As you pass along the Barngetuny plaza in Eldoret, you may pass Kelvin Natembeya alias Kevin Shaban as any other trolley pusher pushing to make his ends meet.
But 25-year-old Professor Shaban as he is fondly referred to on the streets is not your ordinary trolley pusher.
Under the shadows of unkempt hair and jagged clothes, slang speaking cart pusher Shaban is one bright lad who attracts his peers and passersby with his wit and mastery of English and Swahili languages.
Lectured at a Local Private College in Uasin Ngishu
He is a lecturer at a local private college in Uasin Gishu trying to eke a living to sustain himself being pushed out of job by the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic.
He is also a journalist, a thespian, an author, and a public speaker whose eloquence has left many tongues wagging on why such an individual is wasting away on the streets of Eldoret.
He graduated with a degree in Communication and Journalism from Moi University Main Campus in Kesses in 2018.
He says being an orphan, he has lived his life from hand to mouth, and that he chose to go back to the streets since he was once a street child before being rescued and taken to a foster home in Nakuru county.
“I once approached some of the people whom I thought would assist me out after life became challenging, but their response pushed me into the streets. One of them told me I should never be a beggar,” says Shaban.
Parent, and Father of One
The father of one says he only knows little about his parents who disowned him, leaving him to the streets of Eldoret to fend for himself.
“My parents separated before our mother brought us to Eldoret from Bungoma while we were still toddlers. She then abandoned us on the streets of Eldoret. That is the information we heard of our parents,” said Shaban, a last born in a family of six children.
He recounts how one day a Good Samaritan took him away from the streets to Nakuru where a prominent city lawyer became his guardian, paying his school fees while he stayed at a children’s home.
“Luck got my back when I got a guardian who sponsored all my education right from primary to University. Despite the challenges of a children home, I got admission to Moi University and graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Communication and Journalism,” he recalls.
He had anticipated with so much hope that the lawyer guardian who had been kind to pay for his education would go an extra mile and help him look for a job, but that remained as his wish that would never come true.
Back at Moi University, he was an actor and even an anchor at the Moi University owned Kenya Television Service (KTS). He wrote guidebooks to simply set books for high school students and later distributed them for free to several schools.
Almost a year after graduation, he notes, he approached his guardian to help him with a startup capital of KShs 50, 000 to initiate a mitumba (secondhand clothes) business.
“At first, he gave me KShs 20, 000 promising to top up the remainder once the stock was over. Together with some savings he went to Nairobi and bought the mitumba ready to start his business,” he states.
His hope crashed as his entire stock was stolen and when he approached his guardian for a second chance, no one bought the idea.
“When I recall when someone I relied on told me don’t be a beggar, I get comfort in the words of the world’s greatest neurosurgeon Ben Carson who said in his book- Take the Risk. I have learned all about the daily risk I face daily,” he notes.
According to his colleagues and residents of Eldoret town, Shabaan is a gem that they proudly talk of highly.
They know that he is educated but they say his humility and affable character drove a soft spot towards him.
“He is a friend to all and respects those he comes across without discriminating on gender, age or religion and tribe. He does not see himself as educated,” said Benjamin Munala, his colleague.
Evelyn Korir an Eldoret local said as a mother she is pained seeing children who are educated with a promise of a bright future doing odd jobs.
“Such demotivates many youngsters from going to school, it also brings despair to parents to educate children yet find no job later,” she said.
Shaban has been volunteering at the college as a tutor until March when he secured a teaching job but only earned a one-month salary before the school was closed in line with the Covid-19 protocols.
“I survived on the one-month salary but returned to the streets to find something to do and to sustain myself. Here at the streets its survival and conformity. I do all that they do including talking like them, dressing, even in dingy places only that I do not take illicit drugs,” he notes.
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