It is every child’s dream to grow up and make themselves some money to buy that one item that they think they have not had the chance to have in plenty at a particular point in time.
This particular bucket list usually has candy, bread or meat. Soon it grows to more important items like toys, a bike or a labelled shoe. The constant is that the list does not go away. Instead, it keeps growing getting updated by day. The items may change, some may be very unfortunate to be kicked off before they are realized. However, the list stays till death.
It is drummed in every school going child to think of a career path that they will have to charter in the adult part of their life with that question that opens Michelle Obama’s Becoming; “What do you want to become when you grow up?” And the aspirations begin, career guidance never stops. It comes through an organized school session to speak to the graduating students persuading them to stay in school till university. It comes through parents or relatives at home burdening themselves with which school to send their children to and reminding them to concentrate on their studies. It comes through random people at church and other societal happenings who pick interest in the career and future affairs on every growing child.
Some of these conversations are candid. They come wearing nothing but the very face of their intent. Others come in hiding. They take on different colours and faces. But when you look around, they are lurking in the neighbourhood of the words you hear, the people they introduce you to and the wishes they tell.
That is the beginning of the running process. You run so you can make all the above people happy. You run so your dreams can be fulfilled. You run to catch up with a chase of life you have no idea of. You run so you change the face of the people you love. You just run. When you make it through school, the other bit of the running also starts, running to get a job, to work to find a reason of waking up or going to bed for that matter. Or at least you have to be seen taking part in the business of running, in the business of being busy, in the business of working. Trouble is when that job does not come as soon as expected or comes with all the politics it does come with. No one ever warns you of this and that’s because each job is different. There could be the workers’ manual but no one can dare define its impact to the individual. That is left for you to figure out.
This is when you begin running in heels; learning to deal with the company politics or salvation for that matter. You learn of camps and opposition parties that have no physical walls yet they are very strong and they can be seen all over the place. They exist and can harm you if you dare run into them.
No one teaches you how to deal with them, it is the implied meaning of ‘learning on the job’. You learn to thrive and survive. To deal with the weather, to dive but not drown, to emerge from the deep end of the pool.
That is what Pamela Bayenda shares in her book, Running In Heels. Jumping into a new job that was meant to help her tick off the boxes of the long list of the bucket items of this phase of her life, she found herself having to learn how to swim against the tide. It was the most immediate skill she needed at the time. Other things could wait.
As you read the book, you can only imagine, stop and wonder the version of your own story. In her writing, there is a reflective bit of each one of us. That is what qualifies it as a career memoir. Hers is the perspective of the Ugandan girl but I am convinced it’s an eye opener for the Ugandan boy as well at the work place. This book is a strong reflection of each one of us. And it should cause us to think of the heroes or villains we are at the work place.
This review was written by David Kangye. You can buy copies of Running In Heels from ttpafrica.com.