A Lesson From a "Weak" Student - Reflections of a Young Man™

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A Lesson From a "Weak" Student

These are some of my buddies during our days at Starehe Institute: (from left) Joel Maina, Kaluma Mutevu, Kahura Mundia and Chege Njuguna. More on those golden bygone days at Starehe Institute in the story of mine below.

There was this school-mate of mine at Starehe Boys' Centre named Samora Semwami who was a year ahead of me. But I happened to study with him in the same class back in 2004 after he was forced to repeat Form 3 by the then Starehe Boys' administration for performing poorly in academics.

I actually came to know that Samora Semwami performed poorly in academics because he used to leave most exam questions blank and answer the few he knew their solutions. Like in a Physics CAT of ten questions, he would answer only one that, say, asked him to state Newton's 3rd Law of Motion. I have given that example of Newton's 3rd Law of Motion because I found it the easiest statement to memorize in my entire high school years. And I can even state it here from memory: to every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Back to Samora Semwami, he was eventually expelled from Starehe as the year 2004 came to a close, apparently because the then school administration thought he would disgrace Starehe by lowering its mean score in the then much hyped KCSE exams - back in those days when KCSE was the real KCSE.

The KCSE of these days, to put it bluntly, is fake. How can a school of about 260 students have 202 of them score an A? I applaud the recent efforts by the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC), under the able leadership of Prof. George Magoha (an old boy of Starehe), to restore the integrity and prestige of the exam. And I hope the graph of KCSE results analysis will soon shift to a normal distribution curve - the sign of a well set exam. But I digress.

Again back to Samora Semwami, I have come to realize that he understood the secret of success in life better than any of us understood at Starehe. As in, a successful life is all about doing what we are good at and leaving the rest to others.

Like for me, my mind boils with excitement when I pick a book on how to develop web applications in PHP, MySQL and Apache. But when I pick a book on the role of such electronics components as transistors and capacitors in a radio circuit, or the role of algebra in analysing a digital circuit, or how a computer processes data in 0's and 1's - oh man, my mind begins to shut down, so to speak.

That probably explains why I enjoyed studying a diploma course in Information Technology at Starehe Institute (see photo above) but went bonkers when I matriculated at JKUAT to pursue a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering. See?

Moral of the story: do what you are good at and leave the rest to others just like Samora Semwami used to do in his days at Starehe Boys' Centre. Good day!


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Heeding an Advice

This photo of a cute little boy entertaining a cat with a recorder has come to inspire me for a reason I will expound on in the story of mine below. And if you know the genuine copyright holder of the photo, please let me know so that I can acknowledge him and link my audience to his website, books or other creative works.

As you might already know, I have a hobby for sharing stories which I shall soon extend to music and oral speeches, God-willing. My journey in honing that hobby hasn't been easy though. I have faced rejection from people who have blocked me on Facebook. Others bluntly ordered me to desist emailing them in a tone that suggested I was a nuisance.

However, my worst challenge in honing that hobby has been a tendency of my friends not to like or comment on the stories that I share with them on social media no matter how clear and entertaining I strive to be. That has discouraged me more than the few criticisms and rejections I have faced. It's like what the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: that in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.

A bit bothered by that silence from friends on my stories, I at one time stopped sharing my stories on social media. I even at another time changed my writing style in a way that didn't feel natural to me. But that didn't help attract likes and positive comments.

With time though, I have reconnected with my unique inner voice and resumed sharing my stories on social media to anyone who might be interested in reading them. And I nowadays don't mind getting only one like per story because as I have come to understand it, some people will never like my stories just because it is me who has written them. Don't worry, such people are called haters - the kind that King David wrote on Psalm 23 that they would live to jealously see me enjoy a banquet of honour.

I have come to borrow a leaf from the cute little boy in the photo above who is entertaining a cat with a recorder. As in, I am finding contentment in knowing that I have touched at least one soul through my stories even if the enticed person may be a man of little means.

Or in other words, I am heeding the advice of Maria Popova which she gave to the '16 graduating class of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication. She advised:
"Develop an inner barometer for your own value. Resist pageviews and likes and retweets and all those silly-sounding quantification metrics that will be obsolete within the decade. Don't hang the stability of your soul on them. They can't tell you how much our work counts for and to whom. They can't tell you who you are and what you're worth. They are that demoralizing electric bike that makes you feel if only you could pedal faster - if only you could get more pageviews and likes and retweets - you'd be worthier of your own life."
Now that's a great piece of advice coming from the author of Brain Pickings, a blog that attracts more than 200,000 unique visitors per day and which has been catalogued in the Library of Congress as a material of historical importance. I am heeding that advice for shizzle.


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A God of Miracles

In a story I published in this lovely website of mine several weeks ago which is accessible on clicking here, I wrote an appeal to well-wishers to help me re-acquire books that inspired me but which I either lost along the way or weren't mine at the time I read them. I am somewhat glad to report that only God has offered to help me so far because I managed to miraculously re-acquire one of the books I listed. Okay, let me narrate how it happened.

A couple of fortnights ago, I dreamt in my sleep at night of me re-purchasing Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential For Excellence, an inspiring book by Ben Carson - the retired paediatrician who became an overnight success in 1987 for leading a 70-member team in separating Siamese twins co-joined in the head. He is currently serving in the Donald Trump administration as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

I first purchased the small inspiring book on a book-stand at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi during my first year in 2008 at JKUAT where I was pursuing a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering. Unfortunately, I misplaced the book following the carelessness with which I handled my life following the not-so-good circumstances that befell me in my second year at the university.

And guess what? Well, the following day after that night a couple of fortnights ago during which I dreamt of myself re-purchasing the little inspiring tome by Ben Carson, I found my misplaced copy of the book while ransacking my father's room. It looked as good as the way it was the last time I touched it back in 2008. As in, it wasn't worn out or chewed by the ants and rats that a constant source of annoyance at our home in Kiserian.

I find it miraculous of me dreaming about re-purchasing the book and then inadvertently finding my lost copy the following day. That's why I have said it was God who helped me re-acquire the book.

Folks, God still works in miraculous ways. Let us therefore worship Him as a being who can work miracles in our lives in ways beyond our understanding. Can someone shout, "Amen!"


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