How did that fool overtake me

By Kuza Biashara…

June 3, 2017 Published by: James Keru

How did that fool overtake me? That’s the question that lingers in the minds of most people when they turn 55. They know very well that they studied hard, worked hard and lived a generally organized life. What they really can’t figure out is how that rugged looking, unschooled tout in the street managed to build an economy 100 times better than theirs.

How did that D- (Minus) material manage to own acres and acres of real estate? Or how did that mtumba seller manage to build a bungalow while I am still struggling to pay for a mortgaged two bedroom apartment? Well, that’s the sad reality of life. Sometimes those from whom not much is expected are the ones who pull a couple of surprise moves in life.

This blog brings this into perspective. It’s a life-journey comparison of two people. One is a matatu tout the other one is a banker. One is in a blue-collar worker in a field that is otherwise reserved for those who seem unambitious in life. The other one is an educated, neatly dressed white-collar professional who spends most of his time in some corner office.

The only disclaimer I would like to make is that this story is not meant to demean any career. Its sole aim is to educate you on good and bad choices in life and how they influence who we become.

[SIZE=4]The Matatu Tout Vs. The Banker[/SIZE]
A matatu tout is a career despised by many owing to the fact that it is seen as a preserve for the academically weak and unintelligent people. You only need basic cash-handling skills to venture into this career which means one can get started immediately they finish form four.

On the other hand, a career in banking is coveted by many across the globe. In order to become a banking clerk, you need a Bachelors Degree or at least advanced training in accounts which obviously mean spending at least 3 years in post-secondary school.

According to independent research by the SDE Kenya and Mediamax, on a good day, a tout in a Nairobi matatu takes home Sh 3,000. On a bad day, he takes Sh 1,500.

On the other hand, a spot check on banking clerks salaries in Kenya show that most banks offer a basic salary of Ksh30,000 – Ksh40,000 to their employees.

Remember that a matatu tout can start working almost immediately after form four and so by the time the banker finds a job, the tout already has 3 years of experience. The tout will have already completed his driving classes and just waiting for 2 more years to become a fully-fledged PSV driver. He has by default been “hardened” by rubbing shoulders with the traffic police, city council askaris and NTSA officers.

So let us see how the two manage their life and money differently.

[SIZE=4]Starting Life[/SIZE]
The matatu tout, owing to his perceived “low class” standards is comfortable renting out a house in some dark corner of Githurai 45. That costs him a paltry Ksh3,000 per month. Thanks to the nature of his job, he does not require to pay fare to and from town.

The graduate banker on the other hand due to his perceived “high class” status in society will rent a bed-sitter in Roysambu or any other middle-income estate. That will cost him approximately Ksh10,000 per month. Unlike the tout, he has to pay for matatu fare to and from work every morning.

Fare from Roysambu to town (one-way) is usually Ksh100 during peak hours. Don’t forget the late-night Uber trips the banker has to take after a night out with his fellow educated friends.

[SIZE=4]How They Save[/SIZE]
The matatu tout is naturally able to save more because of his low expenses. If he is wise and disciplined, he will join a SACCO where he will start saving with the dream of purchasing his own matatu. You will find him comfortably taking food in vibandas (temporary sheds) to save an extra coin he can find.

His street survival instincts will have taught him that he can actually take advantage of free transport of his employer’s matatu to be collecting second-hand clothes in Gikomba. So he starts up a small market stall in the busy Githurai market.

On the other hand, the banker will be busy trying to fit into a certain lifestyle. His biggest worry will be how to upgrade from the bed-sitter in Roysambu to a one-bedroom house in Garden Estate or Ruaka. He will also be working very hard to get a loan so that he can buy a car.

His goal is to particularly fit into a lifestyle worthy of a white collar job employee. You will therefore find him busy on social media updating his growing number of online fans on his daily escapades.

As the matatu tout builds his savings and expands his streams of income, the banking clerk gets busy financing a lifestyle.

[SIZE=4]Five Years Later[/SIZE]
Five years down the line, the matatu tout has already become a PSV matatu driver which means his daily take-home has risen from Ksh3,000 to Ksh5,000. He only needs to wait for a few more months and he will be having his own matatu on the road.

Even luckier for him, he already has the hard skills of managing this tricky business. His mtumba business has also blossomed and he has left it to his wife to manage full-time. This brings an extra Ksh1,000 a day to the family’s kitty.

The story of the banker is not all too gloom and doom either. He has already managed to clock in a few more years of experience and has been promoted to a better position. He now takes home Ksh60,000 basic salary per month.

He is already finishing up on repaying the car loan he took during the early years of employment. Next on his plan is to take up another loan to finance his upcoming wedding. His target budget is Ksh1,000,000 wedding.

Note that due to his promotion at work he now has to deal with more workload…meaning his mind is fully occupied and he cannot even think of running a side-hustle.

[SIZE=4]At 55 Years Of Age[/SIZE]
The matatu tout has managed to grow his matatu business from one matatu to a fleet comprising 14 seaters and 33 seater HINO buses. And thanks to his experience on the road, he has been appointed as the head of his matatu sacco.

His mtumba business has also grown into a fully-fledged boutique with branches in Ruai and Ongata Rongai. His wife frequently travels abroad to shop for new supplies for their business. They have also constructed a bungalow in the outskirts of the capital. In just a few more years, they will be constructing some rental apartments in Juja.

The good banker on the other hand will have reached a senior managerial position. Good for him. But that’s the end of the story. He will be stuck in debt. He has a mortgage loan for the apartment he bought in mlolongo – the mortgage loan has a repayment of 30 years meaning he will repay it until he turns 85.

His kids are going to expensive schools and he is already feeling the strain of paying for tuition and boarding fee. To make matters worse, the bank he works for is not doing so well owing to factors like capped interest loan rates and entry of digital banking.

A memo is circulated in the office that some people will be retrenched. He becomes a worried man. His health deteriorates. He is on the verge of having his apartment repossessed if he loses that job. He tries to secure a loan to start a business (remember he has no hands-on experience in managing his own business), it fails. You can now join the dots and figure out what happens to him in his sunset years.

[SIZE=4]Final Word[/SIZE]
Once again, the goal of this story is not to encourage you to despise some jobs. We cannot all become touts. But there is a lesson in it for all of us to learn. The banker in this case is you – the smartly dressed chap who spends his time on Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter etc. The banker is also you – who despise humble beginnings.

That mkokoteni drawing fool you splash water on with your ex-Japan car bought on loan might soon give you a run for your money. Wake up, stop financing a lifestyle. Don’t be a robot. Don’t take a nap in your comfort zone. Wake up and start working on your dreams.


great article

ever herd of “street smart”

Meria niaje… Naeza pata hiyo kazi ya conductor ama kwa trucks hatuezi gonga mhindi. Nataka niaje hii ya ofisini after that insight.

Is this in kenya? Show me 1 successful makanga retiree, and I will show you 10 successful ex-bank employees.

Too many assumptions, the matatu industry is not as rosy as its being painted

I think the problem with such stories is that they pick the exceptional cases in the matatu industry and compare that to the worst case in the bank/office industry, then they work out a narrative to fit their headline, you can see how they throw around figures, driver quote is per day while the banker is monthly, then they pick the figures of those drivers and touts on the most profitable routes while quoting salary figures for the lowest paying banks.

In life, and with enough luck and hard work one can make it from say being a tout, lakini the probability of doing it as compared to say a bank job is very very low, but I guess in life you work with whatever life give you.

Hii article kuna vile imeonea bankers ama people in employment. Employed mofos have many things going for them, e.g easy access to loans, medical insurance, bonuses at the end of the year etc. A self employed matapaka on the other hand might struggle for up to 10 years, but when the stars align, the next 5 years might see him achieving more than that employed nigga will achieve in the remainder of his life. All in all, kujipanga ndio kitu cha maana. Business fundamentals apply everywhere, whether you run a kibanda or a blue chip company.
Also, I’m not such a huge fan of the matatu culture coz I mostly associate it with unruliness, but I’ve been watching Matwana Matatu culture, and I now realize there are good people in the industry who’re working just as hard as everyone else to earn a living. Some of the guys who’ve invested serious money in matatus (spending between 0.5 to 1 milli just to pimp the vehicle) earn a net of between 10-15k per day.

Tumenyolewa bila maji

I think the author is not telling the story a literal sense but the story is an analogy of how street smarts who start from a humble beginnings,learn things the hard way later become refined in the sunset years and can become successful people later on, compared to most employees who are sheltered, do not think outside the box and are comfortable and arrogant in the illusion of ‘job security’ and a ‘bubble of middle class’, then when life pulls a fast one on them i.e. they loose their jobs they have no firm standing. So don’t despise humble beginnings, aspire big and think fast of ways you can generate other sources of income as things may head south especially due to changing trends in the world e.g. technology etc that has seen many people in the banking industry get retrenched

wangetumia tu example ingine, lakini si makanga!!

Makanga kazi nikuiba pesa ya employer, kuenda kuzikunywa zote jioni, malaya, mogoka etc. And the cycle begins afresh the next day at zero shillings. They are scum!!!

The writer knew he would elicit emotions with such an article, because its pure crap. He just wants to tear down employed people as losers. When will people ever learn, si kila mtu anaeza fanya biashara!!

…very biased article.

Good read…Lakini too much positives on the makanga and many many negatives on the banker.
And if I tell you the banker owns matatus.
Please let us also write about successful white-collars - I know they are many - and how people(we) can learn from them.
Bottom line, kazi ni kazi.

From mayai boilo hawkers billionares to touts sasa.

Statistically, and statistics dont lie, there are more successful bankers than makangas. That is enough proof that the banker wins because he is supported by statistics. This writer failed to mention a crucial factor that catapults the banker miles ahead of the tout…i.e access to cheap loans. A banker will get his loan processed within a few days, and he will almost ALWAYS qualify for it in the bank where he works. The loan is deducted from his payslip, and therefore, the banker will be forced to live below his means as he repays the loan. Did I mention that bankers get free money because the interest rate charged on their loans is only marginally higher than inflation. So yes…that banker can buy that 1 million plot today…survive with half his payslip for a year or two, and then take another free loan. Secondly, the article assumes that the banker has zero capability of running a side hustle, which might not always be the case. A banker can run some side hustles, such as farming because he can visit the farm during the weekends etc. On the contrary, a tout gets his cold hard cash every day. Unfortunately, it is hard to be disciplined financially when you get paid on a daily basis, and in an industry full of peer pressure, drug abuse and immorality. An average tout will spend his entire 2k in the bar with his friends entertaining prostitutes, drinking and chewing miraa like goats. You should have noted by now that most salaried people only drink on Fridays or endmonth…for touts…every day is payday. Due to his company and exposure, he is unlikely to make any meaningful investment due to the little financial education he has, and the absence of mentors he can learn from. A simple banker will be armed with loans, and be privy to information about repossessed property which he can buy at a discount from the bank. Simply put, the tout may be making more money, but he is unlikely to outperform the banker in the long run because he lacks the discipline and cant access loans below the market rate like a banker. NB: A banker who fails to take loans from his company is doing a serious injustice to himself and his family…and should probably be stoned for being stupid.

We can’t all fit in the same professions, miti ya msitu huwa haitoshani

Isnt exactly a balanced representation, lots of variables left out but it happens.

Hapo Kwa nataka niaje, nimeacha kusoma. Wakale tumejaa Kwa kijiji.

The way I see it this story is more of a metaphor saying most of us who aren’t born into wealth have two choices: build your empire or finance your high end lifestyle, but it is not that simple…

True, most banker friends I know currently stay in their own houses or finishing up on mortgages courtesy of cheap loans they accessed around 8 years ago when we started our careers