Character is like a tree, reputation a shadow; the shadow is what we think of it, the tree is the real thing. This quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln reminds me of a young man in East Pokot.
Alexander Kapurai Long’elech, a proud son of Kamrio village in Akoret, Tirioko Ward in East Pokot, Baringo County, is one young man you’d easily single out in a group for his character.
One cannot fail to notice his neatness, and well combed dark kinky hair indicating a sense of self dignity and confidence that he has. Part of the values we instill through mentorship is self-esteem and the way an individual conducts self, communicates a lot about the person.
Right from the start, his leadership attribute could not be concealed from the way he directed the younger mentees and how they responded to him. He is very authoritative but at the same breath, very friendly and open-minded. He is able to effectively influence and coordinate his peers and is keen on achieving set objectives.
Aden is God-fearing and of the things he abhors most and reiterates to his peers always is “Bad Company”.
The first time I interacted with Aden, as is often referred to at home, was on my first mentorship mission trip to Kamrio for the Kamrio Mentorship program in August, 2017. He was part of a group of mentees I had been apportioned by Ronald Kimutai, the founder of the program.
His communication skills came in handy and he was helpful to break down the mentorship lessons to younger mentees in my group. I was fortunate to have him in my group and since then our relationship grew to friends and I’ve learned a lot of Pokot culture from him.
My co-mentor Faith Chemutai puts this way better, “Aden has a broad perspective of life inside and outside Pokot. He understands his community needs, can articulate them and is willing to help. He is focused, open to learning and freely interacts.”
Aden is an out-spoken young man, ambitious and very confident. From the way he volunteers information, you can tell he is a person who likes to lead at the front. He is a good student as well, a keen listener and proactive in class.
Kapurai is the fourth child born to Mr. Long’elech and Ko Chepoghon. His eldest sister Kama Chepoghon is their first born and is happily married at Barpello where he spent much of his upper primary and high school days studying.
Aden’s mother, Ko Chepoghon is the first wife to Mr. Long’elech and is blessed with ten children, five of whom have had an opportunity to attend school that is Aden’s elder brother Paul, himself, his younger sister Irine and two younger brothers Kiptoo and Poghisho.
I liken Aden’s journey to Abraham Lincoln, a story of determination, one of never giving up. He is one to grit his teeth in the face of hardship and press on and this motivated me so much.
Aden’s educational journey begins when his brother Paul had been given an opportunity to study and his portion was to herd the family’s goats. Whenever Paul would come home from school, he and his friend would mock Aden for being ignorant, that he couldn’t speak Swahili nor even write.
This pierced Kapurai’s heart and one day he determined to follow his brother to school. Paul and his friend ran away from him to discourage him from following them but he persisted until halfway he lost track of his brother and decided to go back home.
That very evening, Paul and his friend again came and mocked him especially owing to the fact that he’d attempted to follow them to school. Aden got furious and he determined to follow them the next day.
Mr. Long’elech noted his son’s urge and the next day while Aden chased after his brother to school, he also followed behind until he caught up with Paul and his friend. He punished the two elder boys for not minding the young boy and leaving him behind and because he’d noted Aden’s interest in attending school, he instructed the older boys to guide their younger brother in school.
So Aden begun his studies at Kamrio Primary School up until Class 2 then he and his brother Paul and friend were moved to Maron Primary School. Kamrio Primary was still a small school with very few students and could hardly sustain students beyond Class 3.
At Maron, Aden had been forced to repeat Class 4 because of having missed an exam. The following year he worked hard and came third in his class and proceeded to Class 5 where he improved further and came second.
He then proceeded to Barpello Primary in Class 6 where he was joined by Meshack and Kenneth. Meshack was one class ahead of Aden at Maron but had feared to join Class 7 on transfer to Barpello because of his poor performance in Mathematics and resorted to repeat Class 6. On the other hand, Kenneth, who happens to be a brother to Aden’s mother, had repeated Class 6 three times over also out of fear.
Aden became an asset to his two friends and together they progressed to Class 8. In fact, his help to his friends even elevated Kenneth to perform better than Aden himself that at Class 8, Kenneth was index 1 ahead of Aden index 2.
After doing his KCPE in 2012, he and Kenneth joined Barpello High School while Meshack joined Tangulbei High School. At the time, there were only 16 students in form one Barpello who were not from around Barpello. Of this 16, only 2, Kenneth and Aden made it to the University.
The journey through High School may seem to have been easier for Aden being in a private school but truth is it weren’t so. In fact, Aden had to plead severally to the school’s administration to be sponsored under the school’s scholarship program to ease his parents of the burden of school fees. His performance repute in academics preceded his cry for help and as of form 3 to his completion, his parents were relieved.
Aden pressed on determined and concluded his High School studies with a mean grade of B- in KCSE in the year 2016. He is currently in his second year taking Bachelor of Education in Arts, History and Religion, at Laikipia University.
He is now a Mentor at Kamrio Mentorship and he asserts that it is good to keep encouraging the young to follow the right path and to stave off bad company and idleness. He has witnessed bad company affect some of his friends and always forewarns the young ones to avoid the wrong company.
Aden plays soccer, and he loves it so much saying it is good to keep fit. He believes more activities in Kamrio Mentorship will continue to occupy the young minds to keep them off idleness and to restore the lost unto the right path. He affirms that Kamrio Mentorship program is good and encourages the young ones to make good use of what they learn in the program because at the end of the day, one decides their own fate.
Kapurai believes, having being the first in his family to have proceeded to the university, that he is chosen to set the example and transform his family and community. So Alexander trudges on aspiring for Greatness, a silent leader, ever determined, ever self-composed, Kamrio’s Lincoln…
I recall Aden wrote once in his self-discovery and awareness chart “Alexander the Great” in reference to himself and I pray that of the things he would conquer would be pride and conceit, that he would retain his humility, meekness and the self-discipline and love for his community.
Written by Murathe Ngigi; A Poet and Spoken Word Artist and A Mentor