• Students at a Kenyan university were shocked and thrilled when they received their exam papers, and one of the questions was based on a Kendrick Lamar’s song.

    “In the words of Kendrick Lamar (popular rapper of the good kid, m.a.a.d city fame), ‘If you get your first big check, and you cop a chain before you buy a house. You’re a vanity slave.’ In this song, ‘Vanity Slave,’ Mr Lamar speaks openly about mindless consumerism. Explain three dangers of consumerism,” read the question.

    A photo of the end of semester examination which was held on Monday (July 11) has been making rounds in the social media with students from the school commending the lecturer and those from other universities admiring Strathmore University’s ‘modern’ way of linking education with real-life examples, even in exams. The school is known for its strong programs in business.

    Mr Caleb Kandagor, an assistant lecturer in philosophy and ethics at Strathmore, is the lecturer who stunned his students. But according to Kandagor, who has been teaching the course for three years, the attention that the question attracted surprised him as well, and was unexpected.

    “My students who are millennials do listen to hip-hop, and I thought since we had covered the topic why not just surprise them with something they can relate with,” he said. “Probably they had listened to the song before and never given it a thought. It is a question they will remember for a lifetime. For me it is about making ethics real,” Quartz quoted him.

    Warning students against consumerist behavior

    The number of students leaving graduate schools and other forms of training to enter the job market is astoundingly high and most often than not, do not get employment. Despite Kenya being East Africa’s biggest economy, the number of unemployment among the youth is highest in the region.

    In a World Bank report released in March, it was estimated that unemployment in the East African nation stood at 17.3 percent compared to six percent for both Uganda and Tanzania. Mass joblessness in Kenya forces unemployed adults to depend on the small working class stretches family resources and consumes savings for future investments.

    It is due to this, and many other reasons that Kandagor wants to inspire and warn his students against consumerist behavior which could cause one to incur excessive debt and other financial drawbacks.

    “Above all, [the song] calls for young people to focus on securing their future rather than consuming all their earnings in material wants just to please others,” Kandagor says. “The challenge with business ethics currently in Kenya is that we have leaders who flaunt their wealth, and no one knows how they have earned their money. These leaders are sending a message that what matters is the end, wealth, but not the means used to acquire the wealth.”

    Targeted at helping Kenya to create jobs for the youth, in May, World Bank availed Sh15 billion ($148M) to finance initiatives that help to reduce joblessness in the country. Among the things that the money will help to create include, the establishment of a business grants program, support companies that offer to bridge jobs skills gaps among college graduates, and to strengthen Kenya’s policy on youth development.


    Image credit: Slingshot Media