Morgan Maloba is an 18 year old High school graduate with huge ambitions. I first met him during a meeting with my NGO director, Malik Khaemba. There was a knock on the door and in stepped a strong, confident looking young man. He greeted both of us kindly and proceeded to tell us his plight.
It should first be mentioned that this boy was not new to Malik. For the past four years, CES has been helping this boy pay his way through High school, something that would not have been possible if he had been left on his own. As Morgan explains in his thank you letter to CES:
I write to sincerely appreciate for the sponsorship you offered throughout my high school education. Although I came from a humble background, you made me great amongst the lowly. You made me achieve something from nothing.
In addition, it is due to you support that I obtained a mean grade of B+ which has opened an opportunity to persuade Bachelor of Education (Arts) English and literature in the university of Nairobi
Ultimately, I really appreciate you for the kind services you are offering in Eastern Kenya. Through your efforts, you are making the less privileged in the society proud. I really feel these words are not enough fro my appreciation. The only way will be to assist the humble in the society. Kindly accept my appreciation. May God bless you. Thank you,”
Saying that Morgan came from a humble background is an enormous understatement. Sixteen years ago, when Morgan was only 14 years of age, his mother died from causes I have yet to ascertain. He was left in the care of his father, who works as a Boda Boda rider in his home town. Understand that this is neither a lucrative nor desirable job for a man to have. In any given town there will undoubtedly be a huge number of boda boda riders, all vying for the same customers. Thus, you can imagine that Morgan’s father struggles to simply pay for the their daily necessities of food and water, let alone the relatively enormous amount of money required to attend school.
So that was the position that Morgan was in years ago, when he was first recommended to CES by his high school principle. He had shown great ability in his classes, obtaining top marks all through Elementary school, possessing the kind of drive and passion that any teacher would crave from their students. The only thing holding Morgan back from continuing his path through academia? 12, 000KSh. That means that there was only $200 CAD standing between him and his full potential.
This is exactly the kind of situation that CES was created for. Morgan’s case was shared with CES Canada, which then pulled together the money that was needed to put Morgan through the next four years of high school. As his letter reveals, he never lost his gratitude for the opportunity that this support provided, showing this through his B+ accomplishment.
However, Morgan’s ambitions didn’t stop there. Morgan had now come to our CES office to plead for financial support in his university aspirations. His High School grades guaranteed him entrance into the University of Nairobi to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in English and Literature, a four year program that will journey him to the far reaches of literature and prose. His only problem is that he has a mountain to climb. In order to attend, he is going to have to come up with the 28, 000KSh tuition to pay for his first semester, understandably a huge financial obstacle. To his credit, and thanks to the generous support of his extended family, people that barely have a shilling to spare, he has managed to pull together 10,000KSh for his registration. However, unless he can the remaining 18, 000KSh ($206 CAD), he might as well get a job beside his father on the boda boda.
What is even more heart wrenching about this situation is that he has been told by university registrars that, considering his background, he has a very good chance of receiving money from the Higher Education Loan Board, a government arm that provides tuition to students most in need, thus guaranteeing him financial support for his entire time at university. But only if he can pay this initial tuition. Only if he can find another 18, 000Ksh. Just 200$.
After he had spoken to Malik about his predicament and Malik provided him with a reference letter to bring to the University registrars, the most he is able to do, Morgan asked if he could speak to me personally, alone. Standing outside on the front steps, shaded by an elderly tree, Morgan does not begin to ask me for financial aid, what I was expecting to hear. No, rather, he begins to tell me about his dreams, his passions. He felt that it was important that I hear what it is that drives him most in life, what he thinks about every waking second. Morgan is a young man that is infatuated with literature. He spoke to me of how he will often find himself a piece of shade, away from all of the noise, simply to write his thoughts down. This is a young man that speaks of how much he enjoys looking up words he reads in his pocket dictionary, sometimes for no other reason than to ingest it’s emotional undertones. He speaks of the ten short stories he has already written, describing his motivations and intentions with each aspect of his writings. As you listen to him speak you can tell that this is not just an interest for him. An interest is something that you want to do, should you have the opportunity. Rather, this is a vocation for Morgan, a calling if you will, something that he WILL do no matter what, for as long as his mind is able. As such, he knows that he needs to go to university, where he can meet other like minded people, develop new ideas, change his old ideas, to be exposed to all that is different and stimulating.
As he speaks, you can see how he will momentarily let himself go, look you in the eyes, raise his voice, as he describes his ideas and his work. I suspect that the only time he feels comfortable is when he is thinking of his writing.
And that was it. I had to go finish my work with Malik, he had to catch the bus back to his town. He explains that the bus costs him approximately 200 KSh, and as such he can’t really afford to come back to Kakamega for a while. We say goodbye, I give him my phone number and hold back the urge to run to the bank and empty my savings account into his hands. It is a strange feeling, to know that life will continue on, but it doesn’t have to go in the same direction. As he walks back to the main road I stand on the front steps, thinking one thing that he had said to me:
I know that one day I will create a great novel, that I will be a great Kenya writer.
I wonder: Is he the next great Kenyan writer? Who knows. I also suspect that without adequate support, we never will.
UPDATE: Good news! After Morgan’s story was put out into the inter-web, two amazing people decided that something had to be done to help this young man. Barry and Judy Goode of Ontario, Canada saw the great potential in this young man and generously provided the necessary funding to get Morgan into University. The money was handed to him at our CES offices and is now at Nairobi University attending the first of his many classes.
In his words, “For your information, fate is still driving me to my vision-one that i will do everything possible to achieve. Am almost running mad because of the large number of materials at my disposal. Am drinking from the deep wells of Literature.”
We all wish Morgan the best and hope that he realizes his dream.
I leave you with one of his poems, entitled ‘Stratification’.
have seen him
driving a sophisticated Benz
in the posh estate of the city
I have seen him
clad in expensive garments
of a distinct social class
in the land of democrats
I have seen him speak
in a political rally
in the city suburbs
with the feared bigwigs
I have heard him chat
with the selected few
the cream of creation
I envy the talk
of the big cash
I can`t join them
do you know why?
I have seen him
smile at me
I love him
He can`t love me in return
I am hopeless
do you know why?