We don’t all have to start from the bottom!



The other day my mum and I were having a discussion about growing up and emancipation and she said something like this (she said it in Kirundi so I’m going to translate):

The problem with you city kids is that you’re obsessed with being independent and achieving “big things”, so much that you often ignore and despise everything your parents spent years trying to gather for you. I don’t know if you do it unknowingly or whether it’s just pride that drives you. It’s like you don’t seem to understand that the reason why we worked so hard for the houses and property is because we didn’t have anywhere to live when we moved to the city from the countryside. If we had stayed upcountry we would have stayed on our parents’ plots, helped them cultivate the land and eventually increase their wealth by adding our gains to what they had already acquired. That’s how things work! You take what you’re given and you multiply it! But we moved to the city. We somehow had to start over, for our future families; and thank God some of us succeeded. But then some of you kids are so obsessed with “hustling” that you want to start all over again! What for?! Most of what you need is here! Why can’t you just take it and make it fruitful? Do you have any idea how many people would kill to have what you have. Could you just get over your pride and enjoy the fruits of our labour? Can’t you understand that all the work we did was for you?!

Let me tell you about something that happened to me some time ago…

I wanted to buy a friend of mine a gift but that friend lives abroad; and so does the gift I wanted to offer i.e. I can’t get it here and it’s something my friend really wanted – or so I thought (wait for the end of the story). The most sensible (and cheapest) alternative to me was to send money so my friend could get the gift themselves. At first my friend seemed very happy with the gesture – and I was very happy they were happy – but a few days later I was told the money had been sent back to me. My friend tried to explain why they did that – something about not accepting money from people or I don’t know what – but it didn’t keep me from being hurt. It helped me understand something though… it helped me understand what my mum meant with her statement…

… It really hurts when you do something for somebody you care about and that person slams it back in your face in the name of some principle which is really a product of their pride… And I bet it hurts more when this happens in a child-parent situation.

The World we live in today worships people who “started from the bottom”… people who had nothing but managed to make it to the top; so much that those who didn’t “start from the bottom” seem irrelevant and unworthy to be recognised for efforts and work. How many times have we heard or said something like, “yeah, he’s just working for his daddy’s business anyway… what’s so special about that?”

Since I started working, I’ve had to deal with people who claim I do not need the money I make, or I don’t know what to do with it, just because I come from rather “well-off” family. Some even think that since I still live with my parents, I’m just free-riding and not spending a dime – they obviously don’t know my parents. For some time, this behaviour towards me pushed me to the defensive and sometimes I would even feel guilty for not “being my own man” like “everybody else”.

Life has taught me that some of us don’t really start from the bottom. Some of us get into life with a head start. Some of us don’t have to worry about certain things because our parents already provided them for us. And there’s nothing to be ashamed of!

There’s nothing shameful about working in your parents’ business, living in a house that they built/bought, driving their car, etc. as long as you’re doing it responsibly! The true measure of our maturity is how well we use the resources our parents gave us. We all know people who have failed to do anything with their lives despite having everything going on for them… if that’s not us, then to hell with the bottom!

And anyway, somebody’s bottom is somebody else’s top!

We’ve all probably heard critics about Drake’s “Started from the bottom”; and to be honest when I heard it I was like nigga please… “I done kept it real from the jump/Living at my mama’s house we’d argue every month/Nigga, I was trying to get it on my own/Working all night, traffic on the way home/And my uncle calling me like Where ya at?/I gave you the keys told ya bring it right back” is NOT the bottom! The nigga’s mother had a house he could live in, he had a job and an uncle who could lend him a car and he calls that the bottom?! Guess what, it was HIS bottom and we need to respect it, instead of throwing him the usual “you don’t know what a hard life is nigga!” then yap about our hard lives, which in fact will seem like child play to somebody else out there… somebody who has had a way harder life.

Anyway, my point is, there is nothing wrong with being in the 1% as long as you’re doing it with humility and responsibility… and not complaining endlessly without for others. And let me tell you something, I may not yet have kids, but I’m very certain that one of the best feelings in the World is being able to provide for your children what they need; so before we dismiss our parents in the name of emancipation, let us think twice and let us strive to make them happier by taking what they gave us and multiplying it. Have you heard/read about the parable of talents aka the parable of the bags of gold? If you haven’t, check it out here, it’s quite inspiring (if you consider the master as a parent and the servants as his children).

And by the way, I’ve come up with an answer for people who still bother me with the “you’ve got everything going on for you” line. It goes something like this (translated from Kirundi): “Very much so Sir/Madam; thanks to the tireless efforts and sacrifice of my parents and the grace of God which made them fruitful. I’m sure that your hard work will allow your children to enjoy the same privileges as well; if not more!” It works all the time i.e. they never bother me again. If it seems cocky maybe you can help me come up with something less dramatic but which still allows my point to go across 🙂

Okay, this shall be all for now!

P.S. People should give Drake a break though.


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