Fear, failure and success

Faith, Love & Good Sense

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My greatest fear is that I will not be successful. That I will land at 70 and realise my life fell short of its potential. But then I asked myself, what did I think was my potential? What did I think I deserved? What did success mean to me?

When our culture says someone is very successful, we mean he/she has a lot of money, they have built wealth, they have power or fame, they have impact with their work. See whose faces appear on magazine covers and whose social media accounts we follow by the millions.

I measure success by the same parameters, I realise. I want to accomplish important things and attain self actualisation. I want to be known for something I am or have done. I want a trophy, an award, an accolade, my name on an adult honor roll, Top40Under40 something…

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He has lost it again

Winny shared a photo of her and her Dad taking a walk to celebrate World Mental Health Day. She said she vowed to celebrate with him, even if it meant ‘kuokota makaratasi pamoja.’ I love such people, such stories. We had a zoom interview for me to get her story, but the network was so bad; it sounded like the radio chewing the tape back in 1990. So I sent her questions and requested that she writes something.

The interview came back in sheng and with 17 emojis. This is my attempt to decode millennial speak. 

Everyone knew a mad man in the village; for Winny, this man was her Dad. 

One day, I came home from a school trip and went to look for my mom; I had bought her some yogurt as a gift. She was away at a neighbor, sharing the latest breaking news in the village. After a few words, she told me, ‘dad nacungire kiariki.’ That was the code word for, “He’s lost it again.” This is my earliest memory of my Dad’s illness.

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Be Nice

I’m no Mike Ross, but I have the memory of a dolphin. Did you know dolphins can remember their friends even after 20 years? There are things that infant amnesia hasn’t touched, stuff from my childhood that seem like they just happened yesterday. I have these snippets of my childhood that just got superglued to my hippocampus. They sit there like a rock in a stream, never moving, never getting erased, getting smoother and harder as I grow older. 

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Confetti

He’s born in 1972 while Kenyatta is president. They are poor, the kind of poverty that doesn’t need an adjective to describe. But poverty was a common denominator in the village then, the rich were the odd ones out. His Mom is a dynamite. She’s the reason “when mama prays’ was written.

Soon, he’s supposed to start school. It’s the 20th century, there’s no kindergarten and sijui baby class and pre-primary. You just arc your hand over your head and touch the other ear. If your fingers don’t reach the ears, you’re not old enough to go draw on the sand and make chapati with mud. When his tiny chubby fingers touch his ears, he’s enrolled into nursery school. School is fun because it’s all play, dance and making pick-up trucks from wires and spectacle frames from maize stalks. There’s no homework and they go home at midday. He likes it.

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The richest of stories

One of life’s greatest errors is to look at a child and imagine that they will amount to nothing – especially a child submerged in poverty. Poverty is one of the most convincing costumes; when a person is dressed in poverty, it masks any other attribute that they may have. You can’t even be wise and poor, it’s assumed that if you don’t have a mind to make money, you simply don’t have a mind. But a child is like a dormant volcano, you should expect anything.

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Imposter

You see a man, maybe a lawyer, sharp like a brand new razor and feisty like Bongo, the honey badger. He cuts his hair in those classy barbershops, which have got women hyperventilating every time their husbands go for a shave. But they are so good with the razor, he emerges from under their hot towels and silky hands looking like Michelangelo himself sculpted him.

He’s eloquent, shoots straight, and his life is straight like type 2A hair. He has already removed all the kinks from his life. He’s the kind of guy you’d think has no cares in the world. Even such a man, with his Armani suits, struggles with the imposter syndrome.

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A Wedding and a General

They met at a prayer center. She always loved breaking her fasts at prayer centers, it felt like they had a higher concentration of heaven.  We’ll call her Jojo.

Peter* was the kind of person who greeted people with “Praise the Lord!” He’d just exclaim ‘Hallelujah’ in a normal conversation. He was among the dying breed of people who don’t say “shit!” after every sentence. His showers always turned into full-blown Pentecost moments when he started singing.

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I left my shoes here

She was dating a seminarian. Yes, those guys you see in the pulpit giving little holy communion in flowing robes, pious eyes, and lips that look like they only kiss the rosary, well, sometimes they kiss girls called Gigi.

The seminarian had his eyes set on the priesthood. A few years into the training, he got his reverse Damascus moment and abandoned the rosary. I think having one foot in the seminary and another one occasionally inside a beautiful girl was a tough balance. He chose the streets.

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Losing and Gaining

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Today, our guest writer is Mary Nyawira. She will kill me for saying this, but Mary was the girl every person remembers from our High School class. If someone doesn’t remember you, we just tell them, “Oh, I was in Mary’s class.” And they’ll go, ooh!

For some reason, she was in the naughty corner most of the time. But I don’t think Mary looked for trouble, trouble just found her. Today, she lets us in on a snippet of her life as she grew up — the losses and the gains.

Guess who else found her? Jesus! 

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Bring on the Lemons

Olive sat across the gynecologist’s chair as he gave her the results of her ultra-sound. Like all gyna’s offices, his was predominantly white. Various diagrams of the human reproductive system hang on the wall. She sat there, recounting the torturous periods she had been enduring since she was a teenager.

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Zulu

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He lies on the cold Sao Paulo ground in the park outside the cathedral. It’s cold. I’m used to the sweltering heat in Mombasa, anything below 25 degrees is cold for me. But I’m told it’s summer here. These people have not seen the summer, I muse.

He has a blanket. Surprisingly, it doesn’t look very dirty. My host, a catholic seminarian informs me that they are supplied with blankets and food by well-meaning Brazilians. Mostly Christians because they somehow see the face of Jesus on those once clean and handsome faces.

He’s not alone, but I note with interest that most of his ‘roommates’ are men.

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“Cousin”

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She emailed and said this was the kind of conversation that required a quiet corner in Java at 11 AM. Apparently, there are not many people there at such a time. She can speak without straining to not whisper, and I can tell you she whispers like a cat that saw a dog.

You don’t want to be hiding with this one in any situation. She can’t whisper to save her life.

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Holes

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I’m a good girl by the basic standards. No, allow me to just say it this one time. I’m a good girl. I’ve never been drunk (does wine count?),  never smoked (not even weed) and never did the walk of shame.  I was proud of it all. Until I was not so proud of it.

Josh Harris is no longer a Christian. And he’s getting a divorce. I don’t know if you understand the weight of those two statements, but I can make it simpler. It’s like saying the pope is no longer catholic and he’s getting married. Although that wouldn’t be so bad.

It feels like my whole youth life was a lie. If you’re still using a yahoo email account, Josh Harris is (was) a pastor and an author. He wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye and Boy Meets Girl.  For a Christian girl who believed Sidney Sheldon was evil and never read Mills and Boons, Josh Harris was my dating and sexuality compass.

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My struggle with Misophonia – Suffering without silence

We had our first major fight with Mr. K on the last day of our honeymoon. He woke up singing and whistling while I wanted to sleep! The whistling is what removed the pin from the grenade. It set me off so badly that I was blue with rage. Understandably, Mr. K couldn’t understand how anyone would be so upset by such a harmless noise.

As it turns out, he had triggered a reaction caused by Misophonia also known as selective sound sensitivity Syndrome. According to WebMD, Misophonia is a strong dislike for specific sounds.

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Oh, Here’s One!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The romance of the SGR has long waned. We got all kinds of ‘reviews’ when it first started operating, some telling us how to print tickets and others telling us where the toilet flush button was. (It’s right at the sink, I’m sure some of you still have no idea.)

This is not about where to find the garbage bin (It’s near the toilet, by the way). This is about my brother from America. And his blonde wife. I promise this won’t be about ticketing (although I read somewhere that someone is issuing invalid tickets, it’d be therefore very wise to print your own tickets or triple check your details if it’s printed for you.) Continue reading

Celebrating Bro. John’s two Sun Rises

broToday, we shall lay to rest a remarkable man! I say ‘we’ although I will be over 1000 kms away because as the Materi Girls Center fraternity, we are truly one! And as we lay him to rest, I’m reminded of all that he was — and it has just been impossible to summarize this man on one blog post. I have attempted to write about him, but he was just too much to be contained here. But today, as an honor to him, I will scribble something, and then I will sit and shed tears as I remember just how much I truly loved him.

I remember one time he was unwell and he went to America for a very long time. It could have been a few weeks but for us in Materi at that time, it seemed like an eternity. We would pass by his closed office and just lament at how much we missed him. We missed the ‘see Bro’s’, the Friday Movies, the free chewing gum on Friday and the many goodies that office held. But above all we missed Bro. John the man.

You see, Materi girls is not your ordinary High School. We hear of horrific stories that people went through in High school and we just can’t understand it. For us, High school was ideal! We were taught responsibility through freedom. You’ve heard it already, our school rule was ‘Use Your Common Sense’. And no, it was not written anywhere either. You were supposed to learn it and live by it!

He gave so many girls who would otherwise had never gone to school a life. He made us know that we are important, he made sure he said it as often as he could!. He called us all the sweet names some that were really hilarious. Mr Roses, my apples, my tomatoes — he once called us that after his trip to America just to show how much he had missed us! He loved us and we knew it. He always said that Materi was his wife and his children, and boy oh boy, weren’t we adored!

He made us beautiful, both inside and outside. He gave us a decent education, gave us decent food (we took porridge even at 10:00 AM, we always went home looking better than we left:) and have gave us jewellery and make up  at a time when other schools were sending girls packing because of permed hair!

He bought clothes and sold them to us at a loss! I remember once he drove me from Meru town to Materi, and on the way he bought some sweat shirts at 70 bob. When we got to school, I thought he’s sell them at 100 to make a few coins. Imagine my shock when I went to buy one and he was selling them at 50 bob! I was moved to tears.

I bought my first photo album from him. I kept it up to the time I cleared campus — more than 8 years! My elder sister Lilian wouldn’t understand my obsession with that album. I carried it everywhere. My travel bag always contained the essentials — plus my album!  She once scolded me for carrying my photo album  everywhere, but it was never about the album. It was about the man who sold it to me. Bro!

Bro took the trouble to bring us our letters, send letters to our boyfriends and always reminded us to send a card to our parents on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day was special in Materi. There was always something extra added to our meals. It could be a soda, a really huge Mango or whatever he found on that day, but it never went unnoticed. His girls were always appreciated. He was the perfect lover! It’s no wonder I still fuss over Valentines’ day, I still like feeling appreciated on Val’s Day!

Back to the time he was unwell in America. On the day he came back, there were no classes! We mounted a guard of honor from the gate and escorted him to his house, with shouts and singing! It was a great day! Our daddy was back! We were just wanted to tell him all that happened while he was away and accuse everyone who had provoked us!

When he later that evening came to give a speech to the girls, he told us of how he had had a near death experience. He saw his spirit leave his body and actually go heavenward. On getting to the gates, Peter told him to go back, his work was not done yet! I have never forgotten that story.

And so when he finally rested last week, I knew his work here was done. It was painful, it still is. I knew this day would come but I quite never got ready for it. We all didn’t. On that day, the gates of heaven were opened to him and he was ushered in. On that day, Bro had two sun rises –and no Sunset!

Is Jesus Serious?

I have been watching KTN’s series on the bible. They have tried to depict as truthfully as possible the real events of the bible and while a few things have been edited much to my dislike, one thing stands out; Jesus is serious business.

I have been reading the bible too, more seriously now that I am somebody’s running mate 🙂 and I have seen more and more that Jesus is serious business.

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The early disciples had it rough; they stood for Christ at a time when it was really hard to oppose the powers that were. The gospel was expensive and people paid dearly to spread it. Why then have we made it so cheap today?

The sole purpose of preaching is to direct people to God. The gospel is the good news, news about a much needed saviour to much needing sinners. Good news that all is not lost; there is still hope for us despite Adam’s big blunder. Good news that Jesus is the link between God and man, the ONLY way to heaven. That is serious business.

So when I see people reduce the gospel to seed planting and prosperity business, I’m furious! Imagine the price the early disciples paid! Some were fried in boiling oil, some were sawn into two, some were shipped off to an isolated island, some were beheaded at the request of a little girl and her evil mother – does that sound like prosperity to you?

The bible does well to let us know that if God remembered all our sins, no one would stand. I keep thinking God should send thunder and lightning to strike all those people watering down the gospel to their own economic gain. But then again, I would probably be caught in the thunder for my own little blunders so I shelf those thoughts.

I know Paul said that it doesn’t matter the reasons for preaching as long as Christ is preached. I too wish they would preach Christ and him crucified. Then it wouldn’t matter how much they ask for in return because at the end of the day, Christ is preached.

But they don’t! They don’t preach Christ crucified or anything close. They pick little line from scriptures and magnify it out of context to swindle people of their money. The ‘gospel’ thus ceased to ‘set the captives free’. Their version of the gospel doesn’t save anyone. Theirs is the sugar-my-tea and butter-my bread version. That is not the gospel.

I imagine Stephen being stoned and Paul being imprisoned just for telling people that Jesus rose from the dead and that HE is indeed the Messiah. What would he think of, say, pastor Kanyari of the famous 310 seed if he met him today? Would he tell him that he is a workman approved by God? Would he say to him and his mother, Nduta?

“I have been reminded of your faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice?”(2 Timothy 1:5)

No he wouldn’t. I know that because Nduta seems to have taught her son how to rip-off money from ‘innocent’ church goers.

It’s time we stopped hiding under the ‘I don’t want to judge’ umbrella and speak the truth. Because truth is supposed to set people free but today’s version of truth creates more bondage than the lies.

Jude says,

“Be merciful to those who doubt, snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy mixed with fear-hating even the clothing stained by corrupted fear”

The gospel is serious business; let us handle it with heavenly seriousness, like it is a matter of life and death. Because it is.