MY HUSTLE: How I bounced back after losing my basketball dream

Nelson Amenya, 23, once dreamt of becoming a professional basketball player.

He was well on his way to accomplishing this dream when his fate took a different turn and started him off on the path to graphic design, a career her has learned to love with the same passion that he loved football.

Cheekiness characterised his childhood but this morphed into indiscipline in High School as he was suspended by the school when in Form Two when caught trying to retrieve his school uniform that had been confiscated for being inappropriate.


On resuming school after the suspension, Nelson had a moment of reflection.

It dawned on him that his indiscipline had affected his life adversely. For instance, his performance in Biology had plummeted to the point that his parents sent him to see a counsellor. He had been banned from participating in activities outside the school despite being the school’s best three-point shooter in basketball. It was time to change.

“I began attending Christian Union fellowships and spent all my spare time on the court playing basketball. I was passionate about the game. Growing up, Bryan and I used to hang out at Cliff’s, (one of our neighbours) home. We would sit and watch them play. After they were done, we would pick the basketball and dribble around trying to ape them. I fell in love with the game from that point.”

While in form three, Nelson was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) for his High School basketball team.

One day, Cliff challenged him to a game and placed a Sh1,000 bet on the game.

Nelson was 18 then while Cliff was in his late 20s and played basketball professionally. The game lasted about five minutes and Nelson won. It remains one of his proudest basketball moments.

“I joined Moi University and signed up for the basketball team immediately. During induction, I did impressive on-point free throws and that earned me respect from all the players including the captain. I was way better than the incumbent point guard who was a senior student. This did not augur well with the senior players. After a few months, I could no longer stomach the unrelenting hatred and discrimination dished out to me. The captain was focused on killing my talent instead of nurturing it.”

When pressed, Nelson explains the reason he gave up his basketball dream completely:

” I enrolled as a point guard. The current point guard was a 4th year student. After the trials for freshmen, they realised I was actually good. Better than the incumbent. That’s when the animosity begun. Jibes like: “wewe fresha huwezani. Hi ni game ya wazee…” started coming my way. One day I was late for practice. To my utmost shock, I was not allowed to play. This happened twice. Surprisingly, other people came late but they never got punished. The final blow was when I was locked out from an out-of-school game. Moi University was playing against USIU. I was omitted from the list despite being the best point guard in the four months I had been playing for the school team. I quit, I just play basketball for fun now.”

When Nelson was ten years old, he would record videos of him skating with Bryan. They would watch these clips together and have a good laugh. The concept of videography started worming its way into Nelson’s heart. It was therefore quite exciting when Nelson discovered that Chris, Cliff’s brother, was a media professional with a knack for shooting film.

“When I was in form three, I recall asking Chris to lend me a copy of one of his works, documentary Makers of a Nation, for my history class. We enjoyed it.”

His passion for media made him pursue a course in Graphics communication and advertising.

During his first year in campus, Nelson lived his life with reckless abandon.

His previous irresponsible behaviour started crouching back as he partied himself hoarse.

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Nelson Amenya, 23, once dreamt of becoming a professional basketball player. PHOTO| COURTESY

“While raving at a club one day, a female dancer asked me why I was wasting my life at such a young age. I could not believe her nerve! However, that question haunted me later after we left the club. Sometime later, I confessed to my roommate Larry that I felt a need to get saved. I had never seen him laugh as hard as he did that day.”

One day, Larry requested that they both go to church the following Sunday.  After attending several services, Nelson was converted and gave his life to Jesus. He became actively involved in church ministry where he shot and edited the church service videos. He worships at the Repentance and Holiness Ministry.

“I designed my first website while in my second year. Currently, I am conversant with graphic design, motion design, web design and maintenance. I am employed as a creative designer and web developer at Oracom web solutions.”


Nelson is a co-founder and head of IT department at Environment 254 which is a non-profit organisation based in Ridgeways, promoting environmental-friendly living.

The organisation runs a co-working space with a cyber cafe for internet use, an environmental library stocked with diverse publications on the environment and a social media training facility that targets the youth.

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A model carries an environment-friendly bag, a creation of Nelson’s organisation, during the World Environment Day. PHOTO| COURTESY

The plastic ban policy has boosted sale of eco-friendly bags and merchandise branded by the organisation.

“I have always aspired to better the lives of those around me by engaging in people-centred innovations. Recently, I launched two portals cater for the housing needs of both the middle and upper class. One,. , lists houses that range between Sh5000 to Sh 20,000. The other one,  lists houses ranging from Sh30,000 and above. Agents and owners approach me for their houses to be listed on the portal.I visit the site and take photos of the house and its amenities and upload the same on the portal. Prospective tenants view and select a house of their fancy online at their convenience. The portal offers an online payment system via Mpesa for tenants who would wish to book immediately.”

Nelson attributes his stability in life to his firm faith in God. He strives to please God by serving humanity.


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This bold 26-year-old is the director and CEO of one of the leading tours and travel operators in the country, Bountiful Safaris.

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Written by Daily Nation

The Nation Media Group (NMG) founded by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1959 has become the largest independent media house in East and Central Africa. It has been quoted on the Nairobi Stock Exchange since the early 1970s.

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