A "Dream Job" Is an Illusion

Once upon a time long, long ago, two ambitious young cousins named Mali and Sikini lived side by side in Rongai. The young men were best buddies and big dreamers. They would talk endlessly about how someday, someway they would become the richest men in the town. They were both bright and hard working. All they needed was an opportunity.


One day that opportunity arrived. A private developer decided to hire two men to carry water from a nearby borehole to a tank in his flats. The job went to Mali and Sikini. 

Each man grabbed two buckets and headed to the borehole. By the end of the day, they had filled the tank to the brim. The developer paid them Ksh. 20 for each bucket of water. 

“This is our dream come true!” shouted Sikini. “I can’t believe our good fortune.” But Mali wasn’t so sure. His back ached and his hands were blistered from carrying the heavy buckets. He dreaded getting up and going to work the next morning. He vowed to think of a better way to get the water from the borehole to the tank 

Mali The Pipeline Man: 

“Sikini. I have a plan.” Mali said the next morning as they grabbed their buckets and headed for the borehole. “Instead of lugging buckets back and forth for coins a day, let’s build a pipeline from the borehole to the tank”

Sikini stopped dead in his tracks “A pipeline! Whoever heard of such a thing?”

Sikini shouted. “We’ve got a great job Mali, I can carry 100 buckets a day at Ksh. 20 a bucket that’s Ksh. 2,000 a day! I’m rich!. By the end of the week, I can buy a new pair of shoes. By the end of the month a music system. By the end of six months, I can rent a good apartment. We have the best job in town. We have weekends off and two weeks paid vacation every year. We’re set for life, get out of here with your pipeline.” 

But Mali was not easily discouraged. He patiently explained the pipeline plan to his best friend. Mali would work part of the day carrying buckets and part of the day and weekends building his pipeline. 

He knew it would be hard work digging a ditch in the rocky soil because he was paid by the bucket he knew his income would drop. He also knew it might take a year or two before his pipeline would pay off but Mali believed in his dream and he went to work


Sikini and the rest of the neighbors began mocking Mali, calling him “Mali The Pipeline Man.” Sikini, who was earning almost twice the money as Mali flaunted his new purchases. 

He bought a bodaboda outfitted with a new leather seat which he kept parked outside his new apartment. He bought flashy clothes and fancy meals at the restaurant. The neighbors called him Mr. Sikini. and they cheered when he bought rounds at the local pub and laughed loudly at his jokes.

Short term pain equals long term gain: 

While Sikini lay in his balcony on evenings and weekends. Mali kept digging his pipeline the first few months Mali didn’t have much to show for his efforts.

The work was hard. even harder than Sikini’s because Mali was working evenings and weekends too. But Mali kept reminding himself that tomorrow’s dreams are built on today’s sacrifices. Day by day he dug. inch by inch.

Inches turned into one foot …….. then ten feet ………… then  20…. then 100. “Short-term pain equals long-term gain.” he reminded himself as he stumbled into his rented mabati house after another exhausting day’s work “In time my reward will exceed my efforts.” he thought. “Keep your eyes on the prize.” he kept thinking as he drifted off to sleep with the sounds of laughter from the neighborhood pub in the background. 

The Tables Are Turned: 

Days turned into months. One day Mali realized his pipeline was half-way finished. which meant he only had to walk half as far to fill his buckets Mali used the extra time to work on his pipeline.


During his rest breaks. Mali watched his old friend Sikini lug buckets. Sikini’s shoulders were more stooped than ever. He was hunched in pain, his steps slowed by the daily grind.

Sikini was angry and sullen, resenting the fact that he was doomed to carry buckets day in day out, for the rest of his life. He began to spend less time in his balcony and more time in the pub. 

When the pub’s patrons saw Sikini coming they’d whisper. “Here comes Sikini the Bucket Man and they giggle when the town drunk mimicked Sikini’s stooped posture and shuffling gait. Sikini didn’t buy rounds or tell jokes anymore, preferring to sit alone in a dark corner surrounded by empty bottles.

Finally, Mali’s big day arrived. his pipeline was complete! The neighbors crowded around as the water gushed from the pipeline into the water tank! Now that the flats had a steady supply of fresh water,  people from around the town moved into the flats and the area prospered.

Once the pipeline was complete. Mali didn’t have to carry buckets anymore. The water flowed whether he worked or not. It flowed while he ate. It flowed while he slept. It flowed on weekends while he played. The more the water flowed into the flats’ tanks. the more money flowed into Mali’s pockets.


Mali the Pipeline Man became known as Mali the Miracle Maker. But Mali understood what he did wasn’t a miracle. It was merely the first stage of a big. big dream. You see. Mali had bigger plans. Mali planned on building pipelines all over the town!


Who are you? 

A bucket-carrier? 

Or a pipeline builder? 

Do you get paid only when you show up for work like Sikini the Bucket Carrier? 

Or do you do the work once and get paid over and over again like Mali the Pipeline Builder? 

If you’re like most people. you’re working the bucket-carrying plan. 

It’s the time-for-money-trap. 

The problem with bucket carrying is that the money stops when the bucket carrying stops.

Which means the concept of a “secure job” or “dream job” is an illusion. 

The inherent danger of carrying buckets is that the income is temporary instead of ongoing. 

If Sikini woke up one morning with a stiff back and couldn’t get out of bed, how much money would he earn that day?


No Work-No Money! 

The same goes for any bucket-carrying job. 

Once bucket-carriers stop carrying buckets for any reason, they won’t continue to get a paycheck

Yet pipeline builders have financial independence. 

Comments (6)

  • I like this illustration and at the moment I feel like Sikini . It takes courage and Grit to take a leap of faith like Mali. I need to emulate him.

  • What a blessed day will it be when finally I become Mali the pipeline builder, quite inspiring story.

  • Most what i read online is trash and copy paste but i think you offer something different. Keep it like this.

  • Woow… What a challenge!
    Inspiring to become Mali the pipeline builder

    Wangui Joyce
  • Greatly inspired….

    Wangui joyce
  • That’s great inspiration beautifully packaged, and delivered.

    Cyrus Kariuki

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