Friday, 30 December 2011

30. You have only one life, live it to the maximum

You only get one shot at this short life. It has it's ups and downs, good and bad, you gain some you lose some and the world keeps on spinning. As long as you're breathing and on this side you got something to be thankful and an opportunity to do a lot so as they say eat it with a big spoon. Laugh, love, go places, meet people, do things, make your contribution and most of all always remember to acknowledge God in everything that you do.

This is the last of my numbered posts for now. In case you've been wondering what it's all about it's not a countdown to my wedding as some people first thought so girls don't worry... Anyway the reason is today is my 30th birthday, yep the big 3 0 , quite a milestone in my few years on this Earth and I thought of doing a post about 30 things from my 30 years. Lessons I've learnt and I'm still learning and some I'm yet to get grips with about life, work, God, people and relationships. I had a few bright ideas at first but the number was quite large and I decided to do daily posts to spread them out. Sometimes I would be inspired and write many at a go and other times the trickle was slow. However I'm happy to finally have put my 'sage' skills to good use. Hope you enjoyed reading.

 This is just the beginning and I pray God will give me many more. I'm thankful for these first 30, the experiences I've had, the friends I've made and looking forward to the next 30!

The beauty of having a birthday at the end of the year is that everything fits in so well chronologically so as 2011 ends I wish you all a prosperous 2012.

God bless you all!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

29. You reap what you sow

The good book says in Galatians 6: 7 "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap."
One of the universal laws, if you plant potatoes you get potatoes not beans, what you invest is what you get back. This is not only restricted to Agriculture but to life as well. n that bible chapter we are told that we sow in the flesh, we reap destruction and we sow in the spirit we reap eternal life. In the prayer of St Francis of Assisi he asks to sow love where there is hatred, hope where there is despair etc, truly noble goals.
Wherever we go we have a choice as to what seed to sow, good seed or bad seed, invest in the wrong things or in the right things.
What seed are you sowing? Where are you sowing the seed?

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

28. Think before you talk /leap

This one is pretty much self explanatory. You can avoid a whole lot of trouble if you measure your words before they come outta your mouth.
Similarly before you do something take sometime to consider and weigh.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

27. Not everybody will like you so it's pointless trying to make them

Fame is deceptive. One moment you're selling like hotcakes the next you are in the gutter and few remain consistently popular thanks to the capricious public. However looking for fame for fame's sake is not a very worthwhile pursuit as we've seen some big stars end up dying miserably such as Michael Jackson.

Though not all of us are pop stars or movie stars we all enjoy being liked but the fact is not everybody will like you out there. There are some who you won't get along with, some who are just simply destructive so spending time being a people pleaser is not worth it. Best be yourself and the real people will appreciate you for what you really are, the rest will sort themselves out!

Monday, 26 December 2011

26. Celebrate the differences

There's this funny quote that goes "You're unique just like everybody else" I'm not here to debate the oxymoron but to appreciate that everybody is different. You'll never find another you and how boring it would be if we were all the same. Variety truly is the spice of life and meeting people from different backgrounds and who've had a different life experience is always an interesting experience.

One thing I've come to see about us human beings is that we will always find a way to divide ourselves be it based on religion, race, social standing, ethnicity, football club etc. What''s even more sad is when we use this differences as a basis for conflict e.g religious differences in Northern Ireland, the numerous tribal conflicts in Africa. What's worse is that even some of the same ethnicity decide to fight each other based on clan differences like in Somalia. Makes you ask the question can't we all just get along? Can we ever embrace unity in diversity and understand our differences are not a reason to fight but to stick together?

Something else closely related to this is that as humans we often fear what we don't understand. This is played out a lot in the social sphere where we fear new people who we don't understand, sometimes even concocting stories about them. For example some tribes are said to be cannibals and such kind of things and in some communities in the US people fearing blacks ans Hispanics because of crime. WE even go to the extent of spreading so called FUD- fear uncertainty and doubt about the unknown, pretty common in the computer world for instance Microsoft telling people stories about Linux when it was knew. We needn't fear but rather take time to understand that which is new.

I'm learning that as I go along in life I will encountered many who I differ with and have to learn to get along. After all what is war good for? absolutely nothing. This is very relevant in Kenya where we are trying to build ethnic cohesion, let's laugh at each others quirks and get along not use it as a cause for conflict as we did in the last elections

Sunday, 25 December 2011

25. You can't know everything that's why what you get in University is just a degree

First of all. Merry Christmas everybody! First time I've ever posted on this day!

Now back to business. This is pretty much an obvious statement. Nobody holds the monopoly of knowledge in the world. More so in this age when there is so much information flying around and being generated in a daily basis. I once read that from a newspaper in a major city you can learn more than people a couple of centuries ago did their entire lives! How about that? crazy huh? So it would be silly to think that you know it all, in any case who likes a Mr. know it all. In my younger days I used to be labelled a 'mjuaji' (know it all- hey even at some point I was branded a walking encyclopedia) most likely due to thinking my classroom prowess meant I knew everything in the world. Time has shown me quite the opposite and I'm all the wiser what's more with information at our fingertips nobody looks quite that sharp any more- Google has mad it so hard to win arguments!- but I digress.

We can only get to know so much in our short lives so I have come to accept that many times I'll be in a position of ignorance and have to listen to others more knowledgeable than me. Similarly when dealing with people learning to be patient knowing that Rome wasn't built in a day, you can't just know somebody at a sitting,  it takes a life time.

This ties in a lot to the previous point of continuous learning. Nobody knows it all

Saturday, 24 December 2011

24. Without God life becomes empty and meaningless

In the book of Ecclesiastes the preacher son of David, king in Jerusalem starts off by telling us how it is all vanity Chapter 1 verse 2 and laments on his pursuit of things that he thought mattered in life. This is a rich man talking, a wise man too he had so much going for him that a lot of us look for but he still came to the conclusion that it is all vanity.

Makes you wonder how such a 'successful' man would reach such a conclusion. I mean this is a guy who had it all- power, money, wisdom, entertainment, etc. However at the very end he says "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" Chapter 12 verse 13. Throughout the book he remembers the sovereignty of God in everything and though many things down here don't make sense he ultimately has the answer.

A lot in life doesn't make sense and is beyond us. We also ask the ultimate question- why am I here? A lot of the answers lie with our maker, the manufacturer knows the product best so it is with us and our God. Only He can fill that vacuum within our hearts for a sense of meaning and belonging. The best relationship we can ever have is with our almighty God. Do you have that relationship? are you living the abundant life that Jesus promised to his sheep? - John 10:10.

Friday, 23 December 2011

23. You will not be remembered for your possessions but the mark you left in people's hearts

Alert: this is post number 100!
In the last few months I've attended quite a number of funerals in the last few months and listened to many Euologies. As usual people dwell on the good the departed have done. In all those numerous speeches memories that were left are recounted from loved ones, friends and colleagues. Laughs you had good things you did together and the impact made in the life of those left behind. Some of those who passed away were wealthy and though their achievements may have been mentioned it was just in passing.Nobody talked about the big cars, land or houses that were left. What mattered more was the people. It is great to acquire wealth but in the final analysis you'll leave it here and your descendants will enjoy it. So as we live our lives physical capital is not the most important but the 'human capital' i.e the impact we have on the people around us. SO go ahead and build those memories!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

22. Accept when you're wrong

We al make mistakes and though we may not realise it at first the reality dawns on us later. Nobody is perfect and so we'll do something wrong. However once we do what's important  is to agree and make amends. Goes a long way as opposed to sweeping stuff under the carpet. It's not the sweetest but every now and then we eat humble pie. Even the first step in recovery is to admit you have a problem in the first place

Even to receive God's forgiveness we start by confession. 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

21. Words are powerful

Words have the power to build and the power to destroy. An often quoted bible verse is "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" proverbs 18: 21. What we say with our mouths can work out for the good and also the bad for the hearers and for ourselves too. We can discourage as well as encourage ourselves by the words we confess and make things happen due to words that shape our attitudes and inspire our actions. Taken literally somebody's death can be declared by somebody else's decree but I've noticed there's another power that lies in words. A couple of times I've heard people wish death upon upon themselves and sure enough it came and took them. Serious it's not superstition I've seen it happen which made me wonder afresh about the meaning of that statement. Probably those negative words affected their will to live and it's not that they were terminally ill or anything but in good health.

Closer to home in Kenya in 2007-2008 we saw people displaced and killed due to careless words spoken by so called 'leaders'. Same can be said in countless other instances all over the world. On the other side words of encouragement and positivity from leaders have brought change and transformation in peoples lives all around. All it takes is the right words at the tight time.

So we see the tongue wields great power and can change situations- that power is to be used wisely. Speak positive and you'll get positive results, speak negative and you'll reap negative results!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

20. Proper prior preparation prevents poor performance

Practice makes perfect goes the old proverb. Nothing can substitute good preparation.
I remember in high school before any event we had to go through vigorous rehearsals to make sure everything is right. In my time I've also participated in a number of drama productions and know how important preparation is. every time you see a good performance on stage, you best believe a lot of work went into that. Of course we all know about exams and how we must prepare for them.

Generally for whatever we do, good preparation makes a world of difference, let the day not find you unprepared. Remember the story of the virgins in Matthew 25? the wise ones were ready when the bridegroom came.

Don't get caught out, be ready!

Monday, 19 December 2011

19. The closer you are to somebody the more likely they are to piss you off

This is so very true I'll repost something i wrote a couple of years back...

One thing in life is the people closest to you are the ones who have the greatest effect on you. They can give you the happiest moments and the saddest moments. It's easy to think that life is all clear blue skies and when a cloudy patch comes up you wonder what's up and think that something major is wrong.

One of the scriptures that is frequently quoted with respect to friendship is proverbs 27:17- " Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" (KJV)
Now consider how this happens, two knives do not sit up next to each other warm and cosy and then they magically become sharp. No what happens is they strike each other and sometimes sparks fly, that's how it goes down. Similarly with our friends there can be those heated moments which come up when due to our humanity our flaws become evident. Nobody's perfect and so we do not see eye to eye all the time but we can build each other using the right words and end up being the better.

Let me quote Dr. James Dobson who put it so well in his book "Life on the edge"

" Whenever two human beings spend time together, sooner or later they will probably irritate one another. This is true of best friends, married couples, parents and children, or teachers and students. The question is: How to respond when friction occur? There are four basic ways they can react.

- internalize anger and send it downwards into a memory bank that never forgets. This creates great pressure within and can even result in disease and other problems
- They can pout and be rude without discussing the issues. This further irritates the other person and leaves him or her to draw his or her own conclusions about what the problem may be.
-they can blow up and they to hurt the other person. This causes the death of friendships, marriages, homes and businesses.
- Or they can talk to one another about their feelings, being very careful not to attack the dignity and worth of the other person. This approach often leads to permanent and healthy relationships."

And I end with the words of Psalm 133:1 "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity"

Sunday, 18 December 2011

18. Do not put all your eggs in one basket

Now this is one concept I have come to have close knowledge of in my short life. It is wise to think of eventualities and cover your risk because if the plan of action you have chosen fails to go as planned it's best to have something to fall back on. It really hits you when the worst that could have happened does and it finds you unprepared. Tough lesson to learn but all the wiser...

Saturday, 17 December 2011

17. Be grateful

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. - 1 Thessalonians 5:18
In Luke 17 there were 10 lepers healed by Jesus Christ but only one came back to give thanks.

Gratitude is a wonderful thing, I bet everybody likes receiving words or deeds of appreciation, more so God Himself who though we don't usually acknowledge has already done so much for us. When some things are going bad there's always the small stuff to be thankful for, it may be good health, family, friends a job etc. Not that we should be complacent where we are but when yo look at it there's always something to be thankful for- it's never really that bad.

So every once in a while take some time  to say thanks and appreciate God and the people around you!

Friday, 16 December 2011

16. Use the magic words- please, sorry and thank you

They always go a long way! Politeness and gratitude are marks of refinement and will make it much easier to get along with everybody. Not much explanation needed there...

Thursday, 15 December 2011

15. Don't expect too much from politicians

Politicians! We love to hate them don't we? Overpaid, under worked, liars, etc... If there's one thing Kenyans love talking about is politics. Even the news bulletins have a good amount of time dedicated to their shenanigans and 'misquoted' statements. Many have moaned about them in the Blogosphere and this is not another rant just a reality check. Every 5 years they do the same thing- come to us with promises of utopia then once they get to business they forget the masses who brought them in and dwell on their own stomachs. Sadly during the last elections some lost their lives in support of these guys.

Granted there are a few good apples in the basket the truth is there's a difference between good politicians and good leaders. The visionaries are few and far between while the tribal chieftains and demagogues are a plenty. Sometimes I think we put so much faith in them to take us forward yet it is the businessmen, entrepreneurs and thinkers who takes us forward. This looking for messiahs  in politicians is sad because we get sidetracked by smooth words and don't realise the hands that have been stuck in our pockets and the broken promises.

Basically we as the individual citizens have the power to determine our destiny through our hard work and votes. Let's give credit to the hard workers and shun the empty cans which make a lot of noise. Our future lies in our hands those guys riding in big cars and sitting in expensive chairs are not the answer to all our problems

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

14. No is a perfectly good answer- to give and receive

In the movie Yes Man Jim Carrey says yes to everything after attending a motivational seminar. At first it releases him but later on he discovers you can't say yes to everybody, you have to draw the line somewhere lest you spread yourself too thin or wear yourself out. Common wisdom that, as much as you would like to be the 'nice guy' at some point you have to realise your limitations and just say no without feeling guilty about it. You can't please everybody so at some point you have to say no to people who are well meaning for all intents and purposes.

Conversely I've come to realise that you also have to be prepared to hear no too. It could be in the form of a job that you thought was yours- been there or a relationship that didn't quite go the way you wanted. Some doors have to be shut for others to open and you see that everything doesn't go your way all the time. Rejection matures you and reminds you that you are not infallible or invincible and that these things do happen but dust yourself up and try again.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

13. Beware of anger

Anger is a powerful emotion and we all at one time get angry, pretty much unavoidable as they are annoyances all over especially if you drive on Kenyan roads but that's not my topic for today. As much as it's unavoidable how we deal with it is a totally different matter. It is so easy to do and say stupid things when in a fit of rage and I can attest to that myself and one of the hings I've learnt is that managing it is very important and one of the hallmarks of wisdom.

The bible says"A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,  but he who is slow to anger quiets contention." Proverbs 15:18 and also says "Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly." Proverbs 14:29 Here we see the wisdom of being slow to anger, can be simply taking a breath before blowing your top but it helps. Sometimes we may thing we're "keeping it real" when we get all pissed and drop f- bombs and such but when you've calmed down you realise perhaps there was a better way to deal with it.

A good example is what we see on the football pitch for instance Wayne Rooney is a talented football player but every now and then the 'red mist' gets the better of him and he pays the price through red cards and suspensions. Who can forget Zinedine Zidane one of the greatest footballers of our era who took his final bow with a red card thanks to a head butt resulting from anger.

The list goes on and on... In conclusion- we'll get angry but what happens next is up to us. Peace!

Monday, 12 December 2011

12. Learn continuously

The day you stop learning is the day that you die. I'm in an industry whereby continuous learning and training is the order of the day. You can never be complacent and say you've arrived. This is particularly true in the world of today where technology is moving at a break neck pace. For instance 2 years ago nobody knew what an ipad is but it is now ubiquitous. So it is in life you've got to keep on improving, keep learning new ways, new tricks and techniques to survive.

If we continue leaning on what we've learnt before we could render ourselves obsolete. If you look at the business world there are countless companies that fell by the wayside due to their reluctance to adapt e.g the once mighty Kodak is teetering on the brink of collapse. The ones who survive are the ones who are able to read trends and react to them constantly on the look out and constantly improving. There's something I was taught in a talk given by Titus Naikuni when I was still in uni- expect 3 things change, complexity and competition.

So don't get complacent keep learning and not just academically but from the world at large. That way you'll keep yourself relevant.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

11. Human beings are not linear time invariant systems...

human behaviour is hard to predict and you really can't tell how people will react in different circumstances. We are not like machines where you just flip a switch and voila you get what you want. Human behaviour borders on chaos. Expect the unexpected

Saturday, 10 December 2011

10. Stop and ask for directions

It's a common joke that men don't stop and ask for directions and I have been guilty of this many times. One of the things I have was taught in flying school is when you are temporarily unsure of position - i.e lost the first thing you do is confess. Hard thing to accept that you're lost but it's the first step in getting back on track. Asking for directions is not stupid, nobody knows everything so if you don't have that map or GPS ask! This can be extended to any other situation where you have inadequate knowledge to move yourself forward, ask others who've been there before!

Friday, 9 December 2011

9. Intelligence alone does not guarantee success

We live in a country that puts a big emphasis on exam results and book smarts. However important classroom performance is, it is not the only thing that will help you be successful in life. More important is so called emotional intelligence, how you relate with other people and the so called 'soft skills.' Coming from a technical background I've come to realise how important this is in the marketplace. Out in the real world it's not only the hard skills that count but how good you are at building relationships with the people around you.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

8. Generally people care less about what you know but would rather know that you care

Having knowledge and information may be great but when somebody is going through something they'd rather you take your time to listen than load them with facts. Everybody likes to have somebody who cares not necessarily one who has the answers or the solution. A lesson we as men are learning all the time...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

7. Everything in it's time

"There's a time for every purpose under heaven" comes from the famous words in Ecclesiastes 3:1-15. Timeless wisdom right there (pun not intended) Timing is an art that is hardest to master and there's nothing better than doing the right thing at the right time. It takes a lot of wisdom to discern the times and seasons but it is always best when you get it right. For example how beautiful it is say in a game of football when the striker arrives just at the right moment to receive the pass and strike the ball into the back of the net.

That sense comes with practice and attention. Learn it!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

6. Do not confuse motion with progress

I got this little pearl listening to John Hagee on TV. He was talking about how the children of Israel spent 40 years going around in the desert because they refused to learn the lessons necessary to go into the promised land. Even in our lives we could find ourselves doing round in circles instead of towards our goal. Another way of saying it is don't confuse activity with productivity. It's easy to engage in a lot of activity to procrastinate but in the end it is wise to invest in activity that will take you forward.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

5. Be on time. If you don't like people wasting your time don't waste theirs

I can be sure nobody likes their time being wasted. I'm one of those who doesn't like tardiness but as much as I don't like being kept waiting I find it important not to keep others waiting as well. Speaking as one well acquainted with African time I know all about people being late. However in these days of mobile phones it is at the very least polite to say when you'll be late.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

4. Go where you're celebrated not tolerated

One of the things about overstaying your welcome is that you don't know quite when you're doing it. The old Kiswahili saying goes 'akufukuzaye hakuambii enda' - The one who chases you away does not tell you go. The best place for one to be is where your contribution makes a difference and where you're solving a problem and making things better. However this does not mean you always hang around yes men as there are places where you'll not have a very welcome message but the hearers need to hear it. Generally if you're in a place where your contribution is not being appreciated it's time to move along.

3. Bad things happen to good people

We always wonder why there's so much suffering in the world, hoe God allows it to happen, why the bad guys look to win. Some of these things make no sense whatsoever and you wonder why the good guys end up having bad things happening. One of the mysteries of life doesn't make sense to me either. However even though bad things happen do the right thing anyway for the steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord Ps 37:23

2. Listen

We were given two ears and one mouth so that we listen twice as much as we talk. Another old saying full of wisdom. Listening is hard at times but before we go all out and express our opinions take some time to listen to what the other person is saying. That goes a long way as everybody appreciates being listened to, Ir's very easy to judge somebody but before you do take a minute to listen to where they're coming from

1. Honesty is the best policy

An old saying that still holds true. Lies may get you out of trouble initially but in the end you'll be in more trouble when the truth is found out. It is best to tell the truth at all times to save you from problems later.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Nipe Nyahunyo!

We are at it again folks! My pet peeve, the topic that's always sure to get me worked up and spewing vitriol... Our lovely Kenyan roads with their 'well diciplined' and 'courteous' drivers, quite a peachy lot they are -NOT! What comes to mind is the old Kiswahili saying "Akili Nyingi huondoa maarifa" loosely translated as if you try to be too clever you end up becoming foolish. Let me explain vis a vis this  'overlapping' disease that has reached epidemic proportions on our roads. first a couple of examples.

This past weekend I was on Thika road( should be called Thicker road) on both Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. On Saturday night was around the old Castle brewery heading towards Nairobiand had the pleasure of spending almost an hour there. It got so bad that I turned off the engine stepped out and started calling people and one of them told me that people stay there till 11 on average. . Only one side of the road is open and they've put stones to separate Nairobi bound and Thika bound traffic. However there's no red ribbon or signage to help people. During the day there are workers but at night there's nobody with a clue. Now this clueless state is probably what led to the following events.

The two lanes on either side should have been been sufficient but some geniuses on either side decided to occupy all four lanes and a gridlock ensued with nobody moving. What made matters worse is others who perceived that they had even greater intellectual capacity i.e  overlappers came into play with no less than four lanes of traffic on the side of the road.I decided I was not laughing with people and did not yield an inch to them, was basically on the bumper of the car ahead of me. If  I hadn't done that would have spent way more time on that road.

Similar story on Sunday afternoon. The good students at Kenyatta University decided to unleash their fury on unsuspecting motorists and the road was blocked. Lucky for me I was given advance warning and used the bypass. However I was not the only one and near Thome estate there was a big build up thanks to people avoiding Thika road trying to get on the road. nobody was willing to give way and yet again both sides of the road were blocked. Same script different cast and MENSA Kenya chapter were on the sides of the road as usual. Wasted an extra 30 mins trying to get out of it.

While sitting there I was really thinking if somebody would give me a whip I'd go out there and administer some corporal punishment on people. There are these ads that they show on TV about 'Ushenzi' i.e foolishness and that's exactly what such behaviour is. Blocking traffic moving in the other direction or trying to come in from outside the road only makes things worse, you won't get where you're going any faster just be patient and stay in line and eventually things will move albeit slowly which is better than a complete standstill! So please if you're reading this and get tempted to so something silly out there don't. If you're overlapping as Francis Atwoli would say "wewe ni Mshenzi!" " yes!"

Now where's that whip...

Monday, 7 November 2011

Another one for the Great Scot

Now I revisit a subject that I've covered before here . The one and only Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of the greatest football club in the world Manchester United! This past weekend he celebrated the major milestone of 25 years in charge, no mean feat in these days of managerial jobs being like a revolving door.  
The only Manager who has survived at one club since the inception of the FA Premier League and of course the one who has won the most titles at 12 so far and this year finally broke the Liverpool record of league titles with their 19th. The next challenge I guess would be beating Liverpool's European titles.

Some may ask what's the big deal? First it's rare in this age of modern football with impatient boards and mega-rich owners for a manager to keep his job for long. Also he's an old school manager who has authority over his team even if they earn hundreds of thousands of pounds per week and he has shown he can let them go no matter how talented they are or think they are. However on thing that has stood out over his reign is how he keeps reinventing the team when new challenges come up. In the nineties he saw off Blackburn with their galaxy of stars and after that Arsenal with their french army assembled by Arsene Wenger. Even when Abramovich arrived with his billions at Chelsea their run didn't last too long and Fergie was back in 2007-2009 to grab a hat-trick of titles. Now what remains to be seen is if he can deal with the 'noisy neighbours' Manchester City who are running riot in the league this season. Granted now with other rich clubs their power in the transfer market has been diminished and they can't always afford the top players as in years gone by. We'll see what the new bunch of youngsters can do.

To illustrate his longevity on the job I remember as a child in the late 80s watching the 'Road to Wembley' coverage of the FA cup which used to  air on KBC (Kenya Broadcasting Corporation) - then VOK (Voice of Kenya). One night Manchester United were playing Sheffield United and I was rooting for United and when they lost I cried! Amazing that even then Ferguson was still the manager!

So here's to the Great Scot and long may he continue to deliver more great football and titles!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

It came in a ship

A common saying in Kenya is "kizungu kilikuja na meli" loosely translated to mean that English came in a ship hence our struggles with it. Having grown up in a house where both parents at were at one time teachers has made me learn the finer details of the language by default. I remember as child when I'd go home and use some of the colloquialisms I learnt in school my parents would be quick to correct me. After all they were in school during the colonial days so were taught by native speakers. In high school too our director who was Kenyan by birth but English by descent also took the liberty to teach us a few things about the English language especially about pronunciation. I'll never forget how to pronounce Goliath correctly. With this background it is no surprise that once in a while I find myself in the 'grammar Nazi category' Now let's have a few examples of some words and phrases that are not very well used particularly in the press where they have achieved cliche status.

Let us begin with a little nugget I learnt from Dr Griffin. Last week we lost a great Kenyan in Professor Wangari Maathai and to mourn her death the president ordered the flag to be flown at half mast. Now at first glance you'd think that half mast means hoisting the flag halfway up the post but I came to learn from the good old director that what that actually means is the flag is flown the width of the flag below the top. Interesting that, not so much about grammar but tradition.

Another word which I had erroneously thought meant something else is one which is very often quoted in the media is impunity. They're always talking about ending the culture of impunity etc. At some point it had started being used all over the place like when matatus raise fares that's impunity or when the cabinet decided to amend the constitution to suit their own ends they were accused of impunity. I had come to be leave that the word meant disregard or 'madharau' in kiswahili. However one day I consulted the 'msema kweli' (the one who speaks the truth) and looked it up in the dictionary and found out the real meaning of the word to be as follows... courtesy of
Impunity -Exemption from punishment, penalty, or harm.
Also when somebody does something without regard for the consequences they are said to do so 'with impunity'. So for example saying that the Hague would end impunity in Kenya would be correct as the accused face consequences which they would otherwise have not. However in the case of constitution amendments it sounds out of place as there is no punishment involved there... that could be up for debate as there could be other unwelcome consequences.

We move on to another word which is a pet peeve for me due to it's common misuse. The word epitome. Some have used it to mean the height of something e.g "he has reached the epitome" yet in actual fact it means that which characterizes something or in other words the quintessence, a perfect example. It sounds more to describe a state than a place where somebody gets.

Another nugget which I found out was the real meaning of dowry. When people go to discuss what they'll give the family of the bride before a wedding we usually call that dowry negotiations while the actual fact is that in our culture here in Kenya what we're really negotiation is the bride price. Technically dowry is what the bride brings into the marriage not what you give her parents. Wikipedia explains it excellently here . Was surprised when I found that out. Nowadays when I come across a word I'm not sure about always make an effort to look it up in the dictionary, bet I'll get more surprises along the way.

There are also other little things that my parents always pick up on TV or in speech, I'll call them Kenyanisms. Phrases like "I was bought for" starting sentences with double pronouns"me I", "us we", "them they" come up pretty often. Oh and written language exposes even more grammatical and spelling errors. 

What other common Kenyanisms can you think of that will awaken the Grammar Nazis among us?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Who Am I?

That's just the question of questions isn't it? Self definition, when you can reach that place when you can describe exactly who you are.

The idea for this post came up when I was talking with my parents and they were talking about how people define themselves by their careers especially the prestigious ones. When introducing themselves they say I'm so and so and I'm a Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer etc. Then they were like that's what you DO but is exactly what you ARE? A career is what you do for a few hours a day but who you are encompasses way more than that, what you think about, what you dream about when you sleep, what you talk about most. Describing one self is not so easy as saying as what you do 9-5 Monday to Friday. I fond this particular definition interesting because professionally I can describe myself in two different ways, maybe even three yet I'm not actively engaged in any as a career so it would be restrictive to use any as a definition.

In life we have so many frames of references which we use to describe ourselves. I gave the example of career but what else could it be?

When we are children you're somebody's son/daughter.
In School we are identified by the school we attend, the more prestigious it is the more proud we are
When working it's the company we work for, the chosen career.
When Married you introduce yourself as somebody's husband or wife.
When you have children you become Baba nani or Mama nani
The list goes on and on, we use our environment to describe who we are yet what matters most is who we are within.

Self actualization and a search for purpose are the highest pursuits in human life and I can bet there's nothing better than knowing exactly who you are and what you are here for and to stand up and say I am _ and not restrict yourself to the above definitions but speak from a position of authority. So when I meet people who are so passionate about a cause and know that's what their calling is I'm really moved and go like "When I grow up I want to be like him/her"

In the good book Jesus Christ asks a similar question to one of his disciples - Luke 9:18 but He had already demonstrated time and time again He knew who He was, not just a carpenter as they would have defined Him using his profession.

Was reminded of these thoughts when I read this note Which reminds us that God as our maker knows who we are as our maker and if we are to get these answers the first place to look is up to Him for answers. So for all my fellow hunters- yet to get and answer happy hunting, go to the manufacturer for more information.

I sign off with this beautiful song by Casting crowns

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Waxing Philosophical!- a totally pointless post or almost

An idle mind is the devil's workshop goes the old saying, right now there's deafening sounds coming from the said workshop like he's hammering a karai or something like those guys at Gikomba...

A while back I noticed an interesting status update on Facebook that went like this "How come nobody ever says "everything happens for a reason" after something good happens?" Major point made right there! When was the last time when somebody got a new job, promotion or other great achievement talk like that? I can picture it it now after a guy gets a spanking new Mercedes Benz his pal comes by and tells him "everything happens for a reason" Chances of that happening are next to nil! It's only when we're disappointed or something doesn't go your way that all of a sudden you become philosophical. That's probably the case due to a need for hope that we all have that one day things will get better. So question is success doesn't happen for a reason too?

Another area where philosophizing is common is in the area of relationships. I can bet top dollar whenever I hear somebody complain about the way men/women are or come up with theories the person is single or if not unhappy if they're in a relationship. People in love just walk around starry eyed like their feet are on clouds... Find it funny when somebody gets hooked up and starts asking the single people why aren't you dating- like they forgot the time when they were single... haha life is interesting.

Another philosophical time is when death comes knocking close by and reminds us of our mortality. It may be months or years since you lost a close or loved one but when it happens the perceived immortality that we have in our youth disappears and you realise it could happen to anybody. Well this is one thing we can not escape but it shouldn't lead us to fear but to strengthen our resolve to live full lives in the limited time we have- oops here I go getting all philosophical on y'all but the truth is you only get...

Yep you guessed it- the grim reaper has swung his scythe nearby. However this time I celebrate a young life that was nipped in the bud, one who in the short time I knew her was a woman full of life, full of talent and full of laughter too. One who truly lived up to her name sweetie and brought so much laughter into our lives and lives on in her little daughter's life. Death is so cruel but we who remain live on. R.I.P Faith Nancy Kilinda.

Also sincere condolences to all who lost loved ones in the Sinai fire. Even as we mourn may we learn

Now now my philosophies begin to grow thin so let me get back to my armchair cynicism with my fellow talkers...

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Over the last few days our televisions screen have been filled with the proceedings at the International Criminal Court at the Hague. Three men stand accused of bearing the greatest responsibility for the post election violence that took place in early 2008 in Kenya. The prosecutor Moreno Ocampo has come up with a list of charges with evidence which he believes proves the guilt of the supposed perpetrators. So he and his team have gone to great lengths to nail the accused, their job is to prove without a doubt that what they claim happened when he said it happened.

At the same time the accused have assembled teams of bright legal minds to defend their case before the judges. Right now they're trying to discredit the charges before it goes to trial. The defence has also worked hard if not harder to get their clients off the hook and paint the prosecutor as an accuser with no solid case whatsoever.

The truth of the charges and the defence is yet to be seen and we pray that the wheels of justice will turn for the benefit of the victims and the country as a whole. That we will never allow such a thing to happen at the time. This whole courtroom drama at the Hague got me thinking...

There's another courtroom where each and every one of us is to stand, not in this physical world but before God, the final and the almighty judge. There is a prosecutor- an accuser of the brethren rev 12:10 who stands before God to show how sinful and terrible we are. Every time we commit sin and disobey God we give him ammunition to go and present in his case against us. He's never been our friend and wants us to join him in his end of eternal damnation.

Many of us try to walk into that court and attempt to defend ourselves against the charges placed against us. They say he who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer, even worse in this court where you will be torn to shreds by the accusing enemy. So how will you prepare yourself for these proceedings? Your own testimony will not be enough to exonerate yourself. Praise God that he has created a way for us, he has even provided representation pro bono. We don't have to pay exorbitant legal fees as the price has already been paid by His own dear son Jesus Christ on the cross.

In 1 John 2:1 when writing to the believers he says “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” When you believe in Christ you draft him into your legal team and he stands as an advocate before God the Father for you. Whereas in an earthly court you're innocent till proven guilty in court, before God you're guilty until proven innocent by the blood of Jesus Christ by which we obtain forgiveness from sins.

So now I ask are you trying to defend yourself before God on your own? By your own works or have you by faith received the gift of God which is salvation through his son. Have you drafted Christ into your legal team or are you still allowing the enemy to continue building his case against you. Freedom is available in Christ today!

God bless

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Where are you digging?

In John Chapter 4 Jesus meets the Woman at the well and asks her for water. she's surprised that a Jew would actually talk to a Samaritan but Jesus tells her something very interesting “whoever drinks the water from the well shall thirst again but the water I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up to eternal life”- vs 14.

What are the characteristics of this water
  • It is eternal, lasts forever not just for a time and leads to eternal life,
  • The water springs from within and whoever drinks out of him shall flow rivers of living water. It is not only for the recipient but will flow to others around.

It is obvious that this water he talks about his figurative and he was referring to the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives satisfies, it is not a temporary high but a source of eternal hope ans sustenance for our spirits. Not only for us but it flows to bless and impact those around us.

Contrast this with the earthly water which comes from a well. After drinking it you will eventually become thirsty again. So it is with earthly physical things, they are temporary just as life on earth is temporary. You find them here and you shall leave them here when you die. They can only satisfy for a time and they will leave you hungering and thirsting for more. In this woman's case you can tell it had to do with love/sex because of the 5 husbands story.

What are these things that people try to satisfy themselves with?
  • Food
  • Money
  • Sex /love
  • Power
  • Entertainment, etc

The list could go on and on. There's a common saying that there's a God shaped vacuum in every one of us. One of the greatest needs for us as human beings is for significance, a sense of purpose and many a time we try to fill our lives with a lot of those things some of which I have listed above but in the end we still find ourselves empty. Why? It is because it's 'water that is from the well', not the living water hence we thirst again and the cycle continues.

However if we come to the well of Living water Jesus Christ we shall find rest for our souls. He shall take away the burden of sin that holds us down and give us a new sense of purpose, God is the one who created us and has the answers to those questions that we seek. If we believe in him he has promised us eternal life...

In the old testament the people of Judah were accused of abandoning the living well and digging broken cisterns- Jeremiah 2:13. These cisterns were dug in the ground to hold water for use in the dry season but if it was broken the water would leak out and all you'd scoop is sand! God had given them his laws but they chose to disobey and worship idols forsaking Him 'the fountain of living water.' They knew the true God and went outside to serve useless gods who could do nothing for them but bring destruction. Even the other nations around them had never left their own gods but they did. They are urged by the prophet Jeremiah to come back to that fountain.
Jesus said that whoever believes in Him shall have river of living water shall flow out of his belly. In our day as Christians we are even more privileged to have Christ living within us and so it is even more tragic for us when we look to other sources for fulfilment.

In Jeremiah's time the people of Judah looked to idolatry and immorality- broken cisterns which were flawed in their very design and would never hold any water. Even we as Christians can easily fall into that trap by allowing ourselves to yield to worldly desires yet Christ is the one who is our source, the giver of every good thing. The best is in Christ not out in the world where there is so much that does not give real purpose and meaning. Let us return to Christ and be refreshed again. We could be letting other things become our priority which in the end will not give us satisfaction.

These could be the things listed above but also sometimes also we can be looking for fulfilment in something like career which is not inherently bad but once again it is only temporary not permanent and should not blind us from seeing the bigger picture. So what is it that is substituting for Christ? Is it your job? Is it you family? Is it political ambitions? Is is money? Is it a relationship or the search for love? Is it entertainment in a quest to cure boredom to fill the emptiness within?

In conclusion there are two groups of people reading this. If you are looking for meaning and purpose in your life, wearied by the struggles of this life, trying to work it all out on your own, like the woman at the well come to Christ and get that living water that you shall never thirst again. I'm also speaking to those who have tasted of that living fountain and are trying to dig other wells that do not hold water. It will not work! Return to the source and be refreshed again then the waters shall flow in and through you...

you dig?
God bless

Thursday, 28 July 2011

My Five Links

 I was tagged by @savvykenya 

Most Popular Post

The post I did after I was completely underwhelmed by something they tried to pass off as a play at Heartstrings. Seriously I was pissed by what I saw or is it didn't see. Got over 200 views in less than two hours. sadly comments were not working so I didn't get to gauge  gauge the reactions

Post That Didn’t Get The Attention It Deserved

A post I did asking Kenyans if we have learnt anything from 2007 and how to avoid it again

Post Whose Success Surprised Me

My very first post which is basically saying nothing but somehow keep s getting viewed all the time

My Most Controversial Post

I think it would have to be my rant against overlappers

Post I Am Most Proud Of

The post I would be most proud of is the one on Faith in difficult times as it's one that is from my life experience

Enjoy, ladies and gentlemen.

I hereby tag @mountainous - come on out of your slumber @neemom and @ndinda_

Monday, 4 July 2011

Is He Kenyan?

This past Saturday I was walking in the city of Nairobi and noticed something very peculiar. Not Peculiar in the way Sunny Bindra refers to 'Peculiar Kenyans' in his book but strange in the sense that it was not the peculiarity I was expecting, in fact was quite the opposite. Now before I descend into logical confusion let me tell you what I'm talking about.

I had gone into town in a matatu and just before we got to the stage we had to stop due to traffic, however the conductor did not allow us to “shuka na jam” (alight in the traffic). The reason was rather obvious , place was crawling with 'ma-kanjo' -City Council officers (4 of them around the bus stop to be precise-funny it was 'end month' when wallets are fat, hmmmm) , a dreaded bunch they are even more than the police due to the way they enforce city by laws with great enthusiasm. So I had to wait until the vehicle came to a complete stop at the stage before alighting. This was to be expected given the circumstances, question is would it have been the same if not for the presence of the askaris(officers)? By the way that is not the strange event, that comes up next.

After alighting I had to cross the road. Now that there are working traffic lights in the CBD you have to give them a good look before crossing more so when there are 'kanjos' around. Even when they are not I do my best to adhere to the instructions, the other pedestrians were not as alert and were crossing whenever they go the chance. When standing there looking like an 'idiot' waiting for the light to turn green I noticed that I was not alone. “Hmmm now that's odd” I said to myself very rare indeed. When the light's turned green we crossed but the ones on the other side of the road were red so we had to stop in the middle- this was on Kenyatta Avenue. Once again it was just the two of us ( hey that sounds like a song, but I digress), there was no traffic and so the other pedestrians were crossing and after standing for along time waiting for the light to change, I was like what the heck? Funny that when it did turn green there were vehicles turning into the road from the nearby junction so we couldn't cross. Wonder whether the lights were malfunctioning or there was mass running of a red light. After that I decided to cross once the road was clear colour of the lights notwithstanding. So when I got the chance I took it but my friend remained rooted to the spot. Now that's what I found really peculiar- to the point of asking myself “is he Kenyan?” Seriously I'd never seen anybody else behave like that, you may say he was being pedantic but actually he was doing what we all should have been.

Another question I asked was whether he was doing it for fear of the 'kanjo', maybe he'd paid a hefty fine in the past for a misdemeanour and didn't want to take his chances. A more important question to ask is why don't we have more like him? People who will play by the rules all the time? Earlier on I had mentioned Sunny Bindra's book- which I'm yet to read being myself a peculiar Kenyan who doesn't read much. If you read his articles in the Sunday Nation you'll see how much he talks about the need for change in our behaviour in our nation. One of my pet subjects is our Kenyan roads which sometimes look like the biggest assylum in our country. The behaviour on our roads tells a lot about out national psyche and our attitude to rules and laws. I'm also guilty as you have seen of being 'pragmatic' as opposed to sticking to the rules to the letter. They're there for our benefit but somehow you feel that you can bend them- after all I'm in a hurry, though somehow we Kenyans tend to be late a lot.

The example of traffic lights is a good one to use. However it's worth noting that for a long time they were inoperative so a generation of city motorists has never experienced them beyond the few theoretical sessions in driving school. That has made us think running red lights is not a big thing, we do it practically all the time, heck even the cops instruct us to do it, leaving us sometimes to wonder who to obey, the policeman or the lights. When the junction is clear you say to yourself, “nobody's watching I'll cross, everybody's doing it” been there myself. What's more if you decide to be a good law abiding citizen and stop, you'll be bombarded by the din of blaring horns and if you stand your ground you can read the lips of the other motorists to see what they think. So what's the purpose of having them if they are not to be obeyed? I wonder if it's just a Kenyan thing. I remember when in South Africa late on a Saurday night with the road pretty much empty the driver still had to stop! It may look silly but that's what integrity and character is all about, doing what is right even when nobody is watching.

We want change in Kenya, we want a just society, we want and end to corruption and impunity, we want a social revolution, we want to see vision2030 realised. Right now any casual of observer looking at this great City of Nairobi will realise there's a lot of disorder from the roads, to the hawkers, to the garbage, to the leaking sewage etc. However there are laws and regulations to maintain the order, just that we are ignorant or we refuse to follow them because we think we are somehow above the law. By the way that's the same kind of thinking that's in the minds of those who are looting and destroying our economy, letting people put up dangerous buildings that collapse, destroying our environment. The list is endless.

There is an answer if we in our our own little ways stand out from the crowd like my friend at the lights and choose to follow the law to the letter not partially like I did. Imagine how it would be if we had 10000 pedestrians like him who behaved exactly like that. Imagine how it would be if we had drivers who actually exercised the highway code they learnt in driving school- for those who didn't buy their licences. We could start a 'good revolution' , revolutions are not all about walking in the streets or going into the bush with guns but about taking a stand. In this case a stand for what is right, in our own small seemingly insignificant ways but in the end contributing to the bigger picture. I recently saw an oft quoted statement mention in a sermon at a city church “evil triumphs when the good people do nothing”.

This time I'm not ranting and raving about disorder but my friend on Saturday- who I didn't even talk to on Saturday made me realise there's is good in our country and there can be greater good if we choose to play by the rules. Who's with me? It can be done!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Have you read it?

I have one of those Huawei Ideos Android phones. Small but powerful device thanks to the operating system and a number of applications I’ve downloaded to make maximum use of the phone. I acquired it because I knew about its flexibility and capabilities and being a techie who likes being online it was cool to have a device that would keep me plugged in to the online world on the go. However all the goodies come with a price, the fast 3G internet access really takes a toll on the battery life as well as my airtime! First thing I learnt was the tricks of how to maximize the battery life and minimize data usage and even downloaded an application to help me out with that. So after a couple of months of studying the device I pretty much know my way around it and how to get every last minute of battery life out of it as well as minimize the impact on my pocket.

Yesterday I came across another who owns the same device and she was complaining about it as expected- how it is a black hole for airtime and the daily battery charging ritual. So I asked whether she’s turned off the automatic synchronization as well as managed the data use. It was news to her, all that time she was oblivious to the tricks I’d become so accustomed to. So being the techie I made a few tweaks and told her “now watch and see how much longer your airtime and battery will last.” There’s this little power management widget on the phone that allows you to control what running on the phone- wifi, synchronization, GPS and the screen brightness. Upon seeing it she asked “What does this mean?” pointing at the GPS logo I said that was GPS. Next question- “What is GPS?”. Okay! right then I realized not everybody speaks geek like me and knows these acronyms off head. Gave a brief explanation and told her if she doesn’t use it, turning it off will be to her benefit.

When complaining about how I had to learn all this in the first week or so and how the 600MB Safaricom offers was quickly finished. Another question ‘”what’s 600MB?” Now tempted as I was didn’t go all Sheldon Cooper (he of the Big Bang theory fame ) on her. Once again I was reminded was not among geeks, turns out she had no idea about the offer at all, heck she hadn’t even used the 1000 bob airtime that came with the phone! That was strange to me as all those riders are what had made the phone such a bargain in the first place but she knew nothing of them. So being the good helpful geek I am I activated the bundle and went on to explain how economical data bundles are as opposed to using airtime for browsing.

Now the point of this story is not to up my geek cred or to ‘Sheldon’ her about not being with ‘IT’ pun intended No what I wanted to highlight is that she did not know what she had in her hands. She did not know how to maximize the potential of the product she was holding. She was oblivious of the tricks of the game that the owner of the device needs to know. That got me thinking of the way as Christians we sometimes forget the power within that comes from Christ. The manufacturers of the phone- in this case Huawei printed a manual and tell you to read the manual before operating it- yeah I know you’re smiling because y’all hardly ever do that. One of the famous answers when one asks a computer related question is “read the manual”- that’s the nice version…

Similarly God as our creator can be likened to the manufacturer, He has also given a manual in His word the bible and many times we don’t realize the power of God because like the lady I met we are ignorant of what is in His word. Jesus said – ‘you have not because you ask not.’ Matthew 7:7 How can we know what to ask for if we do not know our rights and privileges as the children of God? We’ve got to get connected to the ‘manufacturer’ to know the tricks in this game of life. These tricks are also known as wisdom- knowledge applied to the situations in life.

So now I ask you who’s reading this. When was the last time you looked at the manual? You may just be missing out on the answers contained therein… If you are to succeed in the Christian walk it is important to do that. So how about giving the good old manual a look? I’ll leave you with these words
Ps 19:7 “ The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The testimonies of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”(NIV)

2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (NIV)

Be blessed

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Why do we pay?

As I watched the re-branding of KPLC to Kenya power I asked myself a question which I've asked before

Why do we pay them to get connections and transformers closer to us? i.e the Umeme pamoja scheme. Where do customers pay for a service to be brought to them? I mean their business is selling power. Do safaricom and the other networks ask us to  pa to set up base stations, I dunno the exact cost but I'm sure it's much more than the cost of a transformer and 2km of power lines! Isn't a business supposed to spend money on infrastructure? The mobile networks spend billions every year in expansion. Kenya Airways spends billions to acquire new aircraft to fill with passengers etc.

I think this is just an antiquated business model back from the parastatal days. Hey even their sister company Kengen does not ask us to pay for new generators... The only thing we should pay for is customer premises equipment like meters

Just thinking...

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Necessary Hating

"Those who can do - those who can not criticize"
I've done movie reviews and managed to put a book review now to try my hand at a theatre review. Uh oh I think I'm becoming one of those described above.

I've attended many a play done by Heartstrings Ensemble at the Alliance Francaise which are usually hilarious and well worth my money. They used to do a lot of adaptations of British productions but nowadays they have local works usually written by Daniel "Churchill" Ndambuki. Yesterday was my first and here are some of my honest observations...

The production was titled "Men are from Kenya women are from Pluto" so I was looking forward to a riveting tale about the battle of the sexes in Kenya. The best part was the humorous commentary by Larry Asego in between the scenes about the difference between men and women. The jokes delivered by the cast were great too, one liners that kept the audience in stitches. That's the good stuff however...

For all the jokes and humour thrown into the production there was a very important ingredient missing- the story wasn't flowing. It turned out to be a mish mash of one liners and skits strewn together for comic effect but no overarching storyline. This may be harsh but that's my honest opinion. Humour isn't an end in itself but a tool used to enhance a story. In the end I asked myself what exactly I watched and couldn't explain- like the title I was somewhere in Pluto. Sadly this kind of approach is way too common in our dramatic productions and it is worrying. I may never have written a play myself but I can appreciate a good one and yesterday I left disappointed and may even say annoyed. Sometimes honest criticism is needed to at least up the game! Churchill is a good comedian no doubt but his show is at times trite, comedy is a tough business so you have to keep re inventing yourself. Honestly on his show the person I see putting a lot of work into his act is Eric Omondi and it comes out on stage.

If we are to get our local arts industry at par with giants in the continent such as Nigeria who've flooded our screen we have to up our game in story telling. They're able to churn out hundreds of pictures typically  4 hours long in 2 parts which are able to engage people with their story telling. Same can be said about the Mexican soaps which have flooded our screens. We are being captivated by other peoples stories yet I believe there are great stories just waiting to be told here in Kenya. Let me give an example. Rhythm City is a South African 'Soapie' which has been running for about 3 years or so and can be seen at 1930 Kenyan time weekdays. For those few years they've been able for 5 days a week to keep a running story with humour, tragedy, contoversy suspense and the rest as well as character development. I long for the day when we can pull this off and I know we can. Through interactions in social media I know they are great 'creatives' in this country, poets, writers, screenwriters, directors etc just waiting to be discovered. When I see the works of a wordsmith as Bikozulu who recently called for writers I know it can be done. Others like Wamathai are creating a platform for poets and writers to put their work out. In this day in age traditional channels are not the only way to go e.g Justin Bieber was brought to us through youtube. Then again that's not the best example...

When I began writing this post what I had in mind was a raging polemic against a work that fell way short of my expectations but I find it more constructive to give a rallying call to all those with a dream out there to get it going. The tools are there with Wordpress and Blogger you can easily let your words, pictures, videos, music out. That brings me to my next point that of quality. One of the most memorable movie quotes comes from field of dreams 'If you build it they will come'. I apply it in the sense that if you create good quality creative works the recognition will come and in due course the $$$ . In Kiswahili 'Chema chajiuza kibaya chajitembeza' literally translated the good sells itself , the bad just fronts itself. Everybody loves a good story, a good laugh, good music or even a good photograph and people will detect the good stuff, but you actually have to put it out there. Sometimes I get complimented about good writing thinking, I look around and see greater ones, all I've done is simply put pen to paper. Another example is in order

I'm sure many of you have seen the photography work of @truthslinger on his blog and website. I've known him for a while and have seen how he has harnessed the power of social media to develop his passion and  bring his work out and in due time the quality was seen by all and he got the recognition he deserved. Looking through the blog and website you can see the craftsmanship and attention to detail in the design and also the execution of the shots. Now that's the way to do it, we all believe in our local artists but local is no reason to let the quality go down. So I was sad when a one time higher education minister suggested the govt cut down on funding liberal arts.

In conclusion I strongly believe we've got great artists out there and when you argue you lack a platform look at the story above. I can be done, yes we can! I was really annoyed by what I saw last night and saw it fit to make some noise and ruffle a few feathers if at least to awake some sleeping giant somewhere. Please let us make friends with excellence and make mediocrity our enemy Tuamke! Forward ever backward never...

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The Beautiful Game

Artistry, poetry in motion, such beautiful movement it almost brings tears to your eyes... That's how football is when it is played at it's best and over the last few months we've been treated to team that has exemplified the tenets of this beautiful game. It goes without saying I'm talking about the exploits of the deserved 2011 European champions FC Barcelona. Some would argue like Jose Mourinho that they got a little help from match officials but in the final analysis the quality of the football spoke for itself. The red cards against Arsenal and Real Madrid may have been dodgy but I wonder what would have happened with even eleven men still on the pitch.

So what makes the team so great. Is it the triumvirate of Messi, Iniesta and Xavi with their slick passing and positioning? Is it Messi's trickery which makes one wonder whether he applies super glue on his boots before the game? Is it David Villa and his quality in front of goal? Is it the coaches tactics? I could go on and on to find out the secret behind this well oiled machine. Personally I don't think it's the coach so much as the quality in the players, I believe even a baboon could coach those guys and they'll still excel.

Barcelona are excellent in possession but what is even more important is what they do when they are off the ball. They keep pressing at you and you make mistakes... When they're on it you're afraid to press as you may expose yourselves to your own embarrassment. Not to taking anything away from their victory but I'm surprised Manchester United didn't learn anything from their loss in 2009. It was like a case of same script different cast. Granted the lackadaisical approach of players like Micheal Carrick and the old legs of Ryan Giggs were always going to find it tough going against team Barcelona.

So as the Catalan artists- sometimes actors especially one Sergio Busquets sit on their perch at the top of European football we ask who'll unseat them? in 2010 The Special One was able to navigate around but in 2011 it was tough going against 12 men. However I think his defensive tactics may have done it but Sir Alex's traditional 4-4-2 is clearly not the way to go. For now we;ll continue being Messimerized by them until somebody comes and unseat the 'best club side in history.' I've seen a few in my time like the Galacticos of real Madrid but I've never seen the game played so beautifully, a joy to watch and the Manchester United players clearly agreed with me...


Monday, 23 May 2011

The Artful dodgers

My good Friend Mr Charlie Bravo

In Flight school one of the exercises we're taught is called precautionary inspections. A technique to be used in case of bad weather and you have to put the plane down on a surface you're unsure of. Pretty much one of those things you do academically and hope that you won't get to do in real life. If you're operating in and out of well equipped airports with tarmac runways you needn't worry too much. The instrument facilities will help you get through the bad stuff. Now when you're flying in the bush it's a totally different matter and you have to do it free style.

Luckily for us this past Sunday the rain falling at the destination was light though it got heavy very close to touchdown. The cloud base was really low but the flat topography was a plus as there was no high ground to worry about. That was at Pochala right at the border of Ethiopia and the plane got a nice baptism in the mud you'd think it was one of the cars from the old fashioned Safari rally. That went pretty well.

Now the next leg to Boma was a little more interesting as Boma is at the base of some hills and what's more there were a couple of thunderstorms nearby. The clouds looked really dark and ominous, when you see a cumulonimbus ( or CB in short also known more affectionately as a Charlie Bravo) cloud en route it's a cause for concern, I've heard enough stories about them and one of the cardinal rules of flying is never to fly into a thunderstorm. Good thing is some geniuses created a device called weather radar which indicates areas of precipitation and helps to avoid those dreaded storms. After consulting it a bit we found that it was clear over the destination and manoeuvred around the rain. However that particular strip is really nasty when wet and we had to give it a look before committing to land. Getting in is easy but the mud would make departure difficult. So the plan was to fly over and assess the surface. First time spotted some water on it and me being a member of the cowards club said we give it a miss but the captain wanted a closer look so we came round again. His assessment was that it was do able and when we came in a third time it worked out fine and he was satisfied with the surface. When I got out I realised that gum boots are not such a bad idea for shoes, was crazy muddy! All that time passangers were very quiet and when we landed they told us about how they wondered about was happening.

Another captain had told me about his experience with that particular field. A couple of years back he was landing there and the brakes decided to go on holiday. What's more at the end of the runway there was a grass thatched hut one of those that's all too common over here. Oh and top that the hut was right next to the hot exhaust, so you can guess what happened next... Oh and did I mention that the fuel tanks are on the wing tips? Now that tight there was a recipe for disaster! Thanks to some quick evacuation from the crew fortunately there were no casualties though one of the pilots got burns. Part of one of the wings is still there as evidence of that sad event...
Boma with a nice hill in the background. Ethiopia lies beyond

For our stay there the weather always looked threatening. You have to pardon a pilot's obsession with the weather. So as expected on our way back we met a few more of our friend Charlie Bravo. However this time the weather radar decided to start misbehaving on us! So we had to rely on our eyes. Up ahead things were not looking too good but right behind us were sunny skies. An instrument rated pilot needn't be afraid of clouds but when you have a thunderstorm ahead with no idea what's inside you've got to make the decision to look for plan B. So once again the artful dodgers were at it again taking a round trip around the storm. After a little while we saw some sunshine- hallelujah! We were home free so we reoriented ourselves and were back in business! A little rain here and there but nothing we couldn't handle. So far so good until we were about 50 miles from our destination and we see some really heavy rain right on our track to Bor our intended destination, clearly our celebrations were premature. As we got closer we could feel the turbulence beginning to build up and we were already weighing our options. We could easily have decided to go to Juba our home base but the airport there closes at 4. Since we had enough fuel it we decided to go around the edge and see if it's good. Even considered giving a guy on the ground a call to find out what the weather was like.

As we got closer we saw the Nile – a good sign then the roofs of the town, Hallelujah once again- sweat wiped from brow! Fortunately for us the rain hadn't quite reached Bor, so we wasted no time in landing there and getting ourselves to the hotel for some rest and relaxation after an interesting day in the air- what flying is all about!

Riding Shotgun

Juba International 

The newest nation in the world, a land that has been ravaged by years of war and is trying to get to get back on it's own two feet. Yeah you guessed it, Southern Sudan, yet to know what they'll call themselves on their official day of independence coming up on July 9th 2011. Haven't been here very long but there's a few things that I've observed in my first week here.

First thing that hits you- literally when you touch down is the heat, was a nice 'cool' 29 degrees when I got here, I'm told I came at a good time during the rainy season when the temperatures are a bit mild otherwise I'd be toasting somewhere around the forties. Hmm perhaps this sun explains the dark complexion that is so prevalent here- by the way there are some who are light skinned and I'm not talking about foreigners, was actually surprised!

Another thing is that is the land is flat and not like the plains we have back home in Kenya. In Juba there are a number of hills around but in some places you look all around and there's not so much as a mound in sight. Probably why the White Nile meanders lazily around the countryside- another thing contrary to what I expected there's a lot of greenery, naturally around the river but even inland it's not a total desert.

The people I've met are pretty friendly though quite a number have war experience so you've got to be careful lest you get yourself in a brawl. Oh and many have been to Kenya to school so it's easy to find people to speak Kiswahili with. About the way experience there's this guy who was telling us how he learnt to use an AK- 47 as a child and how they would shoot each other jokingly not knowing the finality of the bullet. They thought the person shot would come back shock on them when he didn't. There's a lot of evidence of war in crashed aeroplanes near airstrips, wrecked vehicles etc but though it's peaceful right now there are some areas with some tension in the especially in the Northern parts near the border.

On my second night here got the privilege to spent some time in the wilderness at Kauda near the Nuba mountains, one of the places where there could be some tension. When I asked if there are any wild animals about the answer was no, all that bombardment during the way pretty much scared them away. The wilderness experience was pretty interesting particularly showering under the stars expressed to the elements. Also managed to scale a nearby hill with my captain to get a wider view and discovered not only a breathtaking view but how unfit I was! One of the local officials managed to get us some accommodation with Samaritan's purse a relief organisation in that area. Their camp was pretty nice with creature comforts like internet and electricity but unfortunately the net was down when we got there but hey not too bad to be unplugged from the matrix.
Sunset over the Nuba Mountains from atop the hill

Traditional huts in Kauda

Samaritan's Purse at Kauda our gracious hosts

A typical scene this one was at Yuai

When there I got to learn a little nugget, the origin of the phrase 'riding shotgun'. Back in the 'old west' in America the horse driven coaches would have somebody would sit at the front with the driver- if that's the correct term and you guessed it he'd have a shotgun to deal with any miscreants they'd meet on the way be it bandits or disgruntled locals. Well you learn something new every day! After my little adventure it was back to riding shotgun in the Cessna Caravan!

See you all in a few!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Good bye!

Every once in a while somebody comes into your life,
You don't know exactly how it starts but they bring so much joy and laughter,
They open their heart you open yours,
You listen to each others' troubles,
Rejoice in each others victories,
Pray for each other,
Reach out to each other.

Every once in a while somebody else takes them away,
for those who love the Lord we know to a better place,
It's hard to let go but it is the end of every one of us,
So we can only accept and remember how fragile life is,
They may be far in body but will live forever in our hearts.

Dear friend I will not forget the time we had together,
You came into my life when I wasn't looking and gave me the greatest gift,
That of a true friend,
one who cares, one who shares, one who loved her family and friends
One who is not afraid to speak the truth whether I wanted to hear it or not
One who knew to lift me when I was down
One who never lost her sense of humour despite all the odds
One who ate life with a big spoon, little did we know you were take your last scoop so soon.

Good bye dear friend, you memories will last
Never to be forgotten, ever to be cherished,
You loved and were loved by many,
Till we meet again at Jesus' feet,
Fare thee well Colleta Wanjiru Muchangi

Gituma Nturibi

Friday, 1 April 2011

What next for Us?

No doubt some of you may have noticed a political slant in the last few weeks on this blog. Part of my thoughts have been inspired by a book I was reading- The State of Africa by Martin Meridith which gives a brief history of the first 50 years of independence for African states. If you like history as much as I do you'll definitely enjoy the journey like I did. I've done a few movie reviews in the past so now it's time for an amateur book review...

Though the book is written by a British author it's not a condescending as you would think, it just details what happened in our continent over the last half century or so. Starting with the oldest member of the independence club Ghana with it's famous leader Kwame Nkurumah and ending with the goings on of the early 21st century. What's interesting to note is the numerous revolutions that have happened starting with independence which had so much promise- Africa finally in the hands of Africans. However in many countries those dreams soon turned to nightmares with the flurry of military coups which were quite popular during the cold war era with either Soviet or American support depending on their interests.

Many a time a revolutionary would come in with so much promise of ridding the country of the corruption of the past and handing over power peacefully. However more often than not the military leaders would end up being even more corrupt and adding other atrocities on top. A good example is Joseph Mobutu who was basically planted to deal with Patrice Lumumba who was considered to be an unstable socialist. In his first few years Zaire experienced growth under his leadership but he soon slid into corrupt and plundering ways and got his infamous name of Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga loosely translated as 'invincible warrior; cock who leaves no chick intact.' However one would take into account that the Belgians didn't invest much in the education of locals and when they left, the Africans were ill prepared to take over leadership. That may be true for them but even in countries with well educated people tsimilar things happened. It was like a case of same script different cast. Another point which blows the bubble of those who believe youth is the answer is that these coup leaders were young e.g Mobutu - 29 Gaddafi- 27

Due to this economic mismanagement by the 1980s many nations had become reliant on 'aid' from the west and with that came conditions which reduced decision making power. On top of food crises and tropical diseases the AIDS scourge also came to haunt us in a big way. We were basically running a very bad show. However there were a few highlights like the end of Apartheid in South Africa to smile about.

One statement which really hit home is the way African politicians have become 'ethnic entreprenuers' promising their communities all kinds of goodies once in power. We have seen the result of this ethnocentrism in Kenya after the last elections as well as other tribal wars, the most devastating being the Rwandan genocide. It's amazing how as people we focus on what makes us different so much.

I'd recommend the book to anybody interested in the history of our beloved continent

As I read I wondered what next for our continent will the youth take us to greater heights? We've seen them move governments in the North but now will we grow a new African order which will eradicate the vicious cycle of corruption and suffering in our land? Once again I talk to my fellow Kenyans, next year we have the chance to vote for leaders with vision and on a mission. I'm yet to see one who is articulating his vision as opposed to tearing into their opponents. The time is now, we can build a new future together for our continent!

God bless Kenya God bless Africa!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Garden Route

Been a while since I did a photo post and this time I take you down south to the Eastern and Western Cape provinces. The Garden route has to be the most picturesque coastline I've seen so far, sampled our own flying coastwise from Mombasa to Malindi and it quite doesn't measure up to the time I had the privilege of flying coastwise from George to Port Elizabeth a couple of years back.

What's particularly breathtaking is that there are mountain ranges like the Tsitsikama right next to the coast and you get some high cliffs and gorgeous (pun intended) deep river cut valleys like Storms river with it's bridge. Even before you get there there's the Beautiful Knysna lagoon and Plettenberg bay to feast your eyes on. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words so let's go to the eye candy... click for a larger view...

The Beautiful Knysna lagoon

Stanley's Island, Plettenberg Bay

The famous Storms River bridge

Cape St. Francis Lighthouse

Van Stadens close to Port Elizabeth not really on the route but threw it in