(Photo courtesy of Juliung Julius)


By Wambui Mwaura


Graduation is a special life event that many people look forward to. It is conceivable that after the hustling and bustling of campus life, after burning the midnight candles, after hopping between classes and generally going through the grueling vigor of undergraduate life, throughout a four years period-all in a bid to get the much coveted diploma- it is an occasion that many look forward to celebrate and savour with friends, family and well-wishers.


Graduation spells a sigh of relief, and marks an end to the constant financial outlay semester fees entails. This is true for parents and guardians or even students who pay their own fees. For the fact that it is a one-off affair, many parents and guardians feel it is warranted to splash huge sums of money on parties in celebrating their children during this time which represents a huge milestone in their lives.


While some are able to go out of their way to cater for this event, which includes exclusive dinner parties, photography, new clothing and transport for their extended families and community members among many others, the reality is that not everyone is able to afford extravagant parties, and this leaves the less fortunate with feeling of inadequacy and pressure for not being able to keep up with the Jones, and even causing some to fall into depression.


Just like any other big occasion, marketers, event planners and service providers are the biggest gainers; hence why they would never relent in pushing these big ostentatious party narratives to students, thereby creating a kind of situation where students are in fear of missing out.


In Daystar graduation groups for example, these planners, in the guise of student/ entrepreneurs, stepped up to offer their services to their fellow students for things like graduation dinner gowns, make-up services, graduation photo services and many others.  “As a graduate of the class of 2022, I have a chance to market the products of a business I started in 2020 to my fellow graduating students, and I am so glad to say that my business income has grown by 10%”, says Mercy Kasalu, the CEO of Mercelina Collections and a PR Major expected 2022 Daystar University graduating student. She, like many others, benefitted from the fear of missing out this occasion created among her peers.


The current economic crisis facing Kenya is something that can no longer be ignored, and households are tightening their belts, spending the scarce money meagerly on only essential commodities in order to meet basic needs. Needless to say that some families haven’t the wherewithal to cater for special occasions like big graduation parties.

It is no secret that many students are facing the brunt of this harsh economic time, and coming up with the graduation fees alone proves to be a huge challenge for them to talk more of extravagant parties. This makes me wonder; is mass graduation parties something worth considering at this point?

Part of the concept of mass weddings is to help financially constrained couples to celebrate their love at a low budget, or others just being financially prudent and not wanting to spend huge sums of money on a day’s event. The same concept can also be applied to students who are not in a position to splash huge sums of money for the graduation occasion. Maybe mass graduation parties should be something to consider by event planners and service providers in the spirit of inclusivity; because everyone deserves to have a memorable graduation, and this does not have to depend on how deep one’s parents’ pockets are.


The proponents who are for big parties and huge celebrations might not agree with this, as some would argue that they saved for years in order to make it happen, to celebrate themselves for a huge milestone in their lives. That is also true, because no one gets to set a standard of how anyone should celebrate their big day. The parting point however is that everyone should feel celebrated, and no one should have to endure the feeling of inadequacy because of financial constraints. Mass graduation parties might indeed be the answer, and probably the next frontier for school party planning. Perhaps, this should be a call to duty for event organisers to take this up as a new business venture. Over to you event organisers.



The online involvement editor manages this author. The articles posted are associated with the various writers and editors for the involvement Newspaper.

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