“People who don’t eat avocado have a special place in hell.” That is how her speech started in a public speaking class. She hit below the belt because I am not a consumer of avocado. With all the stories I have heard growing up about hell, believe me, it is the last place I want to go, leave alone having a special place there as insinuated by the speaker. 

Each new day comes with its own experiences and pressures. Learn how to identify and shun negative pressures in life. 

The two-minutes speech pressured me into wanting to learn how to eat avocado. I understand that they are yummy and nutritious to the body and has numerous functions; Some use it as a fruit or food additive, face masks, hair oil, etc. Despite all this, it has just never appealed to me. I almost succumbed to the pressure, but then thought ‘It’s never that serious’, it is just a speech. 

Pressure, ‘Peer’ or not, can influence us positively or negatively. Some pressures, we impose on ourselves after an experience, watching a movie, or reading a book. 

After reading the book titled “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, I came across the quote “The poor and the middle-class work for money. The rich have money work for them” I wanted the latter. I wanted money to work for me. I pressured myself into learning Financial Management, investing to gain knowledge in that field. In this journey, I have gathered some insights I would like to share with you. 

  1. “It is not about how much money you make. It is not about how much you save. It is about how much money you invest” ~Tim Denning 
  2. Make saving a habit. When you receive an income, save then spend what is left. That is being intentional in saving, just like tithing 10% of your income 
  3. Always budget for your income – Start with what you cannot do without, and if you cannot afford something, you rather wait than get into a debt 
  4. If you are in debt, create a plan to clear your debt, and be committed until you are debt-free 
  5. Have an emergency fund – Put aside funds for emergencies. Ideally, your emergency fund should be able to take care of you for at least 6 months in case your income stops 
  6. Create a retirement plan – You need to think of your retirement in terms of; where you want to live, and how much you will need to live a comfortable life, then start saving towards that. It is never too late to start saving for your retirement 

Recently, I was privileged to attend a zoom session on Financial Management facilitated by Ann Nakhumicha where I learned how to, and the importance of reviewing your Financial plan every six months. As shared by the facilitator, below are questions you need to ask yourself in the review and act accordingly. 

  1. What steps did you take to push you closer to my goal? 
  2. What things happened that put you further from your goals? 
  3. What money mistakes have you made in the last month? 
  4. Why did you make those mistakes?
  5. Are your financial goals still realistic?
  6. Is your emergency fund fully-funded? 
  7. Are you saving enough to retire comfortably? 
  8. Are you meeting my short-term goals in terms of savings and needs? 
  9. Are you on track with my savings for my children? 
  10. What steps can you take to ensure you have a better month? 

This can be a full plate for you if you do not have a Financial plan or never thought strategically about your finances, but the good news is that when you know better you do better. There is always a starting point and with intentionality, you can achieve whatever it is you have set your mind to. 

What kind of pressure have you succumbed to? What pressure did you triumph over? Each new day comes with its own experiences and pressures. Learn how to identify and shun negative pressures in life.  Appreciate and embrace positive pressures, which help you set new goals, propel you to achieve milestones in life, and empower you to better someone else’s life. 



Submitted by:
Stella Cheboi– Programs officer, Leadership Development 


Covid-19 has disrupted a lot of activities across the world, but we should take the disruptions as a reason to pause and just be us. The world has not come to a standstill, it is moving, and with a lot of changes and new challenges.

As the proverbial saying goes, every dark cloud has a silver lining, so must we search for the silver lining in this dark cloud that has been brought about by the pandemic. One precious opportunity the current period has provided to people who are working from home is time. A true measure of time as money will come at the end of this pandemic when the rising question will be ‘Did I make good use of the time I had?’  The answer to the question will bring a whole difference between people who made the value of the ‘silver lining’ and those who in turn saw dark clouds and spent the entire period mourning.

One of the most amazing things that the Emerging Leaders Foundation has done during these times is hosting guests for live tweet chats. For me, it has created a free and great learning platform. As one of the guests, Dr. Funso Somorin once tweeted in one of the interactive tweet sessions, ‘The best time to learn is now…. learn new things to survive. The currency of living in learning. If you want to live through this crisis, you have to learn through it.’ There is a great lesson for young people in that.

When talking about learning, it involves creating new norms. There are so many things we have always wanted to know, do, check out or try, but we always never had time for them. It could be that tummy you have always wanted to get rid of; it could that book you always wanted to start reading, or a novel you wanted to try writing. There are lots of things that we have constantly put in our to-do lists or new year resolutions that we have also constantly failed to achieve. Why don’t you give it a try now that we have money – I mean time.

I chose to explore the world of literature further during this time. I have enjoyed loads of talks and gained new information on the same.  As it comes out, there are so many emerging ideas in the literary world that I never came across in a literature class. Afro-futurism is one of the issues that I constantly brushed over and never took time to dig deep and get a better understanding of the same. The majority of young people never really care to self-educate themselves. Instead, they show satisfaction with the ‘little’ content they studied while in school. They lack curiosity and the hunger to explore further. With Covid-19 with us already, it is time to explore, to learn, and equip our minds.

Youth must also use this time to equip themselves. Stella Cheboi – one of the trainers and mentors at ELF- in one of her tweets stated, ‘Personal development is one area young people forget to invest. You should invest in skills that will give you an upper hand to opportunities that will come in post-Covid-19.’ True to her words, there are new norms that will emerge as a result of the pandemic and there will be new ideas needed. Some of us have already lost jobs and might need a new skill to survive altogether. At our places of work, we have learned how we can technologically do things, and the world will want people who are computer savvies –we have learned how not to waste time on things that took us longer, trying to meet one-on-one or make things happen manually. We will be on a new level, on a new normal, and that calls for us to learn so that we are equipped.


Submitted by:

Andrea Otieno- Founder, Pasha Resource Centre.

Ultimately, We Just Want to Make it Alive.

After 15 years of being away from home in pursuit of an education, I stood at “garage” formerly Kenya Bus station in Eastleigh, ready and still waiting for the ‘lorry’ which was the main means of transport from Nairobi to Moyale. From stories I had heard, the journey from Nairobi to Moyale town would take at least 2 days. To overcome the boredom, I had carried with me some novels to read on the way, snacks, and a valuable treasure back then -mp3 music player. As we sat waiting for our means of transport, one of the travel agents approached our area to assure us of our safe travel. As this news was being delivered to us, I had been sitting in the waiting lobby for 6 hours, next to a squirmy child who had an undiagnosed stomach-ache that couldn’t give us peaceful moments. I could not read or listen to my music as the waiting room was small and for fear of missing my journey I could not step out.

Drop your maturity hat, play online games, share jokes online, keep track of that group conversation, like, share, consume creativity… just do anything that keeps you sane.

Relief came in when the lorry’s engine was started, our only means of transport home. As the driver stepped on the gas, the noise inflicted pressure on my cochlear. The child adjacent to me didn’t just cry — he let loose desperate, primal screams that could not be extinguished with hugs or sweet Juice. His anguish was so extreme that fellow passengers zoomed right past anger and straight to incredulous pity. As we went past Thika town, I decided to lend out a hand to the mother and held the crying boy. He was gazing at the sky and started pointing at the clouds.

The boy’s mother was embarrassed and anguished with pain. Her face looked pale, tired; her eyes full of tears. An elderly lady seated across kept on encouraging her, but she could take any of that. “Don’t worry about it,” she said. “When you travel with babies, or with other passengers your only goal is to arrive.” I asked her to elaborate. She responded, “Well, traveling with kids is a whole different thing than traveling in a vehicle with grown-ups only,” she said. “Forget about napping, reading a book, or listening to music.It felt she was directing that to me, as I was adjacent to the mother holding a novel that I had tried to read severally but in vain. I tried to listen to music but due to the noise around, it wasn’t an option as well.  “For the mother, her primary job is to keep the baby safe and comfortable. Other travellers care about their safe travel and getting to the other side in one piece. They understand none of the mother’s struggles.”

Since then, I have kept this simple yet profound concept in mind in most of my travels. I always take with me key necessities and even though it may not be as fun as it was, the mantra has helped me keep my priorities in check.

After the outbreak of Covid-19, I read articles and listened to shows encouraging people to avoid coronavirus by staying at home and learning new things. At this point, the old lady’s advice came screaming back to mind. Today’s flight or journey (equated situation created by covid-19), has been very much delayed: not by hours, but months. Travel conditions are —to put it mildly— suboptimal. Each of us should have in mind one goal; to arrive on the other side in one piece.

With our reality changing, we also need to change the metrics by which we judge our success. If Satisfaction=Experience–Expectations, and much of the experience is out of our control, this is the time to make sure our expectations are realistic and achievable.

I am praying that the current situation is one of the passing waves or travel delays or swept bridge by floods. No one can easily tell about the anxiety caused by job losses for others or severe unpredictable situations and unsettled minds. All you will hear is, read/write a book, reclaim your beach body and do something extraordinary.

As you hope to cross over, your main job is to maintain sanity, stay healthy, and where you can, offer kindness to your fellow humans. (No, this doesn’t mean you have to hold someone else’s baby like me in the lorry for the rest of the journey it means sharing food stuff or cash and checking up on your neighbours.) For parents like the lady whose child terrorized us in the lorry, your children may force you to watch cartoon network and animations over and over.

Given the current norm, this is absolutely the wrong time to take on unreasonably ambitious goals. When you’re trying to hang onto a job or keep an organization or company afloat, while home schooling your kids, arranging ways to continue with advocacy, supporting the less fortunate in the community and bathing only occasionally, you are already operating at a very high level.

I know you often open the fridge at 2am and find it empty, get disappointed that snacks you had budgeted for two weeks, don’t last a day. You are continuously finding yourself have dinner late in the night, working at night and gazing, continuously browsing, and switching from twitter to Facebook to Instagram, WhatsApp status and the new darling Tiktok. Forget the motivational nonsense and over consumption of daily updates on the number of infections and deaths. Drop your maturity hat, play online games, share jokes online, keep track of that group conversation, like, share, consume creativity… just do anything that keeps you sane.

Dear Kenyans and Africans, I know you’ve heard or watched the news from Italy, France and USA. And just so we are clear, Italy is not Somalia, France is not Southern Sudan and USA is not DR Congo- the first two are countries in Europe while the latter is the famous America. These are developed countries whose health sector was and is still rocked and almost crumbling under covid-19, not forgetting that they are among the G8 countries – highly industrialized nations. If Covid-19 has managed to destabilize G8 countries with proper established health system, what about African countries like Kenya? Our politicians and prominent businessmen and women are always flying out of the country for treatment abroad.

By now, everyone remembers CS Kagwe famous statement, “If we continue to behave normally, this disease will treat us abnormally.” To me this means that things may get worse if we are not cautious. In the meantime, help yourself by turning on the self-preservation mode. Use what you have sparingly, limit your movement, treat everyone as a covid-19 carrier.

The undeniable superheroes out here clearing our ways or mending broken bridges right now are not your prophets performing miracles, not preachers, not your favourite avengers character or those handsome men you are always fancying on soap operas. They are under-paid doctors, nurses, other workers in the hospitals, the workers getting food to the shelves, community champions who are collecting food stuff, and creating awareness about the disease.

To cross over we must help our heroes and heroines by staying home and caring for ourselves and those around us. We can do our best within the controllable elements of the experience. This is the time when you secure your mask before your child’s. Sleep eight hours, stretch, meditate, take a walk, and observe the guidelines including social distancing. If you’ve got that covered, look for ways to brighten someone else’s day.

Please don’t beat yourself up for not using the ‘lockdown’ to “live your best life” or start a real estate business in your pyjamas.

Back to my story, when we finally reached Moyale barrier, no one among us cared how we looked, what we went through or anything else, all we cared for was that we arrived safely, having maintained our cool.


Submitted by:

Ahmed Maalim-  Manager, Governance and Advocacy