Weekend Mail

Success on steroids: Which Kenyans, tell me, attained self-actualization?

 If you’re always short of bundles, you and MP Moses Kuria are in the same WhatsApp group of Basic Needs!

Check mate: Billionaire Chris Kirubi is planning to build his dream home at 74. He divorced early and thus missed on a loving family experience. He also confessed to having few friends. Despite being a respected businessman, he courts publicity and is thus in the self-esteem category in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He is yet to achieve self-actualization.

By Mbatia wa Njambi

Visiting Thinker

You must have heard of a dude called Abraham Maslow. This psychologist is credited with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs-with self-actualization as the highest level in the five tier pyramid. Are there Kenyans who have attained self-actualization? Just start counting. You might scratch your head for names beyond industrialists Manu Chandaria. Or former Presidential contender Kenneth Matiba.

Everything Matiba touched turned into gold: Kenya Breweries, Kenya Football Federation, forays into hospitality, large-scale agriculture, education…a millionaire in real coin by 40. Then politics; MP, high achieving Minister before presidential ambitions became his Waterloo.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs comprise; basic, safety, love, esteem and self-actualization. Hierarchy of Needs best explains human motivation and the majority  slave their butts off to accomplish them.

Some of Kenya’s richest have gone beyond basic and safety needs, but lack a loving family, have few genuine friends

Doing with the lips what the hands do: Billionaire industrialist Manu Chandarua weds Aruna, his wife of 64 years at the AG Chambers in Nairobi last year. The civil marriage cost Sh3, 900. Besides one wife, he owns one watch and five suits. He has been channeling his fortunes into philanthropy especially higher education. He is among the few Kenyans who have achieved everything they ever wanted.

If your needs are zoned around food, clothing and shelter then you are still scrubbing at the bottom of the barrel. Kenya is a Hustler Nation where 70 percent live in fear of hunger, the menacing landlord and are thus in the Basic Needs category.

This includes some people considered well-off-like Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria- who was facing auctioning auctioneers over rent arrears. Bundles are now part of basic needs in Kenya. So, if they are always in short supply, then you and Moses Kuria are in the same WhatsApp group of Basic Needs!

Some politicians have cried ‘my life is in danger despite being glued to their bodyguards inside bullet proof cars

Teed off: Tatu City shareholder Stephen Mbugua Mwagiru (INSET) sued Muthaiga Country Club in Nairobi after being expelled for urinating ovyo ovyo and spewing obscenities in 2012. He lost his second appeal in 2018. Joining private clubs is part of Social Needs to belong placing one in the third category in the Hierarchy of Needs. His family, on whose and Tatu City stands, had been members of the club since 2004.

Safety needs revolve around security. The desire to experience law and order, predictability, control, social stability, freedom from fear. Some politicians, think Mohammed Ali, Alice Wahome, Cleophas Malala and Ekuru Aukot, have cried ‘my life is in danger’ despite being glued to their bodyguards, being chauffeured in bullet proof fuel guzzlers and living in houses that resemble embassies. Safety Needs also include emotional, financial and medical security. Manu Chandaria’s Muthaiga home was recently invaded by thugs meaning he’s as unsafe as his neighbours across Thika Road in Mathare Valley slums!

If parliament provided accommodation, most MPS would sleep there and never venture out

Facing the hammer: Moses Kuria, the Gatundu South MP. was facing auctioneers over a Sh7.5 million rent arrears accumulates since 2018. Hardship in securing shelter places in him the category of Basic Needs. Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma, explaind that most Kenyan MPs are surviving on overdrafts. ‘Some MPs are living along River Road,’ claimed Kaluma. ‘You hear of MPs being assaulted in places they should not be found.’ Two-time Karachuonyo MP, Engineer James Rege put it bluntly when he said: ‘Believe me, if parliament provided accommodation, most MPS would sleep there and never venture out of parliament’s precincts.’

Love and belonging are the Social Needs centred on family, the capacity for intimacy and genuine friends. So are affiliations in clubs, chamas and church which foster a sense of being part of a community.

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Some of Kenya’s richest might have gone beyond basic and safety needs, but lack a loving family and have few genuine friends meaning they are stuck in the third category. Former Information PS Dr Bitange Ndemo lamented how his phone stopped ringing when he was left out of the new government in 2013. He would check whether he had accidentally put it off.  Multi-millionaire lawyer and insurance magnate Karanja Kabage succumbed to a heart attack along the Southern Bypass in Nairobi. He was driving home to himself in Karen, Nairobi. His family had long left. Billionaire businessman Chris Kirubi also confessed he missed family having divorced early and has very few friends. Former Attorney General Charles Njonjo was asked to name his friends and stopped at Dr Richard Leakey!

Baba has thrown everyone under the bus to achieve self-actualization

Elusive Canaan: Raila Odinga will attain self-actualization if he wins the Presidency, but like his father before him, time has ran out. Or has it? He is in the fourth category when a person looks for status and prestige, a desire for reputation. Baba has thrown everyone under the bus to achieve self-actualization, but will he?

The fourth tier is Psychological Needs; self-esteem and that feeling of accomplishment, respect from your peers, status and prestige. The desire for reputation. If and when Ngugi wa Thiong’o bags the Nobel Prize for Literature will have scaled this tier. So do scholars when they earn their PhD-the highest level of educational achievement. Or an athlete winning an Olympic gold medal, a national soccer team winning the Fifa World Cup.

Bottlenecks like divorce, job loss, business failure and baggage of the extended family might slow self-actualization

The rich beggar: Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka begged President Uhuru Kenyatta for a job after Nasa lost the 2017 elections. He was appointed Special Envoy to South Sudan. That means he was a job seeker in the Basic Needs category. Last year, he applied for his Sh8.6 million pension which includes Sh100, 000 in monthly fuel allowance. Raila also applied for the same pension made possible by the March 2018 Handshake.

The late Prof Wangari Maathai could have reached self-actualization after winning the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.’

But she blew the status via still nursing political ambition. Yet the Sh100 million prize money was enough cushion for her environmental pursuits as a Nobel Laureate whose lofty perch she lowered with her appointment as Assistant Minister for Environment!

You also need to live a long life otherwise premature death means the end of the road

Most humans are limited: Marathon great Eliud Kipchoge, like Manu Chandaria has achieved everything in his discipline-complete self-actualization: An Olympic gold, the first man to run a marathon in under two hours, the world record holder, besides dominating prestigious world majors for over a decade, more than any other marathoner in history.

The fifth level is self-actualization, the hardest to achieve. Here, you meet your full potential in your given area of specialization. Like eminent psychiatrist Dr David M Ndetei’s Doctor of Science was a feather in his academic cap few scholars achieve in their lives-after their PhDs.

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You could have so much financial freedom for artistic pursuits. Here, you also start giving away your wealth: Manu Chandaria has donated to Nairobi, USIU and Kenyatta Universities where centres are named after him. Self-actualization is not pegged on money, but also full exploitation of one’s talents and capabilities.

Every person is capable of attaining self-actualization, but bottlenecks like divorce, job loss, business failure and baggage of the extended family might cause one to oscillate between the tiers-mostly lower ones. You also need to live a long life otherwise premature death means the end of the road. So, are there Kenyans who have attained self-actualization?

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