On this day, our graduation day, we can all swear that none of us leaving, the same way we came in. To many others, Strathmore is simply the place where we earned our degree, but to us, this simply doesn’t pass for the truth, at least not the whole of it. I liken the past four years to the “baby years of adulthood”, much like the first five years in child development are critical to a baby’s growth in terms of language, mobility etc the same can be said for these past four years. They have been critical to our growth as adults in terms of re-wiring of personalities, the way we think, questioning the way we previously lived our lives, and what we hope to get out of this life throughout our adulthood. Given, further changes are bound to take place, but we are simply not the same people we were four years ago.
Some, the very fortunate ones, found love, the kind that left them mostly happy and fulfilled. Others, like me, got caught up in the kind that was filled with excitement and emotional turmoil but always remained elusive. Some were able to find soul mates in friendships. They’ve been lucky enough to form lifetime bonds with people they can now trust them with their lives and rely on them to make this difficult life a little easier to go through with laughter and cherished memories between them. I remember some who were shy when we first began but who now walk confidently, more sure of their words, their strides and proud of what gaining a little confidence has helped them achieve in just four short years. Perhaps some, like myself, had to learn the importance of taking a step back, and discover all the insightful and invaluable information that comes from just watching, observing and listening to people. In fact, were it not for this strange turn that I took, I would have never thought to myself to write. To be honest, for the most part, throughout the week, I felt “dead”, don’t judge me. Routines and just the monotony of things can be very draining; they just have this way of sucking the life out of you. So one time, determined to break free from this monotony or just to change things, even if it’s in a small, insignificant way- I decided to write. I did not think it a talent, gift, skill –nothing. I simply thought all my observations could be put to words. So gradually, I learned to develop a patience to put all my wild thoughts, without restraint, flitting from one subject to the next according to what sparked my curiosity into words, and I wrote. That being said, I must say I quite like what has become of it. From that I concluded, that all these changes we go through, no matter how strange and eccentric, are not be judged or negatively criticized, they usually are essential to our individual growth and will help us go through the next phase of our lives with much greater ease. But through it all, I guess the most common lesson we all shared was to stay grounded through all our personal afflictions and frustrations and to remain focused on what really mattered- getting that degree.
Speaking of degrees, as I have come to learn, this certificate is not just a symbol of a certain level of academic achievement, it is also a privilege. That, despite our background, this degree in hand and the experience we have gotten from simply having been in Strathmore, is a privilege. It is important that we aware of this, because as Chimamanda, one of my heroines puts it, “Privilege blinds, because it is simply the nature of privilege to blind.” This means that there are some opportunities that will fall through; doors that will open for us and perhaps we might even be able to go through this life with a tad bit greater ease, simply because we have this degree. This might create a certain assumption in us that the same favors brought by this degree are a norm such that we may not be able to see or be able to relate to certain limitations experienced by people of a different educational background. The same concept extends to any other kind of privilege that life may have attached to us (or the people around us). Some have class privilege that does not allow them to see or be more understanding of the many limitations and disfavours that people from a different class/background must put up with to get in order to get by in this life. Others have male privilege, which holds them back from seeing the many courtesies and graces that life extends to them but does not necessarily, in the same exact fashion, extend to women. So, if we truly want to make a difference as we move on to the next phases of our lives, we must not allow privilege to blind us. We must learn to put it aside, so we can see more clearly and remain alert to the nuances of people who are different from us.
To conclude, in a rather unrelated and odd fashion, I’d like to talk about love. First, to love ourselves, unapologetically so. This world is so full of pretenders, people that go back and forth in between lying and changing personalities to meet different people’s perceptions of who they are that they have lost track of themselves, and cannot really tell who they are exactly anymore. So we must fight to remain the truest, most authentic versions of ourselves, despite this world’s efforts to change us. Second, romantic love, something that has become quite a rarity in my life, still, I love the idea of love, so I shall not refrain from giving my opinion. Not that I’m an expert (obviously not)but I would hope that we understand, that unlike the idealistic versions and flashy images grand romantic gestures that the media feeds us, love is less romance and more hard work, you constantly have to work at it, again and again and probably one more time. Although, this kind of effort should not be extended to mediocre “let’s just see where it goes” kind of “love”, it should instead be applied to the kind that’s passionate, challenging and transforms us into the best versions of ourselves that we could possibly be, you know, the right kind of love, the kind that we should continue to pursue against all odds. That’s all folks. With those few remarks, I wish LL.B pioneer class of 2016 all the best in life and our future endeavours.