I recently had an eye-opening conversation with a couple of friends.
One spoke of his friend’s son. He asked the young man if he was going to join the family business to which the young man replied in the negative.
He then asked if he already had his sights on a job with a company somewhere and again he replied in the negative.
When he finally opened up and said what he did and what his vision for the future was, my friend was blank. This young man whose parents could give him the world — literally, turned down every opportunity from them and said that he wants to be a social media influencer.
In fact, he was proud to show my friend the number of followers that he has on Instagram and other social media platforms.
My friend could not understand why this young promising man could not get a real job.
Another friend’s daughter had been sent to a finishing school in Europe and then to one of the best universities in the United States. The mother, however, was so sad that in spite of all that education the girl opted to be a beautician and make-up artist.
In the eyes of the mother, this was not a real job for a person who had gone to the best schools in the world.
My second son had always topped his classes and finally had made it through university at the top of the class. I always knew he had music in him. It is a generational thing and the family has produced musicians for years.
What I, however, did not realise was that this was what he would want to do with his life. Playing the instrument is one thing.
He is a DJ that not only plays other people’s music but produces his own music.
Even though I may not understand it, he must be very good at what he does because he has received contracts from record labels in different parts of the world who want to sign him on.
My 20-year-old daughter has her own beauty products line where she has experimented with different makeup looks.
Again, she must be very good at it because I see big names in beauty from different parts of the world following her on social media. Besides this, she has hired people whom she pays salaries.
And so I find myself thinking seriously that she must be doing something right.
Now, flash back to when I was younger.
I remember telling my mother that I wanted to play the piano in a jazz club. I immediately got slapped in the face.
This, however, did not deter me for I kept sneaking out at every single opportunity.
As I conversed with my friends, I wondered what would have happened if I had told my mother that I wanted to spend the rest of my life playing music in a club.
This would probably have accelerated her death by a few years.
We have a curriculum that is been spoken of all over Kenya and people are talking of preparing the students and preparing the teachers.
While this is very important I think there is a group that has been left out of the preparation and that is the parents:
1. Who will prepare them for what is coming?
2. Who will let them know that the last few years has produced new professions that they are totally clueless about?
3. Who will let them know that to fight something simply because you do not understand it is not a very bright thing to do?
4. Come to think of it, are the teachers who were groomed tradition ready to take up and mentor young people who have been groomed in the unconventional?
My son proudly showed me a young man who was paid $3 million for winning an e-gaming competition.
E-sports has now become a massive thing across the globe but when mentioned among my friends, they see it akin to betting and so they resist it even though most of their grandchildren have PlayStation consoles at home.
This is because the grandparents do not understand that the present day equivalent of us playing football outdoors is when the children sit in front of a television set and begin to challenge each other and even have e-sporting tournaments.
No matter how good the curriculum is, there is a need for social reorientation, otherwise the curriculum will face the stiffest persecution from the most unexpected quarters — from home.
Wale Akinyemi is the chief transformation officer, PowerTalks.