Luo Man Learns Unforgettable Lesson in HUMILITY from His Kalenjin Buddy


John Paul Otieno narrates how his rich yet humble buddy taught him and his friends a valuable lesson in humility.

The Kalenjin are a really fascinating community. They are tenacious, cunning, and determined. They are among the most brilliant Kenyans, in my opinion, based on my interactions with them.

They are quite calculating, which is one of their intriguing characteristics.

Furthermore, even when they are evidently wealthy and successful, they hardly ever boast.

You rarely find Kalenjin men boasting about their wealth.

However, as a Luo, boasting is ingrained in our culture, and the majority of my kinsmen like it when others are impressed by their pompousness.

I remember how I felt ashamed when I learned that a Kalenjin buddy about whom I had been boasting was a top engineer in the private sector with a net worth of tens of millions of shillings.

He patiently listened to me as I waxed lyrical about the KSh 100K a term in tuition I was paying for my son’s schooling.

Later, I discovered that my friend was paying KSh 500,000 per term for his son’s tuition at one of Kenya’s most exclusive schools.

And to top it off, my friend would just listen to me brag while sipping on his beverage.

But I believe the event that caused us to drift apart was the day I invited him to my cousin’s graduation party.

Close family and friends decided to organise a celebration for my cousin because he had recently earned a PhD in chemistry.

German machines

The gathering took place in a popular hotel with plenty of parking in Mombasa. It goes without saying that the majority of attendees were proud owners of German masiins (machines)

We exchanged pleasantries while everyone tried to sell the “development” we had achieved through the years.

Then something happened.

For obvious reasons, I won’t say “cruise,” but one of my cousin’s friends arrived at the venue in a Toyota Probox.

He arrived a bit late to the party, and the other guys were already drinking.

One of the guys could not contain his excitement as he made fun of him as he entered the lounge where we were sitting.

When he approached him, he jokingly asked:

“Are you serious about life, buana? What’s going on, Buana? Probox kwani umekuwa Okuyu? Buana unatuangusaa,” He remarked in blatant jest.

The majority of the other men laughed heartily. Some of them were even exchanging passionate high fives, as I observed.

I also laughed out of good humour. My pal wasn’t amused as I observed him.

First of all, he had driven a Mazda Verisa to the location, and secondly, it was evident he didn’t love bragging or being in situations like these.

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The beginning of the introductions brought matters to a head. When it was his turn, my Kalenjin buddy announced himself as a farmer, clearly fed up with the whole show of being an engineer, doctor, and lawyer.

I remained silent because I understood that my friend had intentionally mentioned farming as his line of work.


My companion was the target of more jeering laughter. It didn’t, however, end there.

The person making the introduction would bring up the subject again, and I believe this was done to make my friend feel less important.

“We recognise that not everyone is able to get a PhD in science. Si unaona tuko mpaka na mkulima hapa (“You see, we even have a farmer in our midst.) (More laughter from the German Masiin fraternity.)

“Na kila mutu ni muhimu hii dunia. Si tukikosa wakulima kama hawa (pointing at my friend), tutakufa njaa?” He said it sarcastically. (Everyone is important in this world, and your guess is as good as mine if we did not have farmers.)

The rest of the evening was spent listening to the braggarts brag about the exotic meals they tried while on vacation in Colombia, Spain, and Italy.

One yelled, “Buana, you see, my son was on a school trip to Canada!”

Another person said, “You see, buana, I’ve just returned to college to do math for fun,” boasting as he sipped a glass of Hennessey.

The boasting grew tiresome as the evening went on, so my Kalenjin buddy made the decision to depart.

He left after politely saying farewell to everyone.

Below expectation 

But it was clear to me that he wasn’t happy and that the event had fallen short of his expectations.

Later, I would tell my friends that the man who had just departed was a very skilled engineer who was also pretty wealthy. I explained, “Old money.”

My friends gasped with disbelief. The alcohol appeared to leave their system right away.

“You’re not being serious, buana,” one Okoth expressed clear dismay. “Stop lying; the best your friend can do is be a tractor mechanic.”

Otieno laughed, showing his embarrassment. “Are you telling us huyo jamaa is someone who has seen the inside of a university classroom?”

By telling them that my friend paid KSh 1 million for his pre-unit son, I stoked their envy even further.

The MC confessed “buana unanistua” with obvious shame.

The MC’s friend reprimanded, “Acha wivuu buana.” (Don’t be jealous.)

The rest of the night passed in silence, with the drinkers conversing in a low voice.

That gave me joy since I knew they had paid a price for their actions. The Probox man was relieved to see his tormentors eat a humble pie.

A lesson in humility

It goes without saying that I have learned humility and never to judge a book by its cover.

Additionally, I have developed the ability to spot people who talk about having financial security but may not be secure themselves.

Do you see the Toyota Axio owner who keeps silent when shareholders are meeting? That person with the shabby coat, yes? That might be the shareholder with millions of shares, though.

In the same line, the man who pays attention to what others are saying without interjecting is probably the smartest person in the room.

Similar to this, a man who is unpretentious, compassionate, and delights in assisting the helpless may also be brilliant.

What’s more, the beautiful woman with a humble demeanour is likely married to a loving man.

READ ALSO: Can a Kikuyu Man Marry a Luo Lady?

The courageous and humble man has had his fair share of difficulties and overcame them; he respects everyone and knows his own value without needing approval from the crowd.

Photo credits: Freepik

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the position of We welcome writers to give their views on various life issues. Send your opinion to [email protected].

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