On 31st March, Mummy Shark threw me a wonderful dinner for my 50th birthday. It happened to be Resurrection Sunday. That was a significant coincidence because it was the day Christ rose from the dead after his crucifixion. I took it as a sign that my 50s would be a resurrection into a life of more significance, ease and raha. That’s my story and I’m running with it.

Since then I’ve met folks who have teased me that I am now a mubaba (old man). I still don’t look or feel the part. Someone recently called me a mubaba lite (old but young-looking man). That hit home when I invited my young classmate from photography school to come capture the evening of my 50th birthday. He had earlier posted on his IG about his dad turning 50 that week. I realised his dad and I were the same age. Yaani I was in class with my children. No surprise though because my mum normalized that when she enrolled for her undergraduate studies soon after my MBA graduation in 1999. I remember her application forms reading my name as her guardian. Classic case of role reversal here. It felt pretty cool though

Last week I wrote about a webinar I stumbled across that was full of amazing highlights as far as midlife transitions go. It was by an inspiring guy, Chip Conley. He tells a powerful story on transitions and even has a school for mubaba lites like me hehe. I’d love to attend one of his classes and learn more. Chip introduced the concept of the modern elder and defined him as one who is both curious and wise. I like that definition and can safely say I have now found the English translation for Mubaba Lite. It’s the modern elder.

So what does a modern elder look like especially here in Africa? A lot of us are referred to as the sandwich generation. We have ageing parents that we are taking care of on the one hand and parenting our kids on the other. Add that in between we still have to take care of ourselves especially if handling a transition of one kind or another. A modern elder needs to be good at multi-tasking but also have a capacity for resilience after been knocked about by life and still surviving in midlife.

I like how both Chip and the Halftime process confirm that the best is yet to come. That our second half of life will be a blockbuster movie as far as fun, purpose and freedom are concerned. In light of that, a modern elder should be optimistic. We have painted a masterpiece with the valleys and peaks of our lives thus far. We are hopefully the wiser through our experiences but also curious about what the masterpiece of our second half will look like. We are bound to paint a much better picture in the second half of life because we benchmark more with our truer selves and not others. For instance, I got the courage to write my random thoughts in my 40s. Do I care what people think? I do but that doesn’t determine if I will write or not. It feels good when we play the flute for ourselves. Some will like our music and follow us. Others will find us off-key and keep away. The choice people make will not obstruct our curiosity and we will be wise (and courageous) enough to agree to disagree.

A modern elder is also flexible. This week our kids the Gen Z caught us all by surprise. They have altered the way we look at politics and how we respond to our government. The Gen Zs in my family are currently not in Nairobi. I’m sure if they were they would have joined their agemates on the streets. As their parent or guardian, I would have gone with them to kula pink teargas. As I processed that I saw images of my agemates on the streets protesting against the finance bill. We were also challenged in church to join our children and stand up against injustice. We may be guilty of keeping silent for too long and letting things deteriorate.

My generation riots on the streets of social media. We are known as keyboard warriors. Our Gen Zs have gone one up and taken to the streets. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Many in my generation are guilty of that and it’s time we styled up. Going forward a modern elder will need to pick his kaluma (muscle ointment) and join our kids in demanding a better nation and future for them and us all. Our role here as mubabas is to offer guidance but also borrow the courage our kids have to do the right thing. That’s what a modern elder should look like.

We have many years ahead of us to be the best modern elder we can be. Thanks to advancement in medicine, at 50 I may have another 30-plus years of active service to humanity. According to Chip, just shifting our mindsets on ageing from negative to positive adds 7 years of longevity to our lives. Folks, we can turn our midlife crisis into a great awakening once we shift our minds and start seeing we are on the verge of starting our best life yet. We will live longer and more fulfilled days. And that’s just the life a Mubaba Lite thrives in. Grow as an elder but remain modern folks.

Share this post:

6 thoughts on “Mubaba Lite.”

  1. Mike Eldon says:

    Greetings from a fellow modern elder. As I look back on the all but 30 years since I turned 50 I am happy to say they have been the most fulfilling and uplifting of my life. Good news for you!

  2. Mike Eldon says:

    Greetings from a fellow modern elder. As I look back on the all but 30 years since I turned 50 I am happy to say they have been the most fulfilling and uplifting of my life.

  3. Mbugua says:

    I look forward to becoming a Mubaba Lite. Midlife is an exciting and interesting phase, I am navigating it gently and happily.

  4. Sam says:

    Mubaba Lite, I like that, tuko pamoja!

  5. Regina Birgen says:

    Well said Lucas. you must be wondering why I am here. I read so that I may advise my adult children. it’s good to be on the know always.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *