Far East to Far West, A Test of Brevity

Far East to Far West, A Test of Brevity


Jose is a short form for Joseph. When he was in secondary school in the East African country of Kenya, he learned about the soviet dictator by the name Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin in his history lessons and he thought it cool to identify himself with him because they shared the first name.

When he joined the university courtesy of the successful chicken entrepreneurship trade of his father, he pursued a science course. In his leisure time, Jose read literature, philosophy and deeper history and for the first time, he realized he couldn’t call himself Stalin any longer.

As a young village boy, Jose always told other children how Stalin was a ruthless dictator. And he often finished those stories with a threat to all the young people who dared listen to him that he was Stalin incarnate.

Anybody who ever crossed his path would come face to face with the ruthlessness of Jose Stalin incarnate. It was a good ploy because over time he always had his way because of the fear he had installed among his peers.

At one point in time, Jose and his friends went swimming in River Ramacha, the biggest river in their village. They searched for the deepest part of the fiercely flowing river and decided to swim there. This was during the period of heavy rains. Because Jose was the most respected in the group courtesy of his Stalin reputation, he was the first to dive.

Unfortunately, they underestimated the power of the river that had always silently flowed within the village without a big fuss. As soon as he dived, the water speed overpowered him and started drowning him. The other kids started cheering him thinking he was doing the newest acrobatics that he may have somehow learned in his leisure time.

Were it not for some good Samaritan who noticed the incident and came to his rescue, Jose would have drowned to death. That was the first time he learned the reality of life; that even the toughest of the toughest have their lessons in the hands of their masters. One such master is death.

Fast forward, he joined the local university and realized his ‘Stalinisation’ could not hold water in his new environment. There were bigger and smarter people than him. And for once, he also discovered that Stalin wasn’t admired as he first thought while back in the village.

All of a sudden this smart kid from the village was in a sea of smarter kids from the rest of the country and he simply existed somewhere within the ranks. Officially, he dropped his Stalin name and decided to stick with his short form, Jose.

Four years in the university moved so fast. And it was while in his second year at the university that he first harbored thoughts of moving abroad to further his studies. He always fancied moving to the west and getting a chance to see what was different from his country.

He was convinced that a lot would be very different. If moving from his village to the university in the capital city gave him such a big shock, what would it be like moving from his country to somewhere in the USA or even Europe?

Luckily enough he won himself a sponsorship to pursue a master’s degree in the UK. This was a dream come true. He had always dreamt of boarding an airplane and enjoying the hard fruits of those who came before him and advanced the engineering and science fields including the innovation in the aviation sector.

Once all was set: his visa application was approved, his air ticket booked, his necessary luggage arranged and he was psychologically prepared for the journey, all that remained was for his kinsmen to arrange how to come to the city and see him off.

And this was the first time Rodger didn’t have an option but to leave the comfort of the village to travel to the city and bid his son farewell. The fear of being caught by the white man from whom he stole the GreatWall TV was superseded by the desire to see his son move to where the white man had come from and perhaps come back having matched him.

Rodger made the 500 kilometers journey to the city carrying his traditional brew in a calabash guard to spit on his son’s head as he left as an appeasement to the ancestors to take care of his son’s spirit as he sojourned a foreign land. That was the most important thing to Rodger.

All these were done and sooner after Jose was on his way to the west. It would be the first time when his brevity would be tested once again since that incident in the river. This time around, however, he would be on his own.

It had been a test of brevity on Rodger, his father, as he overcame the fear of the ‘omnipresent’ spirit of his former employer at the settlement scheme and traveled to the city to see Jose off. Interestingly enough, he left the village in one piece and returned in one piece.

Perhaps from then on, he would start moving to the next villages as often as he would want because he was now confident that nothing could happen to him. For Jose, the 20-hour flight from Nairobi Kenya to London England was his last shot.

For the first time, Jose would see and interact with the white man whom his father always told him to be careful of because he was full of magic. More importantly, he looked forward to learning more about Joseph Stalin. Not to imitate him, but to understand how his existence contributed a lot to the course of history today.

As the plane left the Kenyan air space, it would be a matter of time before the East met with the West, or it was south to north. It was more about the ideology than the reality of the compass directions. All in all he, Jose, was determined to alter the course of history in some way or the other as well.

The story continues next week…

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Manufacturing, Technology, Innovation, Governance, Management and International Emerging Issues. For featuring, promotions or support, reach out to us at info@dailyfocus.co.ke
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