Salvation is Free Folks! - Reflections of a Young Man™

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Salvation is Free Folks!

This is me with my friend Michuki after we were ordained to be receiving the Holy Sacrament circa April 2000. I haven't seen or heard from Michuki in more than a decade but I shall forever remain grateful to the Catholic Church for instilling me with a spirit of morality, discipline and knowledge that have served me well in my life so far.

Back in the '90s, there was this anecdote which made rounds in the impoverished Naru-moru Primary School near my home in Kiserian where I began my kindergarten education in 1993. I stayed in the school till the last term of my Standard 7 education in 2000.

The anecdote was of a boy in the school who attended a Catholic mass one Sunday during which he saw people receive the Holy Sacrament: a small, round and white substance that looks more like a biscuit baked without any additional ingredients apart from wheat flour. Curious to know how the sacrament tastes, the boy resolved he would have to taste it the following Sunday.

According to Catholic Church customs, the sacrament is a symbol for a bread for the soul. It is a freebie because Jesus Christ came to save souls for free. All you need to receive the sacrament as per Catholic customs is to attend catechism classes in the church where you will be taught Biblical values after which you will be ordained in a special mass to be receiving the sacrament.

But the boy who resolved to taste the sacrament didn't know all that stuff. He thought that the tithes offered during mass (which come before Holy Communion) was a payment for the sacrament just like the way you hand out a few coins to a shopkeeper in order to receive a biscuit. So the boy went to look for a few coins and went back to the church the following Sunday.

Now, the Catholic priests usually say "The Body of Christ" before giving out the sacrament. And when the priests say so, you are supposed to reply "Amen", bow your head slightly and then open your mouth with the tongue sticking out in readiness to receive the sacrament. But the boy didn't know that either.

Armed with a few coins, the boy turned up for mass the following Sunday. He tithed during the offertory session. He then lined up during Holy Communion session to receive the sacrament. And when his turn to receive the sacrament reached and the priest said to him "The Body of Christ", the boy looked at the priest straight in the eye and replied, "I have paid!"

That anecdote usually sets me laughing when I think about it because the sacrament is a symbol of salvation which is free. All you need to get saved is surrender your pride and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord. Let no pastor ever hoodwink you into parting with your money in order to get saved. Salvation is free for shizzle.

So to make salvation more freely available in a modernized way, just click the button below if you would like to get saved:

Haha! Indeed, you are now saved. Let no more sins and sorrows grow in you. Be reading the Bible everyday. Be meditating on its message regularly. Be attending a Bible-based church that sings joyful songs. Be forgiving of yourself and others. Be beautiful. Be loving. Be honest. Be humble. Be bold. Be you!


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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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