This is the story of Jomo Kimathi, a 60-year-old African professional athlete who is suffering from osteoarthritis of the right knee. Jomo’s life story will describe the stages of human growth and development and will explain his biological, psychological, social and cultural influences. This will also discuss how he adjust to change and challenges across his life span and assess the effect of social influences on developing or modifying behaviour.
Jomo Kimathi was born in 1957 in Kilgoris, Narok County in Kenya. His father was a former PE teacher and a coach to young aspiring athletes in Kimuron Secondary School and his mother was a plain housewife who devoted her time looking after her family.
During Jomo’s foetal stage, his mother had symptoms of gestational diabetes which was controlled by having a healthy diet, mainly the ones that are low in simple carbohydrates like sugar and processed flours. Gestational diabetes could lead to complications such as high birth weight of baby, delivery by C-section, breathing problems in baby, preeclampsia, preterm delivery and jaundice in baby (NICE 2015). Jomo had bonded with his mother while he was in her womb. His mother would always talk and sing to him, that made him recognise her tender loving voice. She would also read a story to him before sleeping. He was growing fast inside the womb. His mother went through natural birth after 8 hours of labour. Finally, Jomo was born with an APGAR score of 10/10 (BabyCentre Medical Advisory Board 2017).
INFANCY AND TODDLERHOOD (BIRTH - 2 YEARS)
As a baby, Jomo presented to be healthy, happy and sprightly. He acquired most of his biological features from his mother such as his curly black hair and brown eyes. Although a lot of their friends and relatives say he looked so much like his father. The inborn biological givens, in relation to Nature concept, were very dominant features that made him unique as a person. However, the Nurture aspect presented by Jomo’s exposure to the environment, experiences and cultivation from his family influenced his biological make up and psychological skills which moulded him into the person he is (Berk 2014). Nature and Nurture explains the uniqueness of identity of an individual from another individual. Jomo’s distinctiveness when he was born was characterised by the genes he inherited from his parents and throughout his development, his culture, education, and the environment he was exposed into also greatly impacted on his individuality (Berk 2014). Some of Jomos’s developmental milestone during his first year of life developed earlier than expected age. This recognised his uniqueness from other infants. Idiographic approach in human development focuses on recognition of uniqueness, uses subjective experiences, and is based on the study of exceptionality of an individual (Bem 2006). He sat unsupported at 5-6 months old and each month would present a new skill like crawling, rolling on his stomach, lifting and turning his head, standing and walking. He said his first word when he was 1 year old, he also would respond to his own name when called and understood simple commands. His mother would always read him stories and nursery rhymes and when he was about 2 years old he would join in reciting the rhymes although he could only say few sentences by putting words together. His mother and father would take him to the playground for him to socialise with other children although he still does not know how to play with them. When he cannot do something, or cannot get what he wants, he would have an outburst to have things his way. According to Erikson’s Learning Autonomy versus Shame and Mistrust stage, a child starts to realise that he or she has many skills and abilities, thus making the child feel the sense of autonomy and begin to assert his or her independence and control of things (McLeod 2013).
EARLY CHILDHOOD (2-6 YEARS)
At age 3, Jomo would watch his father exercise and would imitate the movements. He could carry on simple conversations and play with other children. He now understands how to play share (co-operative play). He could cope being away from his mother or father for a few hours and could control his emotions better. At this point, he also started drawing, writing, and recite some letters of the alphabet. His coordination has improved and he could skip rope and throw and catch ball accurately. At this stage, Jomo was on a continuous process of change where he becomes increasingly more capable at what he is doing. The development of Jomo’s physical and intellectual skills is gradual and continuous throughout life. “The Continuous development is the transformation that occurs at a steady pace, possibly showing a continuous, consistent improvement or progress whereas Discontinuous development is the transformation that occurs in what appears to be great bursts of accomplishment following a period of solid consolidation of perhaps knowledge or skills” (Gillbrand 2011).
MIDDLE CHILDHOOD (6-11 YEARS)
Jomo started school at age 6. He was the tallest boy in his class and was very shy, although he easily made a few friends. Jomo easily learned new concepts and skills in school. His academic grades were average but he excelled in physical education. At third grade, Jomo participated in the school’s sports day and won first in the 100-meter dash in the track and field event which encouraged him to better himself in this area. This made him aspire to become a professional athlete. Jomo’s parents were always very supportive in everything he did. His father trained him in sports while his mother was always there to guide him in his academic studies. According to Vygotsky’s Theory of Cognitive Development and Culture, cognitive development transpires through the interaction of the child with more skilled members of the culture, like parents and older relatives or peers. They serve as guides, teachers and provide information and support required for intellectual growth (Garhart-Mooney 2013).
ADOLESCENCE (11-18 YEARS)
At this stage of development Jomo started to be conscious of his self and body image. He had grown taller and noticed the growth of hair in different body parts. He started to like the company of his friends more than to be with his family. There are times that he would skip school with his friends. Jomo was at a stage where his development was culturally constructed which generally initiated as he reached sexual maturity and ends when he has established an identity as an adult within his social group. The Stage theory explains that an individual progress through a pattern of distinct stages over time and that any progression that takes place is supplemented by the previous stage (Berk 2014).
When Jomo was 15, his mother was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and after a year she passed away. It was a tough time for Jomo and his father. This event in Jomo’s life explains the Open-Ended theory which states that every individual is fundamentally different from one another and should expect different behaviour from them (Berk 2014). Instead of being depressed, this tragedy made Jomo more positive in life. He learned not to put anything on hold and he valued his father more than ever. His mother taught him to value his family more than anything else and he dedicated all his achievements to both his parents. He continued his training as an athlete and achieved more.
EARLY ADULTHOOD (18-40 YEARS)
Jomo won first in the World Junior Championships 800 meter in 1976, followed by different awards, until he made it to the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles where he won first in the 800-meter event. He was at the peak of his physical performance as well as surrounded by a lot of supporters and friends. He got married at 28 and had three children. Jomo loved his family as much as how his father loved him and his mother. This was also the highest point of his athletic career where he had achieved most of what he dreamed of, though he strived to maintain a balance between his career and family life.
MIDDLE ADULTHOOD (40-65 YEARS)
At 40, Jomo was established and very satisfied with his life and career. He started coaching young athletes and devoted most of his time to his family, bonding with his children and lesser time with training. At this point, Jomo noticed a lot of changes in his physical performance. His reactions slowly became sluggish and his joints are becoming a little stiff. At 50 he started to be a little relaxed at home with family or reading a book. He had some weight gain because he does not exercise as much as before. At 60, he was diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the right knee. Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects the joints causing pain and stiffness (Arthritis Research UK 2017).
LATE ADULTHOOD (65 years - DEATH)
Jomo knows that soon his osteoarthritis will get worse and it will be hard to walk. With the support of his family and friends, Jomo is looking forward to a happy retirement. According to Erikson’s eighth stage of Psychosocial Development, an individual reviews and evaluates what has been accomplished in life. It results into two conclusions, the favourable and unfavourable. Obviously, Jomo has a favourable outcome as he does not regret anything that happened in his life and he said that he would have the same life if he will be born again (Beckett, Taylor 2016). He also foresees that this stage in life will be difficult for him as his health will soon deteriorate and he will not be able to achieve self-actualisation, as what is discussed in Maslow’s hierarchy, but he does not mind because he had a happy and contented life (Sudbery 2010). He perceives this stage as a new chapter his life.