When do hustlers rest?


June 1 was a national holiday when, ideally, everyone should have been resting. But not everybody deserves to rest – if you’re corrupt or a conman and have been making money without any sweat, why would you need a break?

The people who deserve to rest more than anyone else are hustlers. They are among the most hardworking Kenyans and earn an honest living. Yet, they know no holiday.

You didn’t miss a copy of your newspaper or mahindi choma if you went out looking for it because it was Madaraka Day. In fact, driving through the city last Thursday, the only evidence of a holiday was that ‘big’ offices had their doors closed.

Floating crowd

But the hustlers? They were busy at work. Their shops were open and they were ready to criss-cross their counties of operation to deliver what would keep their customers happy. In fact, most hustlers dislike the holidays, which reduce demand for their services. Who eats in vibandas during holidays? Whose shoes are cleaned on holidays? Who buys airtime on the streets on holidays?

Hustlers depend a lot on the floating crowd on the streets. If there’s a holiday, the crowds reduce, so demand goes down.

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Hustling obeys the laws of economics, and hustlers are adept at following economic cycles. They know when ‘coffee is ripe’, like during ceremonies, such as graduations and funerals. They make money when we’re rejoicing and when we’re crying. Hustlers love crowds; they know money is with the people.

So when do they rest? Rarely. They are more like policemen who have 24-hour days. Hustlers are economic policemen. They made use of the 24-hour economy long before the policymakers and non-hustlers hyped it.

Think about the Mama Mbogas in major markets. By the time you’re going to work at 8am, they’re closing shop, having sold all their mbogas and other foodstuffs.

Riding on the unpredictability of the weather, politics and economy, hustlers rarely have time to rest. They work all the time.

And unlike the well-educated, tie-wearers and office-owners, real hustlers have few opportunities for corrupt deals. All their money is made honestly. If 50 per cent of Kenyans worked like hustlers, our GDP growth would easily reach the 10 per cent envisaged in Vision 2030.

Hustlers rest by changing jobs. For them, a change is as good as a rest. They also change locations – they are a floating workforce and follow work where it can be found. They also rest when there is no work, which is a forced rest.

Some argue that they rest when their businesses grow and they can afford to hire people to work for them. But (in whispers) there are those who only rest when their feeble bodies finally crumble into dust.

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Hustlers live out what the economy is all about: work. Have you heard of the Protestant Work Ethic?

Yet, we grow up hating work, but not the good life that results from it. We rest after work, but most people want to rest indefinitely. That only happens in a graveyard.

The sweat and constant efforts of hustlers drives the reluctant wheel of progress. Three cheers for hustlers!

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