Essentials for Triumph
A book on excellence
A book that gives you the motivation and concise concepts
needed for you to conquer uncertainties. It reveals that success
is possible and gives you exactly what you need to be
LONE FELIX 2011
Massive Potential Group
Essentials for Triumph
a book on Excellence
©Lone Felix 2011
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transcribed, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission from the publisher
This book is dedicated with utmost respect,
Sincere love and deep adoration to mother
Every proud look you gave me
Made me realize that I was destined for greatness,
Every tear you shade, gave me reason to shade a sweat to buy your smile.
Everything I am, and everything I will ever be, I owe it to you mother.
I acknowledge God in His grace and love for giving me the energy and ability to compile this book. I am highly indebted to the following people without whose support I would be unable to have accomplished the compiling of this book. Their support was either direct or indirect through the motivational pieces I gather from our interactions.
Dr. James Mwangi MBS, The CEO Equity Bank Ltd. You have been an outstanding role model, a helping father not only to me, but thousands of other young Kenyans.
My friend and role model Victor Ladan–PhD UK, currently with the Department of Theater Arts Kenyatta University for the review of the book and persistent mentorship.
I greatly appreciate Kyambi Kavali of the International Committee of Red Cross for the her encouragement and care.
Veronica DeMarco of Dorrance Publishing Company USA for the enormous encouragement and review of the book.
May God Bless you all.
DR. Linda Musumba, Dean Kenyatta University School of Law, for your encouragement. Dr. Hellen Oduku, Kenyatta University, Dr. Wangeci Ndung’u, a mother and cherished mentor and William Mahasi of Parklands Campus-KU for the great help you accorded me.
Finally, to my cherished pals, Robert, G.K Githire, a true role model, Antony Akoto, Leila Ahmed, Nicole Okoth, Damaris Charles and Henry Paul.
The faith you people show in me give me the impetus. Thank you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter one: Understand that Excellence is Necessary…………………
Chapter two: Developing a winning Attitude…………………………………
Chapter three: Understand the Dynamics of Time…………………………
Chapter four: Managing the Environment……………………………………
Chapter five: Working
Since early 2009, I have been privileged to address over 75 institutions, conventions and conferences. This has been across three East African countries, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. What drives me is an urge to share with people a crucial piece of information that we can excel despite unfavorable circumstances. As I proceed with these addresses I have had an urge to communicate, with a sense of permanence to my audience.
This urge is what has motivated the compiling of this book. I equally believe it is a worth way of giving back to
the society that has taught me so much. As you read through the discussion, focus on getting the motivation, the inspiration, and
the bits that will enable you to cruise through the many hurdles in life. It is extremely important that we develop a success conscious mind.
That is the essence of this book. To help us develop ourselves in persons who understand our hidden and untapped might. I emphasize on the truism that success or failure in any venture is more a question of the mindset than that of means or channels. Within ourselves, there lies the might that can help drive us to our ultimate dreams.
To realize the essence of life, excellence should the central target of our endeavors; excellence in academic, professional and social endeavors. Interestingly, the largest groups of persons never give real thought to what we can achieve if we maximize ourselves. We school content being average, cruise through our professional lives without ever purposing to create that distinctive mark about
Literally, if you have never given thought to the honest scale of your abilities, then you have betrayed the essence of being. We can never be, if we do not purpose to be the best we can be. In many instances, it is my honest belief that if we expose ourselves to the right gospel, a gospel of belief in possibility, and if we come to believe this set of information, then we are better place to actualize ourselves and serve the purpose of being.
In this book, we have conveniently scheduled this crucial into five essences, which with certainty, we can term as the five requisites for triumph. The five are:
1. Understand that Excellence is Necessary
2. Develop a winning Attitude
3. Understand the Dynamics of Time
4. Manage the environment
5. Work Smart
As you go through the discussion, it is my desire that you shall be impacted; that you shall develop a conviction to realize your abilities and work towards realizing success.
UNDERSTAND THAT EXCELLENCE IS NECESSARY
‘Excellence, excellence, excellence, it is what you have to fight for’
~Dr. James Mwangi~
It would be prudent to begin by giving an operational definition of excellence. The choice of the phrase is deliberate and purposive.
Excellence is defined ambiguously by most dictionaries as the quality of being extremely good. The definition is ambiguous since the word ‘good’ is subject to endless controversy. ‘Extreme’ in itself is not definite and it lacks any specific meaning.
In the context of our discussion, we shall take an objective view of ‘extremely good’. Good shall necessarily incorporate the notions that the majority of the society benefits from one’s success, that the success is ‘good’ from a global point of view eliminating our regional biases and that the excellence in itself is holistic developing the brain, the mind and the person that is the candidate. And that it shall incorporate positive principles of morality.
The following would pass as the six reasons why you should excel
- A dynamic and globalized Kenya needs Merit and Competence
We are living in a very dynamic Kenya. Merit is being emphasized and merit is being achieved. The dynamism of our time is further fueled by globalization. Kenya has incorporated itself into the universe and effectively raised the bar of academic competition and professional proficiency to global scales.
When a student sits in a class for a CRE lesson in Kapsitwet Secondary School at the periphery of The Great Rift Valley, they are competing with a student of Religion in Sydney Australia. When a student sits for a law lecture in Kenyatta University Parklands
Campus, they are competing with students of law in Harvard School of Law in its prominence.
A local software engineer is equally competing for a global stage with those from established regions like China and Japan. Just like a legal practitioner in Kenya is competing for the global stage with a Texas attorney. To have any minimal impact on such a wide stage, you definitely need a niche; an exemplary doctrine unique to you. This uniqueness can be found, and should be found in academic excellence and subsequent excelling in the different ventures we partake.
The resources and the opportunities we have on the macro platform are limited. The people fighting for the same are many. To be considered for the stage one must prove to the world that they have a concept to offer. Interestingly, the only tangible proof you can
offer is obtaining excellence.
Another factor worth considering is that as a nation we are translating into a regime that adores meritocracy. The era of camaraderie and other peculiar qualifications being ladders to social apex is gone. Today, all professions need gifted persons; gifted in the
mind and heart. For once, we even have a constitution that expressly provides that progress in our professional lives should be based on merit and all persons ought to be afforded equal opportunities.
The only certain way therefore, to make a legitimate impact in the wake of this informed dispensation is by academically being exemplary and translating the academic exception into visible practical productivity. This is the sure way of claiming a
rightful position on the global stage.
Equally as a people, we should strive to create an environment free of graft and nepotism. These are the vices that have shelled Kenya and weakened our national fabric. The young generation should strive to excel by just and fair means. Competition for highness should
be based on pure merit and competence. This will enable the Kenyan dream to be lived; the Kenyan dream that has been so elusive in our parents’ generation; the dream of a cohesive truthful nation.
We should strive to celebrate our diversity since it is in this diversity that the Kenyan dream lies. This will only be possible if each of us is in a position to compete and concede defeat when it is due. If an individual is in a weaker position, they tend to find
faults in those who succeed. This is far more dangerous than tribalism. If you fail to excel, the long term and certain implication is that you will fall in the low bracket of the social realms of the society. Inability to perform equally perpetuates social inequality through widening and sustaining the gap between the rich and the poor.
This creates a far more dangerous instability than corruption, tribalism or nepotism.’ A society with wide economic disparities is a society against itself,” it is so said. The successful live in the fear of the less fortunate, the less fortunate live loathing the able. Insecurity, servitude, manipulation and other social ills will be clearly a characteristic feature of such a society. These fissures are undesirable.
Presently, we live in such a country. Kenya has gaps, although this can be attributed to selective empowerment, nepotism and other historical factors, open incompetence and indolence have ensured the incubation and subsequent sustenance of the same. There was a time when the educational system’s relevance had been compromised, bits of the same culture are traceable today, but even as such unfortunate traits are acknowledged, one has no business justifying non-progress on such bases.
Today, the constitution clearly outlaws discrimination on such bases as ethnicity, race, sex, dress or even religion. It has given us a chance to realize a cohesive state together, our ethnic or racial diversities notwithstanding. Implementation of this constitution would see a nation that celebrates its diversity, gives equal opportunity to those who deserve, a state that mediates social conflicts through the rule of law and with functionally autonomous institutions.
This indirectly implies that merit will inevitably reestablish itself as the sole avenue for the climb up the social ranking.
2.A CHANCE FOR A WOMAN TO BENEFIT FROM AFFIRMATIVE ACTION:
Perpetually, a Kenyan woman has reeled under the burden of culture and tradition. As it is, the cultural definition of a woman makes her subordinate to a man. The constitution has tried to introduce legal measures to remedy the situation. Indeed a Kenyan woman is greatly disadvantaged in very many ways. This however is more of a socio-cultural trend than a legal phenomenon. The Kenyan woman just like all her African counterparts reels under a repressive cultural burden. This has been variously exploited as a basis for gender based discrimination and even violation of basic rights.
This phenomenon is however not unique to Kenya, the world all over is fighting to accept the equality of the man and the woman. All civilization in the world, from the Confucius china to West Pokot Kenyan recorded preference for the boy child. This is since the boy
child was seen as a source of security and one, on whom the responsibility of the society’s continuity depended.
This preference explains the global trend where almost all countries record a size-able difference in the levels of education hence empowerment between the two sexes. Appreciating this, gender inequality is not entirely a legal issue. This is a trend set by the
society and which can only be effectively reversed through evolution of the socio cultural discernments of the society.
The Kenyan job market provides another field where a disadvantaged Kenyan woman can be seen. The male dominance in appointments, both public and private is conspicuous. Kenya as an African state has been accustomed to the all knowing man figure and the all submissive woman. Therefore other criterion like competency or meritocracy notwithstanding, the cultural chain still binds us to perceptions that some herculean tasks can not be entrusted to the female.
Subsequently, even as the constitution tries to legally enforce affirmative actions measures, a female candidate would be better advised that they have a task of proving to the stereotypical minds that they are amply adept to take on these tasks. To a male person, this increases the scope of competition. The traditionally favorable position afforded by gender has clearly been erased and new levels of stiffer competition set.
The efforts of the boy child will have to double. They have to accommodate both increasing competition and the substantial legal preference of a female candidate. The affirmative action is entirely a welcome idea as the historical gender dissimilarity needs to be corrected. History should be redressed since the boy preference might have robbed this country enormous potential. As the female student rejoices constitutional shielding from unfair discrimination, they have to put up with a big setback called stereotype. As aforementioned, the inequality in Kenya is more of a social cultural creation than it is a legal phenomenon.
The law may not discriminate from you, but the law has no point in directing attitude. Attitude is built by evidence. Therefore subsequent to the perennial underperformance of the girl child, typecast inferences have been made. It will take evidence again, to change the stereotypes. There should be evidence that a female candidate can perform beyond tradition.
All this points to one particular thing, that the changes we desire are achievable if we accord our academics the required level of concern and effort. To create a better Kenya, to create an empowered woman, to create a better man, to create a cohesive society, to create a balanced state that lacks social disparities; we need excellence.
3.Personal freedom and confidence
The most important thing however that Excellence can do is according an individual personal liberty. The present moments are imprisoning. We live constricted by so many intrinsic and extrinsic burdens. The day to day encumbrances need confidence and personal liberty to counter them. When one excels, they obtain a sense of confidence and freedom. They acquire a default assumption that they are in control of their lives.
The intimidation life accords them does not affect their lives greatly. They are capable of navigating through the life’s nuisances
with objectivity and optimism. Excellence affords hope, and hope is crucial if we will face the always tentative tomorrow. Academic excellence liberates an individual from traditional chains of perpetually nitpicking about inefficiencies in institutions and governance. Instead, they acquire a belief that the change they want is solely their responsibility, a responsibility they must act on.
Knowledge that we are in control of our lives is necessary if we have to avoid succumbing to stress factors. It is this crucial ingredient of life that excellence affords.
4· Material Increment
Needless to say, academic excellence will necessarily be accompanied by material increment. There should be no controversy on this regarding our operational definition of the phrase ‘academic excellence’. Material increment need not be the central drive for our efforts. This is because of the following reasons:
· Linkage of effort and material gain is feeble at many crucial stages in our lives. A primary school teen may fail to understand how getting 400 marks in her KCPE would give her money. We may expunge a lot of energies explaining the relationship but the truth will be blurred in her eyes. During such stages, we therefore need other motivations to keep us working hard.
Motivation for effort can include a large range of things. It could be service to the society, the joy of giving, the satisfaction of being associated with a brand, conscious desire to employ talents amongst other reasons.
· The second reason why we should not base our effort on material gain is the lack of certainty in its immediate acquisition. Many a times we engage in a venture just to discover that it is not immediately lucrative. We could get employed just to discover that the dream car is not coming in the second year. We could begin a trade just to learn that the fancied profits are not trooping into our accounts a year later.
If our central motivation was financial gain, we would have to hop from station to station or from venture to venture. This denies us a chance of actualizing our abilities to the fullest. We thus have to find a bigger motivation. A student would be better off thinking about joining the Stanford Business School as their most immediate motivation just like an employee would be better off aligning themselves to the mission of the institutions they serve.
Material gain is a default reward for consistent effort and in this world of soaring cost of living, inflationary pricing trends and greater benchmarks in social status; it is a necessary cushion to the otherwise jarring life tides.
5· Excellence ensures sustainable progress
When one excels, they give the world an extension; as build up on the efforts of others who have struggled to make the universe be what it is today. A musical artist who excels today adds to the beauty of Dolly Parton, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Miriam Makeba and all those who struggled to create a rhythm in the heart of the world.
A student who excels in class gives medicine, law or the teaching professions a chance for expansion. They give the legal field a chance to probably experience another Lon L. Fuller or the revered Lord Dening, they give the medical fraternity a chance to experience another Ben Carson or give the Banking Industry a chance to experience another James Mwangi.
For us to assure progressive advancement then excellence is necessary. We have to keep setting newer levels of performance; it is the only way we can guarantee a tomorrow that is different from today.
6· You spend time in this venture, you deserve something
When one invests time into a venture, it is only fair that they should get the desired result. Time is crucial, and effort is even more significant, it is unjustifiable that we can decide to burry the significance of the two by choosing not to excel.
Understanding that academic excellence is necessary and defining the same is the first step towards attaining it. This understanding foundations our efforts and creates a purposive culture in our attempts. It equally functions as a sneak view into the destination of our efforts which is crucial in giving us strength to proceed on amidst uncertainties.
One needs excellence since it has the power to sift us into positions we may assume the rest of our lives.
…excellence is necessary…
Developing a Winning Attitude
…It always seems impossible until it is done…
The Oxford Dictionary defines attitude as: The way that you think and feel
about somebody or something; the way you behave towards somebody or
something that shows how you think or feel.
The Macmillan Dictionary incorporates opinion, position of body and the informal
meaning of a proud and confident way of behaving that some people consider rude in their definition.
We shall be limited to the ‘THE WAY THAT YOU THINK AND FEEL ABOUT
SOMETHING’. However, we shall incorporate other elemental components as we
proceed in the discussion.
I have a tendency to exalt thought and choice as the ultimate determiners of our expansion. In this discussion I have greatly avoided philosophical biases as to whether we chose our destiny or it is ‘destiny’ in the crude definition of the unalterable determinate end of an individual as predetermined by whatever force. Nevertheless, this caution notwithstanding, I posit that ‘thought’ is the ultimate determiner of the extent to which our individual lives expand.
This cannot be woven in a mastery precision than in the foreword of, Allen, J’S, As a Man Thinketh (1903). Allen assets:…its object (the objects of the book) being to stimulate men and women in the discovery and perception of the truth that: they themselves are makers of themselves; by virtue of the thoughts, which they choose and encourage, that mind is the master weaver of, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of the circumstance.”
There are several details the citation brings forth that are consistent with the spirit of this discussion.
· That man is a maker of themselves
· That they make themselves through their thoughts
· That they themselves choose and encourage these thoughts
· That the thoughts determine both the inner character and the outer circumstances
MAN, A MAKER OF SELF
The above four axioms exalt man to the ambit of a deity; a deity that can perfectly interlace any condition to suit its goal. The truisms bear summarized basic elements needed for success i.e. the inner harmony of conviction and ability and the outer complementary circumstances.
The first element is not generally subject to controversy, many people agree that human beings can create internal serenity through specific methods. Counselors and theologians have invaluable literature on this. The second element however is subject to heated arguments. Can humanity determine their external circumstances? To discuss this, you have to consider the obviously limited
means and unsupportive circumstances we often find ourselves in.
We are obviously limited in means and resources in many ways, the circumstances are in many times unsupportive, limited books or no library, no parental care or brutal and unresponsive guardianship a frustrating colleague and many other hurdles. One could be
an orphan or simply in an environment that knows not success. Peanut salary or no employments are all examples of unsupportive circumstances.
Do such factors imply that failure is inevitable? Clearly that is not the case. That is when Allen’s words become critical in our lives. We have to know that reality can never be altered, but it can be interpreted in a way favoring our desires. Lack in the preliminary stages does not necessarily impede success; it only amplifies the success if it occurs.
In reality, everyone has abilities proportionate to his/her dreams. And as evidence shows, we are groomed in the same environment as the people we admire their accomplishments. We attend same schools with those who top in national examinations, studied with a
current manager of a blue chip firm or were employed by a colleague who is today our supervisor.
The same societal factors mould us with equal magnitude; we are exposed to the same resources and equal provisions of time. We are faced by the same worries and temptations but still our level of performance is not equal. One of the things that tilt scales in a seemingly level ground is ATTITUDE.
Our abilities stretch before us the extent we can scale; bearing in mind that our abilities have no determinate limitation. Means smooth the terrain we cruise. However, if we shall scale the stretch, it is a matter of choice; a matter of attitude and willingness. The attitude you bring to life, ultimately determines how well you accomplish life’s assignments. The attitude you bring to academics, ultimately determines how well you succeed in academic endeavors and the attitude you bring to work bears in proportionate measures on your productivity.
An attitude that sees possibility and adores success can allow you to surpass immense obstacles, to defy derailing forces, and achieve what if you listened to the shouting whispers of why you can’t make it; you would have no choice except never to try. A right attitude gives you the initial impetus relevant in propelling you through the entire navigation.
ELEMENTS OF A WINNING ATTITUDE
· A right attitude entails choosing to see the destination at the start of the journey: A right attitude is defined with certainty of destination. The principle behind this is that if you do not know where you are going, then you will end anywhere. One should take their time to determine their desires; this will come through self evaluation. Once you have determined the end, it is easier to define the means to the end.
· It entails defying the shadows that periodically blur the view of your destination: The view of the determined end will be obscured by several factors. We may fail in our preliminary stages. Our access to the means may be limited; a winner should not allow these shadows to erase the image of the desired end. Instead, amidst the deficiency, we should hold dear our hope; we should keep it
close to our hearts and ensure we work towards nothing short of it.
· It entails believing in reasonable change of direction and strategy but not destination: Clearly, as we move towards our goals, we may realize that the strategies we made are not working or that we took a wrong turn. This necessitates revision. Our revision should target the strategy and not the end. We should not be scared by a slight drift to alter our desired end. Change the path, but maintain the destination. If it is your belief.
· It incorporates acceptance of our inadequacies but never endorsing them as the ultimate impediments to the realization of our dreams.
A right attitude is your acceptance of the most basic of human rights, a right to dream. It is the only dream that cannot be denied or restricted. This is since, even if our physical being is constricted by the oppressions we face, our mind always has the liberty to drift as our choices dictate.
That is why by choice one can disrespect the enslavement of the environment, and attain to the limit their ambitions and desires. Success is openly more about conviction and choice than it is about means and environment.
· A positive attitude avoids undermining one’s worth through unnecessary comparison with others:
Each person is unique in their own ways. Everyone was created for a special unique purpose. I understand the controversy in regard of the above statement. It is thus significant that I should validate my claim that individuals were created for a specific
In itself, the question whether human life is purposeful is controversial. Theologians would find comfort in provisions of religious texts. However, apart from religious texts, there are other observable evidences that ascertain purpose in human existence.
Purpose is associated greatly with definite schedule; human life follows a sequenced trajectory that implicitly suggests purposefulness. Science can predict with reliable accuracy the approximate time for conception, the thereafter birth, and relative growth trends that are intruded by intervening factors. The established sequences strongly point towards a certain specific end.
Secondly, events in human are by default or intent goal oriented. Such coalesced goals could reproduce an ultimate certainty at the apex of being hence a second evidence of purpose in being. It is therefore important to discover that your being has a purpose. I have
severally posited that humanity’s purpose is to achieve implicit perfection; which if considered, greatly, it is just a higher and pure form of excellence.
This view is informed by thought and advanced by Aristotle’s and Plato’s depiction of a teleological cosmos in which all things have a final purpose, realization of their implicit perfection. It is good to admire the success around us. However in admiring this success, we should never loose the thought of our individual distinction from the masses. We should never loose the thought that we can reach altogether new heights in achievement.
A winning attitude respects we that we are. It accepts that we shall never be other people. It assimilates self acceptance which is key in discovering our uniqueness and untapped potential. Accepting our uniqueness is a sacred act of worship, an appreciation to the intentions of the heavens. We therefore have to strive to get the best of ourselves. Other people’s success can provide motivation, but it should not be the scale on which we gauge the extent of our potential. Such a comparison robs us our potential. Worse still, it
could make us start looking in our lives things we shall never find there.
In respecting one’s individual distinction, one should not confuse this with notions of negative individualism or arrogance. This does not imply that we should live like islands. In any case, humanity is like a tree, individual people are like leaves of that tree. Each leaf on its own cannot make a tree to grow, but their collective efforts create a stem that withstands storms and squalls. Each leaf has its position, they never overlap or shadow each other, and they get sunshine from the same sun but never fight for the same.
This tree analogy should impart a sense that as we strive to advance our individual selves, we should avoid negative competition. It equally shows that a stable society can be achieved if we pool our efforts. In our individual capacities, it is necessary that we should stretch out our arms to pull our colleagues up the ladder. The more stable all of us are, the more serenity we achieve in life.
We see things not as they are, but as we are
Another essential aspect of a positive attitude is self perception: The way we see ourselves, greatly impart on the performance in our lives and influences the actions we take. This perception includes the way we see our physique, interaction abilities, external circumstances and our view of the inner abilities we posses.
Evidence links positive perception to higher self esteem and faster social progress. Since our lives are intertwined with those around us, it means that there comes a time when what they say weigh heavily upon us. Their perceptions in such times could alter the perception we have of ourselves.
In many cases, the world doubts us. People who support us build storms on our paths. Their doubts would always appear legitimate and sound based on circumstance and evidence. We should always hear them. One should hear the case the world has against them since this could source information relevant for our own analysis.
However, negative words should never be allowed to water our resolves down. Wrong beliefs by people should never drain ones positive energies. A time, these negative assertions serve to amplify our achievements. It gives a bigger relief, when agnostics are disapproved, and it provides an even bigger platform to impact a larger society.
One should learn to see themselves through proud eyes. Eyes that give us reasons to love ourselves, to work for the best, to strive and better our present, the eyes that reveal to us our uniqueness; eyes that know our distinction from the masses. We should see ourselves through proud eyes, eyes that urge us to enhance our struggles and increase the purpose of our being. We should never be convinced that we are not able; we should never be convinced that we can become wretches, EVEN IF THIS IS WHAT THE
ENTIRE WORLD BELIEVES.
If we fall, it does not mean we are done, it only means that we might have veered off the main lane, but we can always arise, we can always dust the past from our story, we can always create a whole new today and a better tomorrow.
If we learn to see ourselves through our own eyes, then we shall know that limits are set by the world, but in our hearts and souls, there lies a deeper conviction, an insatiable hunger, and a nagging urge to transcend all obstacles, to conquer our worries and to exceed the limits that our fears may wish to set. Our eyes know us better. They can explore the hidden secretes in our hearts, they know our weaknesses and our might, they can see clearly into our dreams and passions. Those are the eyes through which you should always see yourself.
The value we assign ourselves is the central stimulant to our abilities. This is purely personal; however, the environment could influence it minimally.
· A positive attitude defines Darkness well:
Life is characteristic of lack and want. Even though these are not pleasant attributes it is this dark side that actually defines life, the loathed side of life gives substance to the very life.
Darkness reveals to us the worth of light, poverty shows the value of wealth and
failure shows the need for success. These unpleasant sides of life are actually
what constitute the bulk and subsequently shape life.
It is true that one develops a greater drive to pursue their dreams when they know
what makes them sad. We realize the worth of what we value by encountering
what we hate. This is the interpretation that attends to a winning mind in their
The world is sometimes frustrating. When we need our strength most, time offers us weakness, when we need good health, season offers us illness. It reaches a time, when our prayers bounce of the skies, when our sincerest of all wishes fail to pass. Why would it appear that the best things in life fail, or come to an end rather quickly? Why would it be that the clearest of our dreams get blurred in the uncertainties of this world?
I would like you to take time and imagine this world. A world where there are no tears. A world where we wake up to a morning symphony of joyous laughter as opposed to the hues of desperation we are accustomed to. A morning where the sun breaks in abundance and we have no reason to go and seek daily provisions. Where our wishes come to be in a click of a moment. A morning where I would become a lawyer without dragging my tired body through the intricacies of books, where if a cancer is detected in my brain it melts away at my wish. Imagine this.
To me, this would be a fathomless desert. There would be no event in life, no substance of struggle, no taste of a sweat, no feeling of a Victory. The world would be an unadventurous trail of tradition, where there are no ills to surmount or no hills to overcome. It would be a plain, with no fears and an no anxieties.
These dark aspects of life shape its substance. When you wake up and your computer fails, and you have to format all the data you cherish, and reinstall an operating system, the data is lost, but you achieve one thing, the Knowledge that even if my computer fails, I can still live on. If you visit your doctor for a routine Check, and he tells you he has seen a dent on your heart, your fears of losing a life abound, but you achieve to realize one thing, that even with a dent on your heart, the sun does not fail to rise. If you wake up, and the country’s leadership is in a mess, and you think your state is the worst in the world, time is but offering you a chance to be the change you want.
Life makes the glory of light less obvious, because unless we meet darkness, we risk taking light for granted. Life affords us tears because it is when our eyes are dried, that we appreciate the comfort of love, joy and peace. We are afforded trials, because surmounting a trial sweetens Victory. Nowhere in the world, has calm resided with profoundness than in the ports of storms. I mean we understand the peculiarity of calm when we have faced storms. We appreciate the value of shelter when we get drenched in the rains of trouble.
God in his greatness has given you the gift of autonomous thinking, this only means, that holding our thoughts in liberty is the most sacred Act of worship we can give the heavens. And in his graciousness, He allows you to create yourself with your thoughts. Even if circumstances chain you, liberate your mind; behold success and success you will become. When you are chained by fears of uncertainty, liberate your conscience and allow it to take strength in conviction. Be brave and pursue your desires, through the fears of failure and the impediments of lack.
The Glory of success is amplified by how difficult it was to reach it
· As earlier indicated, a positive attitude appreciates someone’s right to dream.
The emphasis on one’s ability to dream is based on the fact that we must have an ideal end that will guide our real efforts.
A good dream should be quantifiable in measure and time; it should be proportionate to our sincere ability. This description encapsulates the popular maxim where a dream should be SMART.
We should be wary of endorsing this blanket description, in as much as it captures the objective truth; we have to distill the sense of ambiguity it possesses. Of significant concern is the phrase Attainable. It has frequently surfaced in my discussion with students and employees of institutions asking how one can discern whether a dream is attainable.
It risks being construed as, ‘What you plan to do should have been done by another person successfully.” This is an awkward presupposition. If we were to live in such a world, then life would be devoid of progress. The only way to know whether a dream is attainable is to premise it against our sincere ability.
In defining ability, one should avoid overemphasis on means, material affluence, age and social position. One should try to limit the bulk of consideration themselves to internal motivation, which I shall equate to conviction. Let us emphasize the need of specificity in a dream. In itself, this is a controversial concept. Being specific assumes certain knowledge of the future.
Concepts of fate and destiny could be floated to counter any proposition that a human being can be certain about tomorrow. Definitely, this is not a philosophical ground upon which I may engage in such a debate. The question I should answer and which I will, Can someone be certain about a dream?
The answer is a resounding yes?
We shall proceed by first determining how one should set their dreams. A few considerations are imperative:
· Consider your passions
· Objectively be sincere with your ability
· Consider your personality
Passions are the things one does without much effort and enthusiastically. Parental guidance is critical in pointing out passions. A parent should however never patronize when it comes to passions. Parents are always in perfect knowledge of the child’s ability. Their guidance should be honest to this ability and not wishing that their desires can be expressly manifested in a child’s life.
Objective sincerity as earlier indicated is the internal motivation as weighed against the practicability of a dream. Emphasis is on the fact that this evaluation is an individual task in as much as you should consider external opinion. This is since the Value we ourselves assign ourselves determines what we become. It is the central stimulant to our abilities.
The value we give ourselves risks being modified by our environment. This is a risk we should guard against if the environment is discouraging and consider if the environment is challenging. Our environment conditions our being in a way. The underlying values and assumptions of a setting inculcate particular beliefs in those cultured there. These assumptions can easily be considered when interpreting situations or setting goals and ambitions.
For instance, growing up in western Kenya where I only saw a plane in the air, and every such buzz drove me out of the house to catch a glimpse of the miracle; I had set boarding a plane as an ultimate life goal. The scenario is a bit different with a child around JKIA who sees a plane as a means of transport. Whenever therefore, you are setting a dream, you should guard against these assumptions.
If one follows this criterion when setting a dream, it is attainable by all measures. This is irrespective of whether no one on earth has ever attempted the same.
· The last aspect of positive attitude is, it should enable one never to be surprised by their actions: Is there at any time when we get results of our actions and we appear genuinely surprised?
The reality is that no human action is spontaneous. Not even the actions that carry with them the most ugly of all consequences. Our actions are always consistent with in built beliefs and convictions. If we guard against being surprised with ourselves, we then develop a sense of taking responsibility for events that occur in our lives. We stop looking for justification of the failures we encounter and the follies we involve ourselves in.
We understand with more certainty that our lives are our responsibilities. To avoid self surprise, one has to engage in enormous self interaction. This interaction should reveal to us the real people we are. It should reveal our strengths, our weaknesses, our values, and even our moral propensities. These are the inbuilt true reflectors of our personality and more than often are revealed through our actions.
When we engage with ourselves, we appreciate our weaknesses; this is a central step in overcoming them or guarding against them.
…Time is the most important of all resources, for without it, the value of power, energy, money and brain is invalidated. To show the fairness of God, it is given to all men in equal measure. And when evaluation occurs, the differences that arise show how well each of us managed this invaluable resource. Man has frequently said that time wasted can never be recovered, he may have been true, but reading my Bible, God promises that years eaten by locusts will be restored, so we may be unable to recover time, but we can restore it, to me there is no difference in the two words. Only change of intention is necessary…
Understand the Dynamics of Time
Time is a resource that has some characteristic that are not similar to other resources. Such include its availability to everyone in equal, certain and open measure.
Just like all other resources, it is limited and therefore needs prudent budgeting. It equally has a unique quality that even if not used, it gets depleted at a steady rate. Time determines seasons, events and relevance of actions. Within a particular season, a set of events will occur and some actions are relevant within those confines. When time passes, seasons change and some actions are rendered irrelevant by that very fact.
For example, when a student joins college, they will make friends, they will experience diversity, may date several people from different backgrounds. Here there is interplay of maturity with teenage vigor and pressures. Some of these actions, though must be
undertaken with keenness, are justified by the season of college schooling.
When a child is aged five, they are justified by pronouncements of time to play hide and seek and disorient chair arrangement in the house. What if a 24 year Old newly employed, starts disorienting chair arrangement in the office playing hide and seek? It becomes a social misfortune. We are therefore supposed to take relevant actions, within relevant precincts of time and within the right season. This should always be an actuality close to the heart.
Budgeting for time, just like any other budget is a venture that needs great discipline. Many people do not budget for their time and are spendthrifts. Just like monetary spendthrifts cannot accumulate much savings, time spendthrifts lack duration to attend to
crucial callings of their lives. The second category of people is that which budget but lack the discipline of adhering to the schedule. They get the compulsion to drift from the main program either to satisfy their resurgent urges or simply fail to give the schedule any consideration.
The drift could equally be occasioned by a non premeditated scare. Sometimes we schedule our lives but means fail us. A fast restructure should be undertaken and we should not be left self-indulgent just because of a single abortion of
plan. Time should be prudently budgeted for, and there should be sufficient self discipline to adhere to the schedule as budgeted.
For a student, the following guidelines are necessary when budgeting for your time, or simply put, when making a personal timetable.
· Your Ideal Study time
· Load of study
· Available time
· The conventional Rules of an institution (Say when in High school).
IDEAL STUDY TIME:
I experienced a great deal of problems in my High school. This was contributed by the fact that the best time for my studies fell out of the conventional order. In an institutional set up, you are definitely supposed to adhere to the set schedules for purposes of order. There are students who admit information at different times. Some during Morning preps, some during evening preps and some are nocturnal, preferring to study in the seclusion of the darkness.
One should understand the best time for their studies, at such times; they should then budget to maximally use the time. The ideal study time should be the period that leaves one without fatigue. A student should be able to amply study for a reasonable period of time without being exhausted since this exhaustion could impact negatively on ones study during the normal lesson time.
This usually is the number of topics one should effectively handle, and the concepts one should effectively comprehend. Many confuse this with the number of subjects; the fact is that what is tested is not physics, but concepts in physics. There are a varied numbers of topics in the various disciplines; Biology for instance has among the fewest of topic, whereas physics has amongst the highest number of topics.
We must therefore analyze these topics and prudently budget without over concentrating on physics and neglecting Biology. The study load reduces as we proceed comprehending the various concepts and in many cases we may discover that we finish studying physics before Biology.
Students know the effective time available for studies. This should be arrived at upon respecting, breaks, and time for other co-curricular activities. In High school it is rather easy to plan for your time since these other events are already determined. In college life for example, a student is expected to fully plan for themselves. This incorporates a bigger circle of increased responsibility and social circle. Budgeting in such spheres would require even a bigger sense of responsibility.
All institutions at some point have rules governing time use. A student should try to align themselves with such rules. These rules are not a form of unwelcome restraint, but are necessary since in any communal set up, there ought to be some form of consistency in
operations for the sake of social order. A student should always try to give consideration to the above when forming personal
My insistence on a personal timetable is motivated by knowledge the academics is not an activity in seclusion. School is not an ICU limited to patient care; it is a place that gives an individual a life time chance of integration and holistic progression. A student should therefore make a comprehensive time budget, both academic and supplementary activities like socializing, prayer and related activities should be factored in.
1900hrs-2000hrs- Humanities that require bulk reading e.g. Geography, (The brain
is relatively active after resting and can maximally absorb bulky literature.)
2000hrs-2005hrs- Reflective change over
2005hrs-2105hrs- A Language e.g. Kiswahili
2105hrs-2110hrs- Reflective change over
2110-2200- Mathematics/science, something that requires active reading like
physics. (Disciplines that require bulk reading should be avoided at such a time since
there are signs of exhaustion and an individual is susceptible to passive reading. A
discipline like mathematics involves active participation; and will enable one to remain
The 5 minutes reflective breaks enable us to change over without interruption.
0500-0600- BIOLOGY/CHEMISTRY/PHYSICS- A science or a discipline requiring
Avoid successive taxing of the brain for instance:
All the above disciplines require intense brain indulgence and one could either get fatigued, fail to maximally comprehend or be tempted to discard the timetable to seek relief.
In time allocation, one should ensure that no subject is under considered. This is since we need virtually all the subjects to secure our future. We have very many bright candidates who get A’S in sciences but fail to secure a meaningful grade in Kiswahili. This lowers their aggregate rankings and they fail to secure the desired courses in institutions of higher learning. We should therefore learn to
give equal or near equal attention to all subjects through proportionate allocation.
Proportionate Allocation is a technique of weighting concepts or topics against available time and sincere ability.
~I have many times seen beautiful flowers in gardens as well as adorable lilies in bushes
In preceding discussions, we implied that the environment we live in avails several risks that we should guard against. This segment of the discussion targets discussing the various circumstantial set ups and how we can exploit them to our benefit. The scenarios herein shown can be used in an inferential meditation and amplified to resemble any circumstance. Indeed, the central point is, even if the circumstance is grave, accord it a positive interpretation. Always maintain the all-will-be-well, all-is well, allcan-be-well belief.
The essentials in managing circumstances are:
· According appropriate interpretation
· Involving appropriate action.
Let us consider the first essentiality.
According circumstances appropriate Interpretation
Consider these two sons born to a drunkard father. They watch as family assets are depleted due to their father’s alcoholism. Their parents’ marital canoe docks on stones greatly and is always in high seas. As they grow up, their school fee is always a problem. The two could choose to give these circumstances totally different interpretations.
SON A: My father is a drunkard, so what if I drink? As he progresses in life, he will clearly batter his wife; subject his children to lack of school fees and waste minimal resources on the drink. His justification will always be his background. How many times have we heard parents telling their children who are asking to go to school: I was never educated but am I dead?
SON B: My father is a drunkard, I therefore lack school fees and have seen my mother severally beaten up. I will never drink, I will never allow my son to see me beat his mother, and I will never allow my child to lack school fees. As he progresses in life, his experiences, though negative, will always be a positive motivation for him to work hard and satisfy his convictions. The lives of these two people will take different trajectories yet they were motivated by the same circumstances.
A brigadier with the SPLM of southern Sudan once lived in the UK. At that point in time, the construction of a cathedral that would become one of the largest cathedral in the world was underway in London. (Liverpool Cathedral, completed in 1978- is the Europe’s largest Church)
The Brigadier took a walk to the construction site. As he arrived, an intern journalist began interviewing the masons who were on the site. What are you doing? She enquired. The first mason wiped a drop of sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand and began: I have been chopping these stones since morning, I am tired of this.
With that, he dropped his tools and left.
The intern moved to the second mason. What are you doing? She enquired. The mason looked at her with a glow in his eyes and replied: we are constructing the largest cathedral in the world. With that, he cheerfully bent back to his duties.
This episode would give the Brigadier the confidence to come back to southern Sudan and fight for the freedom of his people.
The two masons were under a single motivation, but totally different outlooks and satisfaction. These are illustration of according an appropriate interpretation to a circumstance. We are born in different families. Some are born in affluent or middle class families. They are furnished with resources, adequate diet, surplus money and gadgetry provisions. Such can access adequate funding to good schools, adequate text books, stuffed libraries and adequate pocket money.
These provisions a times become our failings. We stop appreciating the fact that they are privileges we should be eternally grateful for having them. Sometimes they motivate us to the negative, facilitate our indulgence in drug abuse or other forms of criminalities. Some fail to work hard believing that they are entitled to work in their father’s company or family business. This may be true, but clearly, there would be a bigger difference if we worked hard and created a second company.
Our families would boast of a greater empire and we would be proud of ourselves that we made a mark distinct from that of our parents. These are resources that we could exploit to further ourselves. Access to best education should imply that I set my life priorities even higher. My target echelon should transcend normalcy since God has afforded me the means.
Affluence and availability of resources is not at any point a cushion against smart work. I believe one should pride themselves for personal gains. A supportive environment should serve to raise the bar of our ambitions. We should aim beyond what the various players have achieved. We should target to set an altogether new level of achievement. This is the only way that we can guarantee sustainable progress; building on the available, not targeting to consume the same. Building on the available gives us a chance
to be proud of higher peaks that have our effort mark.
On the other extreme, there are those born in abject poverty, dens of desperation and orphaned at birth or later in lives. There are those who were abandoned on the streets or our parents were brutally murdered before our own eyes. Such circumstances create a bigger desert that we should cross. Often characterized by poor schooling, limited or no resources, persons of such backgrounds could succumb to the temptation of being failures. They would always justify this on the basis of their background.
I am in person an example of such an individual. I was born to an able father, but my parents separated the day I was born. It goes without pointing out that I moved with my mother to a village in Busia.
At that point my mother was unemployed. She had the grueling responsibility of taking care of my brother and me. My brother then was epileptic, an added concern to the already full basket of problems. This was in April 1990. Heavy equatorial rainfall poured heavily from the skies. The grass thatched house that was my mother’s cherished abode leaked. Having fallen out with dad, mum was not in good books with my grand mother and she in consequence had to stomach dual rejection.
Unable to stomach endless feuds between my mother and granny coupled by demands of custom, grandpa opted to have mom move out of the main homestead to the rear end of his vast farm. This was the best gift mum had received in a life time. It secluded her from perpetual turmoil and provided her with a unique intimacy with nature. From this, she drew the quietude her soul so needed.
Mum began burning charcoal to see us grow. The bordering forest equally served as my center for refuge when I was threatened by a cane for the little childish idiocies I so lovingly engaged in. One day, I got a photo of mum when she was young, around 17. Her feminine physique crowned by a teenage glow created a bundle of gorgeousness. I must understand why she claims dad threatened to camp at her place forever if ever they denied him her hand in marriage.
The portrait was a contrast of her current self, a shrunken and uncertain woman. Where did your flesh go to? (A direct translation of the native language)
She looked at me with a glow in her eyes and mused: I left it on tree stumps. Indeed she had; cutting down trees to burn charcoal to support us. I began schooling at age four, walking barefoot four kilometers to the nearest school. It was not a school as such. A church building that was conveniently converted into a class during week days.
Tiny in stature, I performed averagely and qualified to join class one at age five at least academically. Emphasis however was never on academics but rather on one’s tallness.
On the day of promotion, I was asked to pass the left hand, over the head to touch the right ear. I was unable, that meant I had to take another year in nursery school. Through this, I achieved something similar to what my peers in urban set ups did; spending two or three years before joining primary school.
The emphasis on the physical strength was for the good of the child. Joining class one meant you had to walk a cool seven kilometers bare foot, bracing the morning nippiness with a looming shadow a Mwalimu, cane in the hand, to straighten the crookedness of
those who arrived late. The next year I could still not touch the other tip of my ear but was nevertheless allowed to proceed. I had established myself as the de facto elder of the school, administering chastisement to pupils whenever the teacher was not around.
Disturbed by irate parents questioning the motive of the class monitor in disciplining their children, the teacher “madam” as we fondly referred to her was more than willing to let me go. At this time mother was desperate. My brother’s condition had improved, but raising the means to see us school proved rather arduous. I fondly remember the day before I joined primary school. It was calm a Sunday. The western Kenya heat gently called sweat off the pores on my temple. I was behind grandpa, in tiny strides following him to the market center.
We reached the market center; grandpa bought me a khaki pair of shorts and a relatively oversize green shirt. It was always necessary to ensure the clothes were not fitting; they had to be oversize since the child was growing. The two became my most prized possession. I would use them when going to the Sunday school and when visiting my maternal grandma an hour drive distance from home, but
then a walking distance.
I began schooling. A custom life it was. Early to school, back home, no food, and again the bush with its natural bequest came in handy.
All along I used to call grandpa daddy. In 1998, when I was in class three, I came to understand that the guy who actually drove to my grandma’s place almost each month was my father.
It was a truth that I could not comprehend speedily. In my confusion, I was more than willing to accept that indeed he was my father. This was motivated in twofold. Firstly, I took pride in knowing that my dad was successful. He was the second son of the clan to own a vehicle, he lived in a big town far away and fables abound in the village at how fast he drove his car. These were heroic tales that I found a novel satisfaction knowing that I was associated to them in one way or the other.
The second reason was simple, as a child I wished to have a father and the possibility that I had one was openly welcome. I encountered him in an unpleasant way, a memory that would be implanted on my mind up to more than a decade after his passing on. Mom had gone to visit her family. In the evening I heard an unusual knock on the door. I woke up my brother who went to open the door. A man entered the house with a bundle in his hands, he greeted us warmly, but my brother was frightened. Attuned to picking my knowledge of things from my brother, I developed an impression that the guy was not good.
I asked my brother who the person was. He gave a stern: Dad, no more discussions! The house was ransacked the whole night. I could not place my mind on what he was looking for. He left in the morning. Mom came back and she was evidently embittered when she saw two new blankets lying on her bed. She wanted to burn them, but then changed her mind.
Dad came back in the evening. There was an obvious stress in their relationship. I was young, almost a kid but I could feel it because mom began singing. Whenever mom sang in that tone, you were expected to know that things were not good and you would be
advised to keep your distance or at least be good. Dad called the two of us and asked about school. I went back to the kitchen almost immediately and left my brother under a terrible sound outing. When the meal was ready, we ate in the kitchen. I could not ask why because mom had been singing, I perfectly knew what it heralded.
We retired to bed early. There was no paraffin. The house was exceedingly dark and the grave stillness that ensued made the dusk darker. Then I began to hear mummers from the sitting room. Gradually the mummers translated into a loud exchange before a loud bang calmed the dusky panorama. I thought mum had been hit and I had a responsibility of protecting her. I knew mother; she could never keep quiet if brazened out unfairly and worse within her territory. I got out of bed into the sitting room.
Dad noticed a movement and came to me. What do you want? He enquired. I was silent. He unleashed a belt from his waist and struck. Normally, I would run away to the safety of under my bed. I did not. All I felt was not pain from the whack, I felt a purge of bitterness, and one fact was so certain to me, I hated this man. As I curled back to my bed, a withdrawal from any bond with my biological father
transpired. At that tender age, I became a prisoner, a prisoner of bitterness and an inclination for vengeance.
Mother noticed this. She was careful to make me know that dad never hated me. There was no need to hate him, he was my father. Under an innocent look, always smiling, I resolved to work against the wishes of my father. How could he? He had never touched me, I had never experienced a father’s pat on the back, no kiss, no peck; I knew that my pair of shorts were torn yet he drove. Yet all he
could afford was to whack me with a leather belt.
This loathing meant I began to pay closer attention to anything about him. I learnt from the anecdotes that he was substantially rich, I resolved to surpass his affluence. He was a disciplinarian, I resolved to be rebellious. It would give me enormous relief when I did
something wrong. I could patiently take my punishment, down in my heart content with the fact that I had offended his values.
In November 1999, I was affected by Rheumatoid arthritis. I began limping, living in excruciating pain every moment. Mother took me to hospital and the pain never lessened. At that point, an uncle decided he would take me to my father’s place in Kisumu. When I reached Kisumu, dad was never aware that we were coming. We found him dressed in a white T-shirt on it imprinted a large, KENYA ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION FORUM. I remember the look on his face, forlorn and indifferent.
Then there was a gradual smile and he told uncle: Karibu bwana. Unlike my previous encounters with this man, something had really changed. He was distant and struggling to be himself. He was no longer threatening, no longer was his presence menacing. I was convinced dad was undergoing a transformation or a preparation, the latter proved true. Dad drove me back home. I was nervous. A ride with dad I dubbed it. Through the streets of Kisumu we were silent. No single word was exchanged. Then he looked at me as though reading the concerns in my head. He smiled. I smiled back uneasily.
“Daddy he called me,” that was my pet name since I had been named after his father, “do you actually know that I love you?” These words ignited a strange glow within me. I kept quiet, not because I doubted him, but because the longing to one day hear these words from the man that brought me to this world had exhausted my hope of ever hearing them.
He continued oblivious of my silence: “I know you doubt me. I have always appeared like I do not care about you people. I do care, but I can never explain this to you. When you grow up and become a man, you will one day probably understand that it was never my desire to leave you people: And when you do, please forgive me.” At nine, I knew dad meant what he was saying. I could not comprehend it. But a nine year old seeing tears well in his iconic father’s eyes meant something altogether. He promised to change my school the next year.
He proudly looked at me and said he was proud at how smart I was. Nothing has ever motivated my life like the glow I saw that day in my father’s eyes. My conversation with dad was in English. A village pupil in standard three able to speak English was unimaginable. I was substantially fluent anyway. By standard four I began translating for the pastor in church summons. I had come to develop a passion for English when I saw a black reverend, Amos, of the Anglican Church translate for visiting American pastor. It awed me to see an African command such near native mastery of the big language.
Since then, I began listening to the KBC general service the National Radio that aired its news in English. I burnt charcoal and bought my first radio; a tiny black SANYO case that needed constant pestering to be heard. The strategy was I needed two radios during news time; one would broadcast in Kiswahili and the other in English. This could help me to understand phrases I could not understand since the KBC general service news was but a translated version of the Kiswahili news.
My mother’s Good News Bible and an old dictionary came in as handy supplements to my quest for knowledge. I have come to literally idolize this childhood passion. I later approached the vicar, a cousin, and asked to be allowed to translate in church; he was at first appalled before accepting. The next Sunday, I struggled through the entire summon, on that Sunday I learnt ‘explosion’ meant mlipuko.
When we were about to reach home, dad stopped the car and looked at me then asked, “If I turned now and slapped you, what would you think?” “You hate me.” I replied with relaxed ease. No my son. You should assume that I had seen the secrete mistake you did and so I was punishing you for that. I was never to understand what he meant until a decade later when I was on the verge of
collapsing from bitterness.
He gave me nine shillings; all of them new coins, looked at me and said: son, even if I die without talking to you again just remember: dad always loved you. I believed him. And I never spoke to him again. The next year in November he passed on. That day I had gone to the river for a swim that traditionally attracted spanks and rants from mom, as I crept back home, I saw the compound full of people. Mom sat at the door of the house weeping.
I would later be told dad had died after demanding to know who had beaten up mom. She cried her throat horse. I can never write what she was saying for she would kill me for eavesdropping. It was a blend of poetically knitted love phrases, lamenting a lost love with mastery that exceeded the Shakespearean weave. I must concede I was taken aback. Who could contemplate that behind the tough face that I was accustomed to lay a soft spot mourning love that would never be. I could see tears freeing her. Her face now wore a radiance I had never seen; possibly an acceptance that itwould never be; that the elusive reconciliation was just that, elusive.
The ninth day of the month of November dad’s body was brought home. A procession of several vehicles curved itself on the village paths as enthusiastic villagers muttered at their son’s ostensible prominence. Granny wept. To her a sun had been plucked off her world. I suppose she could behold a whole lifetime of darkness, loneliness and diminished pride.
Three days later, as I saw dad’s body lowered into his grave something snapped in me. I remembered his last words. Indeed I would never hear from him again. It appeared like a big stone had hit me. The love I had began to feel, the warmth I had anticipated, yet his words were rather loud in my ears: even when I die without talking to you, remember dad loved you.
Everything became irrelevant, strangely as the casket was lowered, tears of bitterness welled in me, I wailed, I hated dad. My earlier resolve to hurt his memories become vivid again. I resolved to hurt him. Never to let him rest in peace, after all he had denied me a chance with a father. I could sneak by his grave and talk to him. I always had the feeling that he was hearing me. I would do things he always hated, just to get back at him, just to make him feel sorry for the love he denied me.
I resemble dad in form, I often felt him within me when I smiled. My granny worsened the situation when she once said that she always sees her son in my smile. I discarded a smile and wore a knitted brow, a feature prominent on my face even today. I wore the forlorn look since my smile always reminded me of the man I desperately wanted to never have known.
…oh, what peace we often we forfeit
…oh, what needless pain we bear…
~Hymn 64, Golden bells~
My battle with the grave was not without consequences. A rebellious,
openly unpredictable teenager replaced the all submissive son mum had
known. I did awkward follies in secrete, took time to sit on top of my dad’s
grave and talk to him about it.
His spirit must have been aggrieved, I began having nightmares. I had physical scuffles with him. I dreamt of him pulling me towards his grave for punishment. I dreamt of him forcing me to eat raw cadavers.
In my dreams mom always came to my rescue. I would wake up panting but I never
shared this with anyone. I could never share it with anyone. I became a virtual slave, enslaved by hate, in contest with the underworld, fighting to prove that my history was unfair.
Three years passed on. My battle with the grave continued. By day, my health worsened, I got paralyzed more often, lost my temper at the slightest provocation, began petty filch and established an air of withdrawal from the normal stream. At around this point, my elder brother had completed high school and was back at home. A strict martinet cultured by a near brutal father, he unleashed a battle of correction at home. I found myself confined on a table working out sums. As always I resolved to do the contrary of expectations. This led to unprecedented feuds.
I escaped home. On my transit to seek refuge at an uncle’s place, I stopped at a relations place. The relationship is rather extended that my reader would be rather content knowing she was a granny. The African culture has this way of creating refuge for its prone members. The spheres of relations are widened giving us a bigger ground to seek comfort when the rains begin to beat us. She talked to me about how dad had confided in her about me. He had revealed how he wanted to change my school but was uncertain on whether he could sustain me through schooling.
I got into reality with another strange fact. Dad loved mum. He had confessed his willingness and wish that he be reconciled to her. I guess he would never bring himself to face mom. My mother is an iron lady; a woman of steady gait, decorum and principle.
She has a piercing gaze that stopped all deceit in my lips at any attempt. I guess dad had respected her, and the respect turned into a fear. I changed school and began studying at my maternal granny’s place; Namanze Roman Catholic Primary Education. The decision to change school was purely mine. My mother however bore the brunt of my paternal uncles accusing her of trading their son. I believed change of school would do me good. My grades had plummeted and I was becoming rather frightened by the nearness of my dad’s sepulcher.
Though I still maintained position one in class, I knew I had a bigger battle that could only be won only if I quit the fighting ground.
When you make a mistake, don’t look at it long, take the reason of the thing into your mind and then look forward. Mistakes are lessons of wisdom; the past cannot be changed; but the future is yet in your power; just remember, mistakes are lessons
~a colleague at Equity Bank via Email~
Mum never knew the reason for my decision to change school. I guess she will know when she reads this and forgive me. I went to the primary school myself when it was apparent that no one would help me until mum gave them express indulgence. When I went home to inform mum of my decision I had an admission letter in my hands. I had bought my school uniform from the ample reservoir of cash I had. She could not object?
Though there was no super junior affair, we always engaged in saving for a Christmas treat. But to be honest I have never celebrated a Christmas; hope I can celebrate this coming one. Today by the way is on 21st, just four days shy of the main day. I secretly had been nursing an ambition of being the top pupil in KCPE. I had heard the top pupil of I guess 1997, that election year, give his speech and had since been practicing on my own. Many times I could talk to myself, something I do even today.
The best part about the ability to talk to oneself is that one can keep themselves company. I never shared my dream with anybody; it would appear a far fetched whimsy. I however kept hold onto it; believing that one day it would come to be. This dream never died or became indistinct even in the worst of my times. Even in my battle with the grave, I kept secrete knowledge that my pride would come from education.
I never actually knew what to do to be the best. One thing was however clear, one had to read, probably read big books and read hard. That is what I always used to do; frequently getting into trouble with teachers about my explanations. Early in class eight I began buying Sunday Nation newspaper. I could sneak from my uncle’s place at night to help grind sugar cane at a nearby molasses center in a neighbor’s place. Always disguised like the Shakespearean subterfuges just incase I met someone who could leak the zealously guarded secrete.
At the end of a week, I would have obtained a reasonable sum that enabled me by the newspaper. I read the paper, not for the news, but for well constructed sentences that I carefully copied into my collection book. When writing composition, I deliberately created a story that could accommodate these phrases. A class eight composition with phrases, persona non grata, fait accompli or …the perpetual sycophancy of the political elite…, got meseveral warnings from my rather impatient teachers.
A month before the national examinations I fell ill. Hospitalized, I fretted over the looming possibility that my dreams of joining Starehe Boys Center would be quashed. When I was released from the hospital, it was a week to examination. I had a justification if I failed, but in my mind I knew perfectly well that no justification could appeal to my conscience. I immersed myself into books. I gave the miniature notes I had accumulated for over eight year’s absolute trust. They held truth just like the Isaiahiac prophesies in the Bible. I read to believe them, not to understand them. As I walked that morning to my exam room, I had a conviction that I would make it; I had given the battle my all.
When results were released I stayed glued to the radio set the entire morning. The names were read, I was not among the top pupils. I was disappointed and as always I sought asylum in the tranquility of the forest. The next day I rode to my primary school. Before leaving, mom kissed my forehead: may you come back smiling son, she said. The ride to school was a hasty one. I had an urge and anxiety and angst to know what I had achieved. Many people were around the notice board, as they saw me coming they
all gave way.
This was unusual. I was index one, but I began to look at the results from the last end, by the time I had reached index two, hope had vanished. I lifted my eyes to look at my marks, English 97, Kiswahili 92, Mathematics 79, Science 85, GHCRE 79, and Total 432 out of 500. I did my jig. I had never been as happy. It was a mark less the 433 I had promised myself three years back when I was in class five.
When I arrived home, mom heard the news. She came to me running and singing. She hugged me and kissed my forehead. It was great seeing this woman that only knew misery smile, it gave me intense satisfaction, I had made mum smile; my sweat had
bought her smile. The joy soon gave way to a bitter reality; I had no one to pay my school fees. I received an offer to join the Friends School Kamusinga, a dream school. Mom did purchase the elementary requirements. She had all along been saving for this. She believed someone would be touched to pay for my school fees.
Her belief was never misplaced, a week later a Yamaha motorbike pulled outside home. It was a distant uncle. He had heard that I had passed and had secured a donor to pay my school fee. I was overwhelmed. The trust, Totoweza based in Nairobi led by the selfless Kyambi Kavali would take care of all my school fees. I gave him all the required documents, but as fortune would have it, as he rode that day to the office, the documents dropped. I could not receive the funding on time. On the reporting day however, I left for Kamusinga with a maternal Uncle. When we reached the principal’s office, the story was never accepted. The policy was the fee was to be paid.
I could never have felt more desperate. I went back home, three days later I received the bankers draft. I went back to Kamusinga again and was met by another policy; failure to report on the very day so instructed led to an automatic forfeiture of the chance. I painfully forfeited the chance. The next day frustrated, I went to the District Education Office to seek assistance. The Bungoma District Officer was not in the office, but I got his assistant. A middle aged, sure gentleman, polished in character; speech correctly seasoned with the…yes pleases…;… excuse me… and the other clichés of etiquette. I narrated my episode. He was touched and offered to take me to Kamusinga to see that the matter was resolved. As we prepared to leave, he called his boss, just to ensure he
had not breached tradition.
He was told something over the phone; I looked in surprise as he sank with disapproval back into the chair. He did not look back at me; instead, he tore a yellow paper and
Kindly help this desperate case.
He signed the paper, stamped it and handed me. Another policy I suppose. As I stepped out of his office, the gentleman called me back, he offered me Ksh 300. It was a strange relief. I had no money left and I had resolved to sell part of my school stuff to get fare back home. I boarded a Matatu to Kamusinga, as I approached the gate; a considerate gate man noticed my face. You are here again? He asked concernedly. He was on express orders not to let anyone seeking admission in. I narrated my episode.
He looked at me and remarked: I like your spirit, but here you are bound to be ignored. Go to any school, with your heart, it would be a miracle if you failed. How strange those words relieved me. They bore substance of historical proof. It was four, the sun’s rays conveying a golden tinge that suggested hope. I carried my box giving Friends school Kamusinga my back. It was painful, but light.
From afar a voice began telling me: Thank God you have excelled in your KCSE. I was indisposed to do so. The voice grew louder into a bang. I laid my box down and confessed: Thank you God, I have passed my KCSE.
The burden I had been carrying the few days went with the profession. The rage at the world waned; the reassurance prompted by the guard’s words was compelling. As I boarded a vehicle back home, the near loathing of the world had ebbed, instead, there
lay in me uncertain serenity, all would be well. I stopped at my maternal granny’s place. I carried the box to the very room that had seen me through my primary school. In my mind a clear road map had established itself. I would seek admission at the nearest school; after all, failing would be a miracle, the old guard had said.
I never told my uncle my real intentions. I knew he would doubt me; occasionally it is necessary to proceed with the actions we are convinced are okay if we have reason to believe that the world around us would doubt us. The next morning I walked to my primary school. I got the headmistress who was surprised to see me. She knew I had gone to school. She enquired; I looked at her and just nodded. She understood my anguish and reserved the many questions she might have had.
I requested her to write a letter introducing me to the head teacher of my target school. She did it. I picked the letter and thanked her. It seems she had written it all. When the head teacher read the letter, he called me into his office. I greeted him. He answered back, looked at me and asked: Are you ready to learn? His question was genuine; I knew it but still it appeared impertinently offensive. I was ready to learn, I had spent three weeks walking from office to office, begging, imploring, fancying and wishing. I was ready, ready even then.
He accepted to admit me to school without school fees. The bankers draft from Totoweza trust would be sent back for another one to be drafted. I left Khasoko Boys a happy man. I rushed back to my uncle’s place and requested him to be my guardian. I had securedadmission and was willing to report to school the very day. I had a single Kamusinga shirt which I would join school with. It was dirty and sweaty.
I washed it and hanged it on the line. As it swung, I relished the feeling; I was just hours, perhaps minutes away from school. On 25th March, the afternoon sun alight I entered the Khasoko compound. A trail from the gate was dotted with short posts painted black and white. The motto a Kiswahili phrase: Elimu ni Nguvu. I thought one day I would indeed be strong. I was directed to the office of the boarding master. The traditional questions began.
I responded to all of them. He was a bit surprised. It is tradition for the guardian to answer questions. Here, I was the custodian of knowledge on my circumstance; I knew why I had delayed, why I was in another school’s uniform. The big question then followed: School fee receipt? I have not paid, but the principle confirmed I could be admitted. Go to his office and get a written confirmation.
I went to the principal’s office.
He tore a yellow paper and wrote: Admission accepted. He stamped it and handed it over to me. As I handed the boarding master the note, a unique resemblance with the one I obtained from the DEO’S office struck me. They were all on yellow slips. Both sheets were aslant-torn. They however meant a thousand different things, one confirming my desperate state: kindly assist this desperate case and the other giving a desperate case hope, admission accepted.
Five days after my admission, end of term exams began. I was disadvantaged. This notwithstanding, I had been admitted to this school without even paying a single cent. It would amount to ingratitude if I performed ineffectually and attempted justifying the same. Equally, I had to content with a mother who took no explanations. I convinced myself that I could pull a surprise. Within the five days I was in a comfortable possession of all the notes studied. I was in an even perfect comfort in Biology; I was ahead of the class. I had stumbled on a text book at a neighbor’s place and had done four topics ahead of the class.
I believed I needed to be position one. This would appear like a dream to anybody. When the results were announced, I was position five in the entire form, but a proud position one in the stream. I had pulled the surprise, after all, failing would be a miracle,
and the old guard had told me. Mom was never amused at having been brought position five. She would never accept explanations. To her, failure was an unjustifiable choice. The shouts of our circumstances were loud, and I was being unforgivably reckless if I chose to fail. No matter the reason.
When schools resumed in May, Totoweza had send a new draft. I had been bought a pair of uniform and was like any other student. As I settled in school, memories of my father began stealing away the relative calm. I had never finished my battle with the
grave. One day, I sat on the pitch mulling over what to do, all items for personal use were over. I could not afford to send mom any request. I knew she would just cry on it. I just shouted on top of my voice: I hate you dad.
I felt he was watching me. That day as I retired to bed, I encountered him. He wanted to know why I could never understand that he loved me. He gave me meat to eat. When I woke up in I could barely lift myself. I was hospitalized and only resumed school later in third term for the end of the year examination. I had no courage to stay at home. The proximity with my underground enemy scared the strength off my body. I could not maintain a steady stream of thought or recall an issue after it had been discussed. My fears were great; I confided in mum, I was going mad.
The trend worsened. Imaginary thoughts began to haunt me. I could see a vehicle running over me, a beast chasing me, a skeleton charging at me or a feeling of being on constant watch. It was the price I had to pay for harboring hatred. I requested for change of school. I moved to Uncle’s place where unexpectedly I became prey of peer influence. I was accustomed to a life of seclusion and poverty, but here, I found myself with a whole lot of a new circle. Children from relatively well to do circles. I had to scale myself
to those levels to gain acceptance.
My performance plummeted. I knew the reason but sadly was unwilling to liberate myself from the same. As a result, constant feuds with uncle ensued. One day it was apparent we would never be reconciled again. I had lost my sponsor and this fall out simply spelt the end of my studies. Worse still, I knew I had brought it up. I contemplated suicide. I boarded a matatu in a lonely evening and went to a black spot on the Great North Road. It was a secluded bridge notorious for the many that were limbless today, or the many lives that had been cut short there.
Rwanda bound Lorries usually passed there with a break neck speed. The driver noticing my apparent disenchantment refused to let me alight at the spot. He drove me a kilometer away, I caused a scene and he bought my argument allowing me to alight. I boarded another vehicle back to the spot. This time again, the driver failed to stop in time at my intended target. As the vehicle finally stopped about 100 m away, I knew this was a test.
I was being tested if I could walk straight into my death. I was prepared to. I had gone half through the stretch when I heard the most unexpected voice, the deputy principal of my school. Felix, what are you doing here? I could not confuse the voice. It turned out that they had opted to take a stroll and had not realized that they had come this far. They took me to school and left me under the watchful eye of the captain.
A sharply saved light skinned guy. He had a convinced gait in the small body that he was. He began preaching. I was in no mood for an evening sermon, worse a sermon after my plan had aborted. He would have none of my objections. His words struck me greatly. If you died, would life stop? Would you correct the mess that made you die? He exposed to me a rare truth, dad was beyond me. He had lived his life, yet the life he lived was ruining mine. It was like allowing the person you hate to control you.
It was silly to accept a history that you had nothing to do with, haunt your present. A late discovery, my pain was irrelevant. The following week I never set foot on class. I spend my time in the field thinking. I discovered I had let go the only thing that was dear to my life: Education. I resolved to rebuild myself. I knew it would come with a price, loss of friendship and kingship. I however knew that my pride would be a perfect replacement. I had lost time, I had to bear the consequences of my actions, but I would do it. I would try, and fail having tried.
I had to recreate the confidence that my immediate world had in me. A teacher, a second mom would prove a great guide in this second rebirth. I was reappointed the Academic captain of the school, a single sign that I had not lost it all. I struggled to rediscover the beliefs and passions that had once made me. Had to reorient my priorities, give up friendship, concede my mistakes and do what an adolescent teenager would find most demeaning, accept that my escapades had been folly.
I realized that I had lost time but my dreams had never changed. There are things in human life that never change even when we drift from the trail a bit. Our passions, our desires, our inner make up never gets altered, the world should only help us remember
ourselves. I would climb back to the top of the class with relative ease, but clearly, the missed time came to haunt me with undesirable frequency. Time was elapsing at a great speed. My prefectural role equally added to the list of concerns. Time seemed keen on ensuring
that the dreams I nursed crushed. The proof of experience that surprises could be pulled bore little substance. I convinced myself, scared to let go my hopes that I could make it.
All signs pointed to the contrary. My earlier confessions resonated with great audibility, I had sworn to pass, I had promised to top the district, I had vowed to set record and the world around me was aware of this. I found myself clinging to dreams that the reality pointed they could never be achieved. I trimmed the circle of my friends. Towards the end of my third form, I met another
consuming task. I fell in love.
It goes like those fairy tales where sight carries the entire mind and soul. It was a science congress competition. I had researched on a project about therapeutic combating of Arthritis by use of bile. It was a masterpiece. Presented in pretty curves of scientific phrases adorned by bits of poetry, it was the type of a presentation that necessarily gets
a standing ovation.
I settled in the presentation room confident of carrying the day. I was not new in the game having terrorized presenters as early as in form one with intricate questions that allowed the audience to enjoy a laugh as the presenters wobbled in a murk of
confusion. The presentation began all too familiar concepts that drove no need for concern. Then came the girl: a well groomed lady with a glowing feel. Chocolate in complexion, all right in figure and with a look of; I know the game and I know how to play.
There followed an electrifying presentation. Concise demystification of science, clear cut explanation of concept, emphasis on her beauty with a repeated conscious touch of a deliberately left coil of hair at the forehead adorned the already adorable scene. When
the presentation was over, I could clearly present the project myself without looking at the script. I had understood it, understood it very well.
The judges asked for questions from the audience, no one asked. It meant she would take all the marks without contest. I could never allow it. I confidently shot up my hand as the judge’s count approached three. I got the bring-it-on look that made me a bit
unsure. How did you determine the dosage of your concoction? She seemed unaware and requested that I clear on what exactly I wanted. Looking at the question today, I discover it was as clear as it could be. In my clearing it up, I gave hint of the answer I wanted. She took it up, and wove thorough percentile considerations of concentration, the milligramage per cubic volume and what have you. Had I recorded the answer I would definitely find inconsistencies today, but as she said thank you, I was part of the crowd that stood to give the duo a standing ovation.
The next presentation was mine. I wove through the heavy concepts with admirable ease; no one asked us questions except her. I answered it. I left the podium with a standing ovation. I got glimpse of the results before the rest. She had won and I was second. I went to look for her. She was surprised, this contest yielded genuine rivalry and she did no expect me.
I asked her aside. She reluctantly agreed.
I came to congratulate you, I have been informed that you are position one.
She was happy. I know I stole your victory: she confessed.
Did you lie about the dosage?
Yes I did. In fact, you gave me the answer.
I said goodbye. I had seen her smile and liked it.
In the evening as I boarded the school bus, I felt a soft pat on the back. I turned, it was
Lynne*. She appeared nervous.
I came to say goodbye; she said unsurely.
Thanks, I replied.
Okay, good bye then.
Oh, and can we be friends?
How, you stole my victory.
That is exactly why, I feel guilty.
We exchanged phone numbers, and exchanged surprise hugs.
As I left for school, I knew I had left a second part of me behind. I was in love. It was great. It felt good. I could draw the road of my life, and it beautifully curved into the arms of this stranger. An okay feeling it was.
We did not communicate for a month. I then wrote a letter when school mates were visiting their school. I could not attend as the National public speaking competition was on and I would represent the province. The letter had my now mature weave, a Bindra touch, a Hart phrase and what have you. A creation of sincere love, words oozed out of the heart and the hand willingly placed them on paper.
As I read the letter a second time, just to ensure that it had no gaps I was certain, it would touch my stranger. I never got a reply when they came back. A week later I got a white envelop in my locker desk. I could never tell who placed it
It was relieving to know you still remember me, and that letter, it is what I wanted.
Sweet dreams if you read this in the evening.
N/b I instructed you get this after a week, hope it be so.
This was torturing. I desperately needed to hear more than this from her. She had left a lot unsaid. However, within the two lines, I read a love novel complete with a foreword and a glossary.
She became the whisper that lulled my self into deep slumber in the evening, and a thought that brought light to my heart before the sun to the eyes in the morning. We communicated, met, laughed and ate popcorn. There was no formal relationship. No mention of love, perhaps it was too obvious to mention it. A particular evening though, I got the tin- ting, ting-ting alert on my brother’s phone when I sneaked in it my subscriber card.
I love you, I love you, I love you
I don’t know why saying this has been really hard, but I am glad that I said it.
I lost sight of everything. All that had been important became second. I would beautifully consume thirty minutes without knowledge gazing at her elegant photo. She would call school like my sister and we would talk. I sneaked out of school to meet her. She was through with high school and I could not wait to join her. As expected, my performance plummeted: as the dream love blossomed into a full blown passion demanding attention. Then the unexpected occurred. It was a two days to the District mock. I had spent my entire afternoon revising. I was badly struggling to balance between studies and romance.
As I slipped my sim card into a borrowed handset, the all familiar ting-ting, ting-ting alert rung. The originator of the message was Lynne. I hurried to read it.
For love, I choose to say thanks for all we have had, but I must go. I choose to say
goodbye. Please understand and pursue your dreams.
I had been dumped. The number was off and it remained off. No explanation, no reason, the story had ended. My world spiraled. I could not face the world. We sat for the District mock and I got a B- grade. My teachers became worried. I began loosing trust and loosing belief in self. We had about a month to go before exams when I confided in my teachers. I realized time had badly slipped. A screaming C- in mathematics, the dream of getting an A plain had but died.
Can love be wrong a times?
~Annie Ann, friend on Gamma~
This realization brought with it new fears. I became aware of the magnitude of disappointment my failure would bring. Self condemnation, disappointed teachers, a betrayal of confessions, dashed hopes of my mother. I moved to quickly accept that indeed time had gone, that indeed something was terribly wrong and that I may never be able to correct the same.
I however refused to let go my dreams, I had seen my destination rather clearly earlier on and I refused to let it go. My cherished dream would stay with me even if I failed to achieve it. I sought confidence in solitude, a race against time is rarely won but silence gave me a conviction to the contrary. Time could be created, even the Bible promised recreation of the years consumed by locusts.
I worked hard. Balancing lesson time, personal studies, group discussion, shortened relaxation period, shortened bed time and longer hours in classes. I began to fell better, confident that I had done what I should have done. Post mocks came; a posting of an impressive A- of 79 points gave the desperately needed confidence. I had amassed a massive over 40 point improvement. I reestablished myself again top of the class and became comfortable as exams approached.
Exams were here. As I woke up, I had a fever; I guess I was a bit tensed. As I finished my last paper, Business Studies Paper 2, I found myself kneeling on the floor; as memories of time wove there way through my mind. I had pulled four years through high school. Three of which I had not paid even a single shilling. I remembered the day after the fallout with Uncle we had been send home to go and collect fee. I could not go home. I knew there was nothing. I knocked the Deputy Principal’s office.
As I entered, he looked at me and said: if it is about school fee, we are not discussing. I looked back and said: it is about school fees and I think we shall just have to discuss it sir!
The sir deliberately placed to disguise the otherwise rebellious intonation. He looked at me surprised: “proceed,” he impatiently agreed to an explanation.
I have been sent home since I am unable to pay my school fees. I came to see whether you can allow me to be in school and I will pay the fee when I finish form four. If though it is impossible, I would like to request for a clearance form to leave school. I
am unable to pledge a date for I am sure it will be breached. He looked at me and allowed me to be in school. I had passed though rejection, rebellion, suicide attempt, the short lived beauty of love and now, I had finished schooling.
Tears welled down my cheeks as I said thank you GOD. I left for home; the very forest that had seen me growing up. I was happy to be home; the proximity of the grave no longer threatening, no bitterness and in good health. I had time with my roots. I spend most of my time in the small bush, intimate with the vegetation, taking an awesome time to have a feel of running water kiss my feet. Memories of childhood welled my mind; the stone that I fondly used as a podium for my speeches. All that had made me. The desires that had once fueled my feet to take a seven kilometer barefoot tread in the morning chill to seek education. My resolves never again to depart from the paths were made then.
Early January I got employed as an assistant teacher at a secondary school. I would proceed to hold a post as the Director of Academics with two weeks into the school. I taught five subjects. The biting lack of resources in these schools gave me a great comfort. I was greatly blessed to be part of a district school that could boast 21 teachers.
I rented a house for Ksh 200. I was on a pay of Ksh 1000. Eight hundred shillings would see me through the month. In a set up where you can afford a movie on an old Great Wall TV at Ksh 5, I was in the middle class. Mwalimu, I earned that venerated title. My duties as the Director of Academics consumed my time. I had acquired substantial skills in my duties as the school captain. I set around establishing programs. I never discovered time had passed. It hit me so strongly that the next day would be the day
when results are announced.
I was nervous. I could not attend classes. I sat through the lengthy address by the minister; it had all the bad words a candidate could expect. The number of quality grades had dropped, and what have you. The names of top ten students were read, I was not there. I would have to wait for the SMS or the call. I sent a request on a cell phone. An hour elapsed, I had not received results. I called school, they had equally sent, results for other candidates had come, but not mine.
Had my results been cancelled? The anxiety was burdening. Then the text came, as I was contemplating reading it a call from Mr. Steve came through. I picked it. All I heard was Felix, you have made it son! The phone dropped off my hands. I found myself sprawled in the middle of the field, students around me, colleague teachers surprised. I had gotten that elusive A. I had not betrayed my hopes. Failing would have been a miracle, the old guard had told me.
I boarded a vehicle the next day headed for school. As I reached Kitale town, I was met by a contingent of enthusiastic students. They had come to meet their hero. I had put a smile on their faces, a conviction in their hearts, a proof that circumstance could be
defied. I got employed the very day by my school. It was within this period that intellect east Afrique came to my mind. I had a story, I should tell the world. Probably, another soul needed to know that it could make it. I had stayed for quite sometime when I received an unexpected call:
Excuse me, am I
speaking to Felix?
Yes please, I replied.
Do you know Equity Centre in Nairobi?
We would appreciate if you came over.
I took an evening bus. By five I was on the cold roads of Nairobi. At eight I entered the magnificent center. I was given the letter, signed by archetypal Dr. James Mwangi.I had just landed the dream sponsorship program. I would be mentored in Africa’s best
Circumstance need not set benchmarks for our success; they can act as propulsion to greater heights. Disadvantaged backgrounds only mean we have to take a slightly longer
path, a slightly rougher terrain, but we can always get there.
~Dr. James Mwangi-CEO Equity Bank Ltd~
Until recently the maxim ‘hard work pays’ carried sacred substance. It was used to urge people to put effort in tasks. I guess time changed, and since linguistics demand that maxims fade with seasons, it had to be taken to task and its worth was found wanting. A colleague confided in me that indeed hard work never pays, it is hard work. A reevaluation of the dictum saw introduction of another version that is approaching the cliché regime. Work smart, it is said.
The big question then remains, what entails working smart?
The following are the five attributes of smart working.
· Described task
· Prescribed Time frame
· Practical work
· Consistent evaluation
To describe is simply to say what something is like, or is. It is a crucial primary part of any task if the task will be carried out successfully. We alluded to this aspect by mentioning certainty or specificity of a dream. Description allows us to have a clear comprehension of what we are engaging in. When we have a full view of what we are engaging in, we are better placed to weigh in
our abilities, to budget for time and mobilize the means. We are equally in a position to evaluate whether we have the will power to engage in the venture.
Items in description include the following:
· Purpose: Exactly what are the honest reasons that are making you engage in this venture. Purpose can be primary, secondary or even tertiary. The primary purpose sources the motivation for the action and therefore it must be solid. It must encapsulate the bigger picture, the sincere motivation.
Motivation: · Motivation is the driving force which causes us to achieve goals. It is the primary stimulant that triggered this venture? The motivation in material form could be the primary purpose. It necessarily need be a rock substructure that will not collapse at the first shaking. For a venture to be successful, it necessarily must have positive principles of objective morality. If it negates the collective good, it creates an aura of uncertainty in you; this in itself is a shaky background and cannot weather storms.
To understand what can motivate us to achieve our goals, it is necessary that we check our personalities. There are those people who would be content with intrinsic motivation (the motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself and exists within the individual rather than relying on any external pressure). Others would be motivated by extrinsic motivation, (This motivation
comes from outside of the individual. these are rewards like money and grades).
· Outcome: what will be the results of this venture when it is successful? This is the material, tangible or perceivable fruits of a dream. It is the aspect of the dream that confirms that strategy and effort yielded the expectation.
PRESCRIBED TIME FRAME
This is the period within which the outcome should be realized. As a frame, traditionally it is shelled into regimes: The starting regime, observable progress, maturity and thereafter successive effort to ensure sustenance.Each regime has its own mini effort, mini evaluation which should be undertaken carefully.
A schedule will frequently be interfered with by intervening factors. This is not bad and neither does it point to failure. The only thing is that, thereafter a conscious effort should be made to frame the subsequent extensions.
This will traditionally include road map drawing, resource mobilization, analysis of risk and determining likely challenges. When the likely challenges are determined, the aspect of practical action that should be emphasized is caution while approaching them, not evading them.
Description, strategy and risk analysis are preparatory and inconsequential if you do not work. What you desire will never work unless you dust your hand, mud your feet and do the real job.
The various regimes should be evaluated. This tracking gives you a chance to know the habit that the venture is forming. Remember, success is a habit, and failure is equally a habit. The indications of an evaluation are always true. When we evaluate ourselves and discover that we are failing it is the truth. The earlier we accept this, the better our chances of correcting the mess before things veer off the course completely.
N/B In all this, record the events of your day. A life that is unevaluated is not
THE TWO DON’T (S)
A smart worker should always avoid the following:
· Unmerited Assumptions: Take effort to consider every finer bit of what you are undertaking. The miniature assumptions we take for granted are the ants that consume our dreams. Conscious effort to analyze all aspects of our actions should always be emphasized. When we do this we are able to seal undesirable ventilations that might leak our efforts.
· Procrastination: This steals time and gives no reward. If you have a dream or an idea, act and act now!
The Holly Bible, Genesis 12:2, 3
And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.
The Glorious Koran, Surah 3. Al- Imran, 26.
Say: O Allah! Owner of Sovereignty! Though givest sovereignty unto whom Thou wilt, and Thou witdrawest sovereignty from whom Thou wilt. Thou exaltest whom Thou wilt and Thou abasest whom Thou wilt. In thy hand is the good. Lo! Thou art Able to do all things.
He that is almighty blesses as he wills, exalts as he wills, may be it is time you talked to him and implored him to bless you
@2011, a lonefelix brand