OPINION| Wealthy Kenyans should emulate Uhuru’s philanthropy to improve society’s lot

By Michael Cherambos

As 2019 comes to a close, Kenya has much to be proud of. Few moments in our nation’s history recall this level of peace and harmony. This was the year of hearing the voices of the public, sharing opinions and opening up the national discourse. The new census data revealed that we have grown significantly since the last time the population was measured a decade ago.

And perhaps one of the greatest events that made each and every one of us proud to be Kenyans was the fantastic wins by our hard working marathoners. It was a moment of unprecedented unity and joy here at home.

When Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei both broke records in October, the world was in awe of the exceptional talent of Kenyan runners. But their success does not boil down to talent alone – which they undoubtedly possess. They could never have reached such great feats without grit, hard work and a dedicated team to support them.

The training took years of behind the scenes effort to cultivate such success. And Kipchoge’s record breaking sub two hours marathon was completed with the help of a dedicated team of pacers.

Working together to share what you can is at the core of our national achievements. That’s why it came as no surprise that President Uhuru Kenyatta wanted to keep the momentum of unity going.

It was recently announced that the President would be donating Sh100 million out of his own pocket to construct a new school and library in Kipchoge’s honour.

Education CS George Magoha has since already hand-delivered the cheque to Kapsisiywa, Nandi County – the elite runner’s home village, which came as great news to local officials and families. It is an opportunity to pay homage to an area that has given rise to several great runners, athletes who have continuously persevered to overcome all odds.

The new school and library will be commissioned within the next six months. Government officials were warned that if they attempted to take cuts from the cash donation they would promptly be removed from office.

Uhuru had the luck to be born into a wealthy family. But what he does with that wealth makes all the difference. This act of selflessness should be a lesson to all wealthy Kenyans that the good of the nation should come before other concerns.

Those who have the means should be constantly looking for ways to improve the lives of their compatriots from more challenged socioeconomic backgrounds. There is no greater deed than philanthropy.

If the rich are not doing their part to uplift the less fortunate, then they are failing themselves. It is in all of our best interests for everyone to share what they can. Generosity is never a burden, for God will reward it later.

And one of the most important ways to give back when you have been blessed is through education. Improving children’s access to education through the donation of time and money is not only a good deed, it is an investment.

Studies across the world, year after year, have pointed to the fact that higher education levels translate directly into a more robust economy. Knowledge is power. By donating a school and library, Uhuru is sharing the power with our nation’s youth.

Luckily, we already have a lot of motivated young people working as teachers and trying to improve the education sector. We can list Peter Tabichi being awarded the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize this year as yet another thing Kenyans have to celebrate in 2019. Tabichi gives away 80 percent of his monthly salary to help the needy.

He is one of many teachers finding ways to think outside the box and engage bright kids with lots of potential. If more local philanthropists set up new libraries and teaching facilities, teachers such as Tabichi will have all the more opportunity to enlighten students.

Every child has the potential to be a great leader, athlete, thinker, doer, or changemaker. They deserve the tools to realise these roles. For everyone that has the good fortune to be able to share, I suggest we begin by emulating Uhuru’s act of philanthropy. We can’t all donate a school but most of us can at least donate some of our time for the good of the children.

Mr Cherambos comments on topical socio-political issues.

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