College Memories - Reflections of a Young Man™

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College Memories

This is me showing a software I developed on the English Premier League fixtures during my STTI days to Hon. Raphael Tuju, the then Rarieda MP and Minister for Foreign Affairs. Looking on was the Kenya Shell/BP managing director, Eng. Patrick Obath.

My high school years at Starehe Boys' Centre were a good ride in that I excelled in academics and extra-curricular activities as well as made friends who made a lasting impact in my life such as 'Sir' Emmanuel Karanja, a brilliant housemate who instilled in me a desire to learn computer programming, and Wesley Chege, a classmate who made me develop an interest in football especially the English Premier League.

Perhaps the only mistake I made as I finished my high school years was failing to have a plan on what to do after I left Starehe. All I remember was that I did not want to join Starehe Technical Training Institute (STTI), a tertiary division of Starehe where students from humble backgrounds in the high school division could join to learn skills in Accounting or Information Technology before joining university. I felt I had had enough of Starehe and it was time to experience the world.

As fate would have it, I failed to get jobs after high school. I had no option but to enrol at STTI which turned out to be the next great thing that happened to me, a proof that we should sometimes thank God for not answering some of our prayers.

It is at the institute that I learnt how to switch on a computer, how to navigate through the Windows Operating System and how to browse the internet. I became so much fascinated with computers that I delved deeper into web design and computer programming.

In addition to learning about computers, I kept aflame my interests in public speaking and piano. I became outspoken during weekly meetings between the institute lecturers and students in which I mostly challenged the school administration to adopt computer systems as a way of improving governance. My ideas would have made Starehe an exceptional school if they had been implemented. But at least I learnt that it takes more than just mere talking to win people to a way of thinking; charisma, confidence, tact and insight are essential in the art of persuasion.

The most memorable public speaking experience was however a talk I gave to the whole school in a series of three days during assembly in which I challenged the students to think like geniuses; telling them that even though there seems nothing new under the sun, there are countless things that have not been discovered, invented, explored or expressed in depth; that creativity is the key to improving quality of life; that true learning should be intellectually and emotionally arousing; and that the secret to true genus is leading a virtuous life.

Perhaps the best thing that happened to me at STTI was getting influenced to apply to top American Colleges by Joseph Mugisha, a schoolmate who had been accepted at MIT. I chose to apply to only four competitive colleges, a process that gave me focus in life by writing personal essays and studying for the SAT exams.

About the only negative thing that happened to me at STTI was getting introduced to internet pornography. And I have since then battled to stop watching pornography and it has become increasingly harder to stop in this era of cheap smartphones.

I personally believe in the sanctity of sex as an act to be engaged within the confines of lawful marriage. Most of the world problems would be greatly diminished if people respected the sanctity of sex because a lot of evil is caused when people bear children they are unable to nurture to responsible adults. For lack of proper parenting, these children morph into criminals, prostitutes, rebels and tricksters.

The invention of the internet, brilliant as it may be, is endangering the sanctity of sex because children are getting exposed to very sexually immoral movies that desensitize them to promiscuous sex.


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The Need for Real Men

Real men were valued in most traditional African communities; some even devised tactics of testing them. Among the Maasai, real men were tested by their ability to kill lions in the wilderness. Among the Agikuyu, real men were tested by their ability to endure pain stoically during circumcision - shouting "Mummy" during the process elicited ridicule and reproach.

Although much has changed in contrast with the traditional African communities, their wisdom of valuing and making real men still remains relevant. This modern world is in dire need of real men amidst the immorality, calamities and injustice that pervade all societies.

The world needs real men who respect the sovereignty of God; who make a lifetime commitment to the acquisition of wisdom, knowledge and enlightenment; who work hard in life to deliver quality goods and services; who set high principles which they maintain in the heat of opposition; who marry sensible wives and remain faithful to them; and who nurture their children into responsible adults.

And how are real men made? Cuddling boys by shielding them from failure and criticism is not how they are made. Real men are made through the test of fire as Lincoln put it years ago. The kind of test that some traditional African communities devised.


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Personal Excellence: Part 1

We all want quality products. We want foodstuffs that are fresh and well cooked. We want water that is clear and clean. We want houses that are firm and sleek. We want clothes of superior comfort and appeal. We want long-lasting machines that function efficiently. And so on and so forth.

Paradoxically, while all people want quality products, a great number don't offer such quality in their work. You will find them gossiping during working hours which makes them execute their duties halfheartedly. And they cheat on time in their work and on weight in their products. They are like ticks that suck blood without benefiting the host.

Let us strive to be different by taking to heart the following mantra of the great mathematician and particle physicist Albert Einstein:
"A hundred times every day, I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give the same measure as I have received and still receiving."
Therefore, whatever our duty is - be it shaving hair, designing an aircraft engine, writing a novel, playing a team sport or governing a nation - let us do it with a touch of personal excellence. By so doing, we will give unto others the same quality of products that we demand of others.

I have flagged this story as Part 1. Click here to read Part 2.


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