On Money Making

This year, I have made a commitment to making money. Not getting rich but just being able to use my skills to feed myself.

A good thing I did was to attend a class on creative entrepreneurship that was being offered by the GoDown Arts Center. My heartfelt thanks to all they taught me in ten weeks. However, going to class is not the real test. The test of reality is in using what I learnt to make money for myself as an artist.

Maybe I have OCD for doing research first. Maybe I am too cautious. However, before I plunge into things, I also tend to do some reading first. And today, I am engaging my curiosity on money.

I have read a little on the history of capitalism and a bit on economics. One of the things that has caught my attention is the boom and bust (bubble) cycles of the capitalist economy. They are normally caused by people speculating on a stock or a product or on a certain sector of the economy.

As more and more people speculate, let me use land (there is a real estate phenomenon in Kenya), the prices keep going higher and higher. At some point the price is not sustainable and the bubble bursts. Greed is what drives the prices up thus blowing the bubble to be bigger and bigger. And the thinking that you can get rich quick without breaking sweat.

Read more about the history of bubbles and what happens when they burst here. Reading this will help you learn why you should research on what to invest your hard earned money on. For me, this stories emphasize what I have always believed. That you cannot reap where you have not sowed. Even if you do not lose money, it corrupts the soul and many undesirable things start cropping up in your life. These are excess of consumerism which I define as buying things you don’t really need.

The seed of thought that got me to the above information was that I am curious about capitalism and what I suspect are its roots in Babylon. There is something very disturbing about doing things just to make money for its sake. That perhaps explains why Babylon has had such a lasting association with negative things. Never mind that those guys had other beautiful things about them.

I have been looking around and have seen signs that things are not going so well in Kenya. For example, I believe the real-estate boom is a sham. Most of the houses being built flout many common-sensical rules on making houses for human beings to live in ( Even if it is an office you spend time there, no?. And they are so ugly anyway. I already complained about that here so let me go on.

The other thing is the emergence of what I call the plastic culture. There is too much plastic going on. There is the real plastic that is chocking our rivers, that our cows and goats are chewing along with the grass (upon which we proceed to eat the meat and thus consume) and makes our public spaces very dirty.

And then there is the plastic personality. This is best shown by something we all know. The plastic smile. It means our interactions are only skin deep. It means we somehow lose our human side.

For me, let me say this on record as an artist, it means soul-less art. It means making music that does not seek to transform but to merely entertain. And it cannot get better than what the American art industry is giving us. Emotionless junk art that is done as art for the sake of art. (Yeah, I said).

So, in a way, it is a caution to myself. Even as I yearn to make money (as an artist), let me not just make money irrespective of any negative impact my activities might occur to the rest of society. And I guess I will have to start waking up earlier than I have been, spend lesser time on leisure and to be more disciplined.

As a result, I have another resolution for my year. To greet the sunrise every morning.



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