Kipng’etich Deserves A Salute

 What does it mean to be a man these days? Where do men go to define themselves? How do men see themselves?

I think we have forgotten how to describe ourselves. Women in this country have lately taken over the role of telling us what we are and how we should be. In the process we end up thoroughly confused.

So in an attempt to meet women’s standards of the perfect man, Kenyan men acquire the prescribed status symbols, the Hummer H3 with the leather seats, impressive career portfolios, a house in the leafy suburbs and find themselves still attracting the kind of woman they do not want. It is becoming quite clear that it is nearly impossible to forge an authentic identity amidst all this romantic hype.

Most guys are vaguely aware of the expectations of manhood especially within a marriage. They may remain responsible, securing comforts for the children, stabilizing the family’s future, all the while forgetting that their individuality does not cease to exist the moment they hook up with a great wife.

To get to the bottom of this pseudo cultural function, I think it is important to remember that romantic love and marriage are not synonymous. There is more to life than impressing women. As men it is important to acknowledge our imperfections as we work towards self improvement and personal growth. We must not forget our definition as men in the mad rush to meet standardized perfections. Self development is the key to any man’s success and each man must learn to run his own and often lonely race to the finish line.  We can therefore no longer look at life through the prism of our flawed individual value systems.

Economic progress is numbing us with the kindest intentions. As the new missionaries of materialism we are gradually losing significant gender based attributes. Nairobi is becoming a city of stressed high achievers, somehow corporations prefer employees who manage to strike the balance between due diligence and abject groveling. This results into abnormally suppressed or highlighted character traits. Basic attributes such as good posture and deportment have been rapidly replaced by shuffling gaits and compromised postures. Speech and manner rarely reflect the dignity of the individual within. Humility is now central only to religious groups. Economical power dictates that it is not enough to have power. One must be observed to have power. Traits recognized universally as manly are only externally maintained. Integrity and strength of character are not exhibited attributes. What happened to us?

In a ideal world we would have to clone former Kenya Wildlife Service ( KWS) director Julius Kipng’etich ( Kip) and have his brilliance forever looking over us. It’s rare that Kenyans as cynical as we are all agree on the integrity of a man. What enthralled me most about Kip was his demeanor……a steely gentleness. His words were a salve, his focus unwavering and he maintained a smile through insurmountable challenges.

Kip joined KWS in 2005 and transformed it from a malfunctioning organisation into the respected brand that it is today.  We heaped all our bets and hopes on him and he delivered. With his exit from the helm of KWS, we hope his contribution will be sustained. Kenya’s wildlife and environment are facing the serious threat of a rapidly expanding population and we are in desperate need of conscious leaders to man these sensitive dockets. Many aspiring heads of corporations could learn to emulate his style.

Fortunately for us, they are numerous examples within our borders who serve as exemplary role models and the gains made at KWS must not be reversed. Four years ago, during my stint as editor, in an issue of the now defunct Adam magazine, we had Julius Kipng’etich on the cover and he was described as a gentleman who walks with a big stick, a man who amidst us has quietly proved that he can walk the talk. During the interview, I asked him what his guiding philosophy was and he shared this statement,

‘Every day in our parks a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Similarly, every morning in our parks a lion wakes up, it knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. So therefore it does not matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle at KWS, when the sun comes up you had better be on the move”.

This man Julius Kipng’etich, has retired from the Kenya Wildlife Service to pursue his personal ambitions. I wish him well in his next station.

Images source:



Oyunga Pala is a Kenyan writer, curator and editor. This blog examines the texture of everyday Kenyan and African life and the challenges of modernity and disillusion. The writings commonly feature the struggle of the Kenyan male to maintain integrity in contemporary society.


  1. Very well written piece. Pala never disappoints!

  2. You sure do know how to get a man thinking….

  3. A good man that Kip. Good man. Adam was a super publication by the way.

  4. The way this blog starts…and the way it ends…mmmmmmhhhh.
    Nice read OP..have a brilliant week…

  5. Brilliant write up,you always give me something to think about especially as I am growing,am only 22.

  6. Amimo Kwambo

    Toasting to this one!

    “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”
    Malcolm X

    A super lesson at this point in time, in this place and time. Celebrate and keep the ideals alive.

    Please…Sniff out more of those who truly deserve this recognition!

  7. Kip is a humble hero…and you brought out that well, by making us think of what we think about being like him or how different.

  8. Gregory Mabele

    Great guy, Kipng’etich. Good tribute to a great man, Oyunga.

  9. Kimathi Njuguna

    It’s been long since ‘wordpress’! Nice stumbling into your new joint (with pleasure).

    A lovely tribute to a deserving man, Kip.

  10. Jebiwott

    quite+humble, makes methink about those who are loud+abrasive+talk2much=empty ndebez

  11. Murangiri Dennis Kiriinya.

    Well written article.

  12. Wanjjiku

    This is a great piece Oyunga and Kipngetich is a great Leader. We need more of this in a society where as you said we worship materialism and power.

  13. Its my first time on your blog and im impressed. I found the paragraphs about the male metamorphis very interesting. ‘Somehow there’s more to life than impressing women and we can no longer look at life through the prism of our flawed individual systems’…nice…i like and the same can be said to women. We can no longer continue defining ourselves through social status like being married. The universe is an equal opportunity employer…giving each human being the same vocation…to create their lives……sigh!!! then all we do is imitate other people’s lives

Leave a comment

Please be polite. We appreciate that. Your email address will not be published and required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.