My Friend Ismael is Educated not Learned

Ismael is my friend who is well educated in water engineering sector. He attained a diploma in water engineering at one of the best colleges in Nyanza Province. When he passed his final primary exams, Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), his parents could not afford to take him to high school but fortunately, his uncle (who is a doctor) stepped up to take him to high school. Ismael took the normal four years in high school and eventually attained a grade that allowed him to join a college. Another obstacle arose, who is going to take Ismael to college?

After several talks with his uncle, they (the family)landed on an agreement that his uncle and his family will proportionally pay an agreed amount of money to take Ismael to college. But still, Ismael’s family couldn’t afford their proportion. After sitting down as a family and looking at some of the possible solutions, they landed on an agreement again — selling their piece of land. At last, Ismael could join college. He studied smoothly for the normal three years in college and graduated!

Being the first born, who is educated, he is virtually ready to support their family at most of the time. His family believed that they sold a land for him to go to college with the vision that one day Ismael will be learned and will be able to return hundredfold the amount of the land spent on him. Just one more thing: Ismael’s employment. This, as any other African country (and world at large) is a big challenge for fresh graduates. But for Ismael, this didn’t worry him for long.

He applied for a job in one of the best water management companies within the county and, fortunately, he was recruited. This was the genesis of a better life for Ismael’s family members. He was paid good amount of money, his rented house was “growing bigger”, his brothers and sisters were somewhat proud of their elder brother, and his parents were getting monthly shopping. What a life for this “poor” turned “rich” family within a small village! Ismael went ahead to marry a beautiful wife whom he used to carry to and from work (in the same company) using his company awarded motorcycle. But this didn’t last long.


Ismael got “friends of his level” who really wasted him. They drank to the fullest, got to work late, misused company’s funds, and as a result he was fired from the company. Ismael’s family to go back to their previous hustle life. According to the culture and traditions of our community, Ismael’s family needed to move from their grandfather’s home to their own home and the place where they were to be relocated was sold for the sake of Ismael going to college with the belief and vision that Ismael will return the land. Hard questions started to rise: who will pay for Ismael’s siblings’ school fees? Will they follow the culture and traditions of Luo people? Will his beautiful wife stay?

After long struggles for the family and Ismael himself, he got a new job, worked for about 5 months, returned to his previous luxurious lifestyle and as a result he got fired. His family went back to hustle life again. More problems started to come from nowhere as they could see it. This second job was found by the same person who took part in paying his high school and college school fees. What a shame.

After struggling by himself without a job for the rest of that year, he started burning charcoal to sell within the village but he had become so addicted to drinking alcohol that all the money he got from selling charcoal was directed to “Mama Ntilie” — village alcohol sellers. The life become tough for him and, eventually, his beautiful wife left, making his life even harder. This made him think in a different perspective: “I need to change”. Following those words, he confessed his sins unto God and said he would never to drink again. This made almost every person in the village happy (though few population within the village were not convinced).

He practiced his Christianity for about eight months and he was given a job again by his uncle who had taken part in taking him to high school and college. Here he did not work for long before getting fired after being found of misusing company’s funds and property…

Guess what Ismael is currently doing?

Lessons from the story

  1. Be thankful to those who helped you at one point of your life. The best way to appreciate and give back is by living by your promises and showing respect.
  2. Choose your friends wisely.
  3. Learn from your mistakes.
  4. To some point, experience might not be the best teacher. Some people live and learn, others just live.
  5. Have plan with your lifestyle. Live within your means.
  6. Know the difference between learning and education. Be learned not educated. Education is about doing something to unnamed people while learning is about what we do to ourselves. Do things for yourself not for anyone else; not for parents, wives or siblings. Ismael has a diploma in water engineering but that isn’t helping him with life.
  7. Always turn back to God when things are not working our for you, but don’t slide back. Live by the promises you made to your God.
  8. Temptations do come when things are good, regrets always comes when things aren’t going well.
  9. Pride comes before a fall.
  10. Multiply ten million with zero, the product will always be zero.



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