How Animals Are Better Than Us
A True Story
on Sep 26, 2019
Apart from dogs, the other pets that I love are cats. I find them cute and lovely. Some years back, there was a time I was riveted by the sight of a cat playing with its kittens in the living room of our home. It truly was a riveting scene. These days, we no longer keep cats at home and I am happy about it even though I find them cute and lovely.
When we used to keep cats, I did observe two of their traits. One was how they play with rats for several minutes before eating them. The other trait I observed is the way cats burrow the ground with their claws, poop and then cover the hole to hide their solid waste. Oh, I almost forgot to mention how I saw the cats cleaning their feet with their tongues perhaps to get rid of the dirt they collected while burrowing the ground.
Judging by that second trait I observed in cats, I am realizing that cats are far much wiser and hygienic than some humans who shamelessly defecate on the open without bothering to cover up their faeces. Allow me to give you three examples.
Back in the '90s when a building called Kanyumba House was being constructed in my hometown of Kiserian, I sometimes used to enter into the unfinished building only to find it littered with human excrements.
Then one Sunday afternoon in 2002 when I was in Form 1 at Starehe Boys' Centre, my housemates and I were confronted with the revolting sight of faeces in a toilet in our house. Someone had defecated on the floor of the toilet instead of using the toilet bowl. That's crazy, isn't it? Mark you, that was happening at Starehe Boys' Centre which was then renowned for its disciplined and intelligent students.
And then sometime in 2014 when I was walking home from Kiserian, I decided to take a rest behind a certain bush. Wa! As I was sitting down to relax, I was disgusted to see human excrements all over the ground. I left the place immediately.
On reflecting about those three incidences, I am wondering why people can't borrow a leaf from cats which burrow the ground before pooping and cover up their solid waste. With our thinking brains, aren't we supposed to be better than cats?
Recently when I remembered that incidence, I realized how hawks are wiser than some humans who don't look after their loved ones. I have read of mothers who dump their babies in toilets and garbage pits; of fathers who murder their children in a fit of rage; and of families broken down by conflicts. Why can't all people emulate the hawks that tenderly look after their loved ones?
What I hadn't foreseen was that while my intention of caressing the puppy was to ease its pain, the puppy sensed my hand and perceived I was inflicting it with more pain. That's why it bit me forcefully.
When I reflected on that incidence afterwards, I realized the puppy, as small as it was, knew more about self-defence than some humans. You see, some people are so timid that they can't stand up against bullying and intimidation.
When I talk of gazelles living in a better environment than some humans, I have in mind people in my hometown of Kiserian. You see, Kiserian is a dusty town which turns unpleasantly muddy when it rains. It's always littered with garbage. And dirty water can often be seen flowing in its ever clogged drainage system.
It's such kind of dirty environs as Kiserian's that makes me think gazelles in national parks live in better surroundings than some humans. And we humans are supposed to be more advanced than animals.
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Finding Your Voice
A True Story
on Sep 22, 2019
There was a time in 2012 when I became inspired to write my own memoir after reading several autobiographies of great men. So in a span of two weeks that time in 2012, I sat down on my father's computer desk and wrote a memoir even though I wasn't a famous figure. The memoir I wrote was riddled with lies, exaggerations and plagiarism because I hadn't discovered my own voice back then. And I wrote it in such a hurry that I now wonder how it would have become the best-seller I wanted it to be. I didn't succeed in having the memoir published.
But my efforts were not in vain because I learnt valuable lessons in the process of submitting the memoir for publication. Among the lessons I learnt is that most renowned publishers don't deal directly with authors; they deal with literary agents. I also learnt from one literary agent about an American called James Frey who authored a fake memoir that brought Random House Inc. to its knees. Given the lies, exaggerations and plagiarism that were in the memoir I hastily wrote in 2012, it seems I was destined to suffer the same shame as James Frey. Oh, how I thank God that my memoir wasn't published!
Well, I had always had a habit of plagiarizing other people's writings ever since my days in high school at Starehe Boys' Centre. Like one time when I was in Form 2 in 2003, I extracted a passage from a textbook called Integrated English and submitted it in an essay-writing competition. I didn't emerge a winner in the competition, something I am now grateful for because I would probably have been found out as a plagiarizer.
I continued with that bad habit of plagiarism well into my adult life. When I was applying to four top American colleges in 2006 for instance, I copied a recommendation letter from a book titled How to Get into Top Colleges that I borrowed from Starehe Boys' library. I edited the recommendation letter to make it suit my case, took it to a certain teacher to sign it and then mailed it to the four colleges.
Since the authors of the book from which I copied the recommendation letter had consulted admission officers of the colleges I was applying for admission, I am sure those who reviewed my application discerned that the letter was a product of plagiarism. Little wonder that I wasn't accepted into any of the colleges. I was such a big fool.
Then sometime in 2012, I sat down to listen to Sajjid Chinoy's 1996 valedictory speech at the University of Richmond while writing down its contents after failing to find the text version of the speech in my Google search. (I have always loved listening to that speech ever since I was in Starehe Insitute in 2006, and a few years ago I got to know from the internet that Sajjid Chinoy is the current chief India economist.) After writing down the contents of Sajjid Chinoy's speech that time in 2012, I shared it with my friends on Facebook and via email as if it were my own original story. A few friends complimented me for the story including George Waithaka, a graduate of the highly-esteemed Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Encouraged by the compliments, I emailed the story to the "Nation", Kenya's leading newspaper. "Nation" didn't publish the story, and as is the case with the essay I submitted in an essay-writing competition in high school, I am now grateful that the newspaper didn't publish my story as that would probably have led to tarnishing of my name if someone realized the source of the story.
And then in 2013 when I was running for a political seat in that year's Kenya's General Elections, I copied several paragraphs of text from Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope and pasted them into a story I was writing about how my campaign was unfolding. I then emailed the story to my friends as it was my habit.
One of my friends called Moses Mutoko, who was then an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, was so impressed with the story that he sent me $10 for my campaign. To be honest, I didn't put forth a spirited campaign as I narrated in the story using Barack Obama's words. I was just being dishonest.
In mid 2016 when I re-branded this blog to what it looks now, I resolved to give up lies, exaggerations and plagiarism in my story-telling hobby. I have followed that resolution to the letter and in the process, I am finding my own voice. And I am discovering so many interesting facts to tell that I wonder why I previously resorted to lies and exaggeration to jazz up my stories.
My dear reader, I beseech you to also find your own voice. Imitating other people's manner of writing and speaking won't take you anywhere as was the case with me. And as someone once wisely put it, "It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation." Adieu!
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on finding your voice, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "The 8th Commandment". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.