Reflections on being awarded “Best all-round student in construction studies” in both my 1st and 2nd year of study.

I remember the day I chose construction, it was a Sunday morning at the African Leadership Academy. It was a hard season, especially because even the American colleges I had applied to for the sake of it had either rejected me or waitlisted me. Sundays were my days for speaking to God, I would wake up, dress up and find quiet and just listen. On this particular Sunday morning I woke up to the usual and wondered why I had not seriously considered universities on the continent-like seriously here I was at the peak of what I now fondly refer to as my personal African renaissance-beaded anklet on one leg, hair all loc-ed up, love for the continent overflowing through poetry, prose and dressing, english name denounced, dreams of Fanon and Biko….yet I hadn’t considered any of our great universities? Shem! #UkoloniMamboLeoManenos. Quickly I started looking through the schools on the Wits University (why not UP or UJ or UCT? 🤷🏿‍♀️Epiphany manenos) website and when I saw School of Construction Economics and Management, it felt like it. A bit of backstory, my parents wanted me to do some sort of engineering because Alliance Girls’ and that I excelled in Math and Physics and -same old same old. On the other hand, mina I wanted to lose myself in the world of philosophy, politics and gender. People, this was a whole war in the Kuntai household and my first-born-self loves peace so Construction (parents happy) and Economics and Management (Chebet happy-ish) in Biko’s land (Chebet very happy) sounded like a perfect compromise. I applied for it and literally just ticked all the courses 1. Construction Studies 2. Property Studies and 3. Urban Planning. Maybe one day I will tell the story of getting to Wits-the NBT exams, the extra CIE exams, the self-doubt, the Visa-wololo!🙆🏿‍♀️

Today the story is about how I fell (and still falling-issa process) in love with Construction. How I discovered the career paths it held: Quantity surveying, construction management, property valuation etc and got quite intrigued. How I saw the beautiful ways in which gender, politics and economics intersected in the field. How construction studies gave me a new sisterhood-Iimbokodo-inspirational women in construction with whom we would study and pray through the night with (and then party in the same measure after the exams/submissions were over). How this path that was not necessarily my passion pushed me to value the people who got me through, my sisterhoods: Lifelong Bafafas, Organic, Very Feni, The Finest, Chesara, Aunty Ayado and brothers-Saitoti, Victor, Emeri and Lutho. How all these lessons and journeys culminated (i like this word) in my receiving the ASAQS Award for the Best All-Round Student in Construction Studies in 2nd year yesterday after receiving the same award for my 1st year one last year.

The first time I received the award last year I was like coolio✌🏿It felt a lot like when Santiago in the Alchemist was doing well in the crystal shop atop the hill or like wearing an uncomfortable dress that looked good but didn’t fit quite right. I dressed in all black and went solo to the prize-giving-for those who don’t know me-Chebet dresses her moods and all-black is like whatever and no people is also like whatever. My people made a fuss about it though and there was a facebook post that I wanted to delete immediately and that was the celebration. When I found out I was getting the award for the second time, Rati-my sister- had to do a whole pep-talk on how I deserve the award after I told her it doesn’t make sense like I am a good student and all but I also watch a lot of series and leave assignments for the day or two before. Then Saitoti also had to tell me the nonsense that was my thinking that I only got the award because the course was easy and all the other reasons I was giving him for why I did not deserve the award. Yeah, these are actually nice problems but low-self esteem/imposter syndrome dramas are real hey!

But then Romans Bible Study, Lean In, convos with aunty Ayado and Bernie and a whole lot of other reminders that God so conveniently put along my way happened and the dress stopped being uncomfortable-it fit right and looked good. So yesterday we did the thing! And tonight we are doing the thing! 💃🏿💃🏿💃🏿I am owning it, I am occupying this space, I am rejoicing in being the best in my year of study for two consecutive years, I am saying thank you to the congratulations and blessings, I am savouring it (y’all watched T’challa’s commencement speech yet?). I am letting my whole family and friends celebrate with me because UBUNTU. Paul put it so beautifully in his letter to the Romans as he reflected on his ministry…so I have reason to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God. Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me… Some people have been asking me, “How do you do it?”. Mina I just smile giddily because seriously what do I say kwanza when this people are also smart and they also work hard and they surely start and submit their assignments before me. I don’t know how I do it, I don’t even think I do it-I think it is undeserved favour. I believe God knows why me and why now and at his time he will bring this his beautiful plan into fruition and the dots will connect beautifully and he will have written another beautiful story just like he is doing with all of our lives. Until then catch me singing Halleluiya and procrastinating less-case in point the essay I should be writing for Principles in management right now!

Otherwise, enjoy the photos of us doing the things! Thank you for rejoicing with me and for the herraz, hehe,  (totally imagine DJ Shiti saying this as he moves his shoulders up and down).