Kind-Hearted Foreman at Nairobi Mjengo Wins Hearts

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    An undated image of a building under construction in Nairobi
  • We've had countless stories of strict foremen, a majority of them feared by the construction workers.

    Funny memes have also been shared online, by those who have worked under strict supervisors.

    But for Max, the new contractor who our construction company was tasked to work with in constructing a six-storey building in Lavington was a different guy.

    I remember when we all learnt that our previous foreman, Njenga, had left to join a new construction company, we all protested. 

    Njenga had made some changes to our work schedules, negotiated new commissions and even organized rotations to allow us rest.

    Thus there was that fear that a new foreman would disrupt that workflow.

    So, there was tension immediately Max came in on day one.

    The foreman memes were once again shared in our ka-WhatsApp group.

    "Unajaribu kuwa chap chap new foreman anakuambia sasa kijana unaharakisha hivo ndio tumalize mapema uende nyumbani ama." (You are rushing to finish your duties only for the new foreman to ask you if you are rushing to leave early).

    This was one of the posts that attracted quite a conversation. 

    But I noticed something different with how he worked since day one.

    On his first day, after introducing himself, he sat aside to watch how his deputies managed the day.

    Workers at a building under construction
    Workers at a building under construction

    He sat with his notebook, watching, slightly pensively at first, but then started laughing at the jokes we made. For some time, he was heavily engrossed on his phone and would draw notes on his book. 

    "Who would like a drink?" he asked while we were heading for lunch. 

    And everyone followed him. It was the first thing that earned him friendship with all of us that week. 

    But the next week, his points ranked higher when he stepped in and assisted Victor (we call him Vicki), whose son was sent home for school fees. 

    "Let's gather together and listen," he called us to a small meeting after lunch.

    "Just like how we are building this foundation, toiling to raise this building to the sky, is how tall we ought to stand with each other.

    "I love this building site. You know why folks. As challenging as it is, I realized that we are building together. That's how we can come together and assist each other.

    "I will donate half of the school fees and you guys can top up voluntarily so that Vicki can focus here with us."

    And that was the start of our own Sacco. Max created a bond among us, the majority having worked at this firm for over four years.

    The funds would always assist us in family matters. He also worked on promotions and worked on time schedules as we rushed to meet deadlines.

    "It is the small things that matter," he told me while we were having lunch some day.

    "One day, you'll rise to some position and you will understand how it matters to people when you touch their hearts.

    "Make people enjoy working around and with you," he added and took out his phone once again. 

    I was intrigued and politely asked what it was that occupied most of his attention.

    “Yea, I have been watching videos online, learning new construction techniques for certain phases of our construction. Like here…,” he showed me some new diagrams.

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    Get up to 100 per cent data bonus with Safaricom

    “But the videos are data-consuming, with this economy now. I would rather just wait for an important thing to pop up. Will I buy data or buy bread?” I joked as we both broke into laughter.

    “Haah! No worries. Safaricom introduced Nyoosha Shillingi offer to provide its customers with new and revamped data bundles for the same price! With Ksh 20 you now buy 100 MBs, double the usual 50MBs provided before. 

    “One thing about the new Safaricom Nyoosha Shillingi campaign is that data does not deplete faster anymore. Data, calls and SMS offers were extended by between 40% and 100%. 

    “You can also get 300MB daily rather than 150MB with Ksh50. For the weekly Ksh99, you now get 500MB, a 43% increase from the usual 350MB. You can also get 2.5GB+Free Whatsapp for Ksh500 and 7GB+Free Whatsapp for Ksh1000 and more offers,” he stated and showed me more info on the Safaricom website. 

    The free WhatsApp only comes with a specified bundle. The new data plans are available on *544#, *555#,, Blaze app and my Safaricom app

    “The new data bundles are available to all Safaricom customers (prepaid, postpaid and hybrid). Yes, you can purchase the new data bundles using airtime, Bonga Points and MPESA,” Max stated asking me to join the other colleagues at work. 

    The guy was quite a charmer. 

    Get up to 100 per cent data bonus with Safaricom
    Get up to 100 per cent data bonus with Safaricom