time even after campus I was blind to the success others saw in me especially in business.

Now you can see I’m opening up my skeleton closet.  Oh how I love the fourth floor. No shame in who you are and the popularity contest ended kitambo. I thank God this 8-4-4 system is being flushed down the drain. It has its positives and supporters I’m sure but I am glad we are doing away with it. Now that I’m a parent to three great Kenyans, I’d be doing serious damage to my kids’ self-perception if I summed up their life as average purely from a grade. Well I did get a C+ that earned me the seventh and last intake into campo. I think someone dropped out then I got called to fill their space. Kweli Mungu yuko.

Folks, don’t get me wrong. I’m glad how my life has turned out, at least most of it. Last year I met one of the former classmates I wanted to be cloned into when in Changez (Lenana). He was an A student. Even how he ate and made his bed was A like. These are those guys after KCSE results are out the university sends you fare to report to campus. He stopped me in town and it took a moment to recognise him. He didn’t look very impressive for what I thought he’d turn out to be in life. He told me he was an insurance sales agent and is paid on commission. I thought he’d be more like the MD of the company by now. He tried to sell me a cover so as to meet his targets. After we parted ways I wondered what happened to the A student I knew.  Had life after school given him a C and termed him as average?

I’m not as successful as I’d have wanted to be at 40, but I thank God for not answering some of the prayers I made while growing up. Folks, let us be careful how we judge our kids and people we meet. But above that, let us be careful not to judge ourselves as average because I personally believe no one was created average. We are each an A student of life when we find our calling and occupy the space that life gives us. Our actions may be average sometimes due to self-defeating beliefs or hang-ups that we carry, but our existence is meant to be far from average.

I may have signed that certificate 25 years ago out of ignorance. I have short-changed myself sometimes based on that belief, but it’s now my turn on the dance floor. Folks it’s not only your turn to be on the dance floor. It’s your turn to be near the DJ and give him your playlist for you to dance to.  My intention today is simply to nudge us to refuse the negative reports we may have signed while self-unaware or accepted from others. Let’s be all we can be, especially now at 40 where we are learning that the best version of yourself is you.

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15 thoughts on “Ability – Average.”

  1. MG says:

    This one made me sit up. It reminded me of a school reunion that we had a couple of years ago. There’s this one dude who was perpetually, and I mean perpetually last in class. Well, turns out that he’s now a very successful property developer.. Our collective jaws were on the proverbial floor! I think the narrative that we tell ourselves determines how far our star rises. Part of being in the 40s is making a conscious decision to change this narrative, and to also change the narrative of what others said we were! Here’s to a brand new script. And all best wishes as you travel to the land of the Queen!

    • Lucas Kibuka Maranga says:

      Thank you MG. You have a way of summarising my story well. Wacha i take some aromat to the queen and her taste buds will never be the same again.

  2. Levi says:

    Very well said. The words we speak out to people/our children who look up to us as their “god’s” can be very influential. We might not do it consciously or willingly but it can have an effect. I need to look for my certificate now and see what check man said about me.
    Great blog bro. Great lesson and challenge to always watch how we embrace our minions and others. Love you bro

  3. Rose says:

    Of course you are successful – more successful than you think. In fact, you sound like an overachiever =- always judging yourself a little too harshly. I enjoyed reading this! And can totally ID’fy

  4. Lilian says:

    Well said. I have many times in the past allowed the opinions of other influence my actions and responses but like you see being on 4th floor gives me a sense of loving me and being my own cheer squad, and silence ‘ average’ opinions. Mob love to you

  5. Njoki says:

    very interesting read. My leaving certificate had the AVERAGE on part of ability too and then since I got a C+ one of my relas told me I am hopeless. A sensible talk from my mother helped me look at life differently. My path to where I am now, may have had more twists than my A student classmates but I have learnt to believe in self and seek God and I have seen progress and growth in life.

  6. LISA says:

    Very well said. I was one of those ‘A students’, living an A life – or so I thought, which quickly led to a D life with F marriages and now back on the steering wheel reclaiming an A+ status with the accumulated experiences. That’s life. Everything in it’s time. There’s a reason for seasons…renewal and growth.

  7. George Nuthu says:

    Lucas, I agree with you,”We are each an A student of life when we find our calling and occupy the space that life gives us.” This truth needs to be engraved in our hearts and minds so that we are confident to discover, develop and accomplish all that God has planned for each of us. Thanks for that inspiring reminder.

  8. Annie says:

    Great great piece Lucas. Some analysis explained that C students employ A students and B students end up being civil servants. There may be some truth to this, but the real truth is ‘ATTITUDE is ALTITUDE’. With the right attitude one can get to great altitude. That’s why success is possible for and with all of us if we have the right attitude to face the mountains ahead!

  9. Moses Osoro says:

    I came across your blog as I was googling up Mr. Maneno (Checkman) while trying to describe him to my wife and kids and explain why I’m such a clean freak.
    Great timely read for me as I just hit the 40s.
    Would like to share this with my class group on WhatsApp.
    Congrats on all that you’ve accomplished.

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