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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Kalya: Don’t let social media wealth show-offs give you high blood pressure

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BY KIPRONO KALYA: Before social media connected the world, people used to live their lives according to social and economic class. Simply put, everyone stuck to their lane. Culturalization, experiences, influence and environmental factors dictated the composition of social groupings. People from one end of the railway didn’t know or fathom how those from the other end lived. And they were happy like that.

But social media is like the highway. You see, on the highway, you’re most likely going to get courtesy from people who own big guzzlers than from matatu drivers. Ladies who drive tiny shopping baskets will most likely not give way at all because they imagine you are ‘demeaning’ them due to size. They have evolved into defensive drivers on the road whereas those who drive expensive cars are more patient.

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It speaks truth to how people feel about themselves. If these classes of car owners had a way, they’d drive on private roads dedicated to their category, even though there are those who would rather be out on the road to showcase their ‘machines’.

Two scenarios stand out in my short life dealing with wealthy men.

I once did a job for Doshi Group sometime back in 2013. Now, Doshi group are the only other company that trade in steel and cables on a large-scale other than East Africa Cables. So profitable was their company that one station would take in revenues of upto 200Million in less than a week. And they have 5 stations on the country. Their tentacles go far and wide into East and Central Africa.

Hemal Doshi, the owner and son to the founder used to drive in and out of his Mombasa road office in a 1995 Mercedes 200E. In traffic you’d never guess that he was among the wealthiest men in East Africa.


My late friend and mentor Ambassador Betwhel Kiplagat had a very easy and minimalist lifestyle. He was always driven around or he’d drive himself around in an old 1992 BMW 5 series. But it was pristine and looked beautiful in its white color. So humble was he that when my mother passed on, he drove all the way to Kericho for her funeral because of a relationship he had with me, a young man, and not my father or any other relative. Bethwel was a founder of KREP ( Sold and branded to Sidian Bank)bank from when it was a small microfinance institutuon and sat on the boards of many other banks.

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Wealthy people are humble. Those with fickle riches make the loudest noise about their possessions.

Being around such wealthy people made me understand something. That we have these classes of people:

The Miserably Dirt Poor

The Moderately Poor

The Lower Middle Class

The Middle Class

The Upper Middle Class

The Rich….

The Wealthy


The Stratospheric Wealthy.

The last category is where the likes of Moi and Kenyatta and and Others belong. This group has wealth tentacles cemented by political kleptocracy that span generations and continents. One may not work in one life time to make their kind of money not unless you have disruptive monopolistic products like Facebook, Amazon or Google.

Anyway, the last two categories never show off their wealth at all. If you met the likes of Samuel Gichuru you may not know how rich he is. Together with the likes of Kirubi, they belong on the second last category. Wealthy. Kirubi loves a good life, however in person, he is as humble as they come. If the car he drives would tell you he’s rich then you’d be foolish. Kirubi is extremely wealthy.

So, where am i going with this…

I have seen many try to alter their lives because of social media pressure. I’ve seen many live lives of absolute stress to impress strangers online. One case is in a group called Home Beautiful.

Recently the group members started posting about ‘toys’. Cars. Mind you, the group is intended for showcasing houses for inspiration . From small sedans to big wheels to the absolute tiny streetcars, members have been trying to outdo one another …. then today one lady posts herself flying her son in a small single engine plane somewhere overseas. And everyone goes wild. She stopped reggae.

In Kenya, many own planes as well. A school like Pembroke or Rift Valley academy or Turi in Molo have kids dropped by choppers or planes every school opening. There’s a settler from nanyuki who flies his two kids on a MD500 ‘mosquito’ chopper every morning to Brookhouse.

However hard you work, there’ll always be someone richer than you. Always remember that. Even Bill Gates keeps being knocked out of position one all the time. Jeff Bezos of Amazon is rich one year, he drops the next. Just strive for a life of good health and quality experiences and stop racing against invisible competitors. You will never truly live your life in bliss. Happiness I say, is an inside job.

Wealth and riches is relative. The only riches you actually need is the wealth of wisdom and good health.

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Let’s use relative reality to exemplify net worth.

Where I live in Kericho, an acre of land sells for 25-30M an acre. It’s more than 5KMs from town. In town, an acre goes upto 100M an acre. Now. If you supposedly have 10 acres where my countryside home is, then your net worth before adding movable assets amd structures would be about 300M. That means, if you would be vetted for a public job and asked to quantify your worth, you’d be called a multimillionaire. So those guys who have 50 acres and above or those many families in Kericho who have long haul trailers of upto 100 per fleet are bonafide billionaires. Amd trust me, they are many. But because they rather drive pick-up trucks, an apartment living individual driving a Prado would inspire a social media idler more because of optics.

This is John Travolta below . He is an actor. He is also a plane enthusiast. He flies himself globally and yes, this is his home parking lot. As we compete to showcase cars, toys and wheelbarrow, others live lives made straight out of dreams.

In Lagos back in 2014, we had an event at Oriental Hotel in Lekki, Victoria Island. On one of the upper floors, Aliko Dangote had a party. The parking lot had vehicles I’ve only seen in magazines and videos. Chatting up Nigerians, and mesmerized at how wealthy Dangote was, I was schooled to know that Dangote was no where near the wealthiest Nigerian. There were Nigerians who Dangote could not marry from their families. Davido’s father is one such wealthy man. I saw that parking lot once more, and realized this world is not my home. Keep your peace Kalya, go in peace Kalya. Go back to Nairobi and sit still.

Bethwel Kiplagat once told me….
“when you pursue knowledge, when you become an empath, when you become mindful of the influence you have over others, when you inspire and bless, you become wealthier than a king with gold because, riches without wisdom and soulfulness is vain .”

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