BY THE BOOK: John Abdub Wako

Tuesday February 18 2020

John Abdub Wako, a mentor and motivational speaker, is an author of two books: The Journey to Self-Realization (2018) and The Power of Choices (2016). PHOTO| COURTESY

John Abdub Wako, a mentor and motivational speaker, is an author of two books: The Journey to Self-Realization (2018) and The Power of Choices (2016).

Challenged by the marginalisation of his home county, 25-year-old Abdub felt that there was great need for the youth in his county to not only define their space but also engage in constructive activities that would see their talents, and skills utilised.

He is also a volunteer with Marsabit County First Lady Mentorship Program; a program that distributes sanitary pads and revision books to schools in the county. He takes advantage of such visits to mentor the girls.

He has found an opportunity in the Girls Holiday Camps which take place during April, August and December holidays.

Girls from villages in a given sub county stay at one boarding school while they are trained on several issues chief among them health and academic excellence. Abdub has conducted his motivational talks in 50 schools, some of them outside his Home County, Marsabit.

Abdub, who is a graduate of Bachelor’s Degree in Maritime Management, currently divides his time between Mombasa where he works for Sharaf Shipping Agency and home.  He spoke to


Please summarize the concerns in your books

The Journey to Self-Realization challenges people to stop looking at what others do with their lives and focus on self. It dwells on the art of finding the power in oneself based on the philosophy that we are responsible creatures and we have solutions to all the problems that afflict us.

The Power of Choices is a reminder that for every choice, there is a consequence. It highlights ten powerful ‘tools’ that can help in making choices.

Why did you focus on motivation?

I wanted to inspire or mentor young people like me into focusing on the positive aspects of life. While we are at liberty to complain about lack of opportunities, I have always remained convinced that we also have the power to drive the transformation of our lives.

We must shift our focus to the little we can do for ourselves and for the community. When we focus on opportunities, they come following us.

Where did your journey as a motivational speaker start?

It started in Mombasa during our first campus long holiday. Then during my days as a student at Moi University, I was appointed the chairperson of Mentorship, Authorship and Leadership Program Group. I also joined the Peer Counselling Group, learning a lot from the Moi University Career and Guidance Department in effect.

These two, combined with my writing for a publication of the Catholic Students were instrumental in my growth.

Can you recall a motivational talk where you felt the audience connected with what you said?

Yes. At a girls’ camping mentorship program in Moyale Sub-County, during my talk, the students were very active. They asked me questions and our session remained engaging throughout. I did not only enjoy it but also had a feeling of how curious the girls were. I did not want to leave.

Although the place is far away from where I stay and the opportunities to go back almost unavailable, I went back one more time to talk to them.

What is the most difficult part of being a motivational speaker to you?

An unexpected question from the audience. While going around in the schools, sometimes the students ask a question that my conscience has never registered to me that it can come from them, considering their age.

Closely attached to this is answering such questions because you do not want them to feel that you are being an escapist yet you still have to think about how to put the words together.

What are some of the activities you engage in with the young people while mentoring them?

We normally have team building sessions that help understand the needs and ambitions of the different participants. We do question and answer sessions as well as debates that give them the opportunity to freely express their beliefs.

And we have sessions where they tell real life stories. During such a session, you get to really know them better and how to handle their fears while talking to them.

You spoke of your community as a marginalised one. Which problems in your community concern you as a youth?

The major problem that trouble me is the mentality that we are marginalised. It has clouded the judgement of many others, limiting their ability to utilise their potentials as a result.

The poverty rate is very high. It distresses me to see the number of school drop outs rising, and the fact that performance in schools is poor as well.

Unemployment and drug and substance abuse is all over. My only hope is for those in my county to not focus on where they come from but the fact that we can work hard towards economic independence.

I have lived in different parts of the country and have interacted with different people from various communities.

I use the experiences I gather during such journeys to encourage them. What drives forth is the need to see change in my community.

Who has inspired you in your life?

Former President of United States of America, Barrack Obama. In him I see a man with a background of immense struggle.

In his initiative, Obama Foundation Scholars, I find inspiration to make a difference in my community.