Kenyans all over the country are experiencing economic hardships in different capacities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most resources have been directed towards fighting coronavirus thus leaving citizens unable to effectively provide basic needs for their families including paying house rent.
Nevertheless, tenants in Majengo East, Narok town have their landlord Mr. Elijah Ntokoiwuan, to thank after he waived house rent. Elijah, 31 years old and has physical disability in normal circumstances received Ksh, 12,000 as rent from his tenants, however, due to the trying times caused by the global pandemic, he waived the full amount for two months at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March. Now that time has elapsed, he has asked his tenants to pay only half (Ksh.6,000) of the rent to continue helping them cope with the harsh impacts of coronavirus. Ntokoiwuan who also owns two taxis has allowed his taxi drivers to pocket their daily earnings during this season until a permanent solution to the pandemic is found.
Ntokoiwuan who earns Sh. 200, 000 monthly from his real estate and transport businesses has defied all odds to become a successful businessman in Narok town, despite being born with a severe mobility disability. “I am a living example that no human is limited. I can achieve what any other person can achieve because I believe I am only abled differently,” he said.
Ntokoiwuan was born in a humble family of six children in Ng’oswani village, Majimoto ward, Narok South Sub-County in a family of six siblings. He is the only child with a disability in his family. The businessman and entrepreneur passed the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in 1994 and scored 350 marks out of 500 but unfortunately failed to go through secondary school education because his parents could not afford to pay his school fees.
He stayed home until 1997 when Joseph Kamau his friend took him to Narok town and housed him. He stayed away from his biological home and in 2015 came up with a plan (fun drive) to raise capital to start his own business which earned him only Ksh. 60,000. Fortunately, a friend who was the chief guest in his fun drive bought him land and built him a self-contained house in Majengo estate in Narok town. “I could not express my joy at the sight of the house which I rented out to generate some income,” Ntokiwan said.
Furthermore, some donors came to acquire land from Ntokoiwuan’s community and home area so that they could set up a wildlife conservancy. As part of the payment, these donors enrolled children of owners of the lands that are communally owned to have shares in the conservancy, where Ntokoiwuan`s name was forward by his father. The conservancy gave Ntokoiwuan a 48-acre land as shares in the group, which entitled him to a Ksh 2.5 million loan from the group. He used the loan to purchase a plot in Narok town to expand his real estate business which he considered rewarding and easy to manage.
The businessman and entrepreneur now earns a sum of Sh120, 000 monthly from the houses which also bought him the two taxis that bring in a total income of Ksh.90, 000 per month. Besides, Ntokoiwuan’s wealth has continued to grow as he also owns approximately 200 sheep among his other property. While recounting his journey from poverty to riches, Ntokoiwuan stated that his siblings and parents have been his support system and the pillar of his current success in business.
He further explains that most persons with disabilities are usually stereotyped as beggars, something that has led to them being looked down upon. He uses his story to empower other persons with disabilities to know that they can be successful and fend for themselves as effective as any other able-bodied individual. For him, disability is not inability and anyone can do anything if they put their hearts into it.
The kind landlord calls upon his fellow landlords around the country to show compassion and sympathy to their tenants who struggle to pay rent in the face of this pandemic. He says “No one knows when this pandemic which has taken a heavy toll on everyone will come at an end and therefore, we should all act in a humanly manner to help anyone in need.” Ntokoiwuan’s tenants have expressed their gratitude for his kindness, especially during these hard times. They say the amount waivered will help pay other bills including purchasing their basic needs.
Ntokoiwuan’s story is one that encourages other persons with disabilities to realize that they can become successful people in society just like any other person. It only takes working hard and never giving up despite all odds.
By: Linzer Kibebe