5 Things That I Missed Since I Was Here

I am glad to have another opportunity to come back to this land called the great US of A. It feels nice to see familiar places, streets and mannerisms. Having been here for only three days, here are 5 things that I missed….

1 Efficient Transport Network

Image

Yah when the bus or train schedule says the bus will be here by 8:10 am it will surely be here…

2 Excesses of Life

The last time I was here this aspect really struck me…that people here have what in my language I would call “anasa za dunia” i.e “excesses of life”. I mean if you want milk, you have to choose between whole milk, 2% milk, skimmed milk, if you want coke you are asked if you want diet coke or regular coke, ..I mean for some of us back home the aspect of choice and variety doesn’t come before availability…for some the question of availability of milk comes before thinking about the choice of milk (Brookside, Usiseme maziwa sema ng’ombe :-))

3 Smiling and Walking Ettiquettes on the street

While attending college at Kalamazoo, I first encountered this very unusual phenomena – that while walking past someone, most people (read strangers) would smile at you or nod as you passed by. Now for someone coming from Nairoberry where most people care about their business, this confused me, especially when it is someone from the fairer sex smiling at you. This is because how was I supposed to interpret the smile or the nod as a polite gesture of recognizing the other or as a way of saying “hi”. Anyway, after much reflection and encounters on the streets it also made me question this American mannerism – is it a genuine smile? is it something people do to fulfill their emotional sense that they are being polite yet they don’t care a cent about the other person? My sense is that you only smile at people you know not any tom, hannah and sandra on the streets. Another strange walking etiquette is that if you were walking up or down a stairway, you are meant to keep to the right and when you don’t people really find you strange or impolite.

4 Good Old Big Mac Donald

Cheers to the guy who invented this one!!

 

 

 

5 Pronunciation nightmare

My first experience at a local restaurant, I requested the waiter to give me a glass of “wota” and she looked at me with a blank face signifying she didn’t understand what I wanted. It was not until my host friend politely asked her to get me a glass of “w-o-r-ra”. And by the way, while we are at this story of water, why do Americans have to drink water or cold beverages with ice cubes even when it is snowing? I never seem to understand! In another instance I went to a Subway outlet and requested for a turkey sandwhich with extra cheese and “l-e-tt-u-ce” and the guy also couldn’t understand my order since I dint pronounce the lettuce properly 🙂 Cant an African be let be?

It feels great to be back!!

The Danger of a Single Story

I keep running, but every time I fall,
I try to walk, but my feet feel heavy,
I am trying to fit in these shoes,
These shoes that seem too big for me,
Who will save me?

I have been told that I have great potential,
Potential to achieve more than I can imagine,
But every time I feel like I am in a rat race,
I am in a maze, chasing after my share of cheese,
Who will save me from this story?

Mine has been a single story
A cookie-cutter story, well replicated by mass of humanity,
Study hard, graduate from University,
Get a job, get married, have children and wait to die,
Isn’t this what the great Wise King Solomon called Vanity?
Actually I think the right word is “Bure Kabisa!”

So I have resolved, I shan’t bother anymore,
I shan’t confine myself to this single story,
I want to write my story,
I want to read out my own story,
A story with its own plot and themes,
A story that will be read far and wide
But one that will remain true to its essence.

Will you join me my dear friend?
Come let’s sojourn together,
Join me as we soldier on.
Let’s break off from the single story syndrome.

What’s Your Story?

A mentor once told me, the key to getting what you want in life is determined by how well you tell your story. This nugget of wisdom became true the other day. Oh how I jumped in joy singing “Eureka! Eureka!”

Obama’s victory is a story well told. This is a story that captured both those who cared to listen and those who didn’t. Who would have thought a junior senator from Illinois, Chicago would become a President-Elect? Who would have thought an ambitious young man whose father was a Kenyan exchange student in America some long time ago would end up in the white house? Who would have thought that an author of a book with an ambitious title “Audacity of Hope” would be the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States?

Yes this is indeed a story well told. This is a story of an audacity of hope. The good book of farming says “Hope does not disappoint…” I guess Obama knew how and when to tell his story.
I am learning to tell my story. It may not be a story that would capture Hollywood or even make headlines on our local dailies, but I am choosing every day to tell my story. I am choosing to dream today. I am choosing to throw away care of failing and hold on to my hope and dream. I am choosing to shout from the rooftop of my heart, that Yes I can, Yes I can. Of course with the gracious help of “I AM”, He who is my strength, He who grants me strength and wisdom in every step of the way and with Him I am shouting Yes I can do all things!!

C’mon whats your story? Are you willing to share it with us?

(Friday, November 7, 2008)

*If Tomorrow Never Happened

Today as I marveled at the beauty of yet another day in my life,
I wondered,
If I hadn’t lived to see today,
What would my family have had to say about me,
Would my friends have felt the impact of my absence in their life,
And would the world even still for a moment in my honor,
Or would life just go on,

If today would have been my day of demise,
What lesson would I have passed to all I encountered,
What memory would the world have of me,
Would I leave a gap in anyone’s heart,
Or would I just be another number or statistic,
Gone to make room for someone else in the world,

It’s troubling that one can live this life and pass on living behind nothing,
I have gone through many days in my life,
now I wonder how often I rise above the crowd,

Even in the simplest of ways like putting a smile on a long face,
Or maybe sharing the little I may have with someone more deserving than myself,
Tomorrow is but a mirage,

I’m not sure I’ll be around tomorrow to share the best of me with the world,
So I take today to be my very best,
I’m not sure I’ll be here tomorrow,
So I take today to tie all my lose ends together,
To turn all the stones in my life,
So that even if I rest today,
I’ll rest in peace knowing I did my very best,
And most important I gave the very best of me,
And turned every stone on my way!

*(These words are not my own, but they helped me reflect about life)
Posted on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 4:48 p.m.

Joys of Adulthood

So if you happened to see me leo I was walking with a swagger and a big Wako smile. Reason being: I just got my Driving Licence!! It’s such a big thing for me! You wouldn’t understand how am feeling if you aint Kenyan…. This is a Kenyan story…sorry…

You see in Kenya there are three documents that one feels so happy after acquiring them. A Birth Certificate, an I.D and a Driving Licence. For most Kenyans, getting a hold of these documents is a nightmare. For example, it took me nearly an year and a half to get my I.D even after having attained the universal suffrage age of 18. For your information, my case is even better, there are guys who get their I.D’s after like 3 years. But am glad that things are now changing in our government ministries.

Well you wonder why such a fuss in getting a D.L? Dude! It’s liberating!! Getting a D.L means you are over 18!! That liberating 18th year that gives one the legal right to be an adult. An adult entitled to vote yes or no on a plebiscite or an election. An adult with the right to partake the contents of the brown bottle or jet fuel if you can only afford a ten bob. An adult who can choose whether to pay your tithe to Finger of God ministries or Jehovah Wanyonyi ministries.

I was happy to get my D.L coz I feel like now I have joined the league of adults. As I walked out of the Post Office I had a swagger. I am glad that I got my license without having to pay some karao kitu kidogo(Kenya’s euphemism for corruption) and that the money I spent for going to a Driving school was not in vain. I am not discouraged that I am still too far away from getting my ka share of vits and with impunity faithfully contribute my share to furthering climate change or driving through the dreaded Nairoberry streets. I am just happy I got my DL!! Do you feel me? It’s just a Kenyan thingi.

Time, Chance, Potential

An Epistle to the Freshers,

Dear Comrades,

Welcome to this prestigious university. The only university on the south of the Sahara and north of the Limpompo, that you can find the most concentration of intellectuals per every square metre. I salute you for your most excellent performance in graduating from High School.

I welcome you to our wonderful world of campus! This is the place where there are no early morning preps. No bells to announce the end of class, when to wake up, when to go for lunch or when to go for evening preps. No prefects to supervise you as you do your preps in pin drop silence.

Dear comrades, let me share with you a great piece of wisdom that an elder brother of mine shared with me. He told me that to succeed in campus, I should not work hard, but that I should work smart. I was amazed by his words because he had been in this campus as an engineering student and had graduated with a first class honors. For me to hear him say that I should not work hard came as a big surprise. It has taken me three good academic years to discover the wisdom in my brother’s words.

I have discovered three key components of being a smart student. These are Time, Chance and Potential. I am now almost a fourth year and I can confidently tell you that four years on campus is really a short time. One of the most important things that you need to guard with wisdom is how you spend your time on campus. Trust the wahengas when they said, “time is money”. For you the cost of time is not money but the kind of degree you graduate with. More so, not only the kind of degree, but your wholesome quality as a graduate of such a prestigious university.

The second component is chance. In the good book of farming there is a passage that states, “the race is not to the swift, or the battle for the strong, nor does food come to the wise…but time and chance happen to them all.” In life, every one of us has a chance to either succeed or fail, no matter your family background or the “whom you know factor”, as most of us would argue. The difference in being successful or being a failure is dictated by how you decide to pick out the chances and opportunities that come your way. A friend of mine once told me, “opportunities don’t just knock at our doors, they actually pass by our doors.” The wisdom of being smart comes in when you are able to discern and know when to open your door and grab the opportunities.

The third component of being smart is potential. One thing I discovered during my freshman year is that when we came to campus, irrespective of which high school we hailed from, we were all equal in terms of potential. Every one of us is endowed with an equal chance of getting a first class honors when he or she gets admitted into campus. However this potential is always dictated by the decisions that one makes while on campus and also the company one chooses to associate with. I don’t mean to school you on whom you should have as a friend or hang out with. I certainly also don’t mean that you shouldn’t have friends who love to party, rave and have fun. No! My advice is that find friends whom you can challenge each other in all spheres of your student life. I encourage you to find friends whom after hanging out with, you can confidently say they have added value to your life. One thing I am certain of is that the friendships I have made on campus are life-long and meaningful. The experience that I have had so far at this university will forever be embedded in my heart. It’s my prayer that come four years down the line when you will be in my place you will reminisce this article and say how true and that in your heart you will have no “I wish I knew moments.”

Now don’t get me wrong dear comrade, in thinking that being a smart student doesn’t entail having fun. From my experience I have had fun on campus in different ways that I wouldn’t be able to describe in this article. I would highly encourage you that as early as first year, start looking for different opportunities that you can plug into. For me by November of my freshman year, I had already been involved with several student clubs. These were Campus Life, Kenya Model United Nations (K.M.U.N) and the Journey. Being in these clubs helped me to form a broad social network where I interacted with different students especially the third and fourth years. They encouraged me to continue being active in the groups and also to look out for more opportunities. Through the KMUN club, I was able to go for annual national conferences at the U.N headquarters in Gigiri and I was also able to travel overseas for different programs through other organizations. The point here comrades, is that through an active engagement in different organizations you get to improve your social network, and your mind is challenged with different opportunities and responsibilities. At the end of the day you become a better you, for lack of a better phrase. For me being a smart campuserian is not just getting all the A’s in your end year transcript but being a well-rounded student.

Thank you for you time dear comrade. I wish y’all God’s blessings in your quest for knowledge and fun in this prestigious university.

Yours truly,

Fellow Comrade

Soul Cravings

Can you hear my voice,
Can you feel my heartbeat,
Can you see my feeble state,
Can you free me

I rise and fall,
all about me,
dust, darkness, chaos,
shadows following me,
who will free me

I have fear in me,
will I be the best that I am expected to be,
will I rise above this storm,
my heart’s been torn apart,
my face is scarred,
my back is clawed,
my identity is taken away,
I want to reach out

Oh the stench of this cell,
I am a prisoner of my self,
Oh the defeaning screams,
the shattering of dreams,
the slipping away of hopes,
of friendships, of lovings, of intimacies,
I crave to be free

I stand before the mirror,
And like in a mirage,
I see me fading away,
I want to run,
I want to cut,
Can you free me

Alas! I now see some light,
But my head feels heavy,
I can’t take this anymore,
Can you free me

Yah, I see your hand,
I am rising to reach out,
But wait…don’t go yet…,
Please don’t leave me here,
I am scared

I am tired of running,
I am tired of the cuts on my body,
I have punished my self for far too long,
I am tired of this mask,
This mask that I have been masquerading in,
I am tired of carrying this shell

I am waiting for you,
Can you free me

What’s your soul craving?

That Night a Human Being Died

That night they came
carrying pangas, rungus, mishale, ithanwa;
It was dark;
we were listening to Citizen FM;
we were 175km away from where
the main action was taking place;
we were waiting for Mr. Kivuitu to announce the results;

That night we the young boys were out by the dukas;
the older boys, our dads, our uncles
were all shouting Haki yetu!! Haki yetu!
Then suddenly we heard;
a scream, feet shuffling, people running all over;
Ua!! Ua!! Huyo!! Ua yeye!!
Kamau uka naguku!!
Then we started running

That night we all huddled up inside the church;
we had ran here for safety;
there were all kinds of people but mostly women and children;
I was with my shosho,
she has been my dad and mum since I was 5;
when mami and dadi passed away of AIDS
(because we couldnt afford ARV’s)
but ghafla bin vu we heard a rowdy crowd approaching;
they spoke in strange tongues;
then moto mkubwa ukawaka;
I only heard, “Wachome wote!! Wachome wote!!”
Then I fainted because kuliwa na moshi mingi;

That night
a human being died;
Kamau died. Otieno died.
Cherotich died. Wepukhulu died. Kimeu died.
He was my dad. She was her mum. He was his sister.
They were my brothers
That night a human being died.

Every day I ask “why her? why him? why them?”;
The waheshimiwa only sit and talk about justice and the hague;
Concepts and places I dont elewa and jua;
I only want the truth,

Tell me jirani yangu
why did you choose to act this way?
I only need you to admit and say you did it and that you are sorry.

Though it pains me every day;
To see you,
To see those hands of yours
that are stained with my next of kin’s blood;

I only need you to admit to the truth;
Then I will forgive you.
This is my justice. Give me truth;

Let us reconcile. Let us dialogue.
Let’s give forgiveness a chance.
But remember that night
a human being died.

To a Warrior

I write this to a fellow warrior,
One not afraid to draw his sword to protect his dreams.
Warrior, Guard your sword upon your side,
O mighty warrior, clothe yourself with splendor and majesty,
In your majesty ride forth victoriously!

Why them? Why her? Why him?

My heart can’t stop asking? I received the news in much shock;
I wish I was there, to sit by your bed and hold your hand;
To watch you sleep and be there when you open your eyes;
To tell you, It’s okay and you will be fine…,
Sad news have a way of startling one back into reality;
Life is precious;

Many are the things I take for granted;
a sound mind, no pain, no white hospital ceilings to watch all night and
wander ‘when is morning coming by?’; For my family, friends and loved ones,
to come visit with me, to laugh with me, to pray with me, to try and cheer me up;
Why them? Why Her? Why Him?

I am far away, but all of you are in my thoughts and prayers;
As the night slowly passes away, I silently stand and stare at the stars;
Wishing that you would hear me whisper a prayer for you;
For your quick recovery;
For nothing I long for than to behold your smile,
your cheerfulness, your optimism for life, your enthusiasm …,
I am glad that He still semas; I am who I am;
I pray that joy and peace will flood your thoughts, mind and heart;
I know it’s a hard time for you now, but I want you to know;
I am says, I am….
Why them? Why Her? Why Him?

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