Many of us grew up being warned of bad company. Peer pressure was construed to mean negative and should be avoided at all costs. While I agree that there is no shortage of bad company out there there is also positive peer pressure.

I’m reading Dr. Martin Oduors biography, – Beyond The Shadows of My Dream. I admire the influence he and his peers had on each other. This is my first biography to read and I am only on chapter five. I’m enjoying the story. Maybe it’s because I know the author. I can hear him telling me the story in person. I hope my story will be this relatable when I do my biography after I have accumulated enough life to share hehe.

Martin’s boarding school life reminds me of my high school days at Lenana school aka Duke of York. It was there that I ate Yorkshire pudding for the first time. We the monos would caddy for our seniors when they played golf. Lenana is one of the very few schools with a golf course, though it gave way to the cows as grazing paddocks soon after we joined back in the 80s.

Back to Martin’s book. Like most boys school wasn’t taken too seriously. But they suddenly switched from being casual about school and focused on having their names appear on the prestigious list in the newspaper, of boys who had passed their exams with flying colors. I have often wondered what turns that internal switch in us that makes us reform and turn our life for the better. I was a young thug when in primary school. Destructive, disobedient, and academic excellence was at the bottom of my priority list. I would steal money from my mum’s handbag and give it to my dad ati I’m saving to buy a BMX bike. It cost 5000 bob then and having a BMX bike gave me more clout in the estate than my Subaru does now hehe.

One day my dad called me to his room and sat me down. I knew this was my last time to be seen alive. Of course, he knew that I was thugging from mum. I wasn’t sharp enough to figure out that you cannot save money when you don’t have an income. He didn’t assault me as I expected. He just advised me in a calm but firm voice to stop stealing money and that if I continued my future will be both bleak and short. And that was the end of my life in crime by Lucas Marang’a (that’s another book title right there haha). But it would be a short book as that life didn’t last too long. Some sense of right was planted in me and I have struggled to reap where I haven’t sown ever since.

Martin and his mates suddenly styled up, got unshackled of all distractions, and pursued success with all they had. Good grades were the ticket to success in life. He paints a vivid picture in his book of him sleeping on his Vono spring bed without his mattress which was of little comfort itself being a sack stuffed with grass on the inside. The reason for sleeping with such discomfort was so as not to sleep. He needed to wake up early and study for exams. Needless to say, he and all his crew did well and have left indelible marks on this country and beyond.

I particularly liked how freaked out they were at the thought that some of them would appear in the gazeti and others would miss out. There seemed to be no marks for class attendance back in their day as it is now.

Peer pressure can take us far in life (in either direction) depending on the kind of peers we keep. Dr. Martin Oduor has gone far in life, definitely beyond the shadows of his dreams. One of the guys he began life with was the best man at his wedding and his children have also benefitted from those childhood friendships abroad.

That’s what positive peer pressure can do. It has no expiry date and remains an open cheque that we can keep cashing for life. Of course, one needs to reciprocate to enjoy it.

I have my band of brothers whom I met at different times then golf cemented our brotherhood.  It has made a world of difference walking with these men. Challenging each other but also pushing one another when life seems to stall. My prayer is that we will nudge each other to greater heights as there is no joy in a mediocre life. We have to score highly in life and appear in the newspaper of achievement. That when other men who lived significantly are asked to stand up, we shall proudly rise too.

Thank you, Martin, for sharing your story. A disclaimer though. Now that I got a story from your book after reading only five chapters, don’t be surprised if more reflections appear here along the way.

So go ahead, folks. Get influenced. Peer pressure is good. Just ensure it’s right.



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