Recalling his childhood, Dickson Olukhalo reveals a narrative of teamwork with his five siblings. With no gradient of privilege and their parents unable to provide for them, this team consisted of individuals sharing the same genetic material and a symbiotic clarity of their desire to survive. They traversed through various farms in Kakamega, hunkering down in labor for a wage of ksh 6 each. In the evening, they coalesced their combined wages to buy food.
Olukhalo was however more ambitious. Acknowledging that he needed radical reordering in his life to escape this uncertain collaboration with his siblings, he decided to educate himself and was successful enough to complete highschool. Burdened with being his own guardian, a young and poor Olukhalo miraculously managed to take himself through a polytechnic and within three years, he was ready to face the world with the skills of masonry at his disposal.
In 1978, at a salary of only ksh 14 a day, Olukhalo began the strenuous duties of being a stonemason. Bending, kneeling, lifting and constructing various structures, Olukhalo’s manual dexterity was untethered. Covered in dirt and dust, Olukhalo soldiered through his job. Regardless of the exposure to cramping fatigue, he could not fathom leaving masonry for any other job. Despite the slow senescence that creeped up in his life, Olukhalo continued building layouts, framing, sheathing, and roofing structures. In the recent past, he stepped up to earning ksh. 700 a day, a hefty amount compared to his starting wage. However, the coronavirus crisis affected the 63-year-old. With the majority of construction work being halted, Olukhalo was forced to take a break.
Downheartedly acknowledging the grim reality of lack of opportunities, Olukhalo strolls around town paying visits to his friends in hopes of gaining some assistance from them. His family now rely on his wife, who earns a scanty ksh 100 a day doing mundane chores such as washing clothes and utensils in neighboring homes. Thankful to her, Olukhalo describes his wife as God-sent saying, “God guided me to her. Without her I don’t know what we would do.”